Former L’Atelier des Chefs managing director plans Arlo’s expansion in London and beyond: Former L’Atelier des Chefs culinary schools managing director Tom McNeile has told Propel he is planning expansion of his informal steak restaurant concept Arlo’s in London and potentially beyond. McNeile opened the 75-seat site in Balham, south west London, in July. The restaurant, which is on the corner of Ramsden Road and Balham High Road, serves a simple menu of grass-fed British beef from native breeds alongside a selection of homemade sides, sauces, seasonal salads as well as cocktails, beer, cider, freshly made milkshakes and a short wine list. Although it has been only a few months since launch, McNeile is already beginning to think about expansion. He said: “I definitely want Arlo’s to be more than one site. Obviously, I want to get this one absolutely right first but I’m confident the proof of the concept is there.” McNeile said he was looking ideally to build a cluster of sites in the south and south west of London, in places such as Clapham, Putney, Richmond and Battersea. He added: “We’re interested in neighbourhood areas because of the close match with our customer base and also due to rent levels in central sites. At Arlo’s, we hope to tap into the market catering for people who eat at restaurants such as Byron and Franco Manca. You can grab a burger or a pizza for £9 or £10 but there are few places you can do that with steak. I don’t believe that a very good steak has to cost £20 to £25 a head. At Arlo’s we have a very simple and straightforward goal – to source the very best beef and serve it quickly and simply. We serve British beef – because we think it’s the best – and we’re serious about steak, it’s our focus and our obsession. I’ve got an experienced executive board behind me and everything is open. We would go where the market wants us – I don’t see any reason to put a geographical block on it – at least at this early stage.” McNeile took up a career in the hospitality industry after five years as a currency trader in the City and having spent six years in northern Russia, initially working on a trawler and then managing a salmon-fishing operation. He said: “I’ve run culinary schools but never a restaurant, so I wanted to keep the opening under the radar so to speak, but it’s going really well. We’re doing more than 150 covers in the evenings from Thursdays to Sundays. We also do a Little Arlo’s menu, a scaled-down serving of steak or macaroni cheese with broccoli and chips, served with fruit juice and a dessert for children, and we’ll shortly launch a brunch menu to tap more into the day market.”
Steak & Honour burger concept to launch first permanent restaurant, in Cambridge city centre: Steak & Honour, known for operating vintage burger vans around Cambridge, is set to launch its first permanent site, in the city centre. The new restaurant in Wheeler Street will open next to the Corn Exchange in early December, with space for about 40 diners and featuring a semi-open kitchen – just like the vans. Former chefs Leo Riethoff and David Underwood, who have Michelin-starred backgrounds, founded Steak & Honour in 2014. After success on the streets, they have now decided to put down roots in Cambridge. However, the company will continue operating from its Citroen wagons. A Steak & Honour spokesman told Cambridge News: “They wanted to put some roots down and offer Cambridge something a bit different. The guys are local, the producers are local. It’s all local to the area and that’s really important to them.”
Chopstix opens Chatham site: Noodle brand Chopstix has opened a restaurant in Chatham, Kent. The new venue is in High Street. Chopstix co-founder Menashe Sadik told Kent Live: “Chatham is an ideal location for our Chopstix Noodle Bar as it is a vibrant high street with all the demographics represented that form our customer base. We are the fastest-growing Oriental quick-service restaurant brand in the UK, opening 15 sites a year. We are excited to be serving the community in Chatham with a fun and exciting brand offering a quick and convenient dining experience for health-conscious customers who want to take their food away or sit in and enjoy our tasty meals.” In August, Chopstix began trialling a fresh brand identity at its new restaurant in Aberdeen. The livery, developed in partnership with brand agency Mystery Design, is being assessed in preparation for the launch of Chopstix Group’s flagship restaurant in Oxford Street, London, later this year, where a full unveiling of the new store concept will take place. Chopstix Group operates almost 60 sites across the UK and Ireland.
