ETM Group launches London rooftop restaurant Aviary: ETM Group, the gastro-pub operator led by brothers Ed and Tom Martin, has opened Aviary, a rooftop restaurant and bar on the tenth floor of the new Montcalm Royal London House Hotel. The venue features an ornate birdcage suspended above the stairway leading from the dedicated lift, with designs by the renowned Russell Sage Studio. Aviary also features a grand roof terrace, among the largest in London, with heat lamps and firepits. The restaurant features a cast iron Bertha coal oven, which cooks high-quality British meat sourced from small livestock farmers using heritage breeds, and wild fish responsibly sourced from south coast day boats and British fishing ports. The bar offers crafted cocktails with a botanical theme, premium spirits, a comprehensive wine list, and lager and craft beer. Aviary is ETM’s second venue to open in the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel, with cafe, bar and restaurant Burdock on the ground floor.

Third London site secured for Soul Food Enterprises: Agent Davis Coffer Lyons has assigned the leasehold interest of 11 Kentish Town Road – previously trading as Fri-Chicks – to Soul Food Enterprises, operators of Stax Diner and Boondocks. Led by chef and Virginia-born Bea Vo – of London’s celebrated cake shop and tea room Bea’s of Bloomsbury and the Maltby Street Diner – this will be Vo’s third venture in the capital. Stax Diner originally brought Vo’s American Deep South concept to Kingly Court in Carnaby for its first outpost in 2015, and earlier this year opened Boondocks serving chicken and waffles behind Moorfields Eye Hospital. The Kentish Town Road site is close to Camden Town station, trading more than 870 square feet with ground floor and basement levels. A new 15-year lease was agreed at a rent of £65,000 per annum exclusive. Vo is set to launch a new concept, The Famous Flames, at the site. Davis Coffer Lyons acted on behalf of the landlord, St Charles Property.

Giggling Squid opens Wokingham restaurant, first Berkshire site: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant group backed by Business Growth Fund, has opened a site in Wokingham, its first in Berkshire. The company, founded and majority-owned by husband-and-wife team Andrew and Pranee Laurillard, has opened its 19th restaurant in The Plaza, off Denmark Street. The 135-cover venue is on the former site of Prezzo’s American-style grill brand Cleaver. Like all Giggling Squids, Wokingham has its own individual character, with an eye-catching glass chandelier adorning a pergola intertwined with foliage and hanging flower baskets hand-made by Pranee Laurillard. Last month, Giggling Squid reported sales increased 55% in its most recent year to £11.8m, while Ebitda was up 53% to £1.9m. The company has said it expects to be trading from 25 sites by the middle of 2017.

Drake & Morgan opens second rebranded Corney & Barrow site as The Pagination: Bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan has opened its second rebranded Corney & Barrow site as The Pagination. The company has launched the 4,400 square foot space in Cabot Square. The bar and restaurant is divided into internal and external space, seating 84 and 60 covers respectively, trading Monday to Saturday. It features the brand’s signature design elements, which include an expansive bar, a mix of seating such as traditional dining, banquettes, booth and lounge seating, as well as an open plan kitchen and distinctive dining area. The all-day dining destination is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering a choice of seasonal dishes. An extensive wine list, which includes a wide range of Corney & Barrow bins, sits alongside premium spirits, beers and innovative cocktails. Last month, Drake & Morgan opened its first rebranded Corney & Barrow venue in Old Broad Street as The Otherist.

Greene King holds strategy and study tours for licensees: Pub Partners, the tenanted division of brewer and retailer Greene King, has held a series of strategy and study tour events around the UK for its licensees. A number of Premier Partner “sharing the strategy” days were held as an opportunity to present the division’s plans and allow input from partners into the business’ direction. Greene King licensees also visited pubs and bars with unique retail offers. Events were held in Bristol, London, Edinburgh and Leeds, with a range of venues chosen in each city. The study tours looked at industry trends, including street food, craft beer, gin distilleries, range specialisation, entertainment and shared workspaces in pubs. Greene King Pub Partners managing director Clive Chesser said: “For us it is about building even stronger partnerships with the best operators and it was hugely beneficial to hear their feedback on how we can make our businesses stronger together. By presenting our strategy, we examined how value can be added to their business and how we can support them. It was about identifying the challenges we face together looking through the lens of their business.”

