Busaba Eathai reports booming delivery revenue through Deliveroo: Busaba Eathai, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau and led by chief executive Jason Myers, has reported it has grown delivery sales from virtually zero to “£3m a year and growing” in just 18 months after partnering with Deliveroo. The company believes it can hit between £5m and £6m of delivery turnover at existing sites and is creating more capacity. A special delivery point has been fitted at its latest opening in Manchester and will be a feature of its new Liverpool site, due to open later this week. Delivery points are likely to be retro-fitted to existing sites if they are successful at the two trial sites. Myers said the soaring demand for takeaway the brand has experienced is driven by consumers’ appetite for “craveable, flavoursome, fresh food”. Busaba Eathai is planning a three-fold estate increase in three years, growing to 30 sites but Myers believes there is room for more than 100 Busaba Eathai sites in the UK. Myers has developed two models for the brand – Classic (as seen in central London) and a Restaurant version with less communal seating, which was launched successfully in Kingston and Shoreditch 14 months ago, and now in Manchester. There are circa 1,500 licensed Thai businesses in the UK, with a large number of them operating from pubs. However, the Thai branded multi-site market accounts for less than 100 of the total. Myers told Propel: “Busaba Eathai is a brand for people serious about quality Thai food – we’re still working with David Thompson, the two-star Thai Michelin chef that created the menu in 1999. Thai food has definitely become a disruptive force in the Asian cuisine market. There is a very big gap in the fast casual market. It is worth £4.9bn of annual sales, of which £330m comes from the pan-Asian segment – Wagamama accounts for half of that. The pan-Asian category is in 14% growth – it’s the ultimate casual dining experience in terms of wonderful flavours.” The brand’s original site was in Wardour Street, London, and was launched in 1999 – Myers reported it is still as busy as it was on opening with queues still forming – despite the arrival of 40 food and beverage operations in the same street since 1999. Busaba Eathai sites can turn covers as many as seven or eight times a day and serve as many as 5,500 covers a week.
Enterprise boosts pub estate with £11.5m investment: Enterprise Inns has invested more than £11.5m on upgrading its pub estate in the first few months of the company’s new financial year, with sites across the north of England receiving a major slice of the total spend. More than £4m has been invested on improving pubs across the north, including nearly £500,000 for the Beacon estate, the highly supported managed tenancy model that provides a “simple, value-for-money wet-led offer” to publicans. The Baht’ap in Leeds city centre is among the latest pubs within the Enterprise leased and tenanted estate to benefit from refurbishment, with a £130,000 upgrade to facilities, supporting a new retail offer, which is focused on craft beer. Run by Stewart Taylor, a successful multiple operator who also has another Enterprise site – the Black Hat, in Ilkley – the Baht’ap will be launching a new street food offer this week to complement the craft ale selection, which has a strong Yorkshire twist. Elsewhere, more than £180,000 has been invested in the Sir Thomas Brown, Eaglescliffe, which has a new multi-operator from Ginger Village Pubs at the helm. Using the new Enterprise segmentation model, the company worked with publicans John and Donna Price to reposition the pub from what was a fully wet-led local. A new kitchen has been added so the pub can introduce more of a food-based proposition, supported by the creation of one open plan lounge bar. Enterprise sales and marketing director James Armitage said the segmentation model was playing an increasingly influential role in supporting the company’s on-going capex programme across the estate. “As segmentation becomes more embedded within the business, our operations teams are using it in the planning process with publicans enabling pubs to be repositioned where necessary so the retail offer is the most appropriate for the customers and location,” he said.
