Former Liberty chief financial officer to open meatball-inspired restaurant in Balham next week: Former Liberty chief financial officer Paul Harris is to open a new dining concept inspired by cuisines and flavours from around the world with meatballs at its heart. Harris is launching Curveball on Wednesday, 26 April in Balham, south London, with Hannah Pemberton, author of recipe blog The Kitchen Alchemist. The venue in Hildreth Street will have 26 covers upstairs, 12 covers in the downstairs bar as well as al fresco dining. The menu will highlight the “versatile and eclectic flavours of world cuisine in the humble meatball”. Dishes will include The Mothership – beef chuck and parmesan meatballs in a four-hour short-rib ragu, and the Wizard of Oz – beetroot and tahini vegballs, with lime avocado crema, popped seeds, pomegranate and freekeh. A bespoke cocktail and wine list will complement the menu. Pemberton said: “Meatballs are eaten the world over – from Middle Eastern koftas to Indonesian bakso. Paul and I wanted to create a restaurant that highlighted their versatility and not stick to traditional flavours. Food is how we travel – it’s why we travel. And it brings people together. That’s why we set up Curveball. To combine those experiences and flavours, and to share them and our obsession for food with others.” Harris has 15 years of senior level operational experience including opening restaurants within department stores Liberty and Selfridges.

Downing buys three Birmingham leisure units for £5.4m: Developer and sector investor Downing Group has bought three leisure units in Broad Street in Birmingham for £5.4m. The units, which total 35,062 square feet, are let to Burning Night Group, Velvet Music Rooms and Food Republic for a total passing rent of £425,242 per annum, as well as car parking on the upper floor. Downing has bought the sites from EPISO 3, an opportunity fund advised by Tristan Capital Partners and Addington Capital, as part of the £150m Project Tree portfolio. Tristan Capital Partners and Addington Capital were represented by agent Savills, with the price reflecting a net initial yield of 7.39%. Alex Wagstaff, partner at Addington Capital, told The Business Desk: “We have been actively asset managing this site in Birmingham, attracting new tenants to our buildings. Last July we announced the letting to Burning Night Group for its Bierkeller, Shooters Sports Bar and Around the World Bar and Lounge concept, which has helped put Broad Street back on the map as a prime leisure venue.” Downing Group was represented by MK2 Real Estate.

BVC Group to start expansion of Ahi Poké with Victoria launch, plans to roll-out concept: London-based BVC Group is to start expansion of Ahi Poké, the restaurant serving Hawaiian raw fish dish poké, by opening its second site, at the Nova development in Victoria. The concept, which is the brainchild of Jeremy Coste, Gabriel Cohen-Elia and David Bellaiche, who are behind Mayfair’s North Audley Cantine and wine bar Chez Chow, launched Ahi Poké in Fitzrovia last summer. Now the trio are bringing the restaurant to the Nova development in June and represents the first step in a wider expansion plan to roll-out the concept. Just like its sibling, Ahi Poké Victoria will be decorated in pastel hues and be built from sustainable materials including reclaimed driftwood. It will feature both indoor and outdoor seating areas although it will be primarily a takeaway location. All poké bowls are made to order and can be customised as diners choose their favourite base (rice, quinoa, kale), protein (sustainably sourced salmon, ahi tuna and shrimp, or marinated mushrooms), as well as sauce and topping. Daily and weekly specials will also be featured, alongside a selection of premium non-alcoholic drinks, and Earl Grey pineapple or milk chocolate cookies for dessert. To fit the brand’s sustainable ethos, all orders will be served in compostable containers.

Nando’s opens fourth Belfast site to take Northern Ireland portfolio to five: Nando’s has opened its fourth Belfast restaurant to take its Northern Ireland portfolio to five sites. The company has opened the outlet at the Abbey Centre, creating 30 jobs. The restaurant has capacity for 116 diners inside with outside seating for a further 28. The design includes woven pendant lighting, clay wall finishes and splashes of crimson, providing a backdrop to original art from emerging and established South African artists, in homage to Nando’s South African heritage. Nando’s regional managing director Lorcan Feely told the Irish News: “We’ve a great location, with access to the restaurant from both inside and outside the centre, perfect for shoppers, visitors and students from the nearby university.” Lambert Smith Hampton acted on behalf of Abbey Centre. As well as its four restaurants in Belfast, Nando’s other Northern Ireland site is in Derry.

