Frontier Pubs to open two sites in coming months: Frontier Pubs, the partnership between Enterprise managed investments and Food & Fuel, has announced it will open two new London sites in the coming months. Following a significant investment, The Rose & Crown in Tooting Bec and The Lion in Stoke Newington are set to undergo major internal refurbishments to update their interiors and introduce kitchens at both premises. In keeping with Frontier Pubs’ model, both sites will focus on craft beer with a wide range on draught and many more bottled and canned beers. They will also serve freshly made pizzas and appeal to sports fans by showing all major sporting fixtures. Food & Fuel commercial director Peter Myers said: “Our first two sites have been well received by customers and we’re very excited about these two London openings. With the demand for craft beer continuing to rise, and taking into consideration the locations of these sites, we’re confident they will be very successful. Enterprise managed investments has been brilliant to work with and its unique segmentation tool has been invaluable in allowing us to identify potential sites. We’re hoping to grow the estate further, if the right sites are available.” Enterprise managed investments operations director Nathan Wall added: “We’re delighted to have grown the Frontier Pubs portfolio with these two openings. Working closely with Peter and the Frontier Pubs team, we have created a robust model customers love and we’re confident this partnership will continue to flourish over the coming years as we identify suitable sites.”

Tokyo Industries bids to open Brew Haus in Manchester after acquiring Spinningfields site: Tokyo Industries, the operator of 32 bars, nightclubs and festivals led by Aaron Mellor, has applied to open a site for its Brew Haus brand in Spinningfields, Manchester. The company has acquired a glass-fronted unit with a basement space in Peter Street. The site has been empty since Purity cocktail bar closed in 2013. Tokyo Industries has submitted a licence application for the brand, Manchester Confidential reports, which would be the company’s fourth Brew Haus site, joining venues in Bradford, Huddersfield and Lincoln. Brew Haus offers a “wholly new take on a classic Bavarian bierkeller”, with regular meet-the-brewer events and beer festivals, while its cocktail list was created by award-winning drinks collective The Liquorists. Brew Haus would be near other major Northern Quarter venues, with Mission Mars’ £3.5m bar and restaurant concept Albert’s Schloss and Revolution Bar Group’s Revolución de Cuba in Peter Street, and Epernay champagne bar and an All Star Lanes bowling alley just around the corner. They will be joined by CG Restaurants & Bars brand Dirty Martini in the summer. Tokyo Industries also operates South nightclub in the city and FAC251, which is in the old Factory Records head office and co-owned by former New Order bassist Peter Hook. A Manchester sister site to the company’s Newcastle nightclub Tup Tup Palace is also set to open soon.

Papa John’s celebrates ‘unprecedented’ year for store openings: Papa John’s launched nine outlets at the end of December, including sites in Scunthorpe, Barry, Kingston-upon-Thames, Coventry, Ellesmere Port and Wigan, bringing a fitting end to an “unprecedented” year for openings. Papa John’s business development manager Anthony Round said: “The past 12 months has seen unprecedented store openings in the UK. Existing franchisees have tasted success and are expanding, plus we have welcomed new franchisees too. Being able to take advantage of our special incentive scheme designed to assist new franchisees starting out has been helpful for many. Deals on equipment and reduced royalty fees take a healthy slice off the final investment needed to set up, giving franchisees the boost they need when starting out. We are recruiting for more enthusiastic franchisees hungry to become part of our success story.” Papa John’s has more than 350 sites across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Davy’s reports festive like-for-likes up 16%, El Vino now making a profit: London operator Davy’s has reported like-for-like sales for its wine bars during the five-week Christmas trading period (27 November to 31 December 2016) was up 16% on 2015, with particularly strong growth in food sales. Davy’s Wine Merchants, which comprises wholesale, online retail, wine shops, and “private cellars”, was also up by 18%. James Davy, chairman and chief executive of Davy’s, said: “The strong growth in both the wine bar and wine merchants businesses in December was just reward for the enormous effort put in by all the teams. We can now move into 2017 with confidence to face some real challenges ahead such as vastly increased business rates and the unknown impact of Brexit.” Davy’s also reported that following its purchase of renowned Fleet Street-based wine merchants El Vino in August 2015, the business was now turning in a profit, with further site acquisition expected this year.

