Living Ventures launches Grand Pacific colonial-style bar and restaurant in Manchester: Living Ventures has opened colonial-style bar and restaurant Grand Pacific in Manchester. The new venue is in a grade II-listed building in King Street that formerly housed the Manchester Reform Club. The 3,000 square foot, 120-cover bar and restaurant offers informal dining for lunch and dinner, blending “flavours from exotic places with English classics”. A “classical Sunday lunch” is available at weekends, with roast beef carved at the table and live music from the Grand Pacific Palm Court Group. High tea features specially blended teas and champagne cocktails, while the 25-seat Long Bar, inspired by Raffles Hotel in Singapore, offers bespoke cocktails. Grand Pacific has a late licence, with DJ sets in the evening. The decor, designed by Michelle Derbyshire, includes deep-button upholstery, palm trees, and cut crystal abacus-inspired screens paying homage to the venue’s location in Manchester’s original financial district. Living Ventures chief executive Jeremy Roberts said: “We are delighted to bring this beautiful room back to life and echo its glorious past as the home of the historic Manchester Reform Club. Its heritage as a place to relax, eat and drink and enjoy some of the pleasures of life oozes from the walls and it is our privilege and pleasure to let it continue to be what it was always meant to be.”
East Sussex-based operator opens two restaurants and guesthouse in Bexhill after securing £1m funding package: East Sussex-based operator Luca Venditto has opened two restaurants and a guesthouse in Bexhill after securing a funding package in excess of £1m from HSBC. The funding has enabled Venditto to acquire private members’ restaurant Waterfront, which has been refurbished and reopened to the public. Venditto has also acquired part of another building in the town, which now hosts bar brasserie Rocksalt-on-Sea and Seaspray Rooms, a boutique guesthouse. Venditto, who has also extended his restaurant Italian Way, said: “I am thrilled to have opened the new restaurants and guesthouse in Bexhill. I am currently working on an exciting new project and look forward to working with HSBC to progress this.” Victoria Mutter, HSBC’s area director in Gatwick and East Sussex, said: “Luca Venditto is a passionate, hard-working entrepreneur with an ambitious mindset, aspiring career plan and successful career history, making him a key player in East Sussex. It has been a pleasure supporting him with his current successes in Bexhill and we’re excited to see how each business grows over the coming years.”
Columbo Group warned licence of north London gastro-pub at risk following string of complaints: The Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaik, has been warned the licence of its north London gastro-pub Paradise By Way is at risk following a string of complaints by local residents. They claim the venue in Kensal Green is making their lives “unbearable” because of violence in the street, drunken behaviour, drug-taking, noise, and nuisance. The licensing review application sent to Brent Council includes details of an alleged incident inside the venue where a woman in her 50s was grabbed by the throat by a man and security staff had to pull him away. He left before police arrived and the woman did not make a complaint to the police, reports the Evening Standard. Licensing officers have suggested the venue in Kilburn Lane agrees to measures including extra CCTV cameras, prominent “leave quietly” notices and no admission after midnight. Licensing officer Lavine Miller-Johnson warned Paradise By Way manager Linton Dollaway that the licence, which allows opening until 2am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, was at risk. She said: “Neighbours in the nearby property should not be expected to fear when the weekend arrives. They should be able to live and sleep in the boundaries of their homes in comfort, free from nuisance behaviour.” A spokesman for Ei Group, which owns the leasehold for the premises, said: “We do, of course, recognise this is a very serious situation and deeply concerning, and will be raising the issue with the owner of this business immediately and offer support wherever necessary.” The licence will be discussed by the council’s alcohol and entertainment licensing committee on Wednesday (22 March).
Lucky Chip returns to spiritual Hackney home for fourth site: Lucky Chip, the company that started as a burger stall in 2011, has returned to its spiritual home by taking up residency at East End pub The Sebright Arms. The pub in Coate Street, Hackney, which has just reopened after a refurbishment, previously hosted Lucky Chip in 2013 when the diner was in its fledgling years. Lucky Chip founder Ben Denner told Hot Dinners: “Returning to The Sebright is something myself and the whole Lucky Chip team are very excited about. We have had some fantastic times there and look forward to more.” Lucky Chip offers burgers such as the Royal Wit Cheese, the Gus Fring fried chicken burger, and chilli cheese fries. It also offers a rotating burger of the month special, optional toppings such as poached egg, ginger sweet potato fries, hotdogs, sides and desserts. Lucky Chip also operates a site in Dalston and others within the Old Queen’s Head in Islington and another in Camden Assembly.
