Punch to open first Champs sports bar under managed model next week: Punch will open its first Champs sports bar under a managed model next week. The company has converted an existing pub in Urmston High Street in Manchester into the brand’s seventh site, which will launch on Friday, 3 June. But it will be the first to operate under a managed format and development director David Wigham told Propel it would also allow the company “to get a better picture” of how Champs was performing. He said: “This is the first one to operate under a Falcon contract. It means the publican can concentrate on the running of the site and we take care of the bills and providing stock etc. The retail offer is proven and the managed division is doing well so this is a good opportunity for us to put the two together. Under this model we will have a fuller picture about the performance of the outlet whereas the other sites are run on a lease basis, although of course we have a great relationship with the publicans. It’s another benefit for us doing it this way. We have direct control so any consequences will reflect on us directly. It’s a great location. There’s a lot of consumer activity on the street with companies such as Loungers and Wetherspoon’s there so there’s plenty of footfall in the area.” The 313 square metre site features 160 covers with further capacity outside. There will be 21 screens in total, including a television wall featuring nine 55-inch televisions. Customers will also be able to change channel on the television inside their booth using a new app, while staff will be using handheld EPOS ordering pads to avoid queues at the bar. The venue will serve the brand’s American-style sports grill menu, including burgers and steaks. While it is primarily a sports bar, Wigham said the venue would cater for a broad range of customers. He added: “We’ve looked at consumer feedback and taken what we’ve learnt at our six other sites and put together a great retail offer. It’s great for people who want to watch sport or just enjoy a meal. We cater for everyone. We know football drives footfall but we are looking at what we can do to make more of sports viewing across the year. There are opportunities with rugby and American football – for example our Sheffield Champs bar stayed open through the night for the Superbowl.” Wigham said no further sites were currently lined up for the brand and it was concentrating for now on the performance of the Urmston venue. He added: “We’ll see how this one goes before we look at further opportunities. We have a good site here and think the high street is the ideal location for the brand. We opened the first one almost four years ago so we know it is standing the test of time.”

 

 

 

Deliverd launches ‘Chef Box’ to take restaurant-prepared food delivery service nationwide: UK startup Deliverd, which sends restaurant-prepared dishes for customers to reheat at home or work, has launched a service to enable it to expand across most of the UK. The company was only able to deliver to a small part of north England, relying on a network of restaurants’ spare kitchen capacity and bicycle couriers. However, following increased demand, Deliverd is trialling “Chef Box”, a subscription service allowing it to deliver chef-prepared meals to other parts of the UK via overnight delivery. Chef Box is priced at £5.50 per dish including delivery, but with a minimum order of six dishes. Weekly or fortnightly subscriptions can be paused or cancelled at any time. Food is delivered overnight by the company’s partner courier via refrigerated vehicles. Co-founder Paul Rawlings told Tech Crunch: “This is a great way to test new regions without having to set up new operations. We often get compared to other premium delivery companies such as Deliveroo, but we believe our major competitor is more the ready meal.”

 

 

 

Developers who demolished Carlton Tavern admit move was ‘highly regrettable’: Developers who tore down the historic Carlton Tavern admitted their actions were “highly regrettable” – but insisted they should not have to rebuild it. The Maida Vale pub was illegally demolished by CLTX in April last year while it was being considered by Historic England for grade II-listed status. Westminster City Council had previously refused planning permission for the site and, following the demolition, imposed an enforcement notice against the developer ordering them to rebuild the pub. The Friends of Carlton Tavern have united with the council in their campaign to order the developer to rebuild the 1920s pub brick by brick. The developers said at a public inquiry the demolition was “unauthorised”, “clearly should not have occurred in the way it did” and “was highly regrettable”. But CLTX insisted it should not be made to restore the building to its former glory. Rupert Warren QC, representing CLTX, said: “It would not be ‘brick by brick’ or ‘facsimile’ reproduction of the pub. Its heritage value and townscape value, whilst more than negligible, have been very substantially overstated by the council in its evidence and submissions. The enforcement notice requires ‘in facsimile’ reconstruction. That is not really feasible.”

