Wasabi’s international sales jump to £4.2m: Sales of Wasabi abroad rose to £4,190,953 in the year to 2 January 2016, up from £2,880,000 the year before. Sales in the UK were £76,519,979 compared with £67,470,970 the year before. The international sales figures are thought to derive from its single New York site in Times Square, which opened in 2014. The company, led by Dong Hyun Kim, only opened a second New York site in March, located in Fulton Street – a further site is planned for the redeveloped World Trade Centre. In May, the company paid a non-refundable rent deposit of £1.12m on a new central production unit that is set to open this year and will provide a “significant increase in both capacity and efficiency”. At the year-end, the company, which has 49 sites in total, was committed to opening three more sites in the UK, two in the US and one Kim Korean brand, at a total cost of £3.7m.
Freehold of Whole Foods Market site in Stoke Newington offered with £2m-plus guide price: The freehold of a site in Stoke Newington, London, tenanted by Whole Foods Market, is to be auctioned by Allsop on Wednesday, 6 July with a guide price of £2m-plus. Whole Foods Market has a lease until 2030 with no breaks and pays £138,200 per annum, rising to £151,250 in 2020, suggesting an initial yield of circa 6.91%. Whole Foods Market, which has nine UK sites, saw UK turnover rise 12.4% to £114,080,000 in the year to 27 September 2015, making a pre-tax profit of £1,312,000 compared with a loss of £7,427,000 the year before. Like-for-like sales rose 8.7%. The company has £55.4m of trading losses from the previous year to offset against future profits.
Le Bistrot Pierre secures site in Altrincham: Le Bistrot Pierre has secured a site in the market town of Altrincham. It will occupy a prominent corner unit at 63 George Street, a 2,887 square foot unit. A spokesman said: “Altrincham is fast becoming known as a food destination since the historic indoor food market opened its doors again – it’s the ideal location for us to open our latest bistrot. We’re delighted to be part of Altrincham’s regeneration and the growing food and drink scene, which could soon be rivalling neighbouring Hale as a destination of choice.”
Whitbread puts flagship King’s Cross hub by Premier Inn on market for £80m as forward-funding opportunity: Whitbread has put its flagship hub by Premier Inn hotel in King’s Cross, London, on the market for £80m. The 389-room hotel, next to King’s Cross station, is under construction and will be sold as a forward-funding opportunity. Whitbread has appointed BNP Paribas Real Estate to find a buyer for the site in York Way, Property Week reports. It will sign a 25-year lease at the nine-storey building when it completes in summer 2017 at a rent of £3.5m a year, with CPI-linked and five-yearly rent reviews. A sale price of £80m reflects a yield of 4.18%. When completed, the hotel will be the largest of Whitbread’s hub by Premier Inn hotels. Launched in 2013, the spin-off brand offers smaller rooms than standard Premier Inns. The King’s Cross opening will bring the number of hub by Premier Inns to five – four in London and one in Edinburgh. Eight additional sites have also been secured in London, as well as two more in the Scottish capital. Whitbread plans to roll-out the brand further and is seeking sites across the UK. Any potential buyer is expected to pay an initial sum of £46.5m for the King’s Cross site, with the rest of the money paid over the next year to fund the development. Planning permission for the hotel was obtained in June 2014. Contractor McAleer & Rushe was awarded a £30m contract to build the hotel last year and is halfway through construction.
Bake ‘n’ Grape closes less than year after opening in competitive Chelmsford market: A Chelmsford coffee shop and restaurant has been repossessed by bailiffs after less than a year of operating. Bake ‘n’ Grape, in Baddow Road, was opened last August by businessmen and best friends Chris Windram, 42, and Martin Hobby, 41, who were looking to bring something different to Chelmsford. But now a notice has been fixed to the locked gates by the landlord’s bailiffs Black Crouchman & Co stating the property has been “peaceably reentered” and the premises and all goods within it have now been repossessed. The notice goes on to say the tenants must claim their goods within seven days but any attempt to enter the premises and take them would be a criminal offence. Bake ‘n’ Grape, occupying a former Strada site, was situated in a highly-competitive area with no fewer than 16 other restaurants and eateries within walking distance.