Fever Bars relaunches Lincoln nightclub at former Lola Lo site: Fever Bars, led by managing director Mark Shorting, has relaunched a Lincoln nightclub at a former Lola Lo site it acquired from Eclectic Bars in November. Following a £250,000 refurbishment, the twin-themed basement club in High Street offers two separate areas and different styles of music. The Fever Room is the “party room”, with a new dance floor and velvet interior, whereas the Boutique Room features black leather walls, mirrors and laser lights with a soundtrack of R&B and house music. Fever & Boutique general manager John Mason told The Lincolnite: “We have all new everything. We moved booth seats to different locations to give the venue a new feel. We want to give people a venue that’s a different atmosphere to where they go normally. It’s a twin-scene venue, with something for most people.” Lola Lo opened in April 2012, replacing Japanese-themed club Sakura, which was previously Po Na Na – all brands owned by Eclectic Bars, which is owned by Brighton Pier Group. Fever Bars operates almost 30 clubs and bars across the country.
Music hotel, diner and cocktail bar Soul Store West opens in Kilburn with Chicago Rib Shack menu: Authentic American barbecue restaurant chain Chicago Rib Shack, which operates five sites in London and six in total, has supplied the menu for Soul Store West, a music hotel, diner and cocktail bar that has launched in Kilburn, north London. Chicago Rib Shack has devised a soul food menu with dishes including a soul sandwich, spicy fried catfish, and a fire thigh burger, alongside more classic dishes such as baby back ribs, and beef ribs. The venue also offers wings and, for the more health conscious, a superfood salad and cajun bean burger, Hot Dinners reports. The all-day venue also offers bottomless brunches at the weekend. The cocktail menu has been inspired by the legends of Motown and features corn whiskey and hailstorm peach julep, made from Bacardi rum and powdered sugar. Music is at the heart of the new venture, with soul and funk records played all day and live music four nights a week. Chicago Rib Shack, which is led by Christian Arden, operates sites in Aldgate East, Camden, Clapham, Stratford and Twickenham – and one in Leeds.
McDonald’s begins trialling mobile order and pay in the UK: McDonald’s has begun trialling mobile order and pay in the UK – days after starting a similar test in the US. The company has introduced the service, which allows customers to select their order before they go in store and pay for it from their phone, at 22 restaurants. McDonald’s said it planned to introduce mobile ordering to the majority of UK restaurants within 18 months. Mobile ordering works by showing the customer a digital menu on their phone. The app can also store payment details and save favourite orders. McDonald’s digital director Marc Cooper told BuzzFeed News the introduction of mobile ordering was designed to improve speed and convenience. He said McDonald’s was upgrading its restaurants to give them a “modern feel” – such as introducing table service – and that mobile ordering was part of that strategy. Meanwhile, investors will vote soon on whether to give the franchisees that operate most of the company’s restaurants the opportunity to elect a board member. The proposal, which faces long odds of success, is believed to be the first of its kind. Roughly 85% of the company’s restaurants are operated by franchisees, who pay rent and royalties to McDonald’s. McDonald’s long-term goal is to raise that to 95%. “We think franchisees should be in the room when the company’s most important decisions about operating and strategy are being made,” said Maureen O’Brien, director of corporate governance at Segal Marco Advisors, which provides advice to pension plans and oversees a trust owning more than 5,000 McDonald’s shares.
Torquay-based independent burger restaurant to start expansion with second site, in Exeter: Torquay-based independent burger restaurant Meat59 is to start expansion by opening its second site, this time in Exeter. The company will open the new venue in Magdalen Road next month on the former site of The Salty Pigeon restaurant. Vince Aggett and Jenna Heasman launched the concept two years ago. The menu includes the Born and Bred (six-ounce hamburger patty, Devon cheddar, rocket, tomato ketchup and mustard) and The Smoking Cow (six-ounce hamburger patty, bourbon glaze, smoked cheese, gem lettuce, crispy onions and smoky mayo). Heasman told Devon Live: “We are not fazed by the big chain restaurants, they definitely have a place in the city but we also feel independent, small multi-site restaurants are still in demand. We have had great success in Torquay and, although we sometimes feel like we are winging it a bit and learning as we go, it’s our first business venture of this kind and we absolutely love what we do.”
