Brasserie Blanc to unveil 17th and final phase of 20-month rebranding programme with Bristol site relaunch: Brasserie Blanc, the French restaurant group led by Raymond Blanc, will unveil the final phase of its 20-month rebranding project with the relaunch of its 17th site in Bristol this month. The 4,500 square foot venue in the Cabot Circus shopping centre is being transformed, featuring a 110-cover main brasserie, including a 48-cover mezzanine level. The former grade I-listed Friary Building will also house a bar lounge area and a cheese and wine table, as well as an external bar and lounge and dining for up to 148 guests in the Quakers Friars square outside. The venue will also offer a private dining room for between ten and 40 guests – the Calefactory – named after an important room in a medieval monastery. It will also feature two event spaces – Bakers Hall (40 to 70 guests) and Cutlers Hall (70 to 120 guests). In a nod to the building’s former history, design features will include bespoke pew tables and seating, together with reclaimed chapel furniture pieces. The brasserie will offer a menu of classic and modern French dishes using seasonal ingredients designed by Brasserie Blanc executive chef Clive Fretwell and executed by head chef Frederic Fetiveal. Chief executive Mark Derry said: “We are delighted to mark the final phase of our brand evolution with the reopening of our Bristol brasserie. We began this project with the aim of refreshing the Brasserie Blanc brand, ensuring the decor complements our menu of honest French cooking. We’ve received fantastic feedback for all our other refurbished brasseries so far and we are excited to reveal our 17th and final stage!”
Draft House unveils list of 23 target locations as it aims to open five sites a year: Draft House, led by Charlie McVeigh and backed by Luke Johnson, has revealed its list of 23 target locations as it aims to open five new venues a year. The company, which currently has nine sites trading, is looking for A3 or A4 sites of between 3,500 square feet and 5,000 square feet, with a minimum of 2,500 square feet on ground-floor level. It is targeting locations in London and orbital towns as it looks at further expansion. In the capital it is looking to open venues in the City in Aldgate, Bank, Bishopsgate, Cannon Street, Holborn, Moorgate, St Paul’s and Temple. Elsewhere in London it is eyeing Canary Wharf, Euston, Green Park, South Kensington, Westminster, Vauxhall and Victoria. It is also aiming to expand outside the capital with Chelmsford, Crawley, Croydon, Reading, Swindon, Watford, Windsor and Woking on its hit list. Draft House saw turnover jump 28% to £6,121,408 in the year ended 25 October 2015, compared with 4,787,233 the year before. Adjusted Ebitda leapt 58% to £633,576, compared with £400,499 the previous year. Like-for-like sales increased 4%.
Burger & Lobster to introduce menu for first time: Burger & Lobster, which has just opened its latest site at West India Quay, is to trial a proper menu – a first for Burger & Lobster, which previously had no physical menu, instead using its team to describe the three meal options. The menu is a response to customer feedback and the brand is working closely with guests to ensure it meets their needs as it ventures into new territory. Although the menu doesn’t cast the net too far from its origins, it gives diners more choice through the different sizes of burger and lobster on offer. Head of marketing Maisie Denning said: “Since we opened our doors in 2011, we’ve never had a menu. We do burger and we do lobster, simples. Since day one, though, we’ve been inundated with emails and tweets asking what we serve. After receiving our 1,001th email we just gave in and thought, why not? We’re still keeping it pretty simple and focusing on what we do best – burgers, lobsters and an ace team – but trying to offer a bit more flexibility in portion size and price. Depending on feedback, we’ll also have a go at some new flavour profiles through sauces and burger toppings.” The West India Quay restaurant, which features Burger & Lobster’s biggest outside terrace, will have two bars offering new cocktails and UK craft beer. The outside Pina Cola-Bar is dedicated to serve blended frozen cocktails only available at West India Quay and will include sharing sizes of Pina Coladas and Burger & Lobster’s own take on Rum Punch. The second bar will be dedicated to serving signature Burger & Lobster cocktails alongside some of the UK’s best in craft beer.
Gail’s Bakery opens site in Pimlico: Gail’s Artisan Bakery, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has opened a site in Pimlico, central London. The bakery, which is in Churnton Street and is the company’s 28th site, sells loaves, including Gail’s French dark sourdough, mixed olive sourdough, quinoa sourdough, and honey and almond sourdough. It also specialises in pastries, cakes, yogurt pots, seasonal soups, sandwiches, salads and quiches. A hot brunch menu is served until 3pm. Gail’s Artisan Bakery was founded in 2005, when founders Ran Avidan, Tom Molnar and Emma King opened the first site in Hampstead.
