Steve Easterbrook – McDonald’s in the UK having ‘great success’ with pub-style burger, delivery very promising: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook has hailed the success of the company’s Signature range of burgers in the UK. He said: “The UK is having great success in their modernised restaurants with their version of Signature beef, inspired by the English pub burgers with thick, juicy beef and beechwood-smoked bacon, piled high with freshly-prepared toppings on a brioche-style bun.” Of delivery progress, he stated: “We made significant progress with expanding delivery of scale throughout our markets. Over the course of the past nine months, we’ve introduced delivery in more than 5,000 restaurants across 20 countries. Along with the 3,500 restaurants in existing delivery markets across Asia and the Middle East, we now offer delivery in more than 20% of McDonald’s restaurants around the world. We continue to improve the model as we scale, remaining on track to offer delivery in 10,000 total restaurants by the end of the year. We’re taking learnings from our top-performing delivery markets and spreading the best approaches around the world. We remain confident delivery will be a powerful accelerator for our business as we look at markets where it’s gaining traction. We’re certainly seeing it appeal to the younger consumer. We’re seeing some great results around college towns. As I say, from a daypart perspective, we see it skew slightly later, so into evenings and overnights. There tends to be more group orders, so we see the average transaction value somewhere between 1.5 to two times a typical average transaction value in a restaurant.”

Authentic Alehouses extends crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £3.5m: Leeds-based Authentic Alehouses, led by Burning Night Group boss Allan Harper, has extended its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker having raised more than £3.5m. The company launched its funding bid to revive the fortunes of currently underperforming pubs by attracting a new generation of customers with a menu of “quality artisan food and drink, updated decor and a variety of entertainment”. Authentic Alehouses is aiming to raise £5m on the platform, offering investors a 6.5% per annum interest rate through a peer-to-peer loan. Backers are also given the potential to earn income tax-free by investing via Crowdstacker’s Innovative Finance ISA. Authentic Alehouses launched the campaign in July and has so far raised £3,596,042. The next closing is on Thursday, 23 November. Authentic Alehouses plans to use the capital to refurbish sites in prime locations, streamline and modernise their operation to cut down on wastage, and introduce higher quality food, a broader range of new drinks and more family-orientated entertainment.

Manchester-based The Liars Club Group plans UK expansion following £700,000 investment: Manchester-based The Liars Club Group is planning to expand outside of the city and across the UK after receiving a £700,000 investment. The company has secured a loan from Barclays to help expand its New York-style pizza and cocktail bar Crazy Pedro’s. The rapid expansion plan to open multiple Crazy Pedro’s across the UK will start in Liverpool at the beginning of November. The new venue will open in Parr Street, comprising two floors and a sun terrace. The £700,000 loan follows a previous £300,000 loan from Barclays. The Liars Club Group will also open its first restaurant-focused operation in Manchester at the end of this month. The Bay Horse Tavern, located in Thomas Street, will serve small plates of British dishes, with the drinks offering focused around locally made beers and gins. The Liars Club Group director Ross Mackenzie said: “This funding from Barclays is instrumental in ensuring The Liars Club Group continues to grow, not just here in Manchester, but across the UK. We have great established brands that we feel we can replicate in other cities and look forward to rolling out our expansion plan over the next few years.” Barclays relationship director Stuart Stocks added: “This is a great business. With a strong management team, it is now well-placed in the sector to continue to achieve significant growth.” The Liars Club Group portfolio consists of Cane and Grain in Thomas Street, Crazy Pedro’s in Bridge Street, along with a second Crazy Pedro’s site underneath Afflecks Palace, and its original bar The Liars Club, which opened in 2011.

Wok&Go founder launches new restaurant concept Jack Burrito, further two sites lined up: The founder of UK noodle bar brand Wok&Go has launched a new restaurant concept serving modern twists on jacket potatoes and burritos. Des Pheby, who launched Wok&Go in Chester, has opened Jack Burrito in the city’s Northgate Street and has another two sites lined up. The quick-service restaurant aims to “propel the humble spud into the 21st century” with fillings inspired by Latin flavours, alternatively accompanied with sweet potatoes or burritos. The menu includes Ring O Fire, featuring fiery hot pulled beef, jalapenos and avocado, as well as The Spaniard, with chorizo, semi-dried tomato, three beans and smoky chipotle mayo. A range of wine and beer is on offer alongside specially selected gins, rums, tequilas and handcrafted cocktails. A second Jack Burrito is already earmarked for Leeds city centre with a third site planned near Aston University in Birmingham. Pheby said: “We’re excited to be opening our new restaurant in Northgate Street. Our menu is going to bring the classic jacket potato up to date and we can’t wait for guests to visit us and try it for themselves. Jack Burrito is just a few doors down from where we opened the first Wok & Go nearly ten years ago. We’ve got big plans for this new concept and we’re hoping it will be just as popular as Wok&Go has proven to be.” Wok&Go now has 24 stores across the UK. Owned by the PFC Group, the chain is growing rapidly, with a further ten stores planned over the next 12 months.