Liverpool Yacht Club operators reopen Ei Group city pub following joint investment: Former actor and singer Sue Franklin, who operates Liverpool Yacht Club with members of her family, has reopened city pub the Horse and Jockey following a joint £100,000 investment with Ei Group. Additions to the pub, which is part of Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships and close to Aintree racecourse, include a theatre pizza kitchen and an Indian stone paving area in the large front garden. Franklin said: “We had a clear business plan for the pub, which we progressed with Ei Publican Partnerships. We both agreed the pub has a large catchment area and what the community needed was a quality, food-led offer. My husband has a strong food background and runs his own events catering company so, with the help of his brother and my son, who are both chefs, we have put together a robust menu of pub classics. With the new space we’ll be able to do hog roasts and barbecues on hot summer days.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Peter Cunningham added: “Sue is the perfect example of the exemplary publicans we have in our estate – she knows every customer personally and is the life and soul of the community.”
Leasehold of Brighton-based burger restaurant Coggins & Co goes on market: The leasehold of Brighton-based burger restaurant Coggings & Co, operated by former Preston Park Tavern operator Andrew Coggings, has been put up for sale. The restaurant, which is in the Seven Dials area of Brighton and Hove, focuses on locally and ethically sourced produce and has accumulated a number of awards since its inception in 2014. The leasehold is being marketed by agent Fleurets with a guide price of £180,000. The property comprises a raised ground-floor restaurant for about 50 covers with a fully glazed frontage. The site is open plan and modern in style, with bar and servery. To the rear, accessed from the restaurant, is a walled customer patio with space for 40 more covers. The business is included in the Sunday Times list of top restaurants under £20 a head and has been given The Three Star Sustainability Award by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. On the upper floors, a maisonette provides three double bedrooms, a family kitchen and large double-aspect lounge. An unusual feature of the property is a unit next door that has ground-floor/gallery space and a spiral staircase leading down to a storage/office space. Kate Dowd, of Fleurets, said: “Coggings & Co has proved extremely popular celebrating locally sourced soft and alcoholic drinks and using Sussex suppliers throughout its menu.”
Signature Living receives interest to open overseas aparthotels: Aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living has been approached to open boutique venues in Dubai, France and Spain, the company has revealed. Signature Living showcased its portfolio at the MIPIM festival in Cannes and said the move had resulted in “offers from global cities”. Signature Living founder Lawrence Kenwright held discussions with representatives from the French city of Bordeaux as well as from Dubai, Madrid and Barcelona. He met with Dubai Holdings, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the company responsible for attracting new investment to the Middle Eastern hot spot, and has agreed to visit the city in the coming weeks to look at new opportunities. Signature Living managing director Kris Mochrie told Insider Media: “Signature Living’s success in the UK and presence at MIPIM has firmly caught the attention of the international market, which wants to bring our unique brand of accommodation to its cities. Our growth since 2008 has been remarkable and we are ready to launch our first development outside the UK and we’re actively considering various locations. This will start imminently with visits to France, Spain and Dubai. Signature Living is a real Liverpool success story – the future looks very bright indeed.”
Bar 44 Group to open Spanish ‘asador’ restaurant in Cardiff this week, fourth site: Bar 44 Group, which operates three tapas bars in Wales, will open a Spanish restaurant in Cardiff this week. The venue in Quay Street will expand the group’s repertoire by introducing the “asador” style of Spanish cooking, which involves chargrilling meat, fish and vegetables over charcoal and wood. Asador means “barbecue” in Spanish. Asador 44, which will open on Thursday (23 March), will also feature a walk-in wine store and a “cheese cave”, while the custom-built, wood-fired grill will be the centerpiece of the kitchen. As well as specialising in meat, the restaurant will offer a wide selection of wine. While 99.5% of the wine available will be Spanish, customers will also be able to order Welsh wine. The company, owned by brothers Owen and Tom Morgan, struck a deal last year with Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain to open Asador 44 at its Greenwood & Brown diner, which launched five years ago as Brains’ first standalone restaurant but closed in the new year. Bar 44 Group operates tapas bars in Cardiff, Cowbridge and Penarth.
Bristol-based bar and restaurant Brace & Browns to start expansion with second city site: Bristol-based bar and restaurant Brace & Browns is to start expansion by opening a second site in the city. Owner David Brown is opening the site at the Cargo 2 shipping container development in Wapping Wharf. Brown said it would be a “fancier and younger” cocktail bar and restaurant compared with his venue in Clifton, which opened in 2011. He told the Bristol Post: “Wapping Wharf is such a cool concept. It’s become a real hub of Bristol living. It embodies everything that makes this city so brilliant, its innovative design, amazing food, a stunning location, great people and very good times. Being a part of Wapping Wharf was too big an opportunity to turn down. We can’t wait to open, join the neighbourhood and continue feeding, watering and entertaining the fine folk of Brizzle.” Indian-inspired street food restaurant Gopal’s Curry Shack and independent business The Bristol Cheesemonger will also join the line-up at Cargo 2, which is due to open in May as part of the Wapping Wharf harbourside development.
