Tortilla lodges plans for restaurant in Brixton: Mexican restaurant group Tortilla has lodged plans to open a site in Brixton, south London. The company has applied to Lambeth Council to open the 54-cover venue in Brixton Road on the site of Surprise Surprise shoes, reports Brixton Buzz. If approved, the restaurant would be the company’s 18th in the capital. The application stated: “A new Tortilla restaurant would contribute to the vitality and viability of Brixton. While the proposed restaurant use would have 54 covers, Tortilla offers a takeaway element. This takeaway element would increase the pedestrian footfall within the area and increase the vitality and viability of the area.” Tortilla was launched in 2007, bringing burritos and tacos to London by taking inspiration from the self-proclaimed burrito capital of the world, San Francisco. The brand has since grown to 29 restaurants in the UK, with its first in Scotland due to open in Glasgow this summer.
Longhorns BBQ expands smokehouse following Camerons Brewery deal: North east-based restaurant company Longhorns BBQ has expanded its Ouseburn smokehouse having clinched a deal with Camerons Brewery to supply six of its pubs across the north. Longhorns, which specialises in authentic Texan barbecue food, will be aided in the move by a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Plus Fund, managed by FW Capital. The company, which also has restaurants in Jesmond and Newcastle city centre and employs more than 50 staff, has achieved a seven-figure turnover within just two years. Longhorns BBQ co-founder and managing director Michael Dixon said: “We are passionate about providing high-quality, Texan-style barbecue food and an authentic experience. Following the success of our Newcastle restaurants, we reached an agreement with Camerons Brewery group to supply them. Thanks to the support we’ve had from the FW Capital team, we’ve been able to expand our central smokehouse to meet this increased demand and take on more north east staff.” Michael Vassallo, FW Capital senior investment executive, added: “Longhorns is an exciting company with high brand values and very strong growth prospects. Customer feedback has been great and they have a really strong management team in place.” Longhorns, which recently launched a new menu, plans to open more restaurants this year. The North East Growth Plus Fund invests between £350,000 and £1.25m per round in established north east businesses.
Meatcure opens Bedford restaurant, fourth site and first outside East Midlands: Gourmet burger restaurant company Meatcure has opened a restaurant in Bedford, its fourth site and first outside the East Midlands. The new venue in High Street is open daily, offering burgers, steaks, salads, sharing plates and desserts, alongside shakes and hard shakes. It also has separate brunch, lunch and children’s menus. Earlier this month the company, led by Paul Rigby and Rob Martyniak, postponed its Seedrs crowdfunding campaign, blaming uncertainty caused in part by Brexit. Meatcure was looking to fund-raise £350,000 to open five new sites in the next two years. However, the company told investors: “We’re still on target to self-fund our growth organically at a rate that ensures successful, efficient and profitable delivery of great restaurants to impressive market towns.” Meatcure’s three other sites are in Market Harborough, Leicester and Leamington Spa. It is set to open a fifth site, in Hinckley, in the autumn.
Poppie’s Fish & Chips opens Soho restaurant, third London site: Poppie’s Fish & Chips, the music, nostalgia and chippie concept owned by Pat “Pop” Newland, has opened its third London restaurant, this time in Soho. The new venue in Old Compton Street is on the site of the former 2i’s Coffee Bar, the “birthplace of British rock ‘n’ roll”. Fresh fish will be delivered daily from Billingsgate – to be served from 11am to midnight with hand-cut chips, wallies and mushy peas – while the restaurant will also feature live music. Newland said: “Hopefully Poppie’s can bring a bit of East End charm and a bit of 1970s Soho to Old Compton Street. I love live music and I’m really excited we’ll have a stage in the Soho shop like we do in Camden, with music and dancing.” The restaurant also offers cod or haddock (in edible-inked newspaper if taking away), battered or classic sausages, fishcakes, saveloys, jellied eels, and bottled wine and craft beer. Newland started in the fish and chips business in the 1950s at 11 years old, cutting newspaper to wrap the portions as they were dished out. The other Poppie’s Fish & Chips venues are in Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, and Hawley Crescent, Camden.
