Comptoir Libanais unveils six-strong pipeline: Comptoir Libanais has secured three new openings to expand the group’s presence in London. These include a 398 square metre, 94-cover site on Soho’s Poland Street in the former location of YO! Sushi (opening mid-September) and a 177 square metre site on Gloucester Road, Kensington (in November). Meanwhile, Comptoir Libanais’ first in-store restaurant will also open its doors in John Lewis’s flagship Oxford Street shop, in October. It is Located on the fourth floor next to the Baby and Child department. Outside of the capital, the brand’s first branches in the south west will open in Exeter in late September and Bath in October, extending Comptoir Libanais’ wider UK footprint. The 242 square metre Exeter site will be in the new Queen Street dining quarter, offering 180 covers across three internal and external spaces. The 170-cover Bath restaurant will be part of the new Little Southgate food quarter in the city centre. A third regional opening in Leeds (in November) will cater for 120 covers in the established Trinity Leeds shopping centre. Chief executive Chaker Hanna said: “We are delighted to be rolling out six new sites with even more planned for next year. We’ve seen a real increase in demand for the fresh, nutritious and affordable food we offer so are excited to showcase the best of Lebanese cuisine to new local communities, businesses and families. We look forward to opening our doors to lots of mezze-lovers.”
Dirty Bones to open third London site, in Shoreditch on Wednesday: US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones will open its third London site on Wednesday (7 September), this time in Shoreditch. The new venue will be Dirty Bones’ first restaurant to feature an all-day dining menu and is set in a grade II-listed heritage building in Club Row. Decor at the restaurant will embrace the building’s eclectic history, with key pieces of the building such as original dining room artwork, the grand pillared bar, and the painted facade of the restaurant remaining. There is also a range of bespoke retro features such as the lighting, mirrored table tops and the room’s wrap-around velvet seating. The venue will serve a selection of New York-inspired comfort food dishes, cold-pressed juices, hot drinks and cocktails. There will also be an all-new weekday breakfast menu, which includes Dirty Buns (with flavours such as the truffled chilli cheese bun), matcha custard French toast, and bourbon-poached pear and banola. Also exclusive to Dirty Bones Shoreditch will be the new Dirty Roast, available from midday every Sunday. The bar area will host live band and DJ nights playing old-school funk, soul and hip-hop.
KFC offers staff debt-free degree in business management: KFC employees are being given the opportunity to swap the kitchen for the classroom – offering its workers a debt-free degree in business management. Staff members who enrol in the programme will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree after four years of studying online and working with a mentor at each UK restaurant. KFC and the government will each fund the tuition fees, travel expenses and accommodation costs, as the scheme aims to allow students to work and study without ending up crippled by student debt. The initiative launched this summer with ten employees, and plans are in place to grow the number of students to 25 during the next few years. Cody Cluff, head of personnel for KFC in the UK and Ireland, told The Sun: “We are hugely proud of the degree apprenticeship programme. [It] will help nurture the talent we need for the future.” The new course follows a similar scheme introduced by KFC three years ago, when it became the first fast food company in the UK to pay its staff to study for a degree while working full-time. Restaurant managers were able to apply to study for a degree, also in business management, and each branch was given a computer that could be used to complete coursework. Including bonuses, participants were able to earn up to £68,000 a year while studying for the course, which involved spending about two weeks a year at De Montfort University in Leicester.
Wear Inns appoints finance director as acting managing director following death of John Weir: North east and Yorkshire pub operator Wear Inns has appointed finance director Simon Duckworth as acting manager director following the death of John Weir. Weir, a well-known personality in the pub industry, died at home on Sunday, 28 August after suffering a heart attack. Chairman John Sands, who formed Wear Inns with Weir in 2006, said: “John’s death came as a complete shock and he will be very sadly missed. He was a devoted family man and someone who was my friend and colleague for over 30 years. John will be remembered as a great pubs man. He knew how to build effective businesses that give customers exactly what they want.” Weir’s first senior management appointment was with William Stones at Sheffield as sales manager, responsible for 125 pubs. Three years later he became regional operations director – Bass North, and was appointed to William Stones’ operations board. Weir then spent a number of years implementing capital investment programmes as retail director at Bass in the north east and Scotland and was part of the team that developed the Ember Inns brand. In 2004, he was recruited by Sands at Hartlepool-based Pubmaster as managing director (retail acquisitions) and when Punch bought Pubmaster the pair decided to start their own company and Wear Inns was born. The company has 26 pubs – most recently acquiring The Whistlestop near Leeds United’s Elland Road ground. Wear Inns recently made the Investec Mid Market 100 list, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in the UK with a turnover of more than £10m, for the second time. Wear Inns, which has its headquarters in the old offices of the Castle Eden Brewery in County Durham, is the biggest independent freehold managed operator in the region in terms of volume of beer sold and has a workforce of 265. Weir is survived by wife Barbara, sons Scott and Grant, and his five grandchildren.
