Soho House in Chicago set to sell for circa $125m after neighbourhood booms in wake of arrival: The developers of Soho House in Chicago have decided to sell the building that houses the hotel and private club to cash in on soaring property values in the Fulton Market district – the 40-bedroom hotel has an estimated value of circa $125m. Soho House was the first major project in the current development boom in the neighbourhood, an area along the north western edge of the West Loop once dominated by meatpackers, food distributors and, more recently, restaurants. Since the hotel opened in August 2014, the area has attracted a flood of capital, with Chicago developers such as Shapack and Sterling Bay and New York firms including Thor Equities and Madison Capital buying up properties to redevelop. Soho House leases its building from a joint venture between Shapack and AJ Capital. The building is leased to the hotel through 2034, with annual rent escalations, according to JLL. Soho House has four options to extend its lease by ten years each.




Joel Kissin slams ‘stealth tax’ on tips: Joel Kissin, who pioneered the opening of a succession of London gastro-domes in the 1990s in partnership with Sir Terence Conran, has launched a scathing attack on the government over plans that could make service charges mandatory. Kissin, who owns French restaurant Boulestin in St James’ in central London, said the proposals would increase menu prices and could force many restaurants to close. Business secretary Sajid Javid completed an eight-month review of tipping and services this month and among the proposals was a mandatory service charge paid to staff. Unlike the current discretionary levy, a mandatory payment would be liable to VAT and National Insurance. Kissin argued if restaurants were to maintain their slight profit margins and keep paying staff at the same level, the only option would be to raise menu prices – by more than 20%. He added this would lead to a huge increase in taxes paid to the Treasury, but would leave many restaurants unable to attract customers. He told the Sunday Times: “If the government does this, it will be a very severe problem for the industry. He’s supposed to be the business secretary, not the ‘let’s attack business’ secretary. Why would there be this potential attack on the industry?”




US restaurant owners given extra five months to post calorie counts on menus: US restaurant owners will have an extra five months to post the calorie counts on menus under a new deadline of 5 May 2017. The national calorie disclosure rule is part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as “Obamacare”, and aims to help consumers battle the bulge since Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. The regulation requires calories to be listed on menus and menu boards at restaurants and other food retail establishments with 20 or more sites. The postponement from the previous deadline of December 1 this year was contained in final guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, reports Reuters. The rule’s start date has been so delayed that early critics, such as McDonald’s, have been displaying such information for years in compliance with rules set by California, New York City and other states. Lobbyists for Domino’s Pizza, convenience stores and supermarkets helped push back the previous federal deadline. Tackling the American obesity epidemic has been a signature issue for the White House and first lady Michelle Obama.




Robert De Niro to open New York-style ‘hipster chic’ hotel in London: Hollywood actor Robert De Niro has unveiled plans to bring New York-style “hipster chic” to London with a version of his celebrity favourite, the Greenwich Hotel. The Oscar-winning star will be joint operator of the 83-room Wellington, a “luxury boutique” hotel near the Royal Opera House, with a spa, members’ club and two restaurants, according to a planning application lodged with Westminster Council. It would be in six buildings – three of them grade II-listed – in Wellington Street, Tavistock Street, Burleigh Street and Exeter Street. De Niro, who has teamed up with BD Hotels and UK property firm Capco, told the Evening Standard: “London is one of the most exciting, cosmopolitan cities in the world. The Wellington Hotel would honour the heritage of the area, while bringing the best of what we’ve done in New York to London.” De Niro and BD Hotels – founded by Ira Drukier and Richard Born – run the Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan’s fashionable Tribeca district. It is a huge hit with A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Beyoncé. If approved, work would start next year and finish in 2019.



