Drake & Morgan opens The Refinery in Edinburgh, first site outside London: Bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan, which is backed by private equity firm Bowmark Capital, has opened its first site outside London – The Refinery in Edinburgh. The all-day bar and restaurant has opened in the £75m office development at St Andrew Square and features a library lounge and al fresco terrace. Diners can choose from breakfast, brunch, set and all-day menus, while The Refinery also offers craft beer and cocktails alongside an extensive wine list. Drake & Morgan director of operations Dylan Murray said: “We are extremely excited to be opening our tenth site, in Edinburgh, where our founder Jillian MacLean has lived and worked. She is delighted to be returning to her roots with the brand she started in 2008! The new bar and restaurant will be an extension of that same brand but will have its own distinct personality and character befitting of its location. Edinburgh is one of the most exciting cities in the UK and our offering will showcase the innovation Drake & Morgan has become known for.” Drake & Morgan operates nine sites in London and will this week open another Refinery site, this time in Spinningfields, Manchester. In July, the company acquired London wine bar and restaurant operator Corney & Barrow Bars for an undisclosed sum. With the acquisition of Corney & Barrow, Drake & Morgan’s portfolio will have increased to at least 25 sites by the end of 2017.

Handmade Burger Co lodges plans for York site: Birmingham-based Handmade Burger Co has lodged plans to open a site in York. The company has applied to the city council to open a restaurant on the site of the former Trespass shop on the corner of Finkle Street and St Sampson’s Square, reports York Press. Earlier this year, Handmade Burger Co co-founder Chris Sargeant said the company planned to add 15 sites to its 28-strong portfolio during the next three years. Sargeant launched his first restaurant with brother Richard in Birmingham in 2006 and now operates venues across the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east and Scotland, as well as sites in Manchester, London, Reading and Southampton. There are other sites in the pipeline for Bristol, Bournemouth and Grey’s Quarter in Newcastle.

Daniel Thwaites opens £1m Yorkshire barn as ninth site for Inns of Character brand: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has opened a converted barn in Malham, North Yorkshire, as the ninth venue for of its Inns of Character brand. The company spent £1m to convert the barn, which previously housed Edinburgh Woollen Mill and various craft shops, into luxury accommodation. The building had been empty for more than eight years but now features eight guest bedrooms, a communal lounge and dining area, drying room, dog shower and secret garden. In September, Daniel Thwaites united its subsidiaries under a single brand. Inns of Character and Shire Hotels & Spas were brought under the Thwaites brand umbrella, with a single website selling all guest rooms, restaurants, conference and spa facilities. The company said that as well as simplifying the brand for customers, unification would bring added staff benefits.

Newport-based Niche Hospitality acquires fourth site: Newport-based Niche Hospitality has acquired its fourth site in the Welsh city. The company has added the Riverside Tavern, which will be renamed the Riverside Sports Bar & Kitchen, to its portfolio. Located on the banks of the River Usk, the venue is now set to undergo investment in a bid to give it an “edgy and industrial-themed interior”. Director Lewis Lewis told Insider Media: “We couldn’t be more delighted at taking over the Riverside. There will be no changes in terms of prices and we will continue to show a range of sport and retain the pool tables and darts. What will be different is we will be investing in the overall comfort of the pub, improving the exterior to improve its appearance and inside to make it much more comfortable. We will be creating an area specifically for video gamers, with large screens so people can play the games we have or bring their own to play against others in the pub.” Niche Hospitality also operates Mojo The FoodBar, Hide and Sea, and Dog ‘N’ Dough in the city.

York-based operator to open third Thai restaurant in city: Komgree Santakollakarn is to open his third Thai restaurant in the city. Santakollakarn has acquired the lease of the former Nineteen restaurant in Grape Lane for the Thai tapas venture in a deal brokered by agent Barry Crux & Co. The building had been occupied by the same Restaurant 19 since the 1990s and was revamped in 2006 to Nineteen. It closed in August this year as the owners looked into new projects, reports The Business Desk. Santakollakarn also runs Thai restaurants Khao San Road in Walmgate and Rice Style in Bishopthorne Road.

Jamie Oliver seal of approval helps Nice Pie to start expansion with second site: Leicestershire-based pie-maker Nice Pie, which was inundated with orders after its appearance on Channel 4 television show Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, has started expansion by opening a second site. The family-run business was founded in 2013 by Katharine Walmsley, who opened a bakery, farm shop and tea room in Old Dalby, near Melton Mowbray. Business boomed after the company’s exotic squirrel pies featured on Jamie Oliver’s show, while its tea room was voted best place to eat in Melton Mowbray for its wide range of homemade food, including themed afternoon teas, and award-winning pies, cakes and scones. Nice Pie has now opened a second site in Melton Mowbray at the former King’s Road Bakery site. Walmsley’s husband Phil, who co-runs the business with Katherine and their daughter Aimi, told the Melton Times: “We had got to the point where we couldn’t produce any more at our present base. Moving into Melton is fantastic for us because it’s a Mecca for pie-makers. The Melton shop will be the main bakery site for Nice Pie and we will still run the bakery and tea shop at Old Dalby. Aimi has graduated from college in bread-making and will be making bread at our new bakery.”