Veeno opens second Leeds site, tenth in total: Italian wine cafe Veeno has opened its second site in Leeds – its tenth in total. The company, led by Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino, has opened the 100-cover cafe in the Wellington Place development. The venue offers platters of Italian meat, cheese and bread, alongside desserts, wine, cocktails and Italian beers. Veeno sources wine from Caruso’s family vineyard in Sicily, which has been growing vines since the 19th century. Veeno opened its first venue in Manchester in 2013 and also has sites in Bristol, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Liverpool, Nottingham and York. Veeno’s first Leeds site opened in 2014, while it has also been given the go-ahead for a cafe in Warrington. Last year, the company revealed it planned to expand to 80 sites by 2020.

Simmons Bars to open tenth central London site, in Camden Town: Cocktail bar operator Simmons Bars is set to open its tenth central London site, this time in Camden Town, after agents Davis Coffer Lyons assigned the leasehold for a site in Kentish Town Road previously trading as Havana BBQ & Bar. A new 15-year lease was agreed at a rent of £125,000 per annum exclusive for the 2,000 square foot ground-floor and basement venue. Simmons Bars, which is privately funded by Nick Campbell, has other sites in nearby Mornington Crescent and King’s Cross, as well as in Chelsea, Fitzrovia, Fulham, Liverpool Street, Soho and Tower Bridge, with another site set to open in Temple. Davis Coffer Lyons director Jonathan Moradoff, who acted on behalf of landlord St Charles Property, said: “The Simmons group has adopted a fantastic business model that has been expanding at an impressive rate, so I’ve no doubt it will make a great success of its latest venture.”

Crafted Projects launches Neapolitan pizza and cocktail concept in Newcastle: North east-based Crafted Projects, formerly known as Ladhar Leisure, has opened Neapolitan pizza and cocktail concept Central Oven and Shaker in Newcastle. The £1m venue is close to Central Station and offers pizzas, prosecco, craft beer and cocktail carafes, as well as a deli-style take out. Crafted Projects director Barry Ladhar told Chronicle Live: “Central Oven and Shaker fits in perfectly with our plans to grow the business through innovative, sophisticated eateries and bars.” General manager Lucy Major added: “The concept brings a casual dining element to the city like nothing seen before. It caters to a range of target markets – from students to commuters and office lunch-goers.” Ladhar Leisure rebranded itself as Crafted Projects last month as part of a major growth strategy. Its portfolio includes gin and craft beer bar Pleased to Meet You, the Lady Grey’s and Redhouse pubs, and bar and smokehouse Hop & Cleaver, all in Newcastle. The company is also set to launch phase one of its White Hart Yard scheme to turn 30,000 square feet of grade I-listed property between Grey Street and the Cloth Market into a food and drink destination.

Never mind Nando’s – cheeky Chorley’s to bring peri-peri chicken to Cornwall: Fans desperate to see Nando’s open a site in Cornwall will at least get a taste of peri-peri chicken when spicy sauce brand Chorley’s opens a restaurant in the county next week. The family-run Cornish company will open a 25-cover restaurant in Truro on Monday (12 December), offering chargrilled chicken smothered in its range of sauces, from garlic to peri-peri. The restaurant in Old Bridge Street will also sell burgers and slow-cooked pork ribs in sauces that come in various flavours and strengths. Vegetarians will also be catered for with Chorley’s sauce-based, stir-fry mix and nachos. Bob Chorley, founder of the Truro-based company, originates from South Africa and the restaurant will also offer a range of specials such as Durban Bunny Chow, a mild curry served in a hollowed loaf with excess bread used for dripping. Shane Chorley told Cornwall Live: “We’ve followed the Nando’s model – diners can enjoy food cooked with our sauces, our way, and then buy a bottle, go home and cook with it their own way.”