Luke Johnson – a lot of those who are pro-EU are toeing the party line: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued a lot of those arguing to stay in Europe are toeing the party line. In an interview, he stated: “I think quite a lot of those who claim to be in favour of the EU are toeing the party line. They’re interested principally in their own careers and not really in the very dramatic and vital issues of the future of our nation and our freedom as a society. I think there is a lot of small-time politics at play.” He dismissed the pro-EU argument trade and therefore the economy would be hurt if the UK voted for Brexit. Johnson said: “A vast majority – 85% – of all the jobs created in recent times have been created by smaller companies, 90% of whom do no trade with the EU at all. If you look every week at the newspapers, it’s large businesses making hundreds or thousands of redundancies. They are the ones who are actually outsourcing and automating, and not creating the jobs.”




The Restaurant Group boss gets 4% pay rise for 2016: The Restaurant Group chief executive Danny Breithaupt has been given a 4% pay rise to take his base salary from £480,000 to £500,000 starting on 1 January 2016, the company’s annual report has revealed. On appointment on 1 September 2014, his salary reflected below market base salary and was 27% lower than departing chief executive Andrew Page’s base salary – and was “to be moved to market level over time”. The annual report stated: “Following a further assessment of his progress to date and consistent with the (remuneration) committee’s commitment to increase his salary to the market level over time as his experience in the role grows, his salary with effect from 1 January 2016 was increased by circa 4% from £480,000 to £500,000. The next such review will take place at the start of 2017.” In 2015, the company’s profit before tax was £72.7m, which was higher than its maximum target, so the maximum annual bonus was payable – Breithaupt earned a bonus of £495,000 and former finance director Stephen Critoph, who left the company last month, earned a bonus of £392,000. Last week, 27% of The Restaurant Group shareholders voted against director remuneration at the company’s annual general meeting, a level of dissent that rose to 33% when deliberate abstentions were included. The vote is advisory, although the company acknowledged the scale of the protest, describing a “significant number of votes” being cast against the pay report. It stated: “The company understands that this reflects the concerns of a number of investors in respect of the termination arrangements for (outgoing chairman) Alan Jackson and the level of the executive director annual bonus awards for 2015. The remuneration committee will carry out a detailed review of all of the feedback received to understand fully all of the reasons behind the vote result so that it can reflect, where appropriate, in its approach going forward.” The company’s annual report showed Breithaupt’s 4% pay rise for 2016 was in line with pay increases across the group for the year. Jackson, in his final year in the role in 2015, earned a total of £403,000, compared with £371,000 the year before. By comparison, JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson earned base salary of £486,000 in 2015, up from £453,000 the year before, and a bonus of £24,000, compared with £44,000 the year before, whilst chairman Tim Martin earned a total of £355,000, which is £2,000 more than the year before.




Leon accounts show 45 consecutive months of like-for-like growth, revenue from all sites now £36.9m: Full accounts filed at Companies House by Leon, the healthy food brand founded by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, showed total sales rose £12m to £36.9m in the year to 27 December 2015. Sales derived from 26 owned stores, an increase of 11 in the year, and seven franchised sites, up one. The period-end saw 45 consecutive months of like-for-like sales growth – with consecutive years of 7.8% growth following on from 23.4% like-for-like growth. Company-owned sites produced sales, including franchise royalties, of £26.6m, up £7.7m. As previously announced, operating Ebitda before exceptional items was up £700,000 to £2.26m. There were exceptional administrative expenses of £264,529. Operating profit was £830,365, compared with £710,089 the year before despite a near £5m rise in administrative expenses to £18,009,153. Dimbleby was paid £25,000 in recognition of his services as brand ambassador – down from £30,000 the year before.


Cote reports turnover hits £108m: Cote has reported turnover grew by 27.3% to £108,052,072 in the 53 weeks to 2 August 2015, with an estate of 68 restaurants, which had increased by 16 in the year. Gross profit margin rose 1.1% to 75.3%. Adjusted Ebitda rose 24.7% to £20,314,496. Adjusted Ebitda margin was 18.8%, compared with 19.2% the year before. Pre-tax profit was £14,122,648, compared with £11,566,629 the year before. The company expects to open a similar number of restaurants to last year in the current financial year, weighted towards the second half.


