Ottolenghi reports turnover increase boosted by Spitalfields opening: Ottolenghi, the restaurant company headed by chef Yotam Ottolenghi, has reported an increase in turnover boosted by the opening of its Spitalfields site in east London. The company saw turnover increase to £16,282,714 for the year ending 27 March 2016, compared with £13,165,884 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £737,431, compared with £1,240,458 the year before. The company stated: “During the last period, sales in the NOPI restaurant grew by 1% and sales in the other branches grew by 37% due to the opening of the Spitalfields branch during 2015.” A dividend of £700,000 was paid to shareholders (2015: £1,600,001). The highest-paid director earned remuneration of £140,000, up from £130,000 the previous year. The company has 260 staff, up from 202 the year before.
Bistrot Pierre eyes further Greater Manchester sites following ‘busiest ever’ opening at Altrincham: Bistrot Pierre, the restaurant group backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, is eyeing further openings in the Greater Manchester region following the success of its £1m Altrincham site that launched last month. Co-owner Rob Beacham told Manchester Evening News: “It’s been our busiest opening ever. Altrincham is fast becoming a destination for food and drink. For us, it was the perfect place to invest. Manchester city centre has a great food and drink offering but a lot of my customers, who tend to be older, do not dwell in Manchester in the evening. However, the suburbs and towns around Manchester are beginning to redefine their food and drink scene and are providing exciting opportunities for independents to invest. I’m currently looking at four centres in the region and, with Altrincham doing so well, we want to take the same success elsewhere.” Livingbridge director Benoit Broch added: “Bistrot Pierre has had a great first year since Livingbridge came on board as a partner. Growth has been robust, with customer satisfaction levels very high based on both quality and value for money.” Bistrot Pierre was founded in 1994 by Beacham and childhood friend John Whitehead. The Altrincham site is the company’s 17th. Last month, Bistrot Pierre reported turnover increased 18% to £19,519,578 for the year ending 30 June 2016, compared with £16,562,199 the year before. Trading Ebitda fell to £1.89m, compared with £1.96m the previous year. It reported a pre-tax profit of £74,498, compared with £587,479 the year before.
Casual Dining Group closes one of Las Iguanas brand’s original Bristol restaurants: Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas has closed one of its original sites in Bristol. The restaurant in Whiteladies Road has a poster in the window stating: “A big thank you from the Las Iguanas team to our customers past and present. We’ll miss you!” Las Iguanas launched in St Nicholas Street, Bristol, in 1991. In November last year it opened its 45th restaurant – at the Bond Street development in Chelmsford, Essex. The company has also submitted plans to open another Essex restaurant, this time in Colchester town centre, which it hopes to open this year. Las Iguanas managing director Mos Shamel told the Bristol Post: “It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to one of our original restaurants. Our Whiteladies Road branch has always been a little too small for our needs and with us nearing the end of our lease on the building we feel it is the right time to move on and concentrate on our other Bristol restaurants.” Las Iguanas operates two remaining restaurants in Bristol – on the Harbourside and at Cribbs Causeway.
Tony Macaroni to rebrand St Andrews site to new pizza concept Mozza: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is to rebrand its St Andrews site under a new pizza concept Mozza. The company has closed the venue in Bell Street for the revamp. It will be the second Mozza restaurant to open following its launch in Glasgow this month. Brand marketing manager Stephanie Yapp told Fife Today: “We think the market in St Andrews will appreciate something a bit different. What’s different is that Mozza will be serving Neapolitan pizzas – and the refurbished restaurant layout will allow customers to watch their pizzas being baked in the super-hot, wood-fired pizza oven. Our plan is to reopen within about three months, following our first Mozza opening in Glasgow this month. It is a really cool concept, inspired by something similar in London.” The restaurant will still cover two floors, with the pizza oven featuring on the upper level. Tony Macaroni has outlets across Scotland and opened in St Andrews in 2015.