Peruvian restaurant concept Señor Ceviche to start expanding with second site, in Fitzrovia: London-based Peruvian restaurant concept Señor Ceviche is set to start expanding by opening its second site, in Fitzrovia. Founder Harry Edmeades is opening the new venue in Charlotte Street next month, introducing several new dishes, an exclusive brunch offering, and an underground pisco bar. The restaurant’s design will echo Lima’s grand colonial architecture, embracing the “colourful, artistic and youthful character” of the Barranco District of Peru’s capital. The menu includes favourites served at its existing Carnaby site as well as new dishes such as barbecued scallops with aji amarillo and pisco butter; and yellowfin tuna with yuzu tigers milk, wasabi and miso. Exclusive to Charlotte Street, the weekend brunch offering will include sweet potato waffle with crispy lamb shoulder and huacatay salsa; and Peruvian sausage with root vegetable hash, corn bread and onsen egg. Downstairs, a cocktail bar will showcase the Peruvian spirit of pisco alongside cocktails such as pisco with lime, Thai basil, jasmine and plum sake. Edmeades said: “Having launched as a pop-up four years ago, and being one of the original brands to bring Peruvian food to the UK, we are delighted to be opening our second restaurant. Charlotte Street is one of London’s iconic dining destinations, and we are thrilled to be bringing our exciting and diverse Peruvian offering to such a fantastic foodie hub.”

The Chilli Pickle ‘on track’ for record trading this month: Award-winning Indian restaurant The Chilli Pickle, which is raising £700,000 on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to fund the roll-out of four new sites in the south of England, has reported it is “on track” to achieve record trading this month. The existing 115-cover restaurant in Jubilee Street generates more than £2.2m in revenue annually. Owners Alun and Dawn Sperring are offering a 23% equity stake in the business in return for the £700,000 investment. So far, 20 investors have pledged £487,000. Investors have been told a sale of the business is expected in mid-2021, with five sites generating £1.3m Ebitda before central costs with the eventual buyer assumed to pay nine times site Ebitda. Investors in The Chilli Pickle are offered the prospect of a 5.3 times money return – 57.5% internal rate of return (IRR) – increasing to 7.6 times (65.8% IRR) after taking account of initial 30% income tax relief. The pitch states: “It is planned to open four new 80 to 120-cover restaurants in south east market towns over the next three years. The first new site is planned to be a new-build unit in the centre of a market town. The Chilli Pickle is finalising design plans to fit-out a 95-cover restaurant at a total cost of circa £700,000, of which circa 40% will be funded by the landlord. The Chilli Pickle expects to open this site in June/July. The Chilli Pickle is considering Tunbridge Wells, Worthing, Winchester, Hastings and Oxford as possible locations for the additional three new sites.”

Subway debuts Facebook Messenger ordering in US: Subway has debuted Facebook Messenger ordering in the US. The company said customers could use the platform to order and pay for meals at all 26,500 restaurants in the US, both online and through mobile devices. Payment can be made through Facebook’s payment system, which requires the registration of a credit card, or through Masterpass, an online payment service by Mastercard. Chief information and digital officer Carman Wenkoff told Nation’s Restaurant News: “This is a new initiative in the ongoing quest to enhance the guest experience.” Subway, which has more than 44,600 franchised locations in 112 countries, reported US systemwide sales of $11.3bn for the year ending December 2016, down 1.7% from $11.5bn the previous year. Individual communications between businesses and customers on Facebook Messenger have reached two billion in the past year, and the number of business bots tripled from 11,000 in July 2016 to 30,000 by September 2016. There are currently 100,000 business bots on Messenger.

Bob & Berts set to open first site in County Armagh, 13th in total: Northern Ireland coffee company Bob & Berts is set to open its first outlet in County Armagh – and its 13th to date. The company has secured a site in High Street in Portadown. The building is expected to be fitted out shortly with opening over the summer months, reports ArmaghI. In addition to the Portadown site, the company is eyeing its third venue in County Tyrone and is understood to be in advanced discussions for new premises in Cookstown. Bob & Berts began life on the north coast with an outlet at Portstewart while its most recent site opened in Market Square in Dungannon.