US burger chain Burgerfi to make UK debut this week with Wembley opening: US burger chain Burgerfi will launch its debut site in the UK this week – in Wembley Shopping Centre in north London. The company has teamed up with sustainability chef Arthur Potts Dawson with plenty of Aberdeen Angus British beef and a big focus on recycling. The burgers will be “cooked to order in a minute”, with all ingredients prepared daily. The brand’s signature offering is the CEO Burger (double Wagyu beef and brisket blend patty with homemade candied bacon and tomato jam, truffle aioli and aged swiss cheese). Other offerings will include the Burgerfi Bacon Cheeseburger; Breakfast Burger; Conflicted Burger; and Vegifi Burger, Hot Dinners reports. Burgerfi London will also offer hotdogs, hand-cut fries with toppings, and onion rings. Desserts will include custard concretes, floats and shakes, as well as craft beer and wine.
Yum to sell stake in China business ahead of spin-off: KFC and Pizza Hut owner Yum Brands has said Chinese investment firm Primavera Capital and an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding will buy a stake in Yum China for $460m as Yum prepares to spin off the business. Primavera will invest $410m, while Ant Financial, which runs Alibaba’s Alipay mobile payments platform that has been expanding into China’s restaurant industry, will put in $50m. The investors will receive warrants to buy an additional 4% stake in Yum China in two tranches at valuations of $12bn and $15bn, Reuters reports. Yum has signalled part of the money could go towards expanding across China, as the company signalled last October it hoped to nearly triple the amount of its restaurants in China to 20,000. KFC and Pizza Hut brands reaped the rewards of catering to China’s booming economy, with patrons flooding to restaurants offering fast Western food, a higher level of service and perceived food safety. But Yum’s China business has hit roadblocks in recent years, including bird flu outbreaks. Yum, still the largest fast-food chain in China, has also been losing ground to McDonald’s, which moved to separate its China business following pressure last year from one of its largest investors, Corvex Management, the activist hedge fund run by Keith Meister. Meister is on Yum’s board. The spin-off is expected on 31 October, with Yum China to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange a day later, the company said. Primavera founder Fred Hu will become non-executive chairman of Yum China’s board. Goldman Sachs is financial adviser, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is legal adviser to Yum Brands and Yum China. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Fangda Partners are legal advisers to Primavera and Ant.
Five Guys signs deal for restaurants at five Legal & General sites: Better burger brand Five Guys has signed a deal with Legal & General for restaurants across five of its UK leisure sites. Five Guys has agreed a 2,000 square foot unit at Meridian Leisure Park in Leicester and a 3,938 square foot unit in St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen. Both restaurants are due to open in the last quarter of 2016. Five Guys has also opened units at Legal & General’s leisure park Valley Centertainment in Sheffield, Overgate Shopping Centre in Dundee, and Ashton Leisure Park in Ashton-under-Lyne, amounting to a total of about 10,000 square feet of space. All five lettings have been agreed on 15-year leases. Legal & General fund manager Andrew Ferguson told Property Week: “Welcoming Five Guys to a range of our leisure sites demonstrates the strength of our leisure portfolio and the ability of our assets to attract and work closely with leading operators. Three of the new sites are already trading well and have collectively raised the tone of their schemes to great effect. We continue to see demand for a diverse and high-quality food and drink offer throughout the leisure sector.” Five Guys has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013.
Nando’s, Las Iguanas, TGI Friday’s, Bella Italia and Wagamama sign up for new Merseyside cinema complex: Nando’s, Las Iguanas, TGI Friday’s, Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia and Wagamama have all signed up to open alongside an 11-screen Cineworld cinema at New Mersey Retail Park in Speke. Under the new plans, the cinema and restaurants will be at the front of the site to create a new gateway to the retail park. Planning permission was granted last year, despite planning committee member councillor Richard Kemp describing the design as looking like a “nuclear power station”. Neil Ashcroft, centre manager for the retail park, told the Liverpool Echo: “The plans have all been finalised and work is due to begin on our leisure complex later this year. There will be six restaurants in total, providing more choice to those who want to dine with us.” New Mersey Shopping Park is owned by Speke Unit Trust, which British Land has a large stake in. British Land is also the property advisor for the shopping park. It said last year the development would create up to 600 full and part-time jobs, alongside another 390 construction jobs.