Cheshire-based restaurant owners to launch Sandbach gastro-pub with £500,000 investment: The Pear family, who operate fine dining restaurant Pecks in Congleton, have acquired The Wheatsheaf in Sandbach and will invest £500,000 to turn the former coaching inn into a “quintessentially British gastro-pub”. The refurbished venue in Hightown will include a 70-cover restaurant and bar, which will open on Thursday, 1 December, marking phase one of a larger project that includes plans to fully renovate the hotel rooms and provide a private function space and terrace. Managing director Andy Pear told The Sentinel: “We have been working up to this for a long time and it is exciting for us to branch out into Sandbach. Our background in fine dining at Pecks has taught us a great deal about how to provide good service and great food. Our intention is to make the Wheatsheaf a regular haunt, appreciated for outstanding food, great beer, wine and cocktails with friendly, engaging services and, most importantly, superb value for money.” Pear’s son Jake will take control of the business as operations director, joining from Living Ventures, where he was part of the senior management team at its flagship outlet Australasia in Manchester.
Brew Tap Burger to launch three-month pop-up at Mercato Metropolitano in Borough: Brew Tap Burger will launch a three-month pop-up at the newly opened Mercato Metropolitano in Borough on Tuesday (11 October). Brew Tap Burger founder Rohit Chugh will offer his favourite burgers, with flavours inspired by his travels, alongside prosecco on tap, British and Italian beers, and a rotating menu of bellinis. Made with 35-day, dry-aged beef from Ayrshire, Brew Tap’s burger offering will include the Sweet Miso (topped with red onion jam infused with fennel and sweet miso), and the Chilli Smoke, which will come with tomato chutney laced with smoky red chilli. Skin on house fries will come with a chilli umami salt. Chugh said: “Mercato offers a wonderful combination of Italian produce alongside street food shacks with food from around the world. For Brew Tap Burger we’re using simple, quality ingredients combined with some of my favourite classic and more experimental flavours. We’ve sourced great craft beers that work really well with our food and for aperitivo it had to be prosecco and bellinis!”
New cafe concept to open in Altrincham: A new cafe concept is set to open in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. Jenni and Karim Moolla are launching Rocket & Orange in Borough Road later this month. The family-friendly cafe will offer speciality coffee, local food and creative play for children. The menu will include breakfasts, artisan sandwiches, light bites and salads, soups and family sharing platters. Cakes and treats will also feature, while the coffee will come from speciality roaster Ancoats Coffee Company. There will also be a big focus on creative play for children, including role play, Lego building, table football, games, paper crafts and drawing, as well as wooden and interactive toys for younger children. Jenni Moolla told Altrincham Today: “The extent of the family offering in most cafe venues can be very limited. There tends to be little creativity in children’s menu creation and presentation and we plan to change that. I feel there is a real opportunity to create a quality, community destination that caters well for parents and children in a creative, family environment.”
Carluccio’s opens first ‘new generation’ site outside London, at Intu Derby: Carluccio’s has launched its second “new generation” model site – at Intu Derby shopping centre. The concept, which was piloted at London’s Spitalfields earlier this year, brings Carluccio’s deli and retail area to the fore and offers an open plan kitchen with a communal table, where diners can watch their dishes being prepared from scratch. Carluccio’s chief executive Neil Wickers said: “The Derby restaurant will celebrate and amplify all the small things that have made Carluccio’s one of the country’s most loved restaurant groups. The premise is to emphasise and enhance the things that make Carluccio’s stand out from the crowd – its suppliers, fresh dishes made on-site and unique combination of restaurant, shop and deli.” Intu Derby general manager added: “Carluccio’s is well known and well loved and is the perfect choice if our visitors are looking for a dining venue that is a little more special. As well as a new restaurant, Carluccio’s will offer a retail and deli section where fresh produce and food gifts can be purchased. We are also extremely proud that Carluccio’s has chosen Intu Derby as the location for their first new generation restaurant outside London.”
New Japanese restaurant concept opens in Sutton Coldfield: A new Japanese restaurant concept has opened in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. Gil Kanengisser has launched Sushido Sushi and Noodle Bar in Beeches Walk on the former site of Thai Brasserie. The 40-cover venue has a sit-up bar area, where diners can see their food being prepared, and private booths with iPads installed for ordering. The menu includes teriyaki salmon and chicken dishes, pad tai noodle, and speciality sushido rice dishes. Kanengisser told Sutton Coldfield Observer: “I have always been a fan of good, fresh sushi. When you taste proper fresh sushi for the first time, your idea of a fishy-tasting ball of rice is blown out of the water. At Sushido, our fish is as fresh as you can get it without having to chase it around the plate.”