Flying Pig & Lobster to open second pub next month: Flying Pig & Lobster, which is owned by Revolution founders Roy Ellis and Neil McLeod and celebrity chef Simon Rimmer, will open its long-awaited second pub next month. The company will open The Viking and Bakehouse in Black Horse Hill in West Kirby in June, on a date yet to be confirmed. The pub takes over what was most recently known as The Hilltop. It has been granted permission by Wirral Council to build a single-storey kitchen extension at the back of the Enterprise Inns pub, improve the beer garden and install a larger window at the front. The pub was previously known as The Collingwood and run by Michelin-starred Kirkby chef Aiden Byrne. Flying Pig & Lobster also operates The Elephant in Woolton Village, Liverpool, a Star Pubs & Bars site. Ellis, McLeod and Rimmer set out to modernise the traditional pub offer by creating a retail offer that trades through all the dayparts with a broad demographic. A total of £350,000 was invested in The Elephant pub in 2014 alongside the creation of an American tavern concept called Liberty Tavern, which cost an additional £450,000, in a building next to the pub. The “shack-style” venue offers US classics such as shrimp cocktails and slow-cooked Texas chilli. The two venues are taking circa £100,000 a week.


Soho Coffee Co unveils new ‘metropolitan’ store format: Artisan coffee brand Soho Coffee Co has unveiled an evolved “metropolitan” store format in Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre, Dublin’s Aston Quay, and Cheltenham, the brand’s birthplace. Managing director Penny Manuel said: “The new brand direction characterises everything that’s so unique about Soho and has been since we started in 1999. We’re in the best shape now to grow the business and plan to double our own store estate in the next three years. We’re identifying sites in London, as well as strong provincial centres. In June we open in Leicester with our new ‘metropolitan’ store format, which will hit every daypart with our most compelling food and drink proposition yet.” As part of the rebranding activity with Bristol and London-based agency Saintnicks, Soho Coffee Co has just launched its new customer facing website and online operations system for its store teams and franchise partners.


Caffe Nero set to hit double figures in US expansion: Caffe Nero has lined up its tenth site in the Boston, Massachusetts, area as it expands its US foothold. Caffe Nero will open in Cambridge’s Central Square, according to Boston Restaurant Talk, taking over a location at 589 Massachusetts Avenue near Chipotle. Caffe Nero already has a number of sites in Greater Boston, including cafes in Downtown Crossing, Jamaica Plain, Longwood, the South End, and Andover, as well as three more coming to Wellesley, Fort Point, and a second store for Downtown Crossing. There are a number of existing coffee shops in the Massachusetts Avenue area, including a Starbucks across the square, 1369 Coffee House, Dunkin’ Donuts, Cafe Luna, and Mariposa Bakery.


Byron reports turnover nears £70m: Better burger brand Byron, led by Tom Byng and backed by Hutton Collins, has reported turnover rose to £68,962,000 in the year to 28 June 2015, up 2.4% on the year before. Operating profit was £6.3m, compared with £6.4m the year before. The number of sites grew to 52, compared with 44 the year before. There was a £1m investment in operations, marketing and people in the year to support expected future expansion. There was an exceptional cost of £400,000 related to senior management restructuring (£211,000), consultancy fees in relation to a review of the supply chain (£119,000) and costs related to moving head office (£79,000). Pre-tax profit was £5,498,000, compared with £5,589,000 the year before. The highest paid director earned £266,000.


Daily Telegraph claims Pret A Manger to launch Android Pay: Pret A Manger now accepts Android Pay, according to tags on payment terminals in one of its London outlets, suggesting an imminent launch of the mobile payment service in the UK, The Daily Telegraph has reported. The Android Pay system, Google’s second attempt to encourage users to use their smartphones for contactless payments, was introduced in the United States last September. Google announced in March it would introduce Android Pay in the UK within months but did not give an exact release date. According to employees at the unnamed Pret store in London said “we now accept Android Pay”, tags arrived overnight and have been displayed in stores, suggesting Android Pay will be imminently available to UK customers. It signals a major boost to the mobile payments industry, as Android smartphones account for more than half of mobile phones sold in the UK. The technology works in a similar way to Apple Pay, allowing users to load their Visa and MasterCard credit or debit card details on to a smartphone equipped with a Near-Field Communication microchip. Meanwhile, Pret A Manger in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, has applied to expand its restaurant into its basement. The site by Fiveways is so busy at peak times customers can be left waiting for seats to become free. The application has been lodged with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and no decision has yet been made on whether to allow the expansion downstairs.