 

 

 

Meat-free and sustainable options prove draw for young UK diners – survey: Half of millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) are more likely to eat out in venues where they are told where the food comes from, according to a survey carried out by Populus on behalf of conservation organisation WWF-UK. The research also found more than half (53%) of millennials are more likely to eat at a restaurant, cafe or canteen if meat has been reared to high animal welfare standards, while one in five would like to see restaurants offer a meat-free day. The findings accompany the release of a report – Catering for Sustainability – by WWF-UK, catering company Sodexo UK and Ireland, and the Food Ethics Council. The report recommends foodservice companies pilot sustainable menus, remove unsustainably sourced ingredients and share examples of best practice. The report found 20% of millennials intended to eat less meat during the coming year. Of those planning to cut down on meat, 68% said they wanted to be able to choose plant-based options from the menu. Dan Crossley, executive director of the Food Ethics Council, said: “Our research shows foodservice companies that step up to the plate and offer ‘better’ sets of choices to customers are more likely to be profitable in the long run.”

 

 

 

Manchester among best-performing cities as European hotel industry reports positive April: Manchester was among the best-performing cities as the European hotel industry saw increases in occupancy, average daily room rate and revpar in April, according to research by STR Global. While Manchester experienced virtually flat occupancy with an increase of 0.1% to 79.1% compared with the previous year, the city saw average daily room rate rise 8.7% to £78.06 and revpar up 8.8% to £61.77. Europe reported a 3.5% increase in occupancy to 71.4%, a 3.8% rise in average daily room rate to €109.54 and a 7.4% lift in revpar to €78.20. Among the best-performing countries were Germany, which reached record highs for April across all three areas. It posted a 9.8% rise in occupancy to 73.9% as well as double-digit increases in average daily room rate (+14.4% to €107.98) and revpar (+25.6% to €79.84). Meanwhile, Poland experienced double-digit growth in occupancy (+14.6% to 77.2%) and revpar (+23.2% to 208.62 zlotys) while average daily room rate was up 7.5% to 270.40 zlotys. Elsewhere, Athens in Greece had its highest April occupancy since 2000 with 69.6% and its highest average daily room rate level for the month at €105.06 for eight years.

 

 

 

Prince Charles to open pop-up restaurant in Aberdeenshire village: Prince Charles is poised to open a pop-up restaurant in a former Co-op store in Ballater, a flood-hit village in Aberdeenshire. The venue may even sell products from the prince’s own Highgrove brand. Plans for a change of use for the premises in Netherley Road have already been lodged with Aberdeenshire Council. The development would be a major boost for the village, which was devastated by flooding during Storm Frank at the turn of the year. Prince Charles launched his own flood appeal after witnessing the destruction caused by the River Dee bursting its banks. Robert Lovie, a spokesman for the Duke of Rothesay’s Deeside flood appeal, told The Press and Journal: “The restaurant would be set up temporarily until other things in Ballater get back on their feet. There are plenty of tea rooms in the village, but no big restaurant in particular. We are just waiting for Aberdeenshire Council to confirm the planning and hopefully we can start getting the work done inside. There may be a small Highgrove shop in the restaurant as well.”

 

 

 

Scotland has become ‘nation of home-drinkers’: Adults in Scotland have increased their consumption of alcohol for the second year in a row, according to a report. NHS Health Scotland said the trend was mainly down to more alcohol being bought in supermarkets and off-licences – particularly beer and wine. Sales in 2015 were 20% higher in Scotland than they were in England and Wales, with each adult consuming the equivalent of 477 pints of beer. Alcohol Focus Scotland said the country had become a “nation of home drinkers”. The Scottish government said the report supported the case for minimum pricing. An earlier report in December 2014 found alcohol consumption in Scotland had fallen by the equivalent of 38 million pints of beer a year since 2009. The decline was linked to the economy crashing and the scrapping of multi-buy deals. But last year, the NHS said alcohol sales had started to increase again. Total sales were the equivalent to 41 bottles of vodka or 116 bottles of wine for each adult. In its latest analysis of Scottish drinking habits, researchers found 74% of alcohol was sold through off sales – the highest market share since recording began in 1994. The report concluded that the higher sales compared with England and Wales were mainly because of the sales of lower-priced alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences, particularly spirits. More than twice as much vodka was sold in off-sales per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales. The researchers also found that in 2015 the average price of a unit of alcohol sold through off-sales was 52p – a price that has not changed for two years.

