Winery-owed pub group Hush Heath eyes expansion to 12 sites: Laurence Bowes, operations director of Hush Heath, has told Propel the company is looking to grow its portfolio to about a dozen sites as it taps into the popularity of wine and its unique position as a winery-owned pub group. The company offers a core range of seven wines, plus premium cider brand Jake’s Orchard, from its winery in Kent. It also owns two London pubs, The Bull And The Hide in Devonshire Road and St Bart’s Brewery in Smithfield, and two in Kent, The Goudhurst Inn and The Tickled Trout. Bowes said: “The pubs tap into the popularity of wine. It’s a selling point compared with our competitors that we’re a winery-owned pub group. In London, where there is so much choice, it’s a USP and in Kent the pubs and winery can play off each other’s strengths. As well as selling wine for £10 to £12 a bottle in our shop, we’re selling it for £30 in our pubs so our mark-up is happening on two different levels, and (we own) both those routes to market.” Hush Heath’s hospitality segment turned over £5m in its last financial year, with each London site contributing about £1.5m and the remainder split between the pubs in Kent. Bowes said: “We’re a business that wants to grow and invest. Our plan is ten to 12 pubs in three years and then re-evaluate where we are. The profitability of the business model is built around a pub with eight to ten rooms, with good-quality food and beverage. We need to be innovative, creative and better than the competition. A secondary-fermented Normandy-style cider served in a champagne flute isn’t what you go to the pub for. That’s the kind of impulse purchase we have to sell in our business, because it’s a unique experience. I hope we can steer the on-trade market a little bit. Being owned by a winery means we can be innovators.” Hush Heath is led by Richard Balfour-Lynn, who set up property and leisure group MWB, which included the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin hotel chains as well as the Pub du Vin brand extension. In 2001, he planted his first vineyards on his estate at Staplehurst, near Tonbridge.

Stonegate to open second Bar Salsa! with conversion of Walkabout site in Temple: Stonegate Pub Company is to open its second Bar Salsa! by converting its Walkabout site in Temple. The company is investing £1m in the venue in Charing Cross Road, which will have its current capacity increased before opening on Thursday, 14 September. The new site will take influences from the original Bar Salsa! in Soho – bold, bright colours and traditional artwork. It will be split into several different zones and will offer three bars, including a VIP space, a stage for dance acts and bands, flexible dining spaces and multiple dance floors allowing different levels of salsa classes to take place. The menu will include a tapas selection, fajitas, loaded sharing planks and “hamburguesas”. There will be more than 50 cocktails alongside a selection of Latin-American beers and flavoured tequilas. VIP party packages, including drinks, food and salsa classes, will be available. Bar Salsa! Temple general manager Liam Martyn said: “We are so excited to be launching a second bar in London. We have a loyal group of customers who return night after night and we’re proud to have the opportunity to launch a thriving new site for them and look forward to welcoming a whole new set of Londoners.”

Chesterford Group reports like-for-likes up 7.8% as it opens first of five sites planned this financial year: The Chesterford Group has reported like-for-like sales increased 7.8% after opening the first of five sites planned for this financial year. The company has opened the third store under its Bankers Fish & Chips brand in Hove, East Sussex. It represents the 38th store in total for the group, which also operates Churchill’s and Fishnchickn. The new shop in Hangleton Road features an art deco-inspired interior and has seating for 25 customers. Managing director James Lipscombe said: “The Bankers brand is synonymous with fish and chips in Brighton and Hove and our new Hangleton Road branch, with 25 covers, gives more customers the opportunity to enjoy fish and chips the Bankers way. This is the first of our five store openings this financial year and we’re looking forward to opening a Churchill’s branded store in Luton at the end of August. We’re really pleased to realise our growth ambitions for the business this year while also seeing like-for-like sales across the estate increase by 7.8% compared with last year.”