Artist Residence acquires famous Oxfordshire pub the Mason Arms, fourth site in total: Artist Residence, the boutique hotel, restaurant and bar operator, is to open its fourth site, in South Leigh, Oxfordshire. Owners Justin and Charlotte Salisbury are refurbishing the Mason Arms, which notably hit the headlines in 2008 when owner Gerry Stonhill was prosecuted for breaking the smoking ban at the pub, which had its own helicopter landing pad. It will relaunch next month as a country pub and restaurant, with five en-suite bedrooms in the original thatched farmhouse. Attached to the pub is a cottage, outbuildings and stables that will be transformed later in 2017 into a further seven en-suite bedrooms. The refurbishment will see the restoration of original features such as flagstone flooring, dark oak panelling, rustic beams and exposed stone and brick. The couple have hand-picked pieces from their favourite auction houses and reclamation yards to complement the features, along with William Morris wallpaper and a personally curated collection of artwork. There will also be a bespoke collection of work for the bar focused around the Salisbury’s fictional character Mr Hanbury – a small nod to the pub’s history. The Mason Arms was once a firm favourite of many well-known chefs, including Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc. Artist Residence’s other sites are in London, Brighton and Penzance.
SSP Group reopens Ed’s Easy Diner at Manchester Debenhams: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has reopened Ed’s Easy Diner in Debenhams in Manchester – two months after it closed. The restaurant had been open barely a year at the department store in Market Street when it was shut in October with immediate effect after Ed’s Easy Diner’s previous owners went into administration. Boparan Restaurant Holdings acquired 33 Ed’s Easy Diner sites – but the Manchester concession had not been part of that sale. However, it has now reopened after SSP came forward to run the business. A Debenhams spokesman told the Manchester Evening News: “Debenhams is delighted the Ed’s Diner in our Manchester Market Street store has reopened under the new management of SSP. Our customers love the Ed’s brand and, as a business, we worked very hard to find the right partner to continue operating our Ed’s concessions on our behalf and for all our loyal Ed’s fans. Ed’s Easy Diner’s Sam Wignell added: “The Manchester Ed’s Easy Diner was not part of the Boparan acquisition of October 2016 and closed at the time of sale. We are delighted, however, that through our franchise partner Ed’s Easy Diner at Debenhams, Manchester, has now reopened.”
Former Claude Bosi protégé to launch farm to fork restaurant concept in Norwich this month: A new farm to fork restaurant concept is opening in Norwich this month. Andrew Jones, who has worked under Michelin-starred chefs including Richard Corrigan and Claude Bosi, is launching Farmyard Restaurant in St Benedict’s Street. He aims to bring a “bistronomy-style” eatery to the heart of Norwich when it opens on Saturday, 28 January. His new “produce-driven” menu sources ingredients from across the county, with dishes including wild turkey club, pickled pig’s feet and roasted rabbit. The venue’s general manager is Alan Sabol, who began his hospitality career in the city nearly 20 years ago and was previously headhunted to oversee the opening of numerous multimillion-dollar venues in the US. Jones, whose first head chef role was at Antidote wine bar and restaurant in Soho, told the Eastern Daily Press: “Why would I want to be anywhere else in the world when I could be in Norfolk surrounded by my real food heroes – the farmers and producers. They’re so close by I can speak to them directly and hand-pick what’s coming into the kitchen that week.”
Churchill’s Fish & Chips owners outline expansion plans for brand they see as ‘vehicle to drive change in sector’: The owners of Churchill’s Fish & Chips have outlined expansion plans for the brand, which they see as a “vehicle to drive change in the sector”. The Chesterford Group has just launched its ninth Churchill’s outlet, this time in Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire, and has secured six more sites for the next financial year. The Hazlemere venue represented the 37th store in total for The Chesterford Group, which operates three fish and chip brands – Churchill’s, Fishnchickn and Bankers. The group’s owners, father and son Hugh and James Lipscombe, are eyeing further growth for Churchill’s. Managing director James Lipscombe said: “We really wanted to challenge the status quo in the industry by changing people’s perceptions of what a typical fish and chip shop experience is, ensuring any of our stores can rival the market-leading, fast-casual dining brands. We have invested heavily in consumer-facing technology, the quality of the fit-out, and the training and development of our teams so we can offer our customers a spectacular experience. We are incredibly excited to have opened in such a strong, bustling trading location. Once again, our site acquisition team has found an excellent location to continue our fish and chip revolution and next year is looking to be even better. We have heads of terms signed on six sites for the next financial year already and are in negotiations with landlords on several other locations – the opening of Bracknell in February sees 2017 off to a good start. Our growth will continue to gain pace next year and we are incredibly pleased with the strength of the locations we will be opening. The site acquisition pipe line is looking strong into 2017/18, meaning this really is an exciting time for our business and wouldn’t be possible without the hard work, dedication and passion of the people across the company.”