 

 

 

Cheltenham to become first UK town to hold ‘Beer Week’: Cheltenham is set to become the first UK town to hold a “Beer Week”. Cheltenham Beer Week (CBW) will take place from 16 to 25 September. Its purpose is to celebrate beer and the booming brewing industry and pub culture of the town through a collection of events. CBW is being co-ordinated by Leigh Norwood, owner of specialist beer retailer Favourite Beers, together with a group of local brewers, publicans and beer drinkers. Events already being planned are mini-beer festivals, meet the brewer evenings, tap takeovers, brewery tours, tutored tasting sessions, beer walks, and beer and food matching. He told the Gloucester Citizen: “We believe the time is right for Cheltenham to launch a Beer Week. We have a nexus of beer expertise that is exceptional for a town of this size. We already have 17 venues signed up including pubs, clubs, bars, shops and restaurants. We want CBW to be a festival, a carnival, with events for experienced beer drinkers and novices alike; anyone who is keen to learn about beer in all its forms from around the world.”

 

 

CAMRA begins second stage of Revitalisation Project as more than 25,000 people respond to survey: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said it is analysing data from its recent members’ survey as the second stage of its Revitalisation Project – a fundamental look at the organisation’s purpose and future – gets under way. More than 24,000 members and 1,000 non-members responded to the initial survey. CAMRA founder Michael Hardman, chairman of the Revitalisation Project, said: “It’s important to emphasise that while we are now analysing the results from the initial survey, this is only the start of the process and consultation is continuing. It would be wrong to base our proposals simply on one part of the consultation process. The results from the survey and the mass of opinion expressed at the consultation meetings to date confirm how broad a church CAMRA is. We need to make sure the proposals we put forward for CAMRA’s future take into account the sizeable minority opinions already expressed by members to ensure we’re best positioned in future. The final decision rests with the membership, who will get to vote on any proposals during CAMRA’s annual general meeting in 2017.” He added: “Now we have successfully launched the project, the real hard work begins. We’ll be adding additional specialist experience and knowledge to the steering committee to help us analyse the data. We’ll be testing and refining our proposals during the summer through additional surveys and consultation of members before they get to make the final decision on the future of CAMRA next year.” CAMRA said it would hold meetings with pub, brewing and political experts this summer to find out what they thought about the organisation, run in parallel with members’ consultation events. For more details about the meetings, visit camra.org.uk/revitalisation

 

 

 

House of Lords sets up ad hoc licensing committee: The House of Lords has appointed four new ad hoc committees, all of which will exist only for the 2016–17 session. One of the committees has been set up specifically to look into the effectiveness and impact of the Licensing Act 2003, with a reporting deadline of 31 March 2017. The committee website can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/licensing-act-2003/ It will issue a call for evidence in due course.

 

 

 

Toro’s Steakhouse opens seventh site in Newcastle, first venue in north east: Restaurant chain Toro’s Steakhouse has opened its seventh site, this time in Newcastle, its first venue in the north east. The company has converted a derelict building in Marlborough Crescent into the 90-cover restaurant, creating 11 jobs. Owner Amair Mohammed told Bdaily: “The Toro’s brand is very well known around the country and we are very pleased to open the first one in the north east. It has been a big job to create this restaurant out of an empty shell of a building, and we have invested a lot of money in doing so, but we are delighted with the outcome. We have created jobs in Newcastle, as well as opening an excellent steakhouse right in the middle of town, which serves high-quality halal food at very reasonable prices. It is priced so there is something for everyone.” The company’s other restaurants are in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Harrow, Manchester and Nottingham, with expansion into Scotland planned in the near future.