Antic plans pop-up at Norbury site before full opening in 2017: Antic London, the operator of 40 pubs led by Anthony Thomas and backed by Downing, will open a pop-up with street food vendors this summer at its proposed Norbonne and Stable site in Norbury, south London. Full opening is expected in mid-2017. Explaining the name, a spokeswoman said: “Nor as in Norbury, this historically originating from North Borough, and bonne as in good (French), as we believe that the good times are coming to the town centre. This is also a take on Sorbonne, a name associated with excellence. Stable as a nod to the historic use of the property as stabling and also a comment on our desire for our plans to provide a stable influence within the area.” Antic started their planning process over a year ago but hit a wall with the planning department over the designs. It resubmitted altered proposals and was granted planning permission earlier this year after about 200 people supported its idea.


Randy’s Wing Bar pop-up to launch permanent site at London’s Here East food quarter: Randy’s Wing Bar, which appeared as a pop-up at Dalston Yard and Night Tales, will open a permanent site on Saturday, 21 May at new east London food quarter Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The menu will offer five types of wings, including North American Buffalo (in a spicy Buffalo sauce with truffle blue cheese), and Hanoi Tuk Tuk (in a Vietnamese fish sauce and served with crispy garlic and fresh coriander). The 70-cover restaurant will also serve chicken burgers, including The Original (buffalo sauce, blue cheese and lime aioli), and The Argy Bhaji (onion and chilli bhaji, with cumin and lime Southwest mayonnaise). Sides will include Chicken Liver Popcorn, Furious Fries with feta, and Chicken Scratchings with smoked sea salt, Hot Dinners reports. The dessert menu features Guilty Pleasure (chocolate brownie, gingerbread ice cream, salted caramel sauce and ginger biscuit), while drinks include craft beers, cocktails and a short wine list. Here East is on the site of the former Olympic press centre. The canal-side dining and drinking area, opposite the artists’ studios of Hackney Wick, will be home to 12 outlets, including a new venue for cafe and bar operator The Breakfast Club and the second site for chef Shane Harrison.


Wagamama set to open in Staines: Wagamama is set to open in Staines this summer, it has been announced. The 166-seat restaurant will be located within Two Rivers retail park and will see 63 jobs created. Simon Cope, of Wagamama, said: “We are thrilled to be opening the doors to our new restaurant in Staines this summer, where Wagamama will continue to reinforce positive eating by using fresh ingredients, served in atmospheric surroundings. It’s an exciting time for us and we look forward to hearing what our new and valued customers in Staines make of our arrival.” Wagamama is set to open in Two Rivers on Monday, 11 July.


Yard Sale Pizza chooses Finsbury Park for expansion with second London site: Yard Sale Pizza, which operates a pizzeria in Clapton, will start expansion by opening a second London site – in Finsbury Park – on Monday, 13 June. The Clapton restaurant was voted Hackney’s best restaurant in Time Out’s 2015 Love London Awards. The Finsbury Park venue will be in Blackstock Road and seat about 30. As well as classic, stone-baked pizzas, there will be new offerings such as The Mullered Mushroom – a collaboration with Hackney’s Five Points Brewery – that will consist of portobello and oyster mushrooms braised in London Smoke porter, with pale ale onion chutney, ricotta, fior di latte mozzarella, thyme and golden promise malt grain. Drinks will include craft beer from Five Points, with desserts including chocolate ripple gelato from Nonna’s. The restaurant, which will hand out free pizza to locals during launch week, will open from 5pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday, midday to 11pm on Saturdays, and from midday to 10pm on Sundays. A delivery service will begin on Monday, 27 June.