BrewDog appoints brewmaster for standalone sour beer facility: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has appointed a brewmaster to oversee the development of its standalone sour beer facility – The BrewDog Overworks. Work on the unit, which is being built opposite the company’s brewery and headquarters in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, is due to begin on Monday, 16 January, with the aim to open in the autumn. BrewDog has appointed Richard Kilcullen, formerly head of sour production at US craft brewer Wicked Weed, to the post. BrewDog stated on its blog: “Tinsel is barely back in the cupboard but we are already looking ahead to the amazing things 2017 has in store at BrewDog. One of the projects we are most excited about is the development of our standalone sour beer facility. The BrewDog Overworks will exist to explore the wonders of sour beer so we knew we needed someone at the helm from the cutting edge, with incredible experience of brewing and creating sours in a world-leading brewery. Richard combines more than a decade of brewing experience and a lifetime obsession with old-world styles and wild ales.” This year, BrewDog will also increase fermentation capacity at its new brewhouse in Ellon and expand its brewery bar DogTap. Its Lone Wolf Distillery is also scheduled to launch this month or in February.

Living Ventures to open first Gusto site in East Midlands: Gusto, the Italian restaurant brand operated by Living Ventures, will open its first East Midlands site next month, in Nottingham. The venue will open in the city’s West Bridgford suburb on Thursday, 9 February following a £1m refurbishment, creating 50 jobs. The 106-cover restaurant is on the site of the former Monkey Tree bar, which closed last year, with a further 36 seats in a new conservatory, 22 in the bar, and space for an additional 30 covers on an outside terrace. Gusto managing director Sue Crimes said: “We plan to open three new sites this year, with West Bridgford the first. We believe the success of our restaurants is down to excellent staff training, freshly prepared food, and great atmosphere. We also have a lot of loyalty from our customer base thanks to our partnerships with local businesses and organisations and our exclusive Dining Club membership scheme. Our latest restaurant design incorporates a monkey tree at the site, which has become a local landmark.” Gusto was launched in 2005 and private investment in 2014 has led to rapid expansion of the brand. It currently has 15 restaurants in the UK.

Urban Leisure Group to open 1970s-themed restaurant in West Hampstead, ninth London site: Urban Leisure Group will open 1970s-themed rum cocktails and pizza restaurant Bobby Fitzpatrick in West Hampstead next week. The company’s ninth London site will open in West End Lane on Wednesday, 18 January based on a fictional character Bobby, “whose penchant for rum and passion for gambling is matched only by his love of Formica and brown shag pile carpet”! Rum will be on offer in cocktails, shooters and slushies, alongside vodka with cherry cola reductions and other retro-themed drinks, Hot Dinners reports. Deep-pan pizzas will feature “guilty pleasure toppings” such as chicken tikka and lamb doner, alongside cheese-stuffed burgers and fried pickles. The interior will feature 1970s-style wallpaper, light fittings and board games so consumers feel like they are “drinking on the sly in their fun uncle’s house”. Urban Leisure Groups’ other venues include Heist Bank in Paddington and Graphic in Soho, which was its first venue to open in 2008, and two other sites in West Hampstead – Gallery and The Alice House.

North west-based restaurateur Gary Usher to open fourth site, in Liverpool: North west-based restaurateur Gary Usher is to open his fourth site, in Liverpool. Usher is launching Wreckfish Bistro in a derelict 19th century watchmakers in Ropewalks. It will be another crowdfunding venture but this time people will have the chance to sample the fruits of the venture before they invest. Usher and his team will host a series of pop-up dining events at the location from 15 to 19 February, with guests invited to sample the food and get a feel for the venue while setting their own price, with money going into the crowdfunding pot. Reservations are limited to 30 people per day and will be available one month before each sitting, with the first date opening for bookings on Sunday (15 January). Usher, whose other restaurants are the Sticky Walnut in Hoole, the Burnt Truffle in Heswall, and Hispi in Didsbury, told The Chester Chronicle: “This pop-up allows the customers to decide what they want from a restaurant in their area. Each of our restaurants has its own defining characteristics, from the style of venue and fit-out to what goes on the menu. We want to be able to gauge if people want a Hispi, Burnt Truffle or Sticky Walnut in Liverpool. When the bill comes, diners will be able to pay what they want, which will go straight into the crowdfunding pot.”