Greene King pledges to take on 10,000 apprentices: Pub retailer and brewer Greene King has pledged to take on 10,000 apprentices over the next three years. The company said by 2019 it expects to have supported more than 17,000 apprentices in just eight years. It follows last year’s pledge made by Greene King to hire 2,000 apprentices in the 12 months to March 2016 – a pledge the company not only met, but exceeded. Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “We are thrilled to have exceeded our 2015 apprenticeship target. The fact that we are now aiming to hit an even higher target of 10,000 is a reflection that as a leader within the UK’s hospitality industry, we believe we have a responsibility to support young people by creating these opportunities to earn and learn. Not only do we want to ensure our apprentices have a great experience, we want to continue to improve the programme itself. We will provide the best advice and guidance to potential learners so they understand their commitment and ensure the qualification is best suited to their career aspirations.” One of the apprentices to have risen through the ranks is Lindsey Parr. Now a general manager at Sherwood Manor, Nottingham, and supporting other Greene King apprentices, Parr is also leading a Greene King team of nine apprentices as part of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. Since its launch in 2011, the Greene King apprenticeship scheme has to date helped support over 7,400 apprentices to achieve a qualification while working across the group’s pub, restaurant and hotel outlets. The scheme offers bespoke qualifications that cover a range of job roles, including front-of-house, kitchen and management, which are tailored to each of the Greene King retail brands.
Arc Inspirations to open fourth Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds next month, expects turnover to hit £24m this financial year: Arc Inspirations, the multi-brand bar and restaurant operator, will open its new Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds next month. The company has secured £1.5m in funding from Santander for the 8,000 square foot venue in the Old Post office building in City Square on the former Loch Fyne restaurant, the brand owned by Greene King. It will be Arc Inspirations’ fourth Banyan Bar & Kitchen following openings in Harrogate, Manchester and York. Established in 1999 by Chris Ure and Martin Wolstencroft, Arc Inspirations now owns and operates 13 bars throughout Yorkshire and the north west, employing more than 550 people. The company plans to continue to expand at a rate of two sites per year with the aim of reaching 20 sites over the next three to five years. Turnover is forecast to increase by 27% to £24m this financial year. Ure told The Business Desk: “We are pleased to continue our relationship with Santander, which has helped us with recent new openings of Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Manchester and Manahatta in Leeds, as well as the refurbishment of our Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate. The business is going from strength to strength and we are very excited for our next new opening in City Square, Leeds, this spring.”
BrewDog closes Dog Eat Dog hot dog and craft beer bar to ‘re-evaluate concept’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has closed it gourmet hot dog and craft beer bar Dog Eat Dog in Essex Road, Islington, north west London, to “re-evaluate the concept”, less than five months after launching. The venue opened on 16 October 2015 but a post on the venue’s Facebook page posted on 29 February stated: “We had checked the website and Facebook beforehand to be sure you were open but there was no mention of the closure anywhere. Eventually, (staff) told us the branch was closed for a few days to ‘re-evaluate the concept’. Not cool at all guys – is it really so hard to post on Facebook or update the website so as not to waste people’s time?” Another post dated Thursday, 10 March, asked: “Why are you guys closed?” When the venue launched, BrewDog stated: “In terms of the main offering – our kitchen guru Wyatt has compiled an amazing gourmet hot dog menu, with meaty treats such as tandoori chicken dog with mango chutney and mint raita, to a voodoo cajun sausage with pineapple salsa and spicy mustard. We also have vegetarian hot dogs, and, for early-birds, Dog Eat Dog will be open from 10am every day for ‘breakfast dogs’. To pair with the food, Dog Eat Dog will be pouring a dozen taps of the freshest craft beer, as well as a range of 25 bottles.” Propel contacted BrewDog but no-one was available to comment. Meanwhile, BrewDog has appointed Tim Hawn as brewmaster for its US “mission”. Hawn becomes the fourth member of the team behind DogTap, BrewDog’s $32.5m brewery and pub/restaurant, which is expected to open in Columbus, Ohio, in the summer.