Evans & Peel to start expansion by opening ‘secret bar’ in Chiswick this month: Evans & Peel will start expansion by opening a 1920s prohibition-style bar and restaurant disguised as an old pharmacy in Chiswick, west London. The company will open Evans & Peel Pharmacy in Devonshire Road on Monday, 21 August – five years after launching its Detective Agency bar in Earls Court Road. The “hidden bar” will be styled with vintage furniture, giving guests the feeling they have walked into a 1920s pharmacy, and offer an extensive cocktail list and 1920s American-style small plates. Guests will ring the doorbell and be greeted by the pharmacist. It will then become their task to make their way into the secret bar. There will be secret passwords for those in the know, who will be escorted into the bar through the pharmacy as the windows simultaneously black out to preserve its secret identity. The venue will be low-lit and secluded with antique surgical equipment and secret drawers located within the bar where guests will be greeted with something new every time. The cocktail list will include variations of the classic Old Fashioned as well as pharmacy-inspired creations from the in-house bar team. Vintage Japanese whiskey and spirits will be on offer as well as wine and champagne. The food menu will feature old-school American classics such as grilled cheese sandwiches, which will arrive in a cigar box with smoke seeping from the sides.

Pilpel secures City units for sixth London site and second for Badolina brand, three more openings in pipeline: Family-owned restaurant group and falafel bar Pilpel, which specialises in Middle Eastern street food, has secured a site to open its sixth venue in London plus a neighbouring unit for its Badolina brand. It will be a second site for Badolina following the Mediterranean restaurant concept’s launch in Bishopsgate. The company, founded by Uri Dinay and Joseph Cohen, has lined up two units at the mixed-use development at 21 Lime Street next to Leadenhall Market that already houses Azzurri Group brand Coco di Mama. Pilpel said it is looking to open three more sites in the next 12 months, while it is also looking at opening its first bar within 21 Lime Street. Dinay said: “We have always had an ambition to open in the Leadenhall Market area and 21 Lime Street presented the perfect opportunity.” Sammy Weinbaum, of agents CDG Leisure, which advised Pilpel on the deal, said: “Where the casual dining market seems to have taken a dip, the grab-and-go sector seems to be thriving. CDG Leisure has been retained to secure Pilpel its next three sites in the next 12 months.” The other Pilpel sites are in Aldgate, two in Smithfield and others in St Paul’s and Fleet Street. The company also owns Mediterranean restaurant Barraka in Spitalfields.

Ei Group commercial property director to take up new leisure sector role: Ei Group commercial property director Richard Broadribb will leave the company on Friday (11 August) for a new role in the leisure sector. Broadribb, who has been with Ei Group for almost 16 years, is joining Marina Developments as property director. He will take up his new role, based at Hamble Point Marina on the south coast, on Monday, 21 August. Last month, Ei Group hired Greg Parkes as Broadribb’s replacement. Parkes was previously with Mitchells & Butlers, where he has spent the past 12 years in property roles, becoming head of acquisitions in 2014.

Church to reopen run-down city centre pub in Norwich: A run-down city centre pub in Norwich has been restored to its former use by a church in what is thought to be a UK first. The Mitre, first licensed 150 years ago, was put up for sale 18 months ago after a brief period as a Chinese restaurant. The neighbouring St Thomas Church has spent about £600,000 to restore the building to become a pub once more. The venue will focus on craft beer, while doubling as a coffee shop and bistro. The church also plans to use The Mitre as a base for its work to prevent human trafficking, with funds raised by the pub going towards its projects. The reverend Ian Dyble told the BBC: “We are so pleased that through the generosity of many we were able to raise the finance to acquire this building and return it to its original purpose of serving and being an asset to the community. As we renovated the building we were surprised to find the upper rooms had been insulated from light and sound and it is rewarding to let the light in and transform these into a presence for good in the area.” Restoration money was raised through gifts from the congregation, charitable organisations and loans. It is due to open next week.