Greater London has most hotel rooms under construction in Europe: Greater London had the most hotel rooms under construction in Europe during April, a new report has revealed. The region had 5,456 rooms in 33 hotels under construction, according to STR Global’s April pipeline study. Three other markets reported more than 2,000 rooms under construction – Istanbul, Turkey (4,203 rooms in 24 hotels); Moscow, Russia (3,487 rooms in 14 hotels); and Greater Berlin, Germany (2,123 rooms in six hotels). The report revealed there was 145,707 rooms in 964 hotels across Europe under contract – up 5.5% on last year – while there was 63,323 rooms in 440 hotels in construction – a 8.5% increase. Under contract includes projects in the “in construction”, “final planning” and “planning stages” but does not include projects in the “unconfirmed stage”.


Berber and Q acquires lease assignment for premium in excess of £150,000 asking price: Agent AG&G has reported it has assigned the lease on the former Tommy’s Pork Store, Exmouth Market, London, acting on behalf of the administrator, to Berber and Q for a premium exceeding the premium quoted of £150,000. The unit was let for a term of 15 years commencing 2013 at a passing rent of £50,000 per annum. It provides almost 1,500 square feet over three floors. Anthony Alder, the selling agent, said: “Exmouth Market remains as popular as ever and continues to attract operators, located as it is equidistant between the City, West End and Islington. The strong levels of demand we saw for this unit reflect the scarcity of supply within London for smaller start-up embryonic operators.”


Papa John’s franchisee opens fourth site, brand’s first in Exeter: Papa John’s franchisee Harry Dhaliwal has opened the brand’s first site in Exeter, adding to his Plymouth outlet and two others in London. Dhaliwal, a former accountant, joined Papa John’s ten years ago. He said: “I worked out the franchise would enable me to set up my own successful business and, so far, my calculations have been proved right. Ten years ago there was limited awareness in the UK, now Papa John’s is an established global brand and it’s still expanding rapidly. The Papa John’s incentive scheme for franchisees, which offers deals on equipment and fees while starting out, has been a lot of help. It has enabled me to open my fourth store and I aim to continue to grow with the company. I am delighted to open in Exeter. It is a big university town with a large student population. The location near St Thomas’ train station is perfect for Papa John’s and we hope to add to our total success so far by accumulating a loyal customer base quickly.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has more than 4,800 stores in 40 international markets and territories, including 300-plus stores in the UK.




Deliveroo aims to roll-out in up to 40 new UK towns and cities by end of 2016: Restaurant food delivery service Deliveroo is aiming to roll-out to 30 to 40 more UK cities and towns by the end of the year. It is already available in 38 places across the UK but the company wants to roughly double that figure over the next seven months. Dan Warne, managing director for UK & Ireland at Deliveroo, told Business Insider: “We’ll launch another probably 30 or 40 markets across the UK before the end of the year. We just launched Milton Keynes. Leamington Spa (is coming) this week. We’ve expanded in Glasgow.” Warne did not state the towns and cities he plans to launch Deliveroo in next. Deliveroo, which was founded by former investment banker Will Shu and Greg Orlowski, has raised more than $200m (£139m) and expanded aggressively worldwide since launching in 2012. It now operates in a total of 68 cities across 12 countries. Warne added: “We’ve been in that hyper, hyper growth phase. We still very much are in that stage but equally we’re focused on optimising the business now too, making sure that we can make money, which ultimately is something that every business has to do, unfortunately, but that is the reality.”