Principal Hayley Group reports revenue and profit boost: Hotel operator Principal Hayley Group has reported an increase in revenue and profits as it took advantage of growth in the sector and invested about £50m into its properties. Since 2013, the business has been owned by US private equity house Starwood Capital Group, which invested in the hotel groups De Vere and Four Pillars after becoming the majority shareholder. The momentum generated by becoming one of the largest players in the UK industry has translated into a strong financial performance in the 2015 calendar year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Group revenue from continuing operations climbed by 7.3% to £324m, while operating profit increased from £50m to £66.4m. Ebitda was up 8.9% at £99.4m. Principal Hayley is in the process of investing more than £100m across its hotels, with about £45m being spent on gala sites in York, Manchester and Edinburgh. The accounts also revealed the group agreed a £100m extension to its banking facilities last November in a move that was said to reflect the lender’s confidence in the Principal Hayley Group and Starwood’s vision for the business. Since the year-end, the maturity date for bank debt financing of De Vere has also been extended. Given the “unprecedented level of ongoing refurbishment”, the company said revenues for 2016 were expected to be broadly flat. However, the outlay is expected to leave it well placed for further growth.
British bar and restaurant concept Boadicea to launch in Colchester this week: British bar and restaurant concept Boadicea will launch in Colchester, Essex, on Saturday (15 October). Owner Josh Campbell-Broome has spent £500,000 getting the venue in Haven Road up to scratch. It will offer British food with a modern twist. Championing local produce, all meat and fish will be sourced from Mersea and Colchester producers. Campbell-Broome told the Harwich and Manningtree Standard: “The vibe we want to give off is a relaxed, friendly venue with a buzz that appeals to everyone from 18 years old to 60, with high-end dining at the same time. Boadicea is outside the town centre but we want it to be a destination venue. Over the next few years we’re looking to open quite a number of sites, but we don’t want to lose our identity. A lot of places open fast and then their quality goes down considerably, so we aim to keep the consistency. The food is also reasonably priced and students will get a discount to bring it down even more for them.” Boadicea will open daily until 2am at the latest.
Leonardo DiCaprio body double and former Michael Deane manager to launch restaurant in Holywood: Leonardo DiCaprio’s stunt body double Saul McConnell, who is also a former manager in Michelin-starred chef Michael Deane’s empire, is set to launch a restaurant in Holywood, Northern Ireland. McConnell is launching the venture in Church Road with chef and business partner Pearson Morris above health food shop Iona, the Belfast Telegraph reports. McConnell is a former holder of the Best Restaurant Manager in Ireland title, while Morris’s menu includes dishes such as Strangford oysters with pickled cucumber; Moroccan-style baked beetroot with mojo sauce, couscous, yogurt and walnut; and Holywood-calibrated chicken breast with barley, chard and lemon.
Caffe Nero-backed songwriter competition now under way: A competition backed by Caffe Nero to find the best unsigned songwriter in the UK and raise £50,000 for charity is now under way. Caffe Nero has partnered with The Songwriting Academy for the initiative, which is the first live, event-based songwriting competition where the song is the star, not the singer. Initial heats are now under way building up the semi-finals in Liverpool (Monday, 17 October) and London (Tuesday, 18 October) before the final in the capital at the Piano Works in Farringdon on Sunday, 30 August. The winner will receive a 12-month development programme with The Songwriting Academy, Caffe Nero and Yamaha Instruments to help them hit the big time, giving them the opportunity to write with some of the world’s most successful songwriters and have their songs played across the UK. Celebrities and multimillion-selling songwriters are all uniting to help the competition raise money for the Stand Up To Cancer campaign and Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, which will share all profits.
New British-cooking concept Harborne Kitchen to launch in Birmingham next month: Jamie Desogus, co-owner of Birmingham pop-up restaurant The Butchers Social, will launch his own venture, Harborne Kitchen, in the city on Friday, 18 November, following a £900,000 investment. The restaurant is opening in the old Walter Smith’s butchers in High Street, Harborne, which was home to The Butchers Social – a pop-up by Desogus and Mike Bullard that closed late last year. Following extension and renovation of the property, Harborne Kitchen will feature a 50-cover restaurant with 30 covers in the bar area. The tasting menu will include langoustine, and pig’s ear and venison loin with arabica coffee and butter sauce. Snacks include cod quavers with rosemary vinegar and piccalilli pakora. Desogus, who trained under Gordon Ramsay, told the Birmingham Mail: “The kitchen is very much the focal point for the whole restaurant – we’ll have a kitchen table we can seat ten people around where they can watch their food being prepared. I wanted something very informal – top food in a totally relaxed atmosphere. People can come in for one course and a glass of wine or just order drinks at the bar.”