Premier Inn gets go-ahead for Bakewell hotel after winning planning appeal: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has been given the go-ahead to build a 72-bedroom hotel in Bakewell, Derbyshire, after winning a planning appeal. The company has been granted permission by a government inspector for the development at the Riverside Business Park. Work on the hotel, car parking and landscaping on the site of Richard Arkwright’s former 18th century cotton mill is expected to start in 2017 before opening the following year. Premier Inn acquisitions manager Nick Johnston told The Business Desk: “In addition to attracting more visitors and bringing greater customer choice, the hotel will deliver jobs and fresh investment into the area.”

Co-op in Wales to stock beer from 11 additional Welsh small breweries: The Co-op is set to stock beers from a further 11 small breweries in Wales as part of plans to sell more local and small-scale supplies in its food stores. The retailer will initially stock an additional 23 ales across 80 of its Welsh outlets. Among those to have secured deals are Llantrisant-based Glamorgan Brewing Co, which will supply about 50,000 pints of ale per year; the Gower Brewery, which recently sent out its first shipment of 6,000 bottles; and Boss Brewing in Llansamlet, which will supply three of its ales. The other breweries are Llandudno-based Great Orme Brewery, Castles Brewery in Caldicot, Evan Evans Brewery in Llandeilo, Felinfoel Brewery in Llanelli, Monty’s Brewery in Montgomery, Bridgend-based Cold Black Label, Purple Moose brewery in Porthmadog, and Newport-based Tiny Rebel. Simon Dryell, ranging manager for the Co-op in Wales, said: “We know the provenance of food and drink matters to our customers and we are committed to investing in the Welsh economy.” Dave Campbell, head brewer at Gower Brewery, added: “It will create new opportunities, open up new markets and build a wider customer base for our beers.”

MOD Pizza opens flagship Leicester Square restaurant: Fast-casual artisan pizza concept MOD Pizza has opened its flagship restaurant in London’s Leicester Square. The 6,200 square foot site in Irving Street is the US company’s fourth UK restaurant and first in London. A fifth venue will open in Nottingham on Wednesday (14 December). MOD’s artisan-style pizzas and salads are individually crafted using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces. Customers create their own pizza and salads, choosing any combination from more than 30 toppings. The price remains the same – £7.47 – regardless of the number of toppings. The menu is rounded out with soft drinks and hand-spun milkshakes. MOD co-founder and chief executive Scott Svenson told TNT: “Our arrival in London is one of the most exciting milestones for MOD. Having launched our first retail brand, Seattle Coffee Company, in Covent Garden two decades ago, it is thrilling to be returning to the city that provided so much inspiration for MOD.” The other MOD Pizza sites are in Brighton, Gateshead and Leeds.

Merseyside operator narrows losses by nearly 60%: Merseyside-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Bispham Green Brewery, owned by the Ainscough family, has narrowed its losses by nearly 60%. The company reported a pre-tax loss of £237,874 for the year ending 28 February 2016, compared with a loss of £594,096 the year before. Turnover fell to £3,095,227, compared with £3,216,995 the previous year. Spokesman for the board Martin Ainscough said: “Results for the year to the end of February 2016 showed an improvement on last year but continued to be below expectation. The pub businesses continued to suffer from serious management upheaval but are showing signs of improvement. The Racquet Club in Liverpool also saw a decline in sales and profitability as a result of intense competition in the city centre. The country pubs performed in line with last year. Strong new management teams in each pub have stabilised these businesses and we are beginning to see sales growth in 2016. Staff costs have increased as a result of the minimum wage and pension costs. It is increasingly difficult to keep these staff costs at a third of sales, which is our aim. However, we did see some profit growth. In the unique hotels part of the business, The Racquet Club sales declined by 7%. The accommodation and restaurant sides of the business are still being adversely affected by the oversupply of rooms and restaurants in the city of Liverpool. Competition in weddings and banqueting had an impact this year. Sales at Miller Howe were in line with last year. Significant work has been done on the hotel and it is now in better shape than ever. The manager of 22 years resigned at the year-end and it is proving difficult to replace him. This will have a significant impact on the current year. Both the Vernon Arms and Berry Street are let and trading successfully. The Station remains on the market. 2016/17 is proving to be another challenging year in all areas of the business. However, I remain optimistic we now have in place some strong teams to recover the business lost over the past few years.”