Experienced hospitality operators acquire Cotswolds hotel: Experienced hospitality operators Stephen and Karen Nolan have acquired the eight-bedroom Burford House hotel in the Cotswolds. The Nolans, who have run wine bars in the north west for more than 25 years and recently sold the Tea Rooms in Birkdale, have bought the grade II-listed property in Burford High Street for an undisclosed sum in a deal brokered by agent Colliers International. Karen Nolan said: “This is certainly a big move for us but we think Burford House has plenty more to offer, starting with a new tea room downstairs.” Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt added: “Burford House is a very special hotel with a frontage said to date back to the 17th century. It has already earned five stars from the AA – and there is plenty of potential for the new owners to expand the business further. The business has been operated along very easy lines – the restaurant offers only light meals at lunchtime and the bedroom tariff is high. Our client acquired Burford House in 2008 as a lifestyle business for his son’s first foray into the hospitality trade and the family really enjoyed their time in this lovely property.”



Rodizio restaurant set to open at Tokyo Industries’ Brew Haus site in Lincoln: A Brazilian rodizio restaurant concept is set to open at Tokyo Industries’ Brew Haus site in Lincoln in June. The Brew Haus venue has been remodelled and rebranded as The House and Bar of Tiago, offering cuisine from across the globe and creating up to 15 jobs. Serious Investment, which operates a House of Tiago site in Norwich, will run the new Brazilian-style restaurant alongside the existing Brew Haus bar after striking a rental deal with Tokyo Industries, which is led by Aaron Mellor. The revamped venue will feature an £8,000 grill from Brazil, with the menu offering up to 16 different meats and a hot and cold buffet. Carvers will pass from table to table and cut up meat in front of customers in Brazilian rodizio style. The Brew Haus bar will continue to be run as normal.


Peyton & Byrne appoints Lawrence Keogh as executive chef for Kew businesses: Contract caterer and cafe operator Peyton & Byrne has appointed Lawrence Keogh as executive chef for its Kew Garden businesses. Keogh, who joins from The Wolseley, where he was head chef for four years, will be responsible for the four catering venues at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, which attracts 1.35 million visitors a year. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the restaurant trade, including head chef roles at D&D London’s The Avenue and Bluebird, Quo Vadis and Roast. He also acted as a consultant chef to British Airways, where he developed inflight menus for the London to New York first and business class services. Peyton & Byrne founder Oliver Peyton said: “I am very pleased to welcome Lawrence to the team. With more than 20 years’ experience, he brings a wealth of skill and insight to the role that will be pivotal in driving forward our culinary offering at Kew.” Keogh added: “Being such an iconic attraction, I am delighted to be building on its success, showcasing the best of British through its menus and dining experiences.” Peyton and Byrne’s four catering outlets at Kew are the Orangery Restaurant, Victoria Plaza Café, White Peaks Cafe, and The Pavilion.


Agent reports almost 30 rental bids for flagship Portobello site, now let for £340,000 per annum: Agent AG&G has reported almost 30 rental bids were received for the flagship 186 Portobello Road site – it was let at a rent of £340,000 per annum on a new 20-year lease to a local operator. Occupying a flagship location in Portobello Market, the unit comprises 5,970 square feet over four floors. This mid-1860s building occupies a corner location diagonally opposite the Electric and close to the E&O restaurant and cocktail bar. It was originally home of the Colville and most recently the First Floor restaurant and Ground Floor bar. It stars in several shots of the backdrop to Hugh Grant’s dithering pursuit of Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. AG&G was acting as joint letting agents with JMW Barnard.



New micro-brewery and bar to open in Letchworth next month: A new micro-brewery and bar will open in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, next month. Holly-Anne Rolfe is launching the Garden City Brewery on Saturday, 11 June in The Wynd on the site of the former Aly’s Diner. The bar is built out of reclaimed scaffolding boards while the main brewing equipment will be behind the bar, but visible from the drinking area. The brewery will serve its ales “on gravity” – tapping and pouring them straight from the cask rather than through a hand pump – and source locally as much as possible. There are two brews ready so far – a pale ale using American hops and an experimental bitter blending the best of British hops. Next up is a robust porter Rolfe hopes will be ready by the end of the month. The bar will also serve other local ales, ciders, as well as non-alcoholic options – including soft drinks made in-house. Rolfe told The Comet: “The beauty of being small means we can change and adapt to what people want and have the freedom to experiment and try new things, which is really exciting.”