Customer engagement platform Cheerfy extends £180,000 crowdfunding campaign: Customer engagement platform Cheerfy, which aims to deliver “memorable customer experiences” at hotels and restaurants, has extended its £180,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube by two weeks. The company, founded by Carlos Gomez and Adrian Maseda, is offering a 7.08% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 104 investors have pledged £145,920 with the largest investment to date being £27,000. The company stated: “Due to ongoing discussions with potential investors, Cheerfy has been granted an extension, now expiring at midnight on Thursday, 30 June.” The pitch states: “Cheerfy uses Wi-Fi hot spots as a beacon to share customer presence and information from business customer relationship management (CRM), online e-commerce platforms, loyalty systems, employees and customers themselves. Employees get this information in real time (on customer arrival), when and where they need it to personalise the service they offer. To date, our strategy has been quality rather than quantity, which has taken us to high-end restaurants and hotels in New York, London, Madrid and Lisbon. The funds raised in this round will be used for business development and product development to build deeper integration in the retail or hospitality space (CRMs, property management systems) and build chat capabilities between businesses and their customers.”
Pronto delivery service is 115% invested after launching on Seedrs: Pronto, which provides healthy meals delivered hot with a 25-minute free delivery, has raised £791,500, which is 115% of the £689,000 it was aiming to raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. It stated: “We are a vertically integrated food technology company with control over the things that matter most – our chefs prepare hot meals in our own kitchens using fresh, sustainably sourced ingredients which are ordered through our app/website and delivered by our drivers.” It revealed in only 18 months post-launch, it has opened four sites in central London and was named 2015 MassChallenge finalist. Last summer, the company successfully raised just under £1m in seed funding from various investors, which included Playfair Capital and Seedcamp. In a recent update, the Pronto team announced it has opened a third kitchen. It said: “We are thrilled to announce that we now deliver to Marble Arch, Soho, Marylebone, Kensington, Mayfair, Notting Hill and more. We are now closer than ever to ensuring no matter where you are in London, we’ll be able to deliver you great food – pronto!” Pronto added its roll-out is planned to cover 90% of customers that are currently outside its delivery zone. It also plans to roll-out operations to mainland Europe in early 2017. Funds from the Seedrs initiative will be used to expand the company’s delivery area to cover central London. In order to do this, Pronto will need to create two distribution centres, which will ensure the delivery service will be available for more Londoners.
Halifax operator to start expansion of tapas restaurant and cocktail bar concepts with double Leeds opening: Entrepreneur Michael Ricci will start expansion of his Ricci’s Tapas and Cicchetti restaurant and 53 Degrees North cocktail bar concepts with a double opening in Leeds. The tapas restaurant and adjoining cocktail bar will open on Monday, July 11 at grade II-listed Goodbard House in the heart of the city’s financial district. The former Allied Irish Bank site will be split in two. 53 Degrees North will have a late lounge feel and showcase artists and DJs from around the world. It will feature plush furnishings, with white leather and a marble bar. Ricci’s restaurant will also house a basement gin bar and private dining room. The menu will include a twist on traditional tapas, while Ricci and executive chef Mark Kemp have also created dishes such as goats cheese churros with truffle honey, and poached hake in beer with cockles, asparagus and nduja. Ricci told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We want to bring something fresh and new to the table that will surprise and excite the people of Leeds – and we will do just that.” Ricci operates Ricci’s Tapas and Cicchetti and 53 Degrees North venues in Halifax, as well as Mediterranean restaurant Ricci’s Place.
Subway to assemble 150-strong digital team in the next two years: Subway will assemble a digital team of 150 full-time employees in the US over the next two years, with some coming from consulting company Accenture. The sandwich chain will still use agencies to produce content, while the 150-person team will focus on technology development, loyalty programmes, digital strategy, and consumer behaviour. “We are taking a good look at what ‘loyalty’ means for consumers and how to integrate digital experience into restaurant experience,” said Carman Wenkoff, chief information officer and chief digital officer for Subway. Wenkoff did not say what the digital marketing plan would include but said it would focus on customers’ experience, especially on mobile and loyalty programmes. For example, a customer’s experience might not necessarily start at a Subway restaurant – it may start with seeing an online ad for Subway. “If the guest experience starts there, it has to be hyper-convenient, personalised and consistent, regardless of the digital channel,” said Wenkoff.