Leon to launch Brighton restaurant this month, fifth site outside London: Natural fast food brand Leon will open its first restaurant in Brighton at the end of this month. The 55-cover restaurant in North Street will open at a site between Pret A Manger and Waterstone’s that was previously occupied by EAT. The 135 square metre site was marketed on a ten-year lease at £95,000 a year under strict confidentiality as EAT staff were unaware of its closure, The Argus reports. Leon, which was founded by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby in 2004, has 37 restaurants in the UK and one at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, with other sites set to open in Eastcastle, Liverpool Street and London Bridge, all in London. Brighton will only be Leon’s fifth venue outside the capital alongside other restaurants in Birmingham, East Midlands airport, the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone and Schiphol.
Handmade Burger Co to open Bath city centre site: Birmingham-based Handmade Burger Co is set to open a restaurant in Bath city centre. A licensing application to Bath and North East Somerset Council has been approved for the site in Upper Borough Walls, formerly occupied by Central Bar. Contractors have already started work on the site and the company said the venue should be ready by Christmas. The restaurant will be open daily from 9am and offer alcohol until midnight. A Handmade Burger Co spokesman told Bath Chronicle: “Our food is hand-made in our restaurants using more than 48 seasonal ingredients and only the freshest produce, which is locally sourced where possible. We go to every length to ensure our high standards are maintained.” In May, one of the founding brothers of Handmade Burger Co, Chris Sargeant, said the company planned to add 15 sites to its 25-strong portfolio during the next three years. Sargeant launched his first restaurant with brother Richard in Birmingham in 2006 and now operates venues across East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east and Scotland, as well as sites in Manchester, London, Reading and Southampton, with sites in the pipeline for Bristol, Bournemouth and Grey’s Quarter in Newcastle.
Burning Night Group delays Bierkeller opening in Nottingham: Burning Night Group has delayed the opening of its Bierkeller site in Nottingham by at least four months. The company is investing £2.1m to convert the former Walkabout site in Friar Lane, creating 100 jobs. The venue was due to open this month. A Burning Night Group spokesman told The Business Desk: “There has been an issue with the sale of the flats above (The Walkabout). It will likely be early next year when we open now.” As with the brand’s other four sites, the new Bierkeller will include three bars in one venue – the Around The World Bar, Shooters Bar and The Bierkeller. In April, operations director Rebecca Moran said: “The complex will be a completely new offering for the city centre and the ultimate destination for all types of social occasions.” Burning Night Group has Bierkellers in Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, and Manchester and is due to open a site in Birmingham.
BrewDog to throw shareholders’ bash at new US brewery: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is throwing a party for all those who have invested in the company – at its new brewery in Columbus, Ohio. The party will take place on Saturday, 24 September at the 100,000 square foot facility. All those who have invested in the BrewDog USA fund-raise will receive invitations to the party, as will Equity Punks from further afield. BrewDog’s US crowdfunding campaign raised $1m in the first three days following its launch on startup platform BankRoll in early August. The company aims to raise $50m by selling 1,052,632 shares of stock in BrewDog USA for £47.50 per share – the minimum investment is two shares ($95 each). On its website, the company stated: “We are bringing our ultimate shareholder party to the US – the BrewDog #PunkAGM USA – and all our Equity Punks are invited. If you have just joined the BrewDog ranks as part of our ground-breaking share offer in America, or are an existing member of our 46,000-strong army of craft beer fanatics around the world, our USA AGM is for you. In the future these will just be for our BrewDog USA Equity Punks, but we figured every BrewDog shareholder would probably like to check out our new facility in Columbus Ohio – so you’re all invited! You’ll be able to see behind the scenes as we begin our adventures in America, and meet the team who will bring BrewDog beer to life in the States. James (Watt), Martin (Dickie) and the team will be in Columbus and will reveal plans for the future of BrewDog USA. If you’ve read about our legendary #PunkAGMs that take place in Aberdeen and have ever wanted to attend one on the other side of the world – this is your chance.”
D&D London to reopen Bluebird restaurant this month following £2m refurbishment: D&D London will reopen its Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea on Wednesday, 21 September following a £2m refurbishment. The new interior pays homage to the building’s heritage as the first garage of the Bluebird Motor Company in 1923. The original steel frame of the atrium has been refreshed with bold red paint, while the restaurant’s rich hues and use of mixed materials aims to create an inviting environment. The venue will feature vibrant, custom-made velvet and leather-backed chairs, while ruby red bar stools will adorn the centrally illuminated curved metal bar. The dining room has been completed with heavy drapes. D&D London said new executive head chef Liam Smith-Laing’s menus would feature “simple, fresh and honest dishes inspired by the best of modern European cooking, made using the finest ingredients”.
Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen expands menu after doubling kitchen space at Southampton site: Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen has expanded its debut site in London Road, Southampton, doubling the size of its kitchen and front of house and adding a new bar offering cocktails “foraged from the countryside”, and a large selection of independent craft beers, ciders and ales on tap. The installation of state-of-the-art barbecue smokers and dry-ageing display chillers and ovens has also allowed Chalk Valley to enlarge its menu to include pasture-raised burgers, dry-aged steaks, Texas-style barbecue, weekend breakfasts, and Sunday roasts. Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen is a farm-to-fork, fast-casual dining concept founded in 2014 by William Buckley and Sarah Jane Fairey, of Bossington Estate. All meat comes from British native-breed animals that have been pasture-raised, either at Bossington Estate or from like-minded farmers that farm to the same Pasture Fed Livestock Association standards. Almost all other non-meat ingredients are organic and sourced from regenerative and restorative farms and, where possible, local producers.
Gourmet pizza company Voodoo Ray’s opens third London site, in Camden Market: Gourmet pizza company Voodoo Ray’s has opened its third London site, this time in Camden Market. The company, which has restaurants in Dalston and Shoreditch, has opened its new site in the market’s North Yard, where it offers New York-style pizza by the slice taken from huge, 22-inch pies. Speciality pizzas include the Giorgio Moroder (goat’s cheese, sunblushed tomatoes, courgette and basil); Rubenesque (salt beef, sauerkraut, emmental and Russian dressing); and The Meat Is On (minced steak, pepperoni, ham and pancetta). The venue also offers cocktails, craft beer and frozen margaritas made using golden reposado tequila, agave syrup and fresh citrus made on-site in slushie machines. On its website, Voodoo Ray’s states: “Our innovative pies combine high-quality ingredients with unique flavour combinations for an exceptional slice. Two of our slices are equivalent to a whole 11-inch pizza! We source the best buffalo and fior di latte mozzarellas and use Italy’s renowned caputo flour in our famous bases. We import San Marzano tomatoes for the all-important Napoli sauce, and feature an ever-changing selection of seasonal toppings you won’t find anywhere else.”
Krispy Kreme makes Norfolk debut with Norwich opening: Krispy Kreme has made its Norfolk debut after opening a site in Norwich. The company has opened the venue at the Intu Chapelfield shopping centre in St Stephens Street. Krispy Kreme chief marketing officer Judith Denby said: “We are extremely excited to be bringing the joy of Krispy Kreme to Norwich.” Krispy Kreme entered the UK market in October 2003 in London and currently operates more than 70 stores across Britain. Alcuin Capital Partners, which has owned Krispy Kreme UK since 2011, is readying the business for a stock market float next month.
Bistrotheque team launches April’s Cafe concept in Sloane Street store: Pablo Flack and David Waddington, founders of modern French restaurant Bistrotheque, have launched new concept April’s Cafe inside the flagship London store of Middle Eastern luxury fashion retailer Boutique 1. April’s Café features a menu by Blaine Duffy, head chef at east London’s Bistrotheque, with breakfast dishes including polenta bread with maple butter, granola, strained yogurt and London honey, Hot Dinners reports. The lunch menu features caramelised tomato tart and burrata; pink beef with heritage tomatoes and wild garlic; and panna cotta with poached apricots and toasted almonds. The venue in Sloane Street also offers wine, champagne, cocktails, cold-pressed juices, Allpress Coffee and Rare Tea Company infusions, as well as snacks and afternoon tea. April’s Cafe at Boutique 1 is open from 10am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and midday to 6pm on Sundays. Boutique 1 Group opened its first site in 2000 and has grown to 20 stores in four cities. Its other multi-brand luxury Boutique 1 stores are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Beirut.
Former Harris + Hoole employee opens ‘sustainable’ artisan coffee shop concept in Amersham: A new “sustainable” artisan coffee shop concept has launched in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Peter Wells, who has previously worked for Harris + Hoole, has launched Jacs in Hill Avenue after agreeing a deal with the property’s landlord, Sorbon Estates. Jacs takes an environmentally friendly approach to food and drink, setting up a filtered water point rather than selling water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic being disposed of in landfill. Instead, customers are encouraged to make a donation to help fund clean drinking water in Africa. The interior of the shop also reflects its sustainable roots, with upcycled furniture and reclaimed wood. Wells told Get Bucks he hopes the concept will bring a “little bit of Shoreditch” to Amersham.
Former Threlfalls Brewery building in Liverpool earmarked to become aparthotel: An office building in Liverpool formerly occupied by Threlfalls Brewery has been earmarked to become an aparthotel with a Jacuzzi in every room. Alexander Ware has applied to Liverpool City Council to change the use of Trueman Court in Trueman Street. The building was formerly part of the administrative offices of Threlfalls Brewery. The three-storey building would be extended under the plans, although the external appearance of the property would be retained. A planning design and access statement by Alexander Ware said: “This scheme will provide high-quality hotel rooms right within the city centre. As the city continues to attract more visitors, it is vital that the necessary demand for accommodation is provided. The area is a hot spot for commercial and leisure facilities ensuring all tourist attractions are easily accessible. The scheme will look to make use of the existing building with a newly built extension.”