YouTube co-founder launches food-centric live video app: YouTube co-founder Steve Chen has launched Nom – a live, interactive video community and app that allows chefs to showcase their skills by hosting their own food show. He has recruited a number of high-profile chefs for the venture, including three-starred Michelin chef Corey Lee, who is also an investor. Nom allows hosts to communicate directly with their audiences via a no-delay, two-way video chat, so viewers can watch, learn and interact with their “favourite chefs, brewmasters, grillmasters, baristas or bloggers”, reports International Business Times. Chen said: “Nom is a place for food lovers. If you’ve ever snapped a picture of your dinner, Nom is for you. If you have a food blog and want to connect with a bigger audience, Nom is for you. If a restaurant kitchen is your office, Nom is for you.” The platform also enables users to share images and videos with hosts, while hosts can use multiple cameras to broadcast their show if they want to switch between shots. Chen said: “We put you as close as you could possibly be with a chef. You are right there, receiving the live feed of the chef talking in his kitchen. Chefs love to have that control and power to control the message they want to deliver.” The company also plans to broadcast online foodie events. Nom is available on iOS and online platforms.
Casual Dining Group to open Belgo in Nottingham in April: Casual Dining Group will open it first Belgo outside of London in Nottingham in Weekday Cross, in the Lace Market, on Wednesday, 6 April, creating 40 jobs. The premises, which used to be Spanish tapas bar La Tasca, are currently undergoing a £550,000 refurbishment. Belgo spokeswoman Amber Staynings said: “We are delighted to be creating a new Belgo in Nottingham. It’s such a fantastic, cosmopolitan city and we hope our bold Belgian dining and drinking experience will fit right in. We can’t wait to open our doors.” The brand has five sites across London, including Covent Garden and Soho. The Nottingham branch, over two floors with room for 180 diners, will have quirky feature lighting, big banquette seating, reclaimed wood booths, eclectic artwork and a Belgian market theme. The first floor “Zot Loft” will offer Belgo’s beer selection – including Brugse Zot, a blond beer brewed by Bruges’ famous Halve Mann Brewery, or cocktails and schnapps, including a 32 shot stick for the bold.
Starbucks hits ten million coffee trees milestone: Starbucks has hit the ten million coffee trees milestone in its One Tree for Every Bag Commitment. The company launched the initiative last autumn, pledging to plant a tree for every bag of coffee purchased at a US store to help farmers in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. The trees will be distributed to farms hit by coffee rust, a plant fungus that has damaged millions of trees around the world and affected farmers’ incomes. A spokesman for global commodity merchant ECOM Agroindustrial told EPR Retail the Starbucks initiative would generate almost 800 jobs at the three Guatemalan, four El Salvadoran and three Mexican nurseries producing most of the 11 million rust-resistant seedlings that will be delivered this year.
New burger restaurant opens in Exeter city centre: A new burger restaurant has launched in Exeter city centre. Zita’s Bar and Restaurant has opened at The Old Malthouse in Bartholomew Street East on a site formerly occupied by Burgerfest, which closed suddenly in January and was owned by Lifestyle Hospitality Group, which later we into administration. Zita’s manager Mitchell Short told the Exeter Express & Echo: “We took over the place in February and wanted to open it back up as a burger-themed restaurant. We are different because we want to create a mixture of both a burger restaurant and a gastro-pub.” The restaurant is a family-run business and Short said he planned to convert the venue’s ground floor into a cocktail and live music lounge. He said: “We have changed the theme of the restaurant a lot because it was really industrial before. We wanted to give that feel of fine dining.”
Fluid Movement launches fourth site – Black Rock whisky bar in Shoreditch: Fluid Movement, the beverage consultancy and events company that operates two venues in London and another in Cornwall, has launched the Black Rock whisky bar in Shoreditch. As well as more than 250 bottles of whisky, with a three-tier price point for a dram, the venue will serve whisky cocktails, which can utilise the “interactive cocktail ageing system” – an 18ft, 185-year-old oak tree trunk, which is the centrepiece of the bar, reports Hot Dinners. Cocktails include Insta-age Rob Roy (redistilled Macallan whisky and Vermouth), and 40 Shades (Black Bush whisky with apple and fennel pollen). Snacks include fried oysters in Guinness batter with Kilkeeny cheese, and haggis balls with scotch marmalade. Fluid Movement’s other London venues are cocktail bars Purl in Blandford Street and the Worship Street Whistling Shop, and Surf-Side Cafe & Bar in Polzeath, Cornwall.