New cocktail bar and nightclub concept Bourbon to launch in Edinburgh: A new cocktail bar and nightclub concept – Bourbon – is set to launch in Edinburgh featuring live music and pan-Asian street food. The venue in Frederick Street is undergoing a £1m refurbishment and, as a nightclub, will have space for 800 club-goers and feature a state-of-the-art sound system and bespoke lighting. The music will come from a mixture of live acts and DJs, with everything from chart, house and hip-hop on the playlist. The bar and kitchen will be open from midday, serving bespoke cocktails and authentic pan-Asian street food from The Ninja Kitchen, the latest venture by Markus Pilgrim, co-founder of Ninja Buns. Pilgrim’s menu will offer a unique, Asian-style tapas alongside his award-winning bao buns. Artisan bitters, syrups and tonics will be made on-site for the drinks menu, including unusual grapefruit and pink peppercorn flavours, WOW247 reports. Bourbon has already planned its first regular club nights – Donut Mondays and Dead Disco Fridays.
City Pub Fund opening sixth site today, this time located in Birmingham: The City Fund Pub Company, founded by Clive Watson in June last year, is to open a new site, The Button Factory, in Birmingham today (Monday, 20 June) – it has four venues in London and one in Cheltenham. Chief operating officer Peter McDonald said: “Our aim is to bring together the very best of what we all love about our favourite restaurants, coffee shops and bars. The Button Factory offers something for everyone – from mums meeting for a morning coffee and professionals looking for a place for corporate catch-ups or somewhere to work remotely, to those in search of a spot for long lazy lunches. It will also be a place for date nights and dinner with your family, right through to dancing the night away with top notch cocktails.” A robata grill features at the heart of an open, theatre-style kitchen. The menu focuses on seasonal ingredients cooked over an open flame taking influences from Argentina to the Middle East. There will be Purity Ales and coffees from Quarter Horse roastery in Bristol Street. It was formerly the Vertu Bar.
Entrepreneur lodges plans to convert former job centre in Scunthorpe into two restaurants: Plans have been lodged by a Scunthorpe entrepreneur to transform the town’s former job centre into two restaurants. Nirmal Singh is behind the £280,000 development, which could create up to ten full-time and part-time jobs. He has bought the building in Gilliatt Street from property developer Neil Dubnyckyj, who has ditched plans to convert the site into an American-style diner, reports the Scunthorpe Telegraph. Singh has applied to North Lincolnshire Council to build a 90-cover fish restaurant and takeaway on the ground floor, trading from 9am to 9pm six days a week. He also wants to develop the first floor as an Indian restaurant. The building was last used by Maxwell Computers until 2014, when the business relocated.
Harbour Hotels to open Brighton site in August: Harbour Hotels will open its boutique 79-bedroom site in Brighton in August – its eighth venue. The company has refurbished the former Umi hotel in King’s Road, which it acquired last year, with the new site featuring a rooftop pool. It will also include a seafood restaurant and cocktail bar – The Jetty Restaurant and HarBAR – that will open on the first weekend in July. The restaurant is taking the space formerly occupied by Little Bay, while the bar has been extended. The menu has yet to be finalised but is expected to include locally sourced, seasonal produce with a seafood focus, an eclectic wine list and cocktail menu. Next door, HarBAR is aimed at becoming a destination bar, with stylish decor, contemporary artwork, seafront views and a marble-top bar. Mixologists will serve innovative cocktails that can be enjoyed alongside Jetty bites and sharing platters, while DJs will play party tunes on Friday and Saturday nights. Harbour Hotels managing director Mike Warren told The Argus: “We see Brighton as a must location for us and an advantage for the brand. It’s coastal, it’s a commuter city, it’s on the party circuit, and it has a highly regarded domestic tourism sector.”