Camm & Hooper launches Soho Square site, fifth London venue: Imbiba Partnership-backed event and hospitality group Camm & Hooper has opened its fifth London site – Six Storeys on Soho. The new venue offers a “prohibition era-style dining experience”, with the townhouse featuring six floors of bars, restaurants and private events rooms for the “discerningly curious”. The ground floor houses the Lobby Bar, with the Parlour on the first floor offering “Victorian-inspired food and drink”. Another floor up is the Lounge, while the third floor’s Decantery promises to showcase the work of London’s most talented “booze engineers”, with visitors warned to “expect the unexpected”. The upper two storeys are reserved for small gatherings and private parties, with views over Oxford Street and Soho. Camm & Hooper managing director Claire Lawson said: “We are really looking forward to creating a special experience in the heart of Soho and London’s West End – and bringing our own indulgent escapade to life.” Camm & Hooper also operates Tanner & Co and Tanner Warehouse in Bermondsey, Banking Hall in Cornhill, and The Victorian Bath House in Bishopsgate Churchyard.
Brewhouse & Kitchen to reopen listed Bournemouth pub this month: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the expanding brewhouse concept led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, is set to reopen the iconic Branksome Arms in Bournemouth this month. The company acquired the listed former Eldridge Pope pub in June 2015. Under plans submitted to turn the town centre pub into a micro-brewery and bar, the Eldridge Pope heritage will be enhanced with branded Victorian-style lanterns across the front of the building, with copper lettering spelling out Brewhouse & Kitchen across the front of the ground floor. Bunn has told the Daily Echo that as well as a bar and restaurant, customers can expect a “proper brewery”, with copper beer fonts, bric-a-brac, stripped wood decor and the “biggest beer garden in Bournemouth town centre”. It has been more than two years since the last pint was pulled at The Branksome. Brewhouse & Kitchen operates 15 other pubs, including sites in nearby Southbourne, Poole and Dorchester.
Halewood submits plans for North Wales distillery: Drinks manufacturer and distributor Halewood International has lodged plans for a distillery in North Wales. The company, which owns brands including The Pogues Irish Whiskey, Lambrini and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, has submitted a change of use application to Gwynedd Council for the Old Stores industrial depot in Station Road in Abergwyngregyn. The Aber Falls distillery would become the first in the region for more than 100 years. Halewood intends to produce a range of alcoholic drinks, including Welsh whisky and gin at the 64,500 square foot facility. Alongside the distillery, Halewood also plans to create an on-site visitor centre and offer training courses in distilling spirits. Chief executive Stewart Hainsworth told Insider Media: “Halewood Wines & Spirits is looking to bring its extensive experience in developing craft spirits to North Wales. We are currently working closely with North Wales Tourism and Gwynedd Council to finalise our proposals, which will help to regenerate the area and deliver a number of new jobs within the local community.”
Michelin-trained chefs open permanent Cambridge site for Steak & Honour concept: Michelin-trained chefs Leo Riethoff and David Underwood, who have operated Steak & Honour from vintage vans since 2014, have opened a permanent site for the burger concept in Cambridge city centre. The 40-cover restaurant is next to the Corn Exchange in Wheeler Street and features a semi-open kitchen to resemble the Citroen wagons Riethoff and Underwood operated around Cambridge. A Steak & Honour spokesman told Cambridge News: “They wanted to put some roots down and offer Cambridge something a bit different. The guys are local, the producers are local. It’s all local to the area and that’s really important to them.”
Loungers to open Cosy Club in Cheltenham next month: Cafe bar brand Loungers will open its 17th Cosy Club next month at retail and leisure complex The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham town centre. The 5,000 square foot, first-floor site was due to open this spring but has been completed ahead of schedule, Gloucestershire Live reports. Last month, private equity firm Lion Capital, the former backer of Wagamama, acquired a majority stake in Loungers for £137m. Lion bought exiting backer Piper’s stake in the company and a portion of the founders’ stake. Loungers, which operates 94 cafe bars and restaurants across the UK, was founded in 2002 by friends Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid. Reilley has stayed on as chairman of the group, while Bishop remains as Cosy Club managing director. The £30m Brewery Quarter, which should be complete by the spring, will feature a mix of restaurants, bars and entertainment, including an 11-screen Cineworld IMAX, restaurant brands Prezzo and Nando’s, Hollywood Bowl and Fitness First Platinum Club. The closest Cosy Clubs to Cheltenham are in Hereford and Bristol.