Thai Leisure Group opens Thaikhun in Bath, first south west site: Thai Leisure Group has opened its ninth Thaikhun site, this time in Bath. The company has launched the 154-cover venue in Little SouthGate following a £900,000 refurbishment. It now features a theatre-style open kitchen, outdoor dining area and bar. Thaikhun is one of four restaurants coming to Little SouthGate, which is being redeveloped into a food quarter that will also include Comptoir Libanais, owned by Levant Restaurants Group, and Splendid Hospitality’s Deep South-inspired gourmet chicken brand Absurd Bird. Thai Leisure Group managing director Ian Leigh told the Bath Chronicle: “By combining traditional Thai street food and an authentic, eclectic restaurant setting we hope to inspire dreams or memories of exploring Thailand for every customer who dines with us. This is our first site in the south west of England and we couldn’t be more excited to hear what the people of Bath think.” Thai Leisure Group, which is jointly owned by Thai chef Kim Kaewkraikhot and British entrepreneur Martin Stead, also operates the Chaophraya, ChaoBaby and Yee Rah brands.
New Italian flatbread concept Manitoba Tigella launches in London: A new concept has launched in central London focusing on tigella, a type of stuffed flatbread originating in northern Italy. Manitoba Tigella has opened in New Oxford Street offering the traditionally rural food that is normally found in the chestnut forests of the Apennine mountains, Hot Dinners reports. Tigella fillings include prosciutto with stracchino soft cheese and Parma ham; burger with confit tomatoes, cocktail sauce and provolone cheese; and funghetto aubergine with parmigiano cheese, tomato sauce and basil pesto. The restaurant also offers traditional Italian pasta, meat and fish dishes, and desserts.
New crisp restaurant concept to launch in London this month: A new crisp restaurant concept is set to launch in London at the end of this month. Hipchips, which will serve crisps and dips on a conveyor belt, is launching in Old Compton Street, Soho. The venture is led by head chef Scott Davis, who has a background at restaurants including Providores in Marylebone, and Fifty St James. The crisps will be made from five British potato varieties, all grown in the north of England, reports Time Out. Dips will include katsu curry, Moroccan yogurt and pickled onion cheese fondue. along with sweet varieties such as chocolate salted caramel, Nutella, and cheesecake flavours, which will be paired with crisps dusted with cinnamon sugar. Crisp-dip combos will change on a regular basis, according to what is in season.
Indian restaurateurs begin Bombay concept expansion with second Cheshire site: Family-run Indian restaurant Bombay 8 in Warrington has started expansion by opening Bombay Quay in Northwich. The new 130-cover Indian restaurant overlooks the River Weaver and offers traditional options alongside a number of unique curries to the restaurant. Jango Alam, who is heading up the new venture after working at Bombay 8, told the Northwich Guardian: “The food is modern. I don’t think any other restaurant in Northwich has got this type of food. We found the perfect location, we’ve got the perfect food.” Bombay Quay’s arrival coincides with the impending opening of Barons Quay, the £80m leisure and retail complex in Northwich town centre that will be anchored by a five-screen Odeon cinema and house six restaurants. Alam said: “Barons Quay is going to bring people from out of town. They might visit the new cinema and come for a meal. A lot of people will be shopping so it will bring lots of people into the area.”
Liverpool-based restaurant Maray to start expansion with second city site: The team behind Maray, the popular restaurant in Bold Street, Liverpool, is set to start expansion of the small plates concept with a second venue in the city. The new restaurant will open in Allerton Road in the south of the city in late 2016 or early 2017, offering a wide range of dishes with a Middle Eastern and Parisian influence. The name is a phonetic spelling of Marais, a district of Paris where food and drink takes centre stage. The new Maray will also feature a comprehensive drinks and cocktails menu, with weekly wine nights to showcase particular vineyards and varieties. Director Thomas White told the Liverpool Echo: “Opening in Allerton has always been something we have thought about so when this property became available it was an easy decision to make. It’s a lovely community and we are really excited to become part of the neighbourhood. The restaurant will not be an exact replica of our Bold Street site but you can expect the same exciting approach to food and drink.”