 

 

 

Middletons Steakhouse and Grill to open sixth site with £1.5m Leicester launch: Norfolk-based Middletons Steakhouse and Grill will open a £1.5m restaurant in Leicester this autumn, its sixth site. The 200-seater restaurant will be located at a grade II*-listed former NatWest bank in St Martins, which had been empty for 16 years. Middletons has taken a 20-year lease on the property and the opening will create 60 jobs. Managing director Steve Hutton said Leicester will be the group’s most ambitious project yet. He told the Leicester Mercury: “It’s a beautiful building. A lot of our restaurants are in unique properties – the Norwich one is an old Baptist church and another is an 18th century coaching inn. I first saw the Leicester building almost three years ago and then spent six months visiting the city and deciding whether or not it was a good fit for us. But we were in unanimous agreement that Leicester was a fantastic opportunity for Middletons. It’s a monster project but it will be sensational when it’s finished.” Hutton hopes to open further restaurants in the Midlands once Leicester is established, and already has plans for a seventh site in Peterborough which he hopes to open early next year. Steve and Tracy Hutton opened their first Middletons Steakhouse and Grill in King’s Lynn in 2010. The company’s other sites are in Norwich, Milton Keynes, Colchester and Watford.

 

 

 

Patisserie Valerie set to open in Camberley: Patisserie Valerie is set to open a new outlet at The Mall Camberley in Surrey, Capital and Regional has announced. The company has signed a ten-year lease for a 1,500 square foot mall cafe, and is due to open towards the end of August. This follows the recent opening of sushi and bento operator Kokoro. The arrival of Patisserie Valerie comes as Capital & Regional advances plans for a £4.5m refurbishment of The Mall Camberley. The proposals to modernise the centre, which is home to more than 150 retailers and attracts 9.7 million visitors per year, were approved by Surrey Heath Council earlier this month. Will Blake, retail asset manager at Capital & Regional, said: “We’re delighted Patisserie Valerie is joining the Mall this summer. (It) will greatly enhance the vitality and dwell time in the heart of the Mall. The brand builds on the quality of our food and beverage offer, it will add a point of difference to the centre and we believe it will complement our core shopping catchment and trade really well here.”

 

 

 

Project Pie to open first site in England, second UK pizza restaurant: US restaurant brand Project Pie, which promises personalised pizzas in less than three minutes, is set to open a site in Intu Bromley shopping centre, its first venue in England and second in the UK. The restaurant is set to open in the summer, offering diners a choice of 30 toppings and a no-limit policy so they can design their own dinner for a set price. The bases and sauce are made on-site before the finished pizzas are cooked in a 600-degree oven. Project Pie UK director Susan Canavan said: “We always aim to fit in with the community and bring a different style and flavour to each of our stores. However, our approach remains the same – offering delicious and totally personalised pizza that is ready in less than three minutes and at a great price.” The restaurant will open on Intu’s upcoming restaurant terrace, which will also include Wagamama, Tesco-owned Giraffe, American diner chain Ed’s Easy Diner, and better burger brand Byron. Project Pie’s other UK site is in Dundee.

 

 

 

Burning Night Group granted licence for Bierkeller in Birmingham: Burning Night Group has had its licence approved to bring its large-capacity Bierkeller concept to Birmingham. The company has been given the go-ahead by the city council to open the brand in Broad Street at the former Brannigans site despite objections from police because the premises sit inside the cumulative impact area (CIA). Paddy Whur, of solicitors Woods Whur, successfully argued on behalf of Burning Night Group that the Bierkeller would provide the regeneration of a redundant unit in the heart of the entertainment quarter of Birmingham and create jobs and investment. He also pointed out that Burning Night Group had been granted licences for Bierkellers in Cardiff and Nottingham at sites also inside CIAs. The Bierkeller, which also features the Around the World In 80 Beers and Shooters bars, has sites operating in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Cardiff, with the Nottingham and Birmingham venues due to open this year.