Multimillion-pound plans unveiled for cinema and restaurant complex in Horsham town centre: Multimillion-pound plans have been unveiled to create a three-floor multiplex in Horsham town centre. Earlier in the year it was revealed the owners of Swan Walk shopping centre want to redevelop the western end of the complex to create a five-screen cinema and four “family friendly” restaurants. It is believed the proposed cinema would be operated by Everyman Media Group, which has 17 sites across the UK, mainly in the south of England. Offices would be converted to make space for the cinema on the second floor. Shoppers would access the new area on the upper ground floor from the mall, with mezzanine levels for the restaurants on the ground floor. Gordon Lindsay, cabinet member for local economy at Horsham District Council, told the West Sussex County Times: “It is a massive investment and shows some people have faith in the town by preparing to put their money to the tune of millions of pounds into Horsham. Retailers are under a lot of pressure these days with internet shopping, and click and collect is doing very well in Horsham. You need more attractions these days to draw people into the towns for shopping and entertain them while they are there. It is going to appeal to families, and what it will mean is there will have to be more family restaurants.” Gill Buchanan, Swan Walk centre manager, said about 100 jobs would be created, adding research had shown demand for a new cinema and the development would help claw back income from food and leisure currently spent outside Horsham. She said: “We anticipate, subject to the approval of the planning application, that construction will commence on-site in April 2018 and the new development of restaurants, retail and the cinema will open in October 2019.”
George’s Great British Kitchen opens Newcastle city centre restaurant, second UK site: Fish and chip restaurant George’s Great British Kitchen is opening its second venue, this time in Newcastle city centre. The restaurant, which will also feature a gin bar, is in the Intu Eldon Square shopping centre’s new dining quarter. The company has signed a 25-year lease on a 4,200 square foot unit on the lower level. The first George’s Great British Kitchen opened at Intu Victoria in Nottingham last year, going on to win the best newcomer award at Nottingham Post’s 2016 Food and Drink Awards. The menu focuses on George’s fish and chips heritage but also features classic British dishes, charcoal grills and tapas. Other offerings include halloumi and home-smoked aubergine and tahini burger, mushy pea fritter with banana chilli salsa and wasabi mayo, and retro arctic roll. George’s Great British Kitchen owner Andrew Constantinou told Chronicle Live: “The positivity with which our Intu Victoria restaurant in Nottingham has been received inspired us to share it with the people of Newcastle. We aim to create a restaurant that ‘wows’ and celebrates our country in a fun, properly British way, with hints of the seaside, beach huts and candyfloss.”
Carluccio’s eyes Intu Derby opening: Carluccio’s, the international Italian restaurant group with operations in the UK, Ireland, US, Middle East and Turkey, is in talks to open a site in Derby. Carluccio’s operates 98 chains across the UK and is in talks with Intu Derby shopping centre about opening its first site in the city. Carluccio’s has applied to Derby City Council for a premises license. Should a deal be reached, it is likely Carluccio’s will open next door to Prezzo’s Tex Mex brand Chimichanga, which is due to open on Monday, 27 June, the Derby Telegraph reports. Other restaurants to open at Intu Derby in the past month include better burger brand Byron, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, and The Restaurant Group brand Joe’s Kitchen. Last week, Carluccio’s reported Ebitda up 7.3% to £15.3m in the year to September 2015. The group opened 14 sites in the UK, Ireland, and the US and continued its expansion in Dubai and Turkey, under franchise. At the year end, the group operated from 112 worldwide locations.
Knead Pubs to trial pop-up gin bars, plans to roll-out concept if successful: Knead Pubs, which has six sites across Nottinghamshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire, is to trial pop-up gin bars at two of its venues with a view to rolling the concept out across the estate. The company will be running the pop-ups at The Crown Hotel in Stamford and The Prince Rupert in Newark during World Gin Day on Saturday, 11 June. The bars will promote locally distilled gins from companies such as Two Birds in Market Harborough, Burleigh’s in Leicester, and Warner Edwards in Northampton, along with gins from across the world such as Monkey 47, Bathtub, and Gin Mare. If the pop-ups are a success, the company said it planned to roll them out across the estate during the year as well as expand the range of 17 gins it will be initially promoting. The company said it was introducing the pop-ups because of the “ever-growing market for craft gins” and was continuing to “look at the market trends, concentrating on the casual dining market but introducing new ideas and events to entice guests’ interests in the venues”.