Manchester-based multi-site operator launches micro-brewery, bar and restaurant in Altrincham: Manchester-based multi-site operator David Vanderhook has opened a micro-brewery, bar and restaurant in Altrincham. Vanderhook has converted the former Altrincham Conservative Working Men’s Club in Greenwood Street into The Con Club, creating 40 jobs. The main ground floor hall – which formerly housed the Conservative Club’s lobby, members’ bar, function room with games area and changing room – forms the bulk of the dining space with an open galley kitchen, and a private dining and function room upstairs. It also features a micro-brewery and bar, reports Altrincham Today. Vanderhook also owns The George Charles gastro-pub in West Didsbury and Lime at Salford Quays.

Sugar Hut opens second site, in Liverpool: Sugar Hut, the brand launched by The Only Way Is Essex star Mick Norcross, has opened its second site, this time in Liverpool. The three-floor venue in Victoria Street blends a modern British dining room, cocktail lounge and two clubs into one. It also features a private dining room and event spaces, an interactive photo booth, make-up and powder rooms, and 34 booths that offer phone-charging facilities and a personal Sugar Hut Honey hostess for the evening. Each floor features either live music or a DJ and there is a selection of club and events menus, worldwide wines, cocktails and drinks. Sugar Hut Group chief executive Terry Pullen said: “Our passion and experience within the hospitality and entertainment business has inspired us to extend our brand to Liverpool by opening a unique venue serving fresh food, quality drink and uplifting music in luxury landmark premises.” Last month, Sugar Hut reopened its debut site in Brentwood, Essex, following rebranding and a major refurbishment. Norcross said Sugar Hut would also open venues in Newcastle and Cardiff.

Restaurateur launches curry and cocktail bar concept in Whitley Bay: Restaurateur Kamrul Hussain has launched a curry and cocktail bar concept in Whitley Bay after working in restaurants in London, Liverpool and the north east for more than 20 years. Hussain has opened Shampan in Whitley Road at a site formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Old Pane Vino. His menu includes the signature Bangladeshi Shampan Handi lamb or staff curry (slow-cooked lamb on the bone with onions, garlic, ginger and a secret mix of spices). The separate cocktail bar also offers mocktails. Hussain told BDaily: “We’re seeing lots of couples coming in to sample our cocktail menu. Opening Shampan wasn’t just about me achieving my dream, it’s about Whitley Bay and bringing people into the town. We’ve already had diners from across the north east, visitors from Scotland and we’re building up a great group of regulars in the restaurant and the cocktail lounge. We’re offering the best Indian cuisine with authentic flavours. We’re catering for everyone – whether you want a lounge table for a few bottles of bubbly, fabulous cocktails and sharing platters, or want to reserve a table for a business lunch or family get-together. We’ve worked hard to get Shampan right and turn it into a destination restaurant with a buzzing atmosphere.”

East Midlands-based gourmet dessert parlour concept to start expansion with second site, in Nottingham: East Midlands-based gourmet dessert parlour concept Dolcino is to start expansion by opening its second site, in Nottingham. The company, which launched in Loughborough, has been given the go-ahead by the city council to open the outlet in Beastmarket Hill at the former TSB site, reports The Business Desk. Dolcino describes itself as a “gourmet dessert company and cafe inspired by Italian lifestyle and design”. It serves gelato-based desserts, coffee, waffles, crepes, hot and cold drinks, sundaes and shakes.

Tortilla opens Bristol restaurant, 32nd UK site: Mexican restaurant group Tortilla has opened its latest venue, this time at The Mall shopping centre in Cribbs Causeway on the outskirts of Bristol. Tortilla has signed a ten-year lease on a 1,620 square foot site at The Mall, which opened in 1998 and houses 135 shops and restaurants. The new restaurant is Tortilla’s 32nd in the UK, with 18 in London as well as a branch in Dubai. The nearest Tortilla site to Bristol is in Cardiff. The Mall is owned by M&G Real Estate, Intu and JT Baylis. Other restaurant brands at the complex include Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Nando’s, PizzaExpress, Pret A Manger, TGI Friday’s, Wagamama, and Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia.

Michelin-trained chef opens fine dining restaurant Bilson Eleven in Glasgow: Michelin-trained chef Nick Rietz has opened fine dining restaurant Bilson Eleven in Glasgow. Rietz, who mastered his craft at the Michelin-starred, “best restaurant in the world” Hof van Cleve in Belgium, has launched the restaurant with wife Liz in Annfield Place in the city’s east end. Dishes include curried skink (a fusion of curry and traditional cullen skink soup), scallops with lemon jam and roe crisps, and whisky pannacotta with smoked apple and barley sauce. Rietz told Glasgow Live: “Bilson Eleven is intimate, informal dining, where our focus is always on quality rather than quantity. Our aim is to give exceptional food and service to a smaller-scale customer base – we want to make sure every person who dines here is given a unique experience.”