Chipotle reports like-for-likes down 23.6% in second quarter: Chipotle Mexican Grill has reported like-for-likes fell 23.6% in its second quarter ended 30 June 2016, an improvement from the nearly 30% decline in the first quarter. The company said the like-for-like sales decline included a 19.3% drop in transactions. Net income for the quarter was $25.6m, falling from $140.2m a year ago before a series of foodborne illness incidents began in the second half of 2015. Revenue declined 16.6% to $998.4m, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. The results were an improvement over the first quarter, when Chipotle reported its first quarterly loss as a public company. It opened 58 restaurants during the quarter, bringing its total number of sites to 2,124. Chipotle founder, chairman and co-chief executive Steve Ellis said: “We returned to profitability and saw a modest improvement in comparable sales trends in the second quarter. Our most recent marketing efforts, led by our Chiptopia frequency programme, are off to a nice start in the third quarter, as customers are embracing the programme, and nearly 30% of all transactions are engaged in Chiptopia.”
Peak District hotel owners open £1m bar and restaurant concept Grafene in Manchester: The owners of a Peak District hotel have opened a new bar and restaurant concept on a former Brasserie Blanc site in Manchester. Paul and Kathryn Roden, who own Losehill House in Derbyshire, have invested £1m to launch Grafene in King Street. An open pastry kitchen takes centre stage at the 120-cover restaurant, with two private dining areas dedicated to wine tastings and pairings. The venue also houses the Island bar, serving light bites, vintage champagne, local beers and “scientifically inspired” cocktails. It also features a large outside dining area. Head chef Darren Goodwin’s menu includes starters such as smoked ham terrine with cider jelly, pickled cauliflower and piccalilli, while mains are dominated by fish and game, including Goosnargh guinea fowl with braised leg and hunter’s sauce, and sea trout with black quinoa. The restaurant features an open pastry kitchen, with the dessert menu created by Cristina Molteni, formerly at The Ritz in Paris. Highlights include lime and strawberry cheesecake with strawberry sorbet. A seven-course taster menu is also being created.
Stonegate reopens Nottingham city centre bar with new name following £300,000 refurbishment: Stonegate Pub Company has reopened a Nottingham city centre site with a new name following a £300,000 refurbishment. The company has revamped the former Cape site in Pelham Street, which is now called Faradays. The two-storey building has a new industrial design that includes corrugated iron, reclaimed wood and surrealist images on the walls upstairs, connected to the ground floor by a spiral staircase. The bar has been named after Faraday Road, home to the Raleigh Factory. The bar has several nods to the famous bicycle manufacturer throughout, with cogs, wheels and bike imagery. Stonegate has opened up the second floor, called Static Attic, as a lounge area for large groups and a corner for live musicians. It is also set to introduce cocktail masterclasses. The food menu was changed just before Cape closed at the start of the month and will remain the same with hand-stretched, stonebaked pizzas as well as favourites such as beef and ale pie, chicken tikka masala and scampi. General manager Matt Sporne told the Nottingham Post: “Nottingham needs a bar that specialises in the whole package – premium food, extensive drinks menu, atmosphere, customer service – and that’s what we’ve created.”
Urban Standard opens Cardiff bar and restaurant, third site and first outside Bristol: Bristol-based independent bar and restaurant company Urban Standard has opened its third site, this time in Cardiff. The company, founded by Tim Moores and Dom Wood, has opened Society Standard on the site of the former Cardiff Sportsgear shop in Whitchurch Road. The new 1,800 square foot venue is split between two open plan rooms and can seat 100 customers. The main bar, which offers plenty of seating at smaller tables, is on one side with an open plan kitchen and larger tables on the other. Full-length, bi-fold windows offer diners pavement-side eating in warm weather, with a covered terrace to the rear. Dishes include Tuscan tartine with whipped ricotta, tomato and olive tapenade, and grilled sourdough; and mac ‘n’ pork sandwich with macaroni cheese and a fried egg. Local beers from The Waen Brewery and Pipes Beer are also available. The company’s other venues are The Urban Standard and North Street Standard, both in Bristol.
Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant Casamia opens new pizza concept: Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant Casamia, owned by multi-site operator Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, has opened its new pizza concept Pi Shop. The 40-seat pizzeria has launched at the former Bristol General Hospital building alongside Casamia, which relocated to the site after 19 years in Westbury-on-Trym in January. Pi Shop is inspired by Casamia’s original roots, reflecting the origins of the restaurant that started out serving a range of authentic Italian pizzas. It features an open plan kitchen and wood-fired oven and has a menu of sourdough pizzas and homemade ice creams. The decor has a laid-back Italian feel intertwined with Bristolian influences. Sanchez-Iglesias told the Bristol Post: “We’ve had a fantastic reception since we reopened Casamia at The General and we think guests are going to love the different feel of Pi Shop, which will offer great, tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere.” Pi Shop is the first of two new dining concepts being launched with Paco Tapas, named after Sanchez-Iglesias’ father, due to open later this summer.
New sushi cafe concept set to open in Wilmslow: A new sushi cafe concept is set to open in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Zumu Sushi has applied to Cheshire East Council to convert a vacant unit in Bank Square previously occupied by The Goal Post sports shop into the new venue. The proposed scheme would work within the existing layout of the building with no structural changes, reports Wilmslow.co.uk. Zumu Sushi said in its application the cafe would create eight jobs.
St John turns Spitalfields site into new bar and restaurant: St John Restaurants, led by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, has revamped its Spitalfields venue in London to create a new bar and restaurant. When St John Bread and Wine opened in Commercial Street ten years ago, the group used the space as a bakery. Now, with the bakery moving to a site in Druid Street, Bermondsey, where it sells doughnuts, bread, bag-in-box wines, and Eccles cakes among many other products, the Spitalfields site has been transformed into a dedicated restaurant and bar. The all-French wine list has been complemented by a revamped beer offering, curated by Melissa Cole. Customers can dine at the venue or just grab a drink, Hot Dinners reports. The menu will change regularly, while Henderson and head chef Arnold Hoeksma have also been working on new breakfast dishes. St John also operates the Smithfield Bar and Restaurant and the St John Maltby restaurant in Bermondsey.
New ethical coffee house concept opens in Bingham: A new ethical coffee house concept has opened in Bingham, Nottinghamshire. Former English teacher Georgia Barnes has launched Folks and Fables in Long Acre. The site features a cafe downstairs, while the first floor has a lounge that is available for art classes, book clubs, creative writing workshops, craft afternoons and supper clubs. A literary theme, inspired by Barnes’ former profession, runs throughout the business right down to the crisps, which have quirky names such as Pastrami in the Rye and The Secret of Mr Salt. Customers can “create their own adventure” at the Buddha bar packed with fresh fruit, greens and grains for breakfast smoothies and lunchtime salads. Unusually, the menu is vegan as standard and non-vegan products are the ones labelled. The coffee is Fairtrade and some of the more obscure loose-leaf teas include jelly and ice cream and iced banana chai latte. Barnes told the Nottingham Post: “I’ve always wanted a creative coffee house since working in coffee shops before going into teaching.”
Numis Securities – no quick fix for The Restaurant Group but it has support from its concessions and pubs: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett said there was no quick fix for The Restaurant Group but it had support from its concessions and pubs. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 370p, Barrett said: “We do not expect any single solution to an issue that has been building for some time. Nor do we expect mergers and acquisitions/divestments to form a major part of the strategic review. In theory, the separation/sale of concessions or pub restaurants could release substantial value but we believe management is more inclined to invest in these areas – to make the group more balanced – than to sell them. Management suggested in a recent conference call it was reviewing the operating strategy, and would give its findings with the interim results. Instead we expect a rapid change in menu offering, pricing and staffing using all operational tools to drive revenues and limit margin pressures from the living wage, food/beverage imports etc. More importantly, we believe the group should also address the tail of underperforming sites, closing some and eradicating duplication in the estate (eg Stoke, where a new opening caused like-for-like sales to decline 19% in each of the other two). We would also welcome a more realistic assessment of long-term expansion plans, dropping the group’s current target for 850 to 950 units within eight to ten years, which would have required more than 50 annual openings. Until newer brands such as Coast to Coast are established, such growth was reliant on a strong pipeline for food and beverage. Overall, we believe investors would rather see a smaller number of high-quality openings in pubs/airports than expansion elsewhere, where The Restaurant Group competes for sites with private equity-backed businesses. We take a cautious view of prospects for FY16, particularly given weak consumer confidence in the wake of Brexit. Our forecasts use an assumption for like-for-like sales of -3.5%, broadly in the middle of the company’s -2.5% to -5% guidance. That implies -3.9% for the remainder of the year and no improvement from the run rate in weeks nine to 17. Our cost assumptions result in a fall in Ebit margin from 13.0% to 10.6%.”