Black Milk Cereal Dive set to start expansion with second Manchester cereal cafe: Black Milk Cereal Dive is set to start expansion by opening a second cereal cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The owners had already extended their debut venue inside alternative department store Afflecks to cater for demand. The new, larger branch will be in Oldham Street in a unit currently occupied by vegan cafe V Revolution, which is moving to Edge Street in the city. Black Milk Cereal Dive co-founder Oliver Taylor told Manchester Evening News: “We’ve been getting to capacity pretty much every single day and that’s what’s pushed us to expand. It’s really hit off since we started turning cereal into something more like desserts and serving loaded shakes with cakes. It’s sent Instagram out of control.” The new site, for which an opening date has yet to be announced, can seat more than 60 diners upstairs – treble its Afflecks capacity – with plans to turn downstairs into a private dining area. The first Black Milk Cereal Dive opened less than a year ago offering breakfast cereals from all over the world. They can be served in a chocolate bowl with thousands of biscuit, topping and milk combinations to choose from. The new menu will have calorific additions, including “wiches” – ice cream sandwiched between two cookies to look like a burger.
Stone Place Restaurant Company launches SteakStones pub concept in Buckinghamshire: The Stone Place Restaurant Company has opened its first venue – at the 16th century Feathers pub in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire – with all meat and fish cooked using the SteakStones concept. SteakStones was invented by Nick Metcalf, with the process described by Stone Place Restaurant Company owners Melvyn Angell and Sylvia Sheridan as “dining theatre”. SteakStones involves cooking meat and fish at diners’ tables on hot volcanic rocks. Due to their density, the rocks stay hot for more than an hour and no oil is required in the process. The menu at The Stone Place At The Feathers pub restaurant consists of a choice of beef, lamb, scallops, prawns or tuna, served with chips and salad. Angell said: “We wanted to create an extraordinary dining experience, something quite theatrical, within the informality of a village pub. SteakStones gives you the opportunity to cook your meat and fish exactly as you like and is such fun at the same time. All cuts of red meat are lean. Not only is it a healthier way to dine, it also ensures the meat doesn’t smoke while it is being seared on the SteakStones.” The Stone Place At The Feathers seats 56 diners and is open daily from 11am to 11pm.
EasyCoffee secures Leicester Square site: Budget airline EasyJet has secured a third site for its low-cost coffee concept, EasyCoffee, with a third London site in Leicester Square. Agent Davis Coffer Lyons has secured a deal on behalf of the landlord – The Trustees for the Charity of the Society of Mary at Notre Dame de France – for a new 15-year lease at a rent of £95,000 per annum exclusive. The 308 square foot A3 kiosk is located between Bella Italia and the Metra Night Club, alongside the Vue Cinema. It has a late 2.30am licence, Friday to Sunday. EasyJet has outlined plans for as many as 30 coffee shops over the next two years, and already operates sites in Oxford Street and at Earls Court. The company stresses low costs and £1 coffee and espresso drinks through the EasyCoffee brand, which has partnered with Peoples Coffee, a business operated by Nathan Lowry. Davis Coffer Lyons director Rob Meadows said: “Leicester Square is London’s busiest leisure focal point with 18 million tourists and Londoners passing through each year. There is a good deal of new development planned for the locality and we have recently seen a number of new deals enabling leisure operators to grow their portfolios there, including Shake Shack, Burger & Lobster, and Japanese ramen restaurant Kanada-Ya.” The company said at the launch of its coffee venture this year: “Just when we feared we were reaching peak hipster coffee, with cold-press and cortados usurping cappuccinos and a £4 latte the norm, along comes Sir Stelios (EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou) to tear up the rulebook.”.
St Michaels Hotel and Spa set for £6m investment: St Michaels Hotel and Spa in Falmouth has unveiled plans for a £6m investment programme and begun the search for a new managing director. Work on the venue will start in October, with both the spa and health club more than doubling in size and becoming separate units linked by a “wellness walkway”. In the main hotel, an open plan reception, bar, lounge and dining area will be provided in the public spaces and the Flying Fish restaurant will be fully refurbished and extended, with the addition of a sea-facing terrace. The Falmouth Beach Hotel “Croft site”, which survived a fire in 2012, will be redeveloped to provide an additional 32 bedrooms and suites. Four eco woodland spa lodges will be created in the St Michaels spa gardens, offering accommodation for up to four people, with private decks, hot tubs and exclusive spa access. A new managing director is also set to be appointed, with owner Nigel Carpenter becoming chairman and concentrating on developments beyond St Michaels. Carpenter said: “Now is the right time in our development to seek an experienced managing director to take St Michaels to the next level. The new £6m investment will be transformational and make St Michaels one of the top destination resorts in the whole south west.”