Hanger SW6 steak and liquor bar concept opens in Fulham Broadway: Steak and liquor bar concept Hanger SW6 has launched in Fulham Broadway, south west London. The venue in North End Road is spread across two floors, with the downstairs bar seating 45 and a 50-cover restaurant upstairs. The menu features the Hanger Steak, at £11 per person or £20 to share, plus the Hanger Steak Sandwich served with sticky onions, watercress, mustard and ciabatta. All meat is cooked on a charcoal grill. Other grilled mains are pit-charred swordfish with wasabi and gherkin relish, and charred cauliflower steak with szechuan pepper and harissa oil. There are also daily specials and small plates and sides such as salt and vinegar squid, Hot Dinners reports. Desserts include Hanger Sundae, vanilla and lemon pie ice cream, and chocolate orange brownie. The restaurant also serves brunch at the weekend, with a focus on steak and eggs. Cocktails are the main event in the bar, including The Perfect Storm, a rum and ginger-based, old-fashioned cocktail, and the Chelsea Sidecar, which is made with a Sipsmith distiller on the bar and ever-changing infusions.
Albion Partnerships opens fifth Star Pubs & Bars site: Multiple operator Albion Partnerships has opened its fifth pub with Star Pubs & Bars, The Rimswell in Fairfield, Stockton-on-Tees. Together they have invested £250,000 on a refurbishment that has transformed the pub into a family-friendly food venue, broadening its appeal, creating five jobs. The pub has reopened as the Stocc Lodge, a tribute to Stockton’s heritage as the word Stockton is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon word “Stocc”, meaning log. The interior and exterior of the pub has been overhauled and has a distinct wood theme running throughout, including panelling, reclaimed flooring and a feature fireplace, chimney and hearth with logs stacked either side. There is also be a dedicated sports-focused bar with pool and darts. All food is freshly home-cooked at the pub and includes hand-stretched pizzas, wooden sharing boards, and a selection of stews and curries in cast iron pots, as well as some classic pub dishes including a trademark parmo. A broader selection of drinks is also on offer, with a rotating choice of real ales and craft beer, new-look wine list and Heineken Extra Cold. Freshly brewed Grizzly Bear coffee and teas are available throughout the day. Andy Rickard, managing director of Albion Partnerships, told Gazette Live: “When we first conceived of Stocc Lodge it felt like a bit of a gamble with the extent of the transformation, but now we’ve seen it come to life we can’t wait to see the reaction of customers old and new.”
M&B opens Miller & Carter steakhouse in Warrington: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has opened a Miller & Carter steakhouse in Warrington, Cheshire, as part of the brand’s expansion programme across the UK. The restaurant is at Gemini Retail Park in Westbrook. The new venue joins the other Miller & Carter steakhouses in the north west – Albert Dock in Liverpool, Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port, and Haughton, near Ormskirk. M&B will open another steakhouse in Grosvenor Road, Chester, close to the racecourse, this summer, joining other openings planned for later this year at Rothley in Leicestershire, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, Colchester, and Aberdeen. Warrington becomes the 43rd Miller & Carter steakhouse in the UK.
New German beer house concept opens in Sunderland: A new German beer house concept has opened in Sunderland. Simon Burdus and Jack Dickinson, who run the Wildefeast catering company, have launched Bavaria in Vine Place on the site of the former Rhythm bar. They have invested about £100,000 converting the building into a German-style pub complete with Bavarian Toby jugs, vintage boar’s head, wood panelling and benches. Customers are able to enjoy two-pint steins of some of Germany’s best beers on draught and in bottles, as well as traditional Germanic cuisine including pretzels, bratwurst and schnitzel. There are also more traditional English offerings for less adventurous palates. Dickinson told the Sunderland Echo: “Our main focus is beer. It’s all German or Czech beers, as well as Rekorderlig. We’ll be stocking four different styles of beer – lager, pilsner, dark wheat and wheat. One of the Czech beers, Prava, is launching in the north east with us and we’ll be the only pub in the area stocking it. We could have opened this pub in Newcastle or Durham, but we’re both from Sunderland and we really wanted to do something different.”