Tasty gets go-ahead for Wildwood restaurant in Birmingham, opens brand’s first Scottish site: Tasty has been given the go-ahead to open its first Wildwood restaurant in Birmingham, while the company’s expansion of the brand continues following the opening of its first site in Scotland. The Birmingham venue will open in New Street, with the basement providing 24 covers for diners while the ground floor will comprise 76 covers and a bar. The upper floors of the property are being turned into apartments. Birmingham City Council planning officers said the proposals would be in “keeping with the surrounding area”, Insider Media reports. Wildwood operates 54 sites across the UK and has also applied to open a restaurant in Hinckley, Leicestershire, which would feature a cinema. It also opened a site in York earlier this month. The Scottish site is in Lothian Road, Edinburgh. In November, Tasty raised £9m to fund Wildwood expansion after making a conditional placing of 6,210,000 new ordinary shares at a price of 145 pence per share.
Taco Bell set to open Poole town centre site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is set to open a restaurant in Poole, Dorset, in late March. The High Street venue would be the company’s 15th UK outlet as it looks to expand across the south of England. Taco Bell opened a 67-cover site in Southampton at the end of November, where staff being recruited for Poole are expected to initially train. Taco Bell UK and Europe marketing manager Ellen Gault told the Echo: “We are really excited to, hopefully, be opening in Poole in the next couple of months. This is part of our expansion into the south of England.” Founded in 1962 by a former US Marine, the Taco Bell chain serves more than 36.8 million people a week in 6,500 outlets worldwide.
Former Greggs manager to start expansion of cheesecake cafe concept with second north east opening: A former manager at bakery business Greggs who left to launch her own cheesecake business is set to start expansion with a second site in the north east. Alyson Archer operates Simply Cheesecake, which offers 200 varieties of the dessert, at Team Valley Shopping Village in Gateshead. Now work is under way to convert a former wedding shop in Newcastle city centre into the Simply Cheesecake And Friends cafe, which will also offer cakes, afternoon teas, light breakfasts and lunches. Archer told Chronicle Live: “I started out doing markets and food festivals – I still do quite a few – and then set up the Simply Cheesecake shop. We certainly sell a lot – I make hundreds every week. My accountant told me I spent £18,000 on Philadelphia cheese last year!”
Real Junk Food Project hits crowdfunding target to open Manchester’s first waste food restaurant: The Manchester branch of the not-for-profit Real Junk Food Project has hit its £20,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder. It is now looking to hit a stretch target of £30,000 and has raised £25,932 so far from 706 backers, with seven days remaining. The project will open the city’s first “food waste” restaurant in Ancoats, former Aumbry head chef Mary-Ellen McTague, who will head the kitchen, told Manchester Evening News, with dishes served on a “pay-as-you-feel” basis. The nationwide project intercepts food that would otherwise go in the bin, sourced from wholesalers, supermarkets and restaurants. The Manchester arm of the movement, directed by Corin Bell, has been hunting for a permanent space since its hub at The Wonder Inn fell through. The Real Junk Food Project states on its Crowdfunder page: “We’ve identified a site just outside the city centre where we can stay for six months. We know we might need to move about a bit before we find a permanent home. We’re working with kitchen designers and fitters to develop a mobile kitchen we can move into any space that has electricity and running water. We’re also trying to source as much equipment as possible that is second hand or would have gone to waste… reducing waste is at the heart of everything we do.”
Caspian cuisine concept Jan opens in Clapham: Caspian cuisine concept Jan has opened in Clapham, south London. Faizan Iqbal has launched the restaurant in Northcote Road, combining Middle Eastern flavours with innovative cocktails. The 53-cover site features an open kitchen with a medieval-style charcoal oven producing traditionally cooked bread, meat and vegetable dishes. There is also a selection of smaller plates for sharing. The menu includes lamb chops and slow roast shoulder in a pomegranate glaze served with chickpeas and Caspian spices. Drinks feature cocktails incorporating delicate teas, Middle Eastern spices and fresh fruit such as pomegranate and melon. The Jan website states: “Inspired by the golden ages of the Ottoman empire and Persian dynasties, our restaurant reflects a lost decadence and grandeur enjoyed by the former rulers of the Caspian kingdoms. Our mission is simply to make original, hand-made, magically delicious dishes not only to nourish the body and mind but the traditional Transcaucasian spirit as well.”