 

 

 

Shepherd Neame reopens Chatham dockyard pub following £1.2m expansion and refurbishment: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has reopened the Ship and Trades at Chatham Maritime following a three-month refurbishment and expansion project costing £1.2m. Shepherd Neame acquired the site at the former Royal Navy dockyard in 2001, transforming it into a bar, restaurant and hotel overlooking one of the yacht basins. The recent refurbishment included creating five en-suite letting rooms on the first floor – two with waterfront balconies – taking the total number of rooms to 15. The ground floor features a wrap-around restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the marina, which can cater for an additional 80 diners. The investment has created 20 roles at the site, taking the total to more than 50 staff. Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We are delighted to unveil this major new development, our second-biggest refurbishment project to date. The Ship and Trades boasts a unique location in Chatham Maritime, which has become a vibrant place to live, work, and visit, and we wanted to maximise its potential. We are confident that with its expanded facilities and stylish new look, the Ship and Trades will prove a popular destination for leisure and business guests to eat, drink and stay.”

 

 

 

JD Wetherspoon spices up Curry Club menu: JD Wetherspoon has announced changes to its Curry Club menu, including the addition of vindaloo, improved side dishes and the introduction of a “chilli rating” for meals. Curry Club takes place at JD Wetherspoon sites every Thursday, serving an average of 80,000 curries across the UK each evening. The company said its food-development team had been working with kitchen managers, suppliers and customers during the past nine months to bring consumers “thicker sauces, increased meat content and hand-stretched naan breads”. The new curry rating system ranges from one chilli to five, with the vindaloo at the “hotter end of the spectrum”. New side dishes include garlic and coriander naan, while several existing curries and sides have been improved, including the addition of mustard seeds and a hint of coconut to the beef Madras, as well as a larger beef dice “for a more authentic dish”. The chicken tikka masala, available all week on Wetherspoon’s food menu, now contains 5% more chicken, the company said, as does the chicken jalfrezi, which has been lowered to three chillies to “increase the range for those who don’t like too much heat”. Improvements have also been made to bhaji and samosa recipes to be “more authentic in both texture and taste”.

 

 

 

Brunning & Price opens gastro-pub in Shropshire village: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by The Restaurant Group, has opened The Oakley Arms in the Shropshire village of Brewood. The company has converted the former country club, which has been empty for nine years, into a pub restaurant that seats 160 inside and a further 100 on a terrace outside, overlooking a lake. Landlord John Duncan said: “The locals seem to be delighted with the transformation, we have had many old members from the time when it was a private club trying to remember where they used to come in, where they used to sit and even where they used to dance. I must have heard 100 stories from the past and find it fascinating what has gone on within these walls.’’ Brunning & Price, which has 55 sites split between the north west and south east, will open a further five pubs this year – the Prae Wood Arms, St Albans; Haighton Manor, Preston; the Physician, Edgbaston; the Dinorben Arms, Bodfari; and the Fox Revived, Norwood Hill, and plans further expansion in 2017. The company added: “We are conscious that we need to encourage new talent into the industry in order to engender the next generation of chefs with new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. With this in mind, as well as our current work-based training programmes we now offer a 12-month NVQ in professional cookery and we are investigating further apprentice ideas front-of-house.”

 

 

 

Customer engagement platform Cheerfy passes 50% mark in £180,000 crowdfunding campaign: Customer engagement platform Cheerfy, which aims to deliver “memorable customer experiences” at hotels and restaurants, has passed the 50% mark in its £180,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company, founded by Carlos Gomez and Adrian Maseda, is offering a 7.08% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 27 investors have pledged £95,190 with 23 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £27,000. The pitch states: “Cheerfy uses Wi-Fi hot spots as a beacon to share customer presence and information from business customer relationship management (CRM), online e-commerce platforms, loyalty systems, employees and customers themselves. Employees get this information in real time (on customer arrival), when and where they need it to personalise the service they offer. Businesses today generally identify customers on payment or exit, too late to influence their experience in a relevant way and often they don’t identify them at all. Cheerfy also allows companies to start and nurture conversations with their customers, through contextual, personal and targeted messages. To date, our strategy has been quality rather than quantity, which has taken us to high-end restaurants and hotels in New York, London, Madrid and Lisbon. The funds raised in this round will be used for business development and product development to build deeper integration in the retail or hospitality space (CRMs, property management systems) and build chat capabilities between businesses and their customers.” The company forecasts Ebitda of minus £174,546 at the end of this year, rising to £31,115 in December 2017 before jumping to £3,256,373 the final year.