New real ale bar concept opens in Burnley: A new real ale bar concept has opened in Burnley. Andy Taylor, who has worked in the pub industry for 20 years, has launched Bar Central in his home town. The 70-capacity site in Manchester Road specialises in real ales brewed in the region. Taylor told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I’ve always wanted my own bar in Burnley. I was brought up in Duke Bar and have worked in the trade for 20 years. I worked at The Duke of York, The Falcon and the North Valley in Colne before moving away to work in Newcastle. I’ve managed a pub up there for the past 12 years. When this opportunity came up it was too good to miss. I intend to work with local, independent breweries, which are seeing a bit of a revival, but we also serve wine and spirits.”
New vegan restaurant and live music concept Moon On The Water launches in Cleethorpes: New vegan restaurant and live music concept Moon On The Water has launched on Cleethorpes seafront. The name of the venue in North Promenade was inspired by a George Orwell essay. The large space has room for 500 people and as well as regular live performances by a wide range of artists, Moon On The Water directors Sally-Ann MacDonald, Billy Miller and Warren Jolly, plan to offer workshop space and host yoga classes. Jolly told the Grimsby Telegraph: “We will be able to offer bands and artists proper dressing rooms, practice areas for them, and workshops. With a capacity of up to 500 people, the potential is incredible.”
Nottingham-based coffee roaster opens first shop: Nottingham-based coffee roaster Outpost Coffee has opened its first coffee shop. The company, which supplies coffee to cafes across Nottingham, has opened the artisan venue in Stoney Street on the former site of The Music Exchange. Drinks include Clever Dripper, Kalita and Aeropress from single-origin beans, espresso, macchiato, cortado, flat white, cappuccino and latte. Owner Greg Campher told the West Bridgford Wire the coffee shop was the natural progression for the business.
Pirate-themed bar and nightclub concept BarBaric launches in Southport town centre: A pirate-themed bar and nightclub has launched in Southport, serving rum cocktails to “shipmates looking for a fun night out on the town”. BarBaric is the brainchild of Olivia Baughan, who will run the bar that was bought by her parents earlier this year. The venue on the corner of West Street and Waverley Street in Southport town centre has been fully refurbished. The site previously housed the nightclubs Purple Money and Room 38, the Southport Visiter reports.
Zenith Hygiene completes acquisition of chemicals company CCL Pentasol: Zenith Hygiene Group, the supplier of cleaning and hygiene products to the sector, has completed the acquisition of CCL Pentasol, a UK-based supplier of chemicals for the food, dairy, brewing, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, for an undisclosed sum. CCL Pentasol will add new, growing markets to Zenith’s portfolio. The first part of the integration process will see CCL Pentasol’s water treatment division rebranded as Zenith Water Engineering. Zenith said it expected the market to grow in importance for its businesses as water became “even more of a precious commodity”. Zenith Hygiene Group chief executive Ringo Francis said: “As a business, we thrive on innovation and efficiency; our customers are at the heart of our business model and I am confident they will welcome the delivery of a combined, wider array of services and products to meet our goal of providing them with a fully integrated offer.” The acquisition was funded through the company’s balance sheet following the £13.9m funding package from Santander secured in April.
Peel Hotels appoints Bespoke boss as non-executive director: Peel Hotels has appointed Bespoke Hotels chief executive Haydn Fentum as a non-executive director. Fentum is also co-owner of Bespoke Hotels, which primarily specialises in hotel management and sales and marketing contracts on behalf of independent owners. Bespoke has about 120 contracts worldwide, the majority of which have been initiated and negotiated by Fentum. Peel Hotels chairman Robert Peel said: “I am delighted Haydn has agreed to join our board and we can only benefit from his wealth of experience within our industry.”