Boom Burger begins expansion with second site, in Brixton: Boom Burger, the Caribbean-inspired burger restaurant founded by Joshua De Lisser, has started expansion by opening a second site, this time in Brixton. The Boom Shack has opened in Brixton Station Road featuring a cocktail bar offering Caribbean-influenced drinks, juice blends with tropical flavours, and classic Jamaican rum punch. There are morning and evening food menus, with sandwiches served in ciabatta or brioche, Hot Dinners reports. Dishes, available to eat in or take away, include Boom Cubano (slow-cooked pork and hot peppers) and the Boom Sarnie (Scotch bonnet chilli beef with bacon jam). Boom Shack is open from 4pm to 11pm on Wednesdays, 4pm to 1am on Thursdays and Fridays, 10am to 1am on Saturdays, and 10am to 6pm on Sundays. De Lisser opened the first Boom Burger in Portobello Road in Notting Hill.

New Portuguese cuisine concept opens in Cardiff: New Portuguese cuisine concept Mãe Maria has launched in Cardiff. The venue is divided into a restaurant, taverna bar and deli and has opened in Cowbridge Road East in Canton. Tapas is served in the taverna, while the deli offers fresh bread, pastries, cheese, chutneys, cured meat, fine wine and port. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a focus on food from the Portuguese mainland, rather than the island, with “stews and lots of cooking from scratch”. The concept is the brainchild of Laura Da Silva, who is originally from Portugal and was pining for cooking from her homeland – “mãe” means “mother” in Portuguese. After studying in Oxford, Da Silva moved to Cardiff in 2007 where she worked for Portuguese bakery Nata, which has three branches in the city, before deciding the time was right to set up her own restaurant. She told Wales Online: “I couldn’t believe how big the Portuguese population is in Cardiff. I’ve met so many. I wanted to bring our food to the British but also to the Portuguese who want a little bit of home.”

Merseyside bar opens that plays and sells vinyl records: A new concept, Bar 45, has launched in Southport, Merseyside, which plays and sells vinyl records. The bar and cafe has opened on the former site of The Little Gourmet restaurant in Leicester Street and offers live music alongside lager, cider, real ale and hot beverages. Customers can play vinyl records, covering a wide range of styles, on the venue’s record decks. The records themselves are also available to buy. Bar 45 states on its website: “We will be having many different types of live acts such as acoustic, open-mic nights, comedy nights, informative talks and creative sessions. The bar will provide a hub for many local art, craft and music-related groups.”

M&B opens Miller & Carter steakhouse in Bristol: Mitchells & Butlers has opened its latest Miller & Carter steakhouse, this time in Bristol. The company has converted its Lamb and Flag Harvester pub in Cribbs Causeway. Miller & Carter steakhouses serve 12 cuts of Red Tractor Farm Assured meat, including rib-eye, fillet and chateaubriand. The closest Miller & Carter sites to Bristol are in Bath and Cardiff. Talking to analysts following the company’s financial results last week, Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Phil Urban reported that the company hoped to have another 48 Miller & Carter sites open by the end of 2017 to hit 100 sites in total. He said conversion to the premium steak brand cost between £600,000 and £700,000 but was producing a 40% return on investment in the case of the most recent 12 conversions. Mitchells & Butlers reported like-for-like sales down 0.8% in the year to 24 September but with improving trends – the first eight weeks of the current financial year have seen like-for-likes up by 0.5%. The company reported total sales of £2,086m (FY2015: £2,101m) and profit before tax of £94m (FY2015: £126m). A total of £167m (FY 2015: £162m) was spent on capital investment, including eight new openings and 252 conversions and remodels across its portfolio.

Greene King scoops apprenticeship award: Brewer and retailer Greene King has scooped the best apprenticeship strategy category at the Springboard Awards for Excellence. The awards, which reward inspirational people, organisations and initiatives in the hospitality sector, recognised Greene King for its excellence in recruitment and development of apprentices. Since 2011, Greene King has supported more than 8,700 apprentices and offers bespoke qualifications that support a range of roles, including front of house, kitchen and management tailored to each Greene King pub and restaurant brand. Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand said: “Apprenticeships are something we are really passionate about and our scheme has proven a real success for us. We want to support our team members’ career paths and their progression within the company, and we are proud our apprenticeship programme supports us to achieve these goals.”

Schroder appoints Savills as joint leasing agents at Cardiff Bay leisure complex: Schroder UK Real Estate Fund has appointed Savills as joint leasing agents at Mermaid Quay, the mixed-use leisure complex on Cardiff Bay waterfront. Savills joins agents Philip Hughes Davies and Reid Rose Gregory at the scheme. The 150,000 square foot (13,935 square metre) destination opened in 1999 and is home to more than 30 restaurants, cafes and bars, including Bill’s, Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, and Wagamama. There is also a mix of retailers alongside live comedy venue The Glee Club. Mermaid Quay is less than two kilometres from Cardiff city centre and attracts more than 5.3 million people a year. Chris O’Mahony, director in the retail team at Savills, said: “We are delighted to be appointed as joint leasing agents at Mermaid Quay. Its unique mix of restaurants, bars and boutique shopping has ensured its reputation as a ‘must visit’ destination in Cardiff.”