Be At One opens site in Birmingham: Cocktail bar Be At One has opened its 31st site, this time in Birmingham. The company has invested £850,000 in the 4,000 square foot site in the former Churchills basement snooker club in Stephenson Street at the back of Piccadilly, creating 18 jobs. It is open until 3am every day except Sundays when it shuts at midnight. Be At One, which was founded by Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield in 1998, offers a range of more than 150 cocktails. While it is the company’s first site in Birmingham, the city is not unknown to the trio with Oldfield beginning his career working at TGI Friday’s in Hagley Road. Locke told The Business Desk: “We had looked at Broad Street and The Mailbox but neither seemed quite right for us. We like to work on the edge of the business district and this is why our location here suits us perfectly.” Be At One is the only bar in the arcade, which currently houses Faculty Coffee and 16 Bakery. The company is also set for further expansion by opening a site in Seel Street, Liverpool.


PizzaExpress launches new charity partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support: PizzaExpress has launched a new charity partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support. The company will donate 25p from every Padana pizza sold nationwide to help Macmillan provide essential financial, emotional, medical and practical support for people affected by cancer. Famed food artist Michelle Wibowo created a 14-foot by six-foot art installation made entirely from ingredients to mark the start of the partnership. The image shows a collection of hands emerging from a solid oak tree to signify strength and support. PizzaExpress said the partnership “aims to bring people together so that no-one faces cancer alone”.


McDonald’s trials fresh beef at 14 US sites: McDonald’s is testing Quarter Pounders made with fresh beef, rather than frozen, at 14 sites in Dallas, Texas. The trial is limited to burgers made with quarter-pound patties, including the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Homestyle Burger, Bacon Clubhouse Burger, and Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. The company’s system is based on frozen burger patties, so switching to fresh beef, even for select burgers only, would be a major undertaking at restaurant and supply-chain levels. McDonald’s has 14,000 US sites, far more any other concept using fresh beef, notably Wendy’s, which has about 6,000 venues, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. McDonald’s is looking at ways to reinvigorate consistent sales growth after a three-year slide. Sales of the Egg McMuffin rose 28% last year after McDonald’s started using real butter and switched to its original English muffin. The fresh beef test is one of many McDonald’s is holding across the US. It recently trialled garlic fries at a handful of locations in the San Francisco area. The test was so successful venues ran out of garlic. McDonald’s is also testing multiple sizes of Big Macs in the Columbus, Ohio and Dallas markets. McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb said: “We are on a journey to modernise our restaurants to deliver a more engaging, customised and relaxing customer experience. Tests like this can help inform our journey.”


Mitchells & Butlers granted alcohol licence for Miller & Carter restaurant in Aberdeen: Mitchells & Butlers has been granted an alcohol licence for its Miller & Carter steakhouse restaurant opening in Aberdeen. The company was given permission by the city’s council licensing board to serve alcohol on site between 11am and 1am daily. The licence also includes a provision for recorded and live music, reports the Evening Express. The council gave the go-ahead earlier this year for part of the former Esslemont and Macintosh store in Union Street to be turned into a restaurant. It will be the third Miller & Carter site in Scotland with venues in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The brand operates about 40 restaurants in the UK.


Enigma Leisure to reopen former Atmosphere Bars and Clubs site in Llandudno after three-year closure: Enigma Leisure is to reopen the Broadway Boulevard nightclub in Llandudno, Wales, in two weeks’ time – three years after its closure in the wake of the administration of former operator Atmosphere Bar and Clubs. Bijan Sharifian, who ran the club for 14 years up until 2008, and who works for Enigma, said the changes made to the club – based in the former Grand Theatre – were mostly cosmetic, except for two upstairs bars where there used to be three. He said: “At the moment I’m just trying to get it ready for opening. We’re aiming to be ready within two weeks and we’re pretty much there, it’s just the finishing touches.” Sharifian, who lives in Conwy, said he hoped the club, which he estimates will create up to 35 full and part-time jobs, would be beneficial for all local business connected with the town’s nightlife. He added: “We’ve had a very good response. A lot of people have been travelling to other towns and cities for clubs. This is a destination venue, people come here after they have been out in the town – so we’re encouraging more business into Llandudno.”