London Fields Brewery owners failed to pay tax: The owner of London Fields Brewery cheated the taxman of a “very significant sum” by failing to pay nearly £730,000, a court has been told. Jules Whiteway-Wilkinson, founder of London Fields Brewery in Hackney, was said to have run an outwardly thriving business but had been “less successful when it came to paying tax”. He appeared at Wood Green Crown Court charged with deliberately failing to pay HM Revenue and Customs VAT, PAYE and national insurance and student loan contributions gathered by his business during a three-year period. He denies the charges, which he is facing jointly with his wife Rosemary Spence. Prosecutor Timothy Godfrey said that although the brewery, whose beers include Hackney Hopster and Shoreditch Triangle, had appeared to be prospering, Whiteway-Wilkinson and his wife had “cheated HMRC of a very significant sum” by failing to pass on taxes they had collected on its behalf. “The brewery was ostensibly successful but they were less successful when it came to paying tax,” Godfrey told the court. “They failed to submit tax returns for their business or pay tax over a three-year period – 2012, 2013 and 2014. They cheated the Revenue of taxes, which totalled £727,203.” Godfrey said beer duties and corporation tax also “went unpaid” and that although these failures were not included in the charges they were “very much part of the picture” of how the brewery had been run. The case continues.

Vegan street food specialists Club Mexicana to begin Haggerston residency next week: Vegan street food specialists Club Mexicana will take up a residency at Pamela bar in Haggerston, east London, on Tuesday (17 January). Founded by Meriel Armitage, Club Mexicana offers a vegan twist on Mexican meat classics, such as Baja To-fish Taco with pickled red cabbage, salsa verde and chipotle chilli oil, and Buffalo Cauliflower Taco with blue “cheese”, celery leaves and chilli threads. Armitage pioneered the concept at Kerb and Street Feast. She said: “Our food is all about flavour that packs a punch but with a sprinkling of 1980s kitsch to sweeten the blow. 2017 is going to be massive for vegan food and we’re thrilled to be teaming up with Pamela, who’ve proven themselves to be trailblazers, to champion a 100% vegan menu.” Pamela in Kingsland Road formerly housed a permanent residency by New Orleans street food concept Decatur. Dedicated to “all the great Pamelas”, from Anderson to Grier, the bar focuses on “infused spirits and updated classics”.

Leasehold of Guildford late-night venue The Legion goes on market: The leasehold of Guildford late-night venue The Legion has been put up for sale. The Legion, which comprises three separate concepts with a bar, nightclub and karaoke rooms, is being marketed by agent Savills on behalf of owner Alasdair Wilson. Established in 2007, The Legion offers 6,200 square feet (576 square metres) of trading space, including a 200-capacity first-floor nightclub. The rest of the venue is dedicated to a cocktail and karaoke concept created last year, which comprises the ground-floor ’Oke Bar and top-floor ’Oke Rooms. Various areas including the bar and premium karaoke booths were recently refurbished. Wilson said: “In 2016, I decided to split the venue to provide three concepts that complement each other. You start an evening by singing in a karaoke booth, move to enjoy some cocktails while listening to live music and finish the evening dancing the night away in the nightclub. The venue is superbly fitted and no expense has been spared in its design. With the University of Surrey student union closing for two years, the venue will benefit hugely from increased midweek trade and a strengthening of current weekend trading. I have enjoyed my time at The Legion and it is time for someone else to take this great venue to its next level.”