Marco Pierre White brings Steakhouse Bar & Grill brand to Plymouth: Celebrity chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White has brought his Steakhouse Bar & Grill to Plymouth. The 160-cover rooftop restaurant has opened at the Holiday Inn Plymouth in Armada Way, soon to be rebranded to a Crowne Plaza. It follows an agreement between Black and White Hospitality, which owns a number of Pierre White’s restaurant brands, and Valor Hospitality Europe, the management company behind Holiday Inn Plymouth and 18 other UK hotels and which operates two Pierre White steakhouses, in Chester and Liverpool. Pierre White said: “The south west is such a beautiful part of the country. Having opened a restaurant in Bristol, Exeter and now Plymouth, I’m incredibly excited to spend more time in the region and to watch this new restaurant unfold.” Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin added: “After the success we’ve had working with Valor Hospitality, we’re certain this latest partnership will be a resounding success.”
Escape room operator lodges plans for fourth site, in Leamington Spa: Escape room operator Escape Live has lodged plans to open its fourth site, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The company has applied to Warwick District Council to open the venue in Regent Street, which would cater for groups of up to six customers at a time. Users would have 60 minutes to solve puzzles and free themselves from the room, which would have a Sherlock Holmes theme, reports Insider Media. A planning statement submitted to the council said the escape room “would do well” in the town because there was “nothing else like it”. It added: “We plan to team up with other local businesses such as restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to offer package deals. The Escape Room would mainly be used for team-building, birthday and Christmas parties.” Escape Live has branches in Birmingham, Coventry and Essex featuring a number of themed rooms. Its Birmingham venue is ranked the number one “fun activity” in the city on TripAdvisor.
Tennent Caledonian launches premium bottled ale collection: Tennent Caledonian, which is owned by C&C Group, has launched Caledonia, a collection of premium bottled ales. C&C Group research revealed that in the past six years, demand for bottled ales has grown by 92%, adding £257m to the market with trends indicating spend among under-45s is up 16% year-on-year, while the category is forecast to be worth £1bn by 2020. The research also found one-in-five bottled ale shoppers are under-35, with 66% of customers wanting a range of beers as they “like variety”. The Caledonia collection includes three 5% ABV beers – Outpost IPA, Double Hop and Hopscotch. Tennent Caledonian senior brand manager Wendy Espie said: “The premium bottled ale market is expanding quickly and there is real consumer demand for high-quality beers, something two-thirds of beer drinkers believe is worth paying more for. Premium ale is currently the most innovative category in drinks and there is a clear consumer desire to seek out and try new products, with over half of beer, wine and spirits shoppers saying they like to try new and different products. We believe our Caledonia collection will make an impact in the market.” The range is available in 500ml bottles in the on-trade, with listings already confirmed in Tesco and Co-op.
Zonal reports 52% increase in profit: Hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems has reported a 52.2% increase in profit, from £2.3m to £3.5m, for the year ending 30 June 2016. The Edinburgh-based company saw turnover fall from £59.6m to £45m, largely due to Zonal taking the strategic decision to no longer recognise certain procurement revenues through its food-purchasing portal and to focus on the rapid growth of its SAAS business model with its long-term recurring revenue rather than upfront sales. During the period, Zonal continued to enjoy strong sales and the rapid expansion of its customer base, with installations at more than 1,400 new locations. This growth is continuing into the new financial year, with the company recently securing accounts with PizzaExpress and SA Brain’s Coffee#1 concept, alongside a significant sales pipeline. The company has also continued to expand with a majority shareholding in Cardiff-based High Level Software, a property management systems provider to the hotel sector. Zonal chief executive Stuart McLean said: “We remain focused on improving our business and have taken key strategic decisions that have been instrumental in driving our long-term vision and these have driven the improvements in cash and margins. We have a strong new business pipeline in place and are really excited about future developments.” Zonal invested £4m in research and development during the period, including the development of Acquire, a new web-based online supply chain management and ordering platform, and enhancements to its payment services, which now facilitate Apple Pay and charity donations through Pennies. McLean added: “Over the next 12 months we are confident we will continue to grow not only our product offer but broaden our customer reach by developing new market segments within the exciting hospitality sector.”