Former Nobu chef heads kitchen at new high-end Japanese restaurant and ‘hideaway’ bar in Mayfair: A new high-end Japanese restaurant and “hideaway” bar has launched in Mayfair with the kitchen headed by former Nobu chef Osamu Mizuno. Cubé Restaurant and Kakurega Bar has opened in Blenheim Street at a site formerly occupied by Japanese restaurant Nagomi. The restaurant is run by Mayumi Nunn, formerly of Kanada-Ya and Eat Tokyo, and bar manager Reo Nomura, previously of Kouzu and Tokimeite. The ground-floor dining room offers traditional Japanese dishes and others influenced by European ingredients, Eater London reports. The simple, wood-dominated room has been designed by architect Hidetaka Morinaga and designer Yoshi Takagi. The restaurant’s main dining room has 18 covers, while the “omakase” sushi counter seats six. Diners can also order sushi by the single piece, sashimi in trios and also from a three-section menu devoted to sashimi, nigiri and maki roll selections. The lower-ground-floor Kakurega bar, which means “hideaway” and seats 12, offers seven Japanese cocktails, rare sakes, Japanese whisky and fine wine.

Bill’s to open site at Braintree shopping village next week: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, is to open a site at the Freeport Designer Village in Braintree, Essex, on Monday (14 August). The company is opening the restaurant, which will have capacity for almost 200 diners, in the former premises of Tutti Tuscan Grille, creating about 30 jobs. It will join other restaurant brands, including Tasty-owned Wildwood, PizzaExpress, Prezzo and TGI Friday’s at the complex. Freeport Braintree centre manager Josef O’Sullivan told the Braintree and Witham Times: “Bill’s is synonymous with a premium dining experience, which will further enhance the food and beverage offer available.” Bill’s has more than 80 sites around the UK, including two others in Essex – in Colchester and Chelmsford. Founder Bill Collison opened the first site in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

Aria Leisure closes Middle Eastern concept Suri in Manchester after only five months having ‘misread the market’: Aria Leisure has closed its Middle Eastern concept Suri in Manchester only five months after launch having “misread the market”. The company, founded by Allied London commercial director Andrea George, Fazenda co-founder Terence Langley, and Leeds-based entrepreneur James Coubrough, opened the restaurant in King Street in March. Langley told the Manchester Evening News: “It’s a real shame. I think ultimately we misread the market with this particular concept and style of offering. All the people involved gave their all but the one single missing ingredient, perhaps, was its authenticity. The site is in an amazing location and a great building. Something exciting might just happen there in the future.” Suri took over the premises from Quill, which closed in June 2016 less than a year after its launch following a £1m investment.

Crazy golf craze to arrive in Cardiff city centre: A plan to transform an industrial site in Cardiff city centre into a crazy golf venue has been given the go-ahead. The scheme is earmarked for unit two at Senlan Industrial Estate, which used to house a printing company that went into liquidation in 2014. Since then, the site has remained vacant and “proved difficult to let”. According to a planning statement: “The difficulty in letting is attributed largely to the poor physical condition of the building and its subsequent unattractiveness. In this regard, the applicant intends to remedy the deficiencies by way of a programme of repair and maintenance.” The proposal is to develop two 18-hole crazy golf courses and a bar. The planning statement added: “The principal intention is to attract small groups of people as part of a day or evening out to enjoy an indoor sport, increasing in popularity throughout the UK. In terms of its operation, the applicant seeks a seven-day use, with hours of operation between 10am and midnight. Realistically, however, it is envisaged the greatest demand will arise during the evenings and at weekends. It is likely, when the pattern of demand is established, the use will probably not operate on Mondays and Tuesdays and will only open in the evenings on Wednesdays and Thursdays.”

Nando’s to give away free food to A-level students: Nando’s is to give away free food to students celebrating their A-level results next week. The company is offering free quarter chicken or chicken wings at its restaurants on Thursday, 17 August. Other items on offer will include spicy mixed olives, houmous with peri-peri drizzle, red pepper dip, and peri-peri nuts. To claim the offer, students must show a member of staff their results papers and some form of ID and must spend at least £7.