Coco di Mama offers week of free coffee to beat ‘Blue Monday’: Coco di Mama, the London-based quick-service Italian food and coffee operator owned by Azzurri Group, will offer customers at its 15 London sites a free coffee with the purchase of any hot croissant or hot breakfast roll next week (16 to 20 January) to coincide with “Blue Monday”. Coco di Mama has also introduced a new breakfast menu for 2017, with additional hot, filled croissants and hot rolls, healthy power pots, and real apple Bircher muesli. A spokesperson said: “Blue Monday falls on the third Monday in January and is said to be the most depressing day of the year. Of course it’s completely nonsensical but Coco di Mama hates to see its customers suffer.” The company was founded in 2011 by Daniel Land and Jeremy Sanders, lifelong friends and self-confessed “coco di mamas”, which means “mama’s boys” in Italian slang.

Batemans brews one-off beer as speed star Guy Martin buys home town pub: Batemans, the family brewer based in Lincolnshire, has brewed a one-off beer for motorbike racer and TV personality Guy Martin, who has bought the Marrowbone & Cleaver pub in Kirmington. Martin grew up in the village and mentioned the pub, which dates to 1871, in his autobiography. Martin and his sister Sally plan to hold a number of events at the pub, which was in danger of closing, and offer traditional pub grub. The new decor will feature memorabilia and pictures of Martin’s career. Batemans managing director Stuart Bateman told the Grimsby Telegraph: “Guy Martin got in contact with us and asked if we would brew a beer especially for his pub. I explained to Guy it would be extremely difficult just for one pub. The minimum brew length is 45 barrels, which is about 12,000 pints. To have something unique for Guy we produced a special blend of a variety of beers to make something new and different.”

New ‘best of British’ concept Plot opens in Tooting: New concept Plot, which offers the “best of British food”, has launched in Tooting Broadway Market. The concept is the brainchild of cousins Mark Kimber, co-founder of restaurant publication Food Edited, and Harry Smith. The kitchen is headed by Giles Elstob, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants. The menu of small plates will change with the seasons, with winter dishes including chicken and smoked ham hock terrine with cider and honey mustard, roast cod with curried tartar sauce and scraps, and braised beef cheek with pickled cabbage and onions, Hot Dinners reports. Suppliers have been sourced from as local as possible, including olives from Kent, beets from Dorset, and meat and fish from Tooting high street. There is also a healthy selection of British craft beer and cocktails, plus wine from vineyards such as Nyetimber in West Sussex.

Hotel, restaurants and Bristol Eye scheme for harbourside: An area of land running alongside Bordeaux Quay could be transformed by a “Bristol Eye” ferris wheel alongside a luxury boutique hotel and a host of other facilities. The £24m concept has been put forward by Manor Property Group. The luxury hotel would overlook St Augustine’s Reach, a floating restaurant and a covered area for market stalls and events. The site, owned by Bristol City Council, has been earmarked for leisure use with the development of a “statement building”. Bristol-based CODA Architects has been working on designs, while discussions have started with Hotel Indigo, an Intercontinental Group Hotel brand, to potentially launch a hotel with management by Interstate. Manor Property Group development director Mark Bailey said: “We’ve been working on this scheme for around 18 months, having assembled an excellent team to deliver each element of this exciting offer. It would provide a new focus in the heart of Bristol bringing jobs, investment and extending the city’s leisure use. We would look to work with local restaurateurs to occupy those elements of the scheme and have already had preliminary talks with the city council.”

Ben Spalding on board for food tour involving double-decker bus turned into barbecue shack: Chef Ben Spalding will be on board a double-decker London bus transformed into a fully working barbecue shack as part of the Meat Lust Bare Bones Tour, which will take place in early February. Spalding has created exclusive meals for the tour, which is partnered by barbecue sauce manufacturer Meat Lust. A £30 “taster-ticket” entitles guests to four taster plates smoked on-board by Spalding, an off-menu dish at each of the five partner stops at acclaimed London venues RibMan, Clutch, Bleecker, Foxlow and The Bowler Meatballs, and four craft beers paired by London brewer Gipsy Hill Brewing Company. Head chefs from each of the partners will also hop on board to interact with guests. Scott Dixon, director of The Flava People, told Feast the tour could be rolled out to other destinations. He said: “We couldn’t be happier with the London line-up and we’re already excited by the thought of hitting the road and discovering incredible dishes in cities across the UK.”