Greene King wins approval for flagship £3.5m Farmhouse Inn close to Humber Bridge: Greene King has won consent to open a £3.5m new-build Farmhouse Inn pub close to the Humber Bridge, creating 80 jobs. The company has been given approval to build a Farmhouse Inn restaurant pub on derelict land in Hessle, which borders the A164, A15 and Boothferry Road roundabout. The pub has the support of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, which believes it would enhance the nearby Bridgehead Business Park and possibly help to attract more businesses, investors and employees. Building work is set to start this summer. In the application, the firm states: “There are no dedicated drinking areas, sport or loud music. The proposal will generate between 70 and 80 local jobs (59 full-time equivalent). Local people will be employed in all positions where possible.” The pub will have a children’s play area, baby-changing facilities, disabled access, and a 100-space car park. It is planned to be open from 7am to 12.30am and is the first of its kind to be built in East Yorkshire, with the closest one being Beechwood Farm in Grimsby. A Greene King spokesman said the firm was now awaiting final approval from planning and highways. He said: “Once these are received, we anticipate starting to build a new pub restaurant from late summer onwards.”


Marston’s eyes Derby addition to new-build and budget accommodation portfolio: Brewer and pub retailer Marston’s has submitted outline plans to build a new pub restaurant with almost 40 bedrooms on land in Derby. The site in Linville Close is currently occupied by The Blue Jay public house. Under the proposals lodged with Derby City Council, Marston’s will construct a two-storey building with 39 en-suite rooms, including a number of family rooms and rooms with disabled access. A planning statement prepared by Cerda Planning said the development has been put forward in response to a growing demand for value for money accommodation. The scheme also includes 40 parking spaces, bringing the site’s total to 128.


JD Wetherspoon looks at Conwy site: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it is looking at Conwy Civic Hall in Conwy (population 14,723) and the board will decide whether to press ahead with an attempt to buy the site in the North Wales town. The site is owned by Conwy County Borough Council and the local authority said it wants to work with a developer to bring forward proposals to regenerate the Civic Hall, which closed in 2014. JD Wetherspoon said it sent a representative to look at the site and is interested in coming to Conwy. It has sparked concerns with other pub landlords over the threat to local independent drinking places and also groups that want to take on the site for the local community. A JD Wetherspoon spokesman said: “We have many pubs in North Wales and we are always looking at new sites. We sent a representative to look at the site in Conwy and we have been made aware that it is up for sale. They will report back to head office and the board and the chairman (Tim Martin) will decide whether it is a site we want to pursue. We do look at hundreds of sites every year, of which many fall by the wayside and some we pursue.”


One of Peterborough’s oldest buildings, opposite Carluccio’s, set for conversion to bar or restaurant: One of Peterborough’s oldest buildings could return to use as a bar or restaurant. Dating from the 15th century, the former workhouse in Cumbergate, opposite Carluccio’s, has been used as a beauty salon for more than 30 years by well-known city business Burghley Academy, which has just relocated. The property has a number of period features and a towering glass-topped atrium at the rear. Now the city’s planners have approved the three-storey building’s change of use to allow it to be operated as a shop, restaurant or bar. The shop and restaurant use are consistent with council policy in the area – close to the revamped Cathedral Square and St John’s Square, which has attracted big name restaurant and bar operators in the past couple of years. Agents for the building owners said the use as a bar was also appropriate, as it was one that had been “declining over the last few years with a number of former drinking establishments in and around Cathedral Square changing use to restaurants/cafes”. They added: “The proposal will therefore add to the evening and leisure economy of the city centre.”