Brother of Lima chef Robert Ortiz opens solo health food restaurant in Fitzrovia: William Ortiz, younger brother of Robert Ortiz, the Michelin-starred chef behind acclaimed Peruvian restaurant Lima, has opened his own restaurant – Pisqu – in Fitzrovia. William Ortiz, who worked at The Savoy, The Dorchester and The Berkeley before moving to Lima, has opened his health food concept eight doors down in Rathbone Place. He told the Evening Standard: “It is my first solo venture and it is my menu. What makes us different is our focus on healthy, natural products brought in from Peru and the surrounding area. All our meat, fish and vegetables are organic and sourced from the best suppliers you can find in the UK.” The brothers trained together at their family’s restaurant in Lima, Peru, before moving to the UK in 1994. William Ortiz said Pisqu wasn’t in competition with Lima as it was a “different concept”, adding: “We talk often and he is coming to the opening of the restaurant. He understands this opportunity.” Pisqu uses ingredients from the Amazon and the Andes such as camu, a berry packed with vitamin C; cedron, a herb that aids digestion; matcha, a root said to boost energy levels; and achiote, which is seen as a new superfood. Lima was awarded a Michelin star in 2013. It has a sister restaurant in Covent Garden.
New bar concept that offers unlimited prosecco opens in Coventry: A new bar concept that offers unlimited prosecco has opened in Coventry. Wayne Shanks and Andy Macpherson have launched Shanksy’s The Bar With No Name in Corporation Street on the site of the former Frango restaurant. The venue has a special area for prosecco drinking named Lesley’s Lounge, after Shanks’ late wife Lesley, that contains “prosecco pods”, where customers can enjoy an inclusive drinks package with table service. There is also a cocktail bar as well as a dance floor and a private hire lounge area described as the “ultra VIP experience”. Shanks, who is resident DJ at Coventry bars and night spots including Careys Nightclub, Bobby’s Nightclub and The Holyhead, told the Coventry Telegraph: “I am proud of our city and passionate about expanding its entertainment scene and variety. In developing the bar, we truly believe we are bringing something different to the table and building a venue people will want to come to and that will complement the city nightlife”
York-based brewer launches craft ale micro-brewery: York-based brewer Andy Herrington has launched a craft ale micro-brewery. Herrington, who formed the Ainsty Ales brewery brand in September 2013, has now set up his own brewery at Manor Farm Buildings, near York, to produce the ales himself. Prior to that, the brand had to “cuckoo brew” its products at the local Blass Castle Brewery and Hambleton’s Brewery. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lombard helped fund the site, which will produce 1,080 gallons of cask ale per week to start and produce all six Ainsty Ales beers. Herrington told The Business Desk: “I am thrilled the company has developed so quickly and that we now find ourselves in the position of opening our own micro-brewery. Brewing started out as a hobby for me and I am so pleased I am able to run a business I am passionate about. When setting up Ainsty Ales, I focused on developing the products and promoting the brand locally so I knew we had a solid customer base in place before making the huge investment into our own brewery. I think this strategy has really paid off and I am confident now that the business can sustain the costs of its own brewery. The site has plenty of capacity to accommodate our growth and we will be able to produce double the volume of ales we currently brew.”
New Indian street food concept Abi’s launches in Luton: New Indian street food concept Abi’s has launched in Luton, Bedfordshire. The new venue has opened at The Mall shopping centre in Central Square, offering authentic Indian recipes with a selection of wraps, jacket potatoes, flat breads, pitta pockets, sandwiches and toasties. Fillings include chicken tikka, jalapeno, madras, Jalfrezi, cheese and many others, with diners able to mix the fillings. The concept is the brainchild of Abi Shaikh, who saw a gap in the market for people wanting something hot, fresh and different for lunch. All sauces are made from scratch using fresh ingredients and recipes that have passed down through the generations. A breakfast menu is also available. Shaikh told Luton on Sunday: “Luton has been my home for many years and it just feels right to be launching Abi’s here.” Abi’s is open daily from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 5pm on Sundays.