Plans lodged for leisure scheme in Chester to include restaurants: Plans have been lodged to redevelop the Northgate area of Chester city centre, creating about 500,000 square feet of new retail, restaurant and leisure facilities and generating more than 1,000 jobs. A planning application for the Chester Northgate Scheme has been submitted on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council. It is envisaged the project would be delivered over two construction phases. Phase one, forecast to start in autumn 2017, would involve the development of two restaurants within the shell of the library building, a new market hall replacing the current Chester Market, a six-screen cinema, and a 167-bedroom, four-star hotel and conference centre as a replacement for the Crowne Plaza Hotel which, together with the Forum and several other buildings, would be demolished in 2019. Work would then begin on the second phase of construction to create the main retail offer, department store and residential areas.
Gastro-pub operator takes regional managing director role at Macdonald Hotels: Former gastro-pub operator Andrew Coggings has become regional managing director for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. He will be overseeing four of the group’s 48 hotels – the Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel & Spa in Camberley, Macdonald Compleat Angler in Marlow, Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa in Ascot, and Macdonald Windsor Hotel, all of which are four-star. He joins Macdonald Hotels after a decade running his own hospitality businesses, Stanford Inns and Kitchenware Restaurants, in Brighton between 2006 and 2016. He said: “I am truly enjoying being back in the hotel industry and to be working with a dynamic group such as Macdonald Hotels. The group and I have a shared interest in sustainability and that’s something I intend to build on at my hotels. My experience of working in five-star hotels internationally is ideally suited to the Macdonald portfolio of hotels in my region around the M25.” Robert Cook, chief operating officer at Macdonald Hotels, added: “Andrew is a great addition to our senior management team. The hotels in his region are extremely popular. Each hotel is very different and Andrew will be able to bring out the very best characteristics of each. Andrew has a fantastic focus on customer service, quality and staff motivation – the perfect qualities for our business.”
Multi-site operator opens family-focused curry house in Bolton town centre: Vignesh Patel, who owns two Little Italy pizza takeaway venues in Bolton, has opened a family-focused curry house in the town centre. The K-Lounge restaurant and bar in Mawdsley Street is a joint venture with Patel’s cousin Amit, with Amit’s father Kanu in the kitchen. The cousins have pumped £80,000 into the underground unit that used to house Carbon Bar. The restaurant also offers a speciality Indo-Chinese menu and features an extensive bar and outdoor area. Vignesh Patel told The Bolton News: “When we were growing up we just loved eating food made by Uncle K (Kanu). We were fascinated by it and always talked of one day opening our own restaurant. We have called it K-lounge in his honour – the food he used to make us and the food we are bringing to the people of Bolton is made from the heart. We can see there is a big improvement taking place in Bolton town centre, with developments such as Market Place, the cinema and the transport interchange, so we wanted to be part of that.”
Tahola launches new website emphasising focus on hospitality industry: Business analytics company Tahola has launched a new website to emphasise its focus on the hospitality industry. The enhanced look and feel of the website demonstrates Tahola’s 16-year experience in the hospitality industry by showcasing a breakdown of its bespoke product and service offering, including a blog providing insight and news from the world of data mixology. To celebrate the launch, Tahola is holding a competition on its website offering two days of free analysis to one UK hospitality business to demonstrate the power of analytics through performance insight dashboards. Commercial director Simon Blackbourne said: “We have developed the website to be tailored to a customer’s needs, helping them understand exactly what is possible with their data and which of our range of resources will provide amazing analytics results. We have chosen to launch our new look with a competition because we want to show one operator, who may never have considered analysing their data before, the power data can provide without the financial outlay.”
New £8m leisure development in Thetford featuring five restaurants set for completion in October: A new £8m leisure development in Thetford, Norfolk, which includes five restaurants, is set to be completed in October. The 41,000 square foot Thetford Riverside scheme, which is a joint venture between Breckland Council and The Land Group, will be anchored by a three-screen The Light cinema and also feature a 62-bedroom Travelodge hotel. The five restaurant units range from 1,300 square feet to 3,750 square feet and agent Francis Darrah Chartered Surveyors said it was in “advanced discussions” with a number of interested national restaurant chains. The development is in the centre of Thetford, adjacent to the Little Ouse river, with direct links to the main shopping area via a footbridge. Breckland Council deputy leader Sam Chapman-Allen said: “This project represents significant investment in Thetford and demonstrates our commitment to supporting its growth and vibrancy. When complete, Thetford Riverside will deliver excellent leisure facilities to the growing number of residents, businesses and visitors.”