 

 

 

New pizza concept Zia Lucia to open in Islington next month: A new pizza restaurant concept is opening in Islington, north London, next month. Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo are launching ZiaLucia, which translates as “Auntie Lucia”, in Holloway Road. The wood-fired pizzas will feature fresh, classic Italian toppings, all available on the four types of dough that are slowly fermented for 48 hours – a traditional flour dough, a vegetable charcoal black base, wholemeal, and one made without gluten. The menu will continuously evolve to include new doughs, while it will also feature white pizzas with unusual toppings such as pecorino cheese, truffle honey, asparagus, spicy orange sauce, and toasted almonds. Alongside the pizzas, the menu will feature a selection of Italian-style starters, salads and desserts, reports Foodpedia. The drinks menu will focus on spritzers, negronis, bottled beers from Italy and locally brewed in London, and wine and prosecco sourced from small Italian producers.

 

 

 

M&B launches ‘menu match’ wine partnership for Harvester and Toby sites: Mitchells & Butlers has launched a partnership with South African winery Gabb Family Vineyards to create an exclusive range of “menu-matched” wines at its Harvester and Toby Carvery sites. The range includes a chardonnay blended to complement Harvester’s rotisserie chicken and Toby’s roast turkey. The cabernet sauvignon has been matched with Harvester’s steaks and Toby’s roast beef, while the shiraz is suited to Harvester’s ribs and Toby’s roast pork. The wine labels feature the recommended food match. UK drinks distributor Bibendum, which is also Gabb Family Vineyards’ agent, conducted a survey into consumer habits when selecting the wines. It found almost half (49%) of consumers defer their wine judgement to others. Bibendum said only a quarter of respondents knew what they liked, while 23% associated the words “overwhelmed”, “timid”, or “embarrassed” with choosing a wine when eating out. It said the new wine range would overcome this uncertainty by guiding visitors in their selection. Mitchells & Butlers wine buyer Henry Boyes said: “We realised we could help make dining more enjoyable by reducing the anxiety around choosing a wine. After discussions with various wine producers around the world, it became clear Gabb Family Vineyards was the perfect partner.”

 

 

 

Cambridge-based Fitzbillies opens second site in city: Cambridge-based Fitzbillies, which is renowned for its sticky Chelsea buns, has opened its second site in the city. The company has opened the 859 square foot outlet in Bridge Street having previously agreed a ten-year lease with landlord St John’s College. Husband and wife team Tim Hayward and Alison Wright took over the original Fitzbillies in Trumpington Street after it closed in 2011. Dubbed a Cambridge institution, its famous Chelsea buns have been made and sold at the premises since 1921. The new outlet offers a similar selection of food and drink to the original. Hayward told the Cambridge News: “One really good thing about the new place is we’ve got some incredibly talented chefs and bakers who I am sure are going to do great things. We thought a lot about what to call the new cafe. We were going to stick with Fitzbillies but then we decided on Fitzbillies Bridge Street. We know how much people in Cambridge love the original and, as a mark of respect, we went with a slight change.”

 

 

 

Bristol’s first board games cafe concept opens following successful crowdfunding campaign: Bristol’s first board games cafe concept has opened following a successful crowdfunding campaign. Steve Cownie, Richard Scarsbrook and Luke Neal have launched Chance & Counters in Christmas Steps. Earlier this year, the team exceeded its £10,000 target by raising £13,192 from 292 investors through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to get the venture off the ground. The cafe, believed to be the third of its kind in the UK, currently has 300 games with space for up to 1,000. As well as classics such as Monopoly and Cluedo, it stocks new games including Dominion, Alchemist and Survive. Non-members pay an entry fee to play any of the games while there are two levels of annual membership with reduced entry fees. The cafe seats 60 customers and the menu includes platters, paninis and baguettes as well as tea, coffee, beer and cider. Cownie told Bristol 24/7: “We always knew this would work in Bristol – it’s got the right atmosphere. People are up for spending more time with each other than in any other city I have ever known. The community here is fantastic.”