Norfolk-based operators set to open third site: Norfolk-based operators Anthony and Jeanette Goodrich are set to open their third site, this time in King’s Lynn. The pair have bought the former probation office in Purfleet Quay for an undisclosed sum and plan to turn it into a hotel and bar. The Goodrichs also own the Bank House Hotel in nearby King’s Staithe Square and The Rose & Crown in the village of Snettisham. Anthony Goodrich told the Eastern Daily Press: “In the years we have owned the Rose & Crown and Bank House we have built thriving bar, restaurant and accommodation businesses. We plan to develop the probation office, which is located across the square from Bank House, create more bedrooms, a function room and a cafe/bar.”

Experienced operators take on Red Oak Taverns pub in Kent: Experienced operators Mark and Deana Lewins have taken on The Cressy Arms in Dartford, Kent, which is owned by Red Oak Taverns. The company and the Lewins, who have run a variety of pubs for the past eight years, have completed a six-figure refurbishment of the pub. It was named after HMS Cressy, an armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy in about 1900. The Cressy Arms is home to the local darts and pool team and next door to the Dartford Fishing Club. The new decor pays homage to its regulars – quirky sports related framed prints adorn the walls along with a variety of lake fishing paraphernalia, along with subtle references to HMS Cressy. Red Oak Taverns director Mark Grunnell said: “We are very pleased to welcome Mark and Deana to Red Oak Taverns. The fact they are an experienced couple and know the area well gives me great confidence the new and improved Cressy Arms will be a fantastic asset and the hub of the local community. Over the past six years, we have built our portfolio from 32 to 170 outlets and we are now on the acquisition trail, having transformed many rundown pubs back into thriving concerns in the heart of their communities.”

Barbados-based restaurateur opens Manchester’s first dedicated poké concept: Barbados-based restaurateur Saman Golesorkhi has opened Manchester’s first dedicated poké concept. Golesorkhi, who has three restaurant ventures in Barbados, has launched Oké Poké in the Smithfield Building in Dale Street. Dubbed the “new healthy fast food”, poké is a combination of raw cubed fish and vegetables. Oké Poké is geared towards the fast food and lunchtime market and features a small amount of seats but the emphasis is on a takeaway offering. Golesorkhi, who studied in the city before moving to Barbados, told the Manchester Evening News: “It’s hard to get into the food scene in Manchester – there’s a big food scene and a lot of money invested in big projects. I had to be careful with my budget. I had to make sure my investment was behind something I 100% enjoy – and poké is one of those things. There’s definitely a niche in the market for it.”

Derby Brewing Company – we were promised £300,000 before we began crowdfunding: Derby Brewing Company has revealed it was offered more than £300,000 in funding before it launched its £500,000 crowdfunding drive. The company has raised more than £100,000 in two days since it launched the campaign on Crowdcube. The company revealed more than £300,000 was also pledged from interested parties prior to the funding page going live. Derby Brewing Co announced its intention to pitch for investment at the start of this month. It has released 3.86% of the business to raise funds to support the launch of a new range, along with funding export growth and the development of new sites and the refurbishment of existing ones. The family-run firm, which was founded in 2004, owns The Tap and The Greyhound in the city centre; The Queen’s Head in Little Eaton; and the boutique hotel, bar and restaurant Kedleston Country House in Quarndon. Managing director Paul Harris said: “Since we first started telling our customers about the crowdfunding campaign the support and interest shown in becoming a shareholder has been overwhelming. The campaign will be live on the Crowdcube website for 30 days but, given the level of interest shown already, we are advising people to get on board early.”

Whitbread to open 613-bedroom Premier Inn at Heathrow Terminal 4 next month: Whitbread is to open a 613-bedroom Premier Inn at Heathrow Terminal 4 next month. The hotel will have an indoor walkway that links directly to the airport within ten minutes, alongside 75 parking spaces, an all-day dining restaurant, coffee shop, bar and gym. Derek Griffin, Premier Inn head of acquisitions for London, south and east England, told Business Traveller: “Our business is built on giving our guests the best locations and delivering on consistency, quality, service and value. Our new Terminal 4 hotel at Heathrow will do exactly that, adding 613 bedrooms to our overall airport estate and meaning we have hotels at all of the UK’s main airports.”