O2 venue Brooklyn Bowl closes ‘until further notice’: Brooklyn Bowl London, the 800-capacity bar, restaurant, bowling alley and music venue located inside The O2 complex in London, has “closed until further notice”. The venue launched in January 2014 as a partnership between The O2’s owner AEG and Brooklyn Bowl owner Bowls LLC, which runs branches in Brooklyn, New York and Las Vegas. No reason has been given for the closure, which has seen upcoming shows cancelled or relocated. However, a spokesman for the venue said: “Brooklyn Bowl London is closed until further notice while The O2 Entertainment District undergoes building work for its future designer outlet village. Event organisers have been contacted to relocate or cancel scheduled shows and events while the company consults with its employees and other stakeholders. The hope is that, following the completion of the building work, Brooklyn Bowl London will be able to return. Those who have previously purchased tickets for future shows should contact their ticket provider to find out if the show has been relocated or cancelled and, if applicable, to arrange a direct refund.” Brooklyn Bowl London has previously welcomed artists such as Pharrell Williams and Lauryn Hill.

Halewood returns to profit: Drinks firm Halewood has posted pre-tax profits of £2.1m in the year to 25 June 2016, compared with losses of £9.7m in the prior year. Turnover dropped to £214.7m in 2015/16 from £231.1m in 2014/15, as sales in the UK declined by £13m to £163m. “Halewood has returned to profitability in the financial year to June 2016 after a successful restructuring and change of corporate culture,” said Stewart Hainsworth, group chief executive. “It has been a year of transition with recruitment of a new senior management team and embedding a strategy to develop a premium range of craft spirits alongside investment in brand marketing and route-to-market distribution to provide sustainable margin growth. Our category management approach to brand development has been sourced from a combination of organic and inorganic opportunities with key acquisitions including Liverpool Gin and the Pogues Irish Whiskey. We have delisted low margin and non-profitable lines and rationalised brands and product ranges, moving from a volume focus to a margin-driven business.” During the year, Halewood acquired the entire shareholding of bottled water producer Willow Water and a 75% stake in HJ Neill, a craft spirits joint venture backed by Halewood that purchased a significant stake in the owner of the Rum Sixty Six brand. The directors added: “The group plans further brand acquisitions and internal investment in its distilling capacity to enhance the premium craft spirits portfolio. Geographical expansion in new markets and building a distillery in north Wales will further improve Halewood’s ability to provide a full service and point of difference to the trade and consumers.” Halewood’s brands include Lambrini, Crabbie’s, Red Square and Liverpool Gin.

Brighton to host south coast’s ‘biggest’ craft beer festival as Tap Takeover returns: Limited early-bird tickets have been made available for The Brighton Tap Takeover – the south coast’s “biggest” craft beer festival – which will take place from 31 March to 2 April. Launched last year by London and Brighton multiple operator and craft brewer The Laine Pub Company and beer distributor The Beer Collective, the 2017 event will see 14 UK breweries partner with 14 Brighton city centre pubs. The weekend will feature more than 100 craft beers, with last year’s debut event attracting more than 2,000 beer-lovers. Laine Pub Company chief executive Gavin George said: “Last year’s inaugural event surpassed all our expectations so we can’t wait to run it again. We believe taking the craft beer out of a large, single festival venue and putting it back where it tastes best – the pub – is a unique and interesting way to engage with the beer on show. Brighton has become a craft beer centre in the south, and desire shown by top breweries to take part in the festival demonstrates just how important a part of the UK craft beer scene the city has become.” Beer Collective director Niki Deighton added: “As well as great beer, each of the brewers and pubs will bring their own personalities to the party, with great live music, food and fun all weekend.”