Italian-American craft beer and kitchen concept Mason & Company launches at Canalside: An Italian-American craft beer and kitchen concept – Mason & Company – has opened at the new Canalside food quarter at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, east London. Mason & Company is the brainchild of independent brewery The Five Points Brewing Company and street food firm Capish, which are both based in Hackney. Capish began selling New York-style Italian food at Roman Road market in the East End in December 2012. Mason & Company is open from 10am to 11pm, Sunday to Wednesday, and until 11.30pm the rest of the week. The Canalside dining and drinking area is opposite the artists’ studios of Hackney Wick and will house 12 outlets in total, marking the latest phase in the reinvention of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Canalside, overlooking the Lee Canal, is part of the Here East complex on the site of the £300m former press and broadcast centre, housing BT Sport, a new Loughborough University campus, and a giant data centre.
Kaspa’s Desserts to open Wolverhampton site on Friday: US-style dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s Desserts will open a venue in Wolverhampton city centre on Friday (24 June). The company is opening the site at the new £10.6m i10 office and retail development, which is also home to Greene King’s Hungry Horse brand pub The Sunbeam. Kaspa’s offers waffles, speciality ice creams, sorbet, frozen yogurt, sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and crepes. Bal Dhanjal, manager of the new site, told the Express & Star: “Our i10 venue is looking the part and we are really excited about opening for business in Wolverhampton.” Kaspa’s currently has 20 sites in the UK with another 20, including Wolverhampton, listed on its website as “coming soon”.
‘On probation’ Spearmint Rhino seeks to renew licence in Bournemouth: Lap-dancing club Spearmint Rhino has reapplied for its sex establishment licence in Bournemouth. The venue formally made the application to the council at the beginning of the month, with objectors given 28 days to contact the council. It comes after the Yelverton Road premises had its licence renewed for a 12-month period in September last year. The club’s future had previously been in doubt when it was put on “probation” by the council following claims of exploitation. These included accusations that vulnerable customers had been allowed to spend thousands of pounds in the space of just a few hours without their knowledge. The company that owns Spearmint Rhino, Sassy Productions, denied the allegations. And following the six-month trial, licensing board chairman Cllr Andrew Morgan said the borough welcomed the progress of the club. The application is expected to be heard by the licensing board in September.
Inquiry begins to decide fate of smallest pub in London: Campaigners hoping “the smallest pub in London” will reopen three years after its shock closure are hoping a planning inspector will dismiss a developer’s appeal. The Save the Linhope Street Local group was formed after The Swan and Edgar, formerly the Feathers, located in Marylebone shut down in 2013. A public inquiry has been launched by developer Montagu One after the council refused an application to turn the building into a family home. Saira Kabir Sheikh, representing Westminster Council, said in her opening statement the change would “result in the loss of a valued community facility” adding it was a “building of merit” in the Dorset Square conservation area. But Professor John Bates, who taught at the London Business School, said the Feathers was a “rather fun little pub, but it failed because the economics were against it”.
Freehold of site in Loughton let to Caffe Nero to be auctioned with £1m-plus guide price: The freehold of a Caffe Nero site located in High Road, Loughton, Essex, is to be auctioned by Allsop on Wednesday, 6 July with a guide price of £1m-plus. Caffe Nero pays a rent of £58,700 per annum on a lease that expires in 2026, which suggests a buyer paying the guide price would earn a gross initial yield of 5.87%. CBRE is acting as joint fixed charge receivers on the site.
Closed East Sussex village pub sells for £67,000 more than its asking price at auction: The Lamb Inn in Church Lane, Ripe, East Sussex, which closed its doors in January 2015, has sold to an anonymous bidder for £367,000 at the Clive Emson regional auction in Brighton. The sale comes after an 18-month campaign by residents to reopen the pub and prevent the property being sold to developers. The pub, which beat its guide price by £67,000, was among 145 lots being sold at the auction at the Brighton Metropole. The former pub includes a cellar, two bars, a restaurant and accommodation on two upper floors. Emma Attrell, senior auction valuer at Clive Emson, said: “At the heart of the village, this building is considered suitable for a variety of uses. We are not aware of the intentions of the new owners at this stage.”