PM Group acquires Blackpool hotel off guide price of £599,000: The PM Group of Hotels, a consortium with a hotel portfolio spanning the UK, India, the Caribbean and North Africa, has bought the Henson Hotel in Blackpool off a guide price of £599,000. PM Group has acquired the 45-bedroom hotel from David and Susan Jones in a deal brokered by agent Fleurets. PM Group director Tim Teo said: “We are delighted to open our portfolio in Blackpool starting with the Henson Hotel. The Henson is a landmark for us – we currently have 400 hotels under revenue management but we have plans to add many more properties under the direct management model that we believe will give our portfolio a better balance. Blackpool is an amazing destination that still has huge potential for hoteliers with a modern approach. We bring a 21st century outlook combined with traditional values and look forward to being part of the local business community in Blackpool. The business will run as usual, with no break in service.”

Dirty Bones to launch NYC apartment-inspired venue in Soho this month, fourth London site: US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones will launch its fourth site in London this month, bringing its signature design style combined with old school hip-hop, soul and funk to Soho. The 1,600 square foot 60-cover restaurant and bar in Denman Street, which opens on Saturday, 29 April, will take inspiration from the post-industrial chic look championed by loft apartments in New York City’s Brooklyn borough. The décor will include bespoke neon lighting fixtures, intentionally mismatched furniture and timber-concrete flooring and an antique floor-to-ceiling bookcase. The Soho menu will showcase dishes such as the slow n’ low pork belly ribs marinated in Dr Pepper and burnt onion and ale barbecue sauce, as well as an all-new rotating selection of grass-fed British rib-eye steak. A selection of cold pressed juices and creative hot drinks will be available alongside cocktails. Dirty Bones’ other sites are in Kensington, Carnaby and Shoreditch.

Crussh launches spring menu featuring largest vegan range yet: Crussh, the London-based healthy food and juice brand, has launched its spring menu, which features its largest vegan range yet. The new vegan options, which make up 17 of the 30 new menu items, include carrot and sultana overnight oats, health pots, gluten-free vegan desserts such as key lime pie and choc avo mousse, and homemade energy balls. As well as the expanded vegan range, the spring menu also features a number of high protein products such as the banana and almond butter protein bagel, and the jerk chicken protein health pot. Crussh is continuing to evolve its brand identity and design, both in store and online, following the opening of its new look site in New Street Square in November. Head of marketing Helen Jones said: “We’ve always had a strong range of vegetarian and vegan products at Crussh but with the recent popularity of Veganuary and with more than half a million people in the UK now following a vegan diet, it felt like the right time to further strengthen our offering.”

Plans for Starbucks’ second drive-thru coffee shop in Scotland and Marston’s pub restaurant at Dundee site get go-ahead: Plans to create Starbucks’ second drive-thru coffee shop in Scotland and a Marston’s pub restaurant at a site in Dundee have been given the go-ahead. Developer Kilmac Group has had its £4.5m scheme for a 1.5-acre site at the entrance to the city’s Wester Gourdie Industrial Estate off Kingsway West approved by the city council. The Fulton Road development is expected to create 60 jobs. Kilmac Group director Derek Ross told Scottish Construction Now: “We will be progressing with the building warrant and are pencilling in a start on the Starbucks site in late summer, with an opening envisaged early in 2018. Marston’s is an experienced operator south of the border within the family restaurant sector and the next stage in the process is securing licence approval.”

Krispy Kreme lodges plans for Sheffield city centre site: Krispy Kreme has lodged plans to open a site in Sheffield city centre. The company has applied to the city council to open the venue in The Moor in one of the new kiosks outside Primark. Krispy Kreme has submitted plans to create retail, production and warehouse facilities in the kiosk, including a mezzanine level. The new store would include outdoor seating and customers would be able to see the doughnuts being made, reports The Star. Krispy Kreme has one other store in Sheffield – at the Meadowhall shopping centre on the outskirts of the city.

West Midlands-based piri-piri chicken restaurant Piri Fino opens third site, in Walsall: West Midlands-based piri-piri chicken restaurant Piri Fino has opened its third site, this time in Walsall. The company has opened the venue at the Waterfront development in Gallery Square on a site formerly occupied by Wharfingers Cottage, creating 25 jobs. It invested £350,000 to refurbish the derelict building, creating space for 65 diners and another 40 in the bar. There is also an al fresco dining area that can seat up to 40, reports the Express & Star. Piri Fino’s other restaurants are in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.