Everyman submits plans for underground venue in Newcastle: Everyman Cinemas has submitted plans for an underground venue in Newcastle. The company confirmed last month it was set to open a site in the city next year, as well as in Liverpool and Borough Market in 2020. The landlord of Earl Grey House – Schroders Regional Office Property Unit Trust – has drawn up the proposals on behalf of Everyman. These reveal the venue would comprise four screens, as well as a bar and restaurant, comprising 221 seats. All the fit-out work would be accommodated within the shell of the existing basement, reports Insider Media. A heritage statement submitted alongside the plans said: “The proposal by Everyman to introduce a new cultural venue to the centre of Newcastle will contribute to the diversity of entertainment on offer within the city. The proposals seek to bring back to use a large, vacant basement area within a prime location in Grey Street opposite the Theatre Royal. The basement, which has been vacant for five years, is a difficult space to find a use for, with no windows and no large entrance, and therefore a cinema use is considered to be sympathetic and appropriate to the listed building.”

Pentahotels promotes Ben Thomas to UK regional director: Pentahotels has promoted Ben Thomas to the position of UK regional director. He will take over from Andrew Munt, who was promoted to vice-president operations by the group earlier this year. In his new role, Thomas will be responsible for all hotel operations and management within the region. The company stated: “Since joining the hotel group in 2014, Thomas has contributed significantly to the success of Pentahotels in the UK, overseeing the launch of two hotels in his previous role as cluster general manager. With various qualifications and certifications as well as an advanced diploma in hospitality management, Ben will continue to cultivate strong relationships with the talented teams across Pentahotels’ various properties in the UK and further strengthen the group’s global market presence.” Munt added: “With such a proven record of success since joining Pentahotels, Ben is the right individual to lead the UK into its next chapter. His sound strategic and commercial approach will prove incredibly valuable at this time. I am delighted to hand the region over to Ben and am excited to see how it evolves under his unique leadership style.”

Magners employability programme to focus on trainee chefs: Cider brand Magners is serving up its employability programme for a third year, this time with a focus on trainee chefs. Magners is again working with the Celtic FC Foundation and the Tennent’s Training Academy on the initiative. This year the programme will focus on recruiting trainee chefs, recognising a shortage in the Scottish hospitality industry. The project has enlisted the support of hospitality companies including G1 Group, Lynette Leisure, and Kained Holdings to guarantee slots in their kitchens for participants graduating as trained commis entry-level chefs. Since it began in 2015, the Magners Employability Programme has helped 24 participants gain employment or move into further education. This year’s course will see 12 participants develop their culinary skills over ten weeks. The programme will run from Thursday, 14 September until Friday, 17 November. In addition, this year’s programme will include awards in food safety, as well as a look at world food trends, menu planning, nutritional cooking and foraging trips. The aim of the project is to enable participants to use their new-found skills and experience to secure employment, voluntary work or further training.

Plans to convert former Birmingham cocktail bar into bowling alley approved: Plans to convert two units at Birmingham’s Cube development, one of which was previously a cocktail bar, into a boutique bowling alley have been approved. An application for the space at level six of the 25-storey scheme, which is next to The Mailbox, was lodged by EDG Property in May. The larger of the two units was once cocktail bar Geisha, while the smaller space has never had an occupier. Proposals for their conversion into a bowling alley would create one unit that spans 9,682 square feet. Birmingham City Council planning officers said they had considered the impact of the new facility on residents on The Cube’s upper floors, but concluded it would be minimal. They added the plans would enhance the “range and diversity of town centre uses”.

Diageo non-executive director to retire next month: Diageo has announced Philip Scott will retire as a non-executive director at the company’s annual meeting next month. Scott joined the board in October 2007 and stood down as chairman of the audit committee in December after nine years. The company stated: “Philip will retire as a non-executive director at Diageo’s annual general meeting in London on 20 September.”