 

 

 

Las Iguanas holds awards night with a difference: Las Iguanas, the brand owned by Casual Dining Group, held an awards night with a difference. With 400 key suppliers and team members present from all Las Iguanas sites, guests were treated to “The Greatest Show on Earth” – an evening of entertainment, food, drink and, most importantly, recognising individual as well as group achievements during the past year. The circus-themed night abandoned the traditional three-course, sit-down meal, instead featuring flamboyant food stalls, fairground games, and more themed fun throughout the three foyers of the Birmingham Hippodrome. Highlights included the “test your strength”, “cork guns” and “hook a duck” stalls which proved a big hit. Key winners from the evening included Restaurant of the Year – Royal Festival Hall; Services to Las Iguanas – Des Byrth; Support Manager of the Year – Jordan Discombe; and Support Chef of the Year – David Gregory.

 

 

 

Strut & Cluck turkey restaurant concept to launch in Shoreditch in June: New turkey-focused restaurant concept Strut & Cluck will open in Shoreditch on Tuesday, 21 June, following a successful residency at Shoreditch House in November. The 75-cover restaurant in Commercial Street has been founded by husband and wife Amir and Limor Chen, and will offer dishes inspired by eastern Mediterranean home cooking, with free-range turkey meat served alongside seasonal ingredients. The restaurant will be divided into several spaces, including a central bar for 12 diners, and a private dining room for eight. Marinated for 24 hours in the family’s spice and herb blend, the turkeys are slow-cooked avoiding deep frying and saturated fats. Dishes will include charcoal-grilled drumstick with roasted white cabbage, tahini, pomegranate molasses and zhoug, and slow-roast thigh on a bed of caramelised red onions and sweet potatoes. Vegetarian options will include roasted halloumi with orange, beetroot, lambs lettuce and roasted walnuts. Desserts will also have an eastern Mediterranean twist, including Levant milk pudding and baked haroset and almond cake. Drinks will include a selection of cocktails and craft beers.

 

 

 

New noodle bar concept Tang opens in Bloomsbury: A new noodle bar concept has opened in Bloomsbury, London. Chen Ng has launched Tang within the St Giles Hotel in Great Russell Street. It serves organic soul-food with a concise menu of Asian-inspired noodle soups created by Ng, who has drawn on her Singaporean heritage. Tang is open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday, offering dishes to eat in or take away. The restaurant is reminiscent of the popular noodle joints found in cities across Asia, with diners ordering their chosen dishes directly from the counter before finding a seat. It is decorated with Chinese newsprint and an eclectic collection of framed foodie images and shelves filled with noodle bowls. Chen, who works in the open kitchen behind the bar, has put together a menu of soup-based noodles, each of which is dairy-free, and can be made gluten-free by choosing glass or rice noodles. The broth is lighter and less “creamy” than ramen, with more hints of Chinese herbs and spices. There is also a small selection of starters, while the short drinks list offers Beavertown beers, house wines and soft drinks.

 

 

 

London-based operator Epic Taverns acquires Devon pub for £850,000, second site: London-based pub operator Epic Taverns, led by Charlie and Tess Baker, is to start expansion after acquiring its second site. The company, which runs The George and Vulture in Shoreditch, has bought the Millbrook Inn in the Devon village of South Pool for £850,000. It has acquired the 16th century pub from Ian Dent and Diana Hunt through agents Bettesworths. The pub, which is on the edge of a creek leading to the Salcombe Estuary, includes a main bar with 37 covers, a top bar with 14 covers, a ground-floor beer cellar, and a large outdoor terrace. Matt Bettesworth, of Bettesworths, told the Plymouth Herald: “Charlie and Tess are not looking to change the style of the Millbrook Inn but simply enhance its strong reputation and solid business base. The Millbrook Inn is an iconic pub with an enviable location.”