New speciality coffee cafe lodges plans to open in Nottingham: A new speciality coffee cafe has lodged plans to open in Nottingham. The Speciality Coffee Shop has submitted an application to the city council to launch the venue in Friar Lane. It would serve a range of coffees and teas as well as breakfast and lunch if approved, reports Insider Media. The cafe will also offer coffee cupping sessions and an afternoon book club. A business review filed with the application said: “We believe that Nottingham has a huge potential to grow in this sector as it is a booming university city and has a great historical background, which attracts thousands of tourists a year.”
Nando’s eyes Loughborough venue launch in mid-May: Nando’s is set to open its 3,500 square foot venue at the new multimillion-pound Baxter Gate cinema development in Loughborough in mid-May. PizzaExpress, Asian buffet and bar Mimosa, Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia, Brazilian grill-house Preto, cafe bar brand Loungers, Mexican bar and restaurant Loco Mexicana, Starbucks and an eight-screen, 1,118-seat Cineworld cinema will also open at the site. The development will create about 250 jobs and inject thousands of pounds into the town’s night-time economy, reports the Loughborough Echo.
Bar and restaurant boasting ‘Scotland’s most extensive drinks range’ opens in Glasgow: A bar and restaurant boasting what is claimed to be Scotland’s most extensive range of drinks has opened in Glasgow. The Spiritualist, which is based in a once derelict library in Miller Street, has 320 spirits and liqueurs on offer and is the brainchild of bar and restaurant operators Ryan Barrie and Jim Ballantyne. Spiritualist has also set up a “buy a tipple” service, whereby customers can order a bottle of rare spirit and have it delivered to their door. The restaurant, where up to ten people will be able to try a bespoke tasting menu, is headed by executive chef Mark Stocks. Barrie said: “From Scottish malt whiskies and craft gins to some of the world’s most rare and sought-after brandies, tequilas and absinthe, we offer an unrivalled drinks list. We’ve even sourced a must-try range of small-batch and hard-to-source mezcals. Spiritualist is about offering a superb range of food and drink, at a fair and affordable price. We want to give people in Glasgow a unique drinking and dining experience; a grown-up experience; a night-out they’ll treasure.”
Greene King pub restaurant at centre of salmonella poisoning investigation closes for third time in four months, sells West Hampstead pub: A Greene King pub restaurant at the centre of an investigation into an outbreak of salmonella poisoning has shut for a third time in four months. Grove Farm, at Enderby, near junction 21 of the M1, has closed again voluntarily for further works “as a precautionary measure”. On its Facebook page the pub said: “As part of our on-going investigation with environmental health and Public Health England (PHE) into a cluster of salmonella cases in Leicestershire last year, we have taken the voluntary decision to close again for further works as a precautionary measure. We expect to remain closed for a short period and are very sorry for any disruption this causes to our guests. We would like to reassure our guests that no new cases have been confirmed.” Grove Farm previously closed before Christmas and all bookings over the festive period were cancelled. It followed a number of diners at the pub falling ill. It then reopened in early January after “intensive cleaning” and a variety of tests, which the owners said included a negative result for salmonella, but then shut again several weeks later before reopening in mid-February. PHE, which is investigating the outbreak, revealed in January 105 cases of salmonella were originally reported, some of which were linked to the pub. It is understood the cases occurred in a limited geographical area, between April and December last year. However, PHE said no further cases had been reported since the pub shut for the first time in December. Meanwhile, Greene King has sold The Alliance pub in West Hampstead, London, to an undisclosed pub operator. The company confirmed it had agreed the sale of the pub in Mill Lane “in its existing use”. A spokesman told the Camden New Journal: “The Alliance at West Hampstead remains open and trading and we have agreed to the sale of the property in its existing use with the tenant remaining.” The sale comes days after Camden Council listed the pub as an Asset of Community Value despite objections from Greene King. The ACV listing applies to the ground and lower ground floors only – meaning the pub is better protected against applications to change its use.