SA Brain senior team to tour Wales to inspire Christmas trading: Senior members of Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain are embarking on a mammoth 48-hour visit to 162 pubs ahead of the peak Christmas and New Year period. Chairman John Rhys, chief executive Scott Waddington and members of the senior management team will tour the length and breadth of Wales to thank the SA Brain team for its support during the past 12 months and prepare them for festive trade. Between them they will visit 162 managed and tenanted pubs in two days. It’s part of Brains’ commitment to improve engagement between senior management, head office and the hundreds of employees working across the estate. Waddington said: “An email to our team would have been an easy option but we are great believers in the power of the personal touch. Meeting and thanking our teams in person has always proven to be popular and enables us to see first-hand the dedication of our teams at this time of year. It is also an excellent opportunity to hear any challenges our staff and pubs are facing so we can continue to improve our offerings in 2017.”

New German bar and restaurant concept Bierhaus opens in Reading: New German bar and restaurant concept Bierhaus has launched in Reading town centre. The new venue in Queen’s Walk offers freshly made “Haus” specials, schnitzels, pretzels and steins filled with a selection of German and Belgian draught beers. It also serves premium pilsner and flavoured beers, as well as a wide variety of bottled beers, wines and spirits from around the world. The decor includes Semperoper in Dresden wallpaper, which covers the bar and wine cellar function room. Bierhaus owner Mariusz Turek told Get Reading: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to open the first German bar and restaurant in Berkshire. I want to give people a chance to experience Germany in Reading without travelling the distance.”

Ceru Restaurants opens first permanent London site: EIS-backed eastern Mediterranean casual dining concept Ceru Restaurants has opened its first permanent site in London. Ceru was founded by husband-and-wife team Barry and Patricia Hilton in 2014. They launched a flagship restaurant in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year and have operated a string of pop-ups in London. The 1,000 square foot, all-day restaurant in Bute Street, South Kensington, showcases cuisine inspired by the Hilton’s travels in the Levant and offers a selection of classic mezze, alongside grilled meat, salads and desserts. A predominantly Levantine wine list features bottles from Greece, Turkey and Lebanon, alongside Lebanese Pilsner-style beer, Ceru’s own pale ale, and cocktails.

Tennent’s to invest £1m in visitor centre: Tennent Caledonian, which is owned by C&C Group, is set to invest £1m in its visitor centre in Glasgow. It has applied to the city council to transform the Wellpark brewery site into a five-star tourist attraction showcasing “The Tennent’s Story”. The enhanced visitor experience will bring Tennent’s 500-year heritage to life, telling the story of its place in Scottish history, culture and sport while promoting its lager and ales. If approved, the new visitor centre is expected to open next autumn.

Epic Pubs scoops social media award: Epic Pubs is celebrating success following the Hospitality Social Media Awards. The company, which operates five pubs, won Best Multi-Site Pub Operator of the Year at the inaugural awards, which recognise how effectively hospitality operators use social media to engage with customers. The awards, announced at a ceremony in Manchester’s Palace Hotel, were judged by leading marketing, communications, advertising and digital communications professionals. Epic Pubs marketing co-ordinator Lara Busby said: “Our saying is we are a ‘pub for everyone’, so our social media reflects this too. We understand our audience and tailor our social media to suit by keeping up to date with trends in the market and create posts that are engaging and draw people in, not only to view the posts but to interact with them. We are continually increasing our likes, reach and engagement.”

Kent-based multi-site operator puts two pub leaseholds on market: Kent-based multi-site operator Julian Leefe-Griffiths has put the leasehold of two of his pubs on the market. Leefe-Griffiths is marketing The George & Dragon in the village of Speldhurst and the Black Pig in Tunbridge Wells through agent Christie & Co. The leasehold of the George & Dragon is available for £249,950, while the Black Pig’s is marketed at £199,950. The George & Dragon was Leefe-Griffiths’ first foray into the industry in 2004 before he added the Black Pig in 2007. He has since acquired The Swan in Tunbridge Wells, now known as The Tunbridge Wells Hotel, and the Leicester Arms in Penshurst, where he spent about £1m on its transformation, reports Kent Live. Christie & Co said both businesses were expected to have a turnover of about £800,000 for the current year, with Leefe-Griffiths deciding to sell to concentrate on other ventures.