 

 

 

Giggling Squid opens first Suffolk site in Bury St Edmunds: Thai restaurant business Giggling Squid has opened a venue in Bury St Edmunds, the company’s first site in Suffolk and 15th overall. The 130-cover restaurant in Abbeygate Street is the company’s largest to date and features 100-year-old reclaimed street lamps, an 18th century mirror, walls finished with hand-collected driftwood, and a bookcase with more than 2,000 books from a local Oxfam shop. Giggling Squid offers a selection of seafood, meat, curry and stir-fry dishes, with a Little Tapas menu for children. The company is owned by husband and wife Andrew and Pranee Laurillard, who opened their first Giggling Squid in Hove in 2009. The company’s other sites are in Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Henley-on-Thames, Reigate, Stratford-upon-Avon, Marlow, Horsham, Sevenoaks, Salisbury, Bristol, Guildford, Billericay and Esher, with advanced plans to open in Bath, Berkhamsted, Farnham, Norwich and Warwick. In February, Andy Laurillard said the company was committed to seeing Giggling Squid “reach its full potential of about 150 sites in the UK”.

 

 

 

McDonald’s in the US tweaks the McPick 2 value menu: McDonald’s in the US is tweaking its McPick 2 value menu to allow its local restaurant operators to choose some items to include based on what sells well in a particular region. The new promotion, to be unveiled this week, will include three classic menu items and up to three that local franchisees can choose themselves. Customers ordering the deal can select any two items from the list. Customers will be offered a choice of the Big Mac, ten-piece Chicken McNuggets and Filet-O-Fish on the national menu. That omits the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, which had been offered on the national McPick 2 deal menu since late February. That sandwich is included in some local deals, though. McDonald’s said Chicago and Northwest Indiana franchisees are adding large fries to the deal, while others are experimenting with adding all-day breakfast items. Franchisees have already been experimenting with different combinations and even different prices since McPick 2 was launched earlier this year as a replacement for the popular and long-standing Dollar Menu, which fell out of favour because of rising food costs. The McPick 2 started out as a two-for-$2 deal in January, offering the choice of a double cheeseburger, small fries, a McChicken, or mozzarella sticks. It moved up in price in late February, to two for $5, featuring the Big Mac, ten-piece Chicken McNuggets, Filet-O-Fish and Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

 

 

 

Crab concept Claw to launch pop-up in D&D London’s Skylon restaurant: Street food specialist Claw, famed for its crab dishes, will operate a pop-up restaurant within D&D London’s Skylon restaurant in the Southbank Centre from Wednesday, 1 June until Tuesday, 30 August. Claw’s seafood treats will be added to Skylon’s menu alongside executive chef Tom Cook’s signature dishes. Fabian Clark set up Claw in January 2015 on a mission to put British crab back on the menu. He works directly with fishermen from Start Bay, Devon. Claw won Virgin’s “foodpreneur of the year” award in 2015. Dishes will include sea bream carpaccio, crab croquette fondue, and black sesame crayfish toast. Those popping in simply for a drink can try coconut popcorn shrimp alongside Skylon’s latest floral cocktails. The collaboration between Skylon and Claw was born from a “shared passion for sustainably sourced, local ingredients”. The Claw menu will be available at Skylon for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

 

 

 

Living Ventures to open The Alchemist venue in Cheshire village, first ‘suburban’ site: Living Ventures will open its first branch of The Alchemist cocktail bar and restaurant at a “suburban” site – in the village of Alderley Edge, Cheshire. The new venue is on the site of the company’s Blackhouse-branded The Grill on the Edge, which will close on Tuesday, 31 May for an extensive refurbishment to give it The Alchemist look “that will immediately offer a feeling of familiarity”. The Alchemist managing director Simon Potts said: “We’re delighted to be creating a suburban vision of The Alchemist and feel Alderley Edge, a village we’ve known and loved at Living Ventures for many years, will be the perfect place to continue our exciting expansion plans. We believe the casual all-day restaurant element of the business will be a perfect fit for the village and we look forward to welcoming guests later this summer.” Alderley Edge is 15 miles south of Manchester, with a population of 4,638. Living Ventures launched the first Alchemist in Manchester’s Spinningfields more than five years ago. The stand-alone business under Living Ventures’ umbrella operates five UK sites – two in Manchester, two in Leeds and one in London, with a turnover of £11m in the last financial year. Its Liverpool site is set to open in June, with further openings planned for Birmingham and Newcastle.