Cott Beverages reports profits almost halve as turnover falls: Soft drinks company Cott Beverages has reported its profits have almost halved after seeing a fall in turnover. The company saw turnover fall to £241,364,000 for the year ending 31 December 2016 compared with £265,994,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit dropped to £18,923,000 compared with £37,639,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross margin increased to 19.3% compared with 18.0% the year before primarily due to lower logistics costs. Cott said the decline in revenue was as a result of the “continued challenging market environment” and the “loss of a major retail customer contract in the second quarter of 2016”. Earlier this year, Cott Corporation agreed to sell Cott Beverages, which has its UK head office in Derbyshire, to Refresco in a deal worth $1.2bn (£923.1m). The deal had not been completed at the time the accounts were filed. A statement with the accounts said: “During the year the overall soft drinks market showed a slight increase in both volume and value. Own label soft drinks showed a slight increase in volume and a small decline in value, as strong growth in the water category offset declines in the traditional carbonated soft drinks and sports and energy categories. The company has sought to continue to protect its core retail and sports and energy business, develop its own brand portfolio, broaden its channel presence and also its co-packing business.” In October 2016, Cott Beverages bought counterpart Calypso Soft Drinks while in June 2017 the manufacturing facility at Bondgate in Pontefract was sold for £6.5m and leased back for a term of 27 years, generating a gain of £3.6m.

Social media channel Twisted to launch delivery-only restaurant: Social media channel Twisted, which is owned by Jungle Creations, is to launch a delivery-only restaurant. Twisted was founded in March 2016 and has so far amassed a following of nearly eight million on Facebook and Instagram, with its videos achieving more than 200 million global views per month. It is known for its recipe videos that are filmed from a bird’s eye perspective and posted on its social channels. Now it is launching delivery-only restaurant Twisted London. The menu will be revealed shortly but will feature “the same high quality ingredients within new and original dishes, including a vegan offering, that reflect the adventurous spirit of Twisted”. Jungle Creations founder and chief executive Jamie Bolding will reveal more about the venture during his talk at London Food Tech Week on Thursday, 2 November, The Future is Social. He said: “Twisted has been an incredible success since its launch just over a year ago. There’s still a huge appetite for the online recipe videos so we won’t be slowing down there but we really want to expand the Twisted brand to real-life experiences. Twisted London is a natural extension of our offering and provides our followers with the best user experience imaginable. Watch the video, click order, and the meal arrives piping hot to your door within 30 minutes. We are extremely excited about this project and have built a standalone experienced team to run the operation.”

Glendola Leisure to open second Alston Bar & Beef this week: Glendola Leisure, led by Alex Salussolia, will open its second Alston Bar & Beef this week, occupying a “hidden speakeasy” beneath the Corn Exchange in Manchester. The venue will serve more than 60 kinds of gin, including its own cold compound blends made from botanicals foraged around Manchester. They will be served alongside Tweed Valley beef inside the 160-cover restaurant, which occupies the basement of the grade II-listed building. The subterranean space has been brightened up with a marble bar and table tops and white and black honeycomb-tiled floors. General manager Riki Bennett said: “The quality of the steak is evident and the price reflects that but if you don’t want to spend a fortune you don’t have to. We want it to be a really fun place, we don’t want it to be too stuffy or too formal.” Through a velvet curtain, a staircase leads down to a hidden bar, named 1837 after the year the original Corn Exchange that stood on the site was built. Gins from around the world will be served both here and in the restaurant’s main bar, along with a seasonally changing selection of up to ten cold compound gins made in-house by the Alston team. The site opens on Friday (27 October). The first Alston Bar & Beef opened in Glasgow in 2014.

Vegan artisan food stall hits £150,000 crowdfunding target to open permanent site in central London: Vegan artisan food stall Pomodoro e Basilico has hit its £150,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open London’s first Italian, vegan deli-bistro. The concept, founded by self-taught vegan chef Sara Mittersteiner, is offering a 20% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 246 investors have pledged £158,130 and the campaign is now “overfunding” with 24 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £25,000. The pitch states: “At the heart of our business is a popular vegan deli-bistro, born with the aim to fill a gap in the market for great, Italian-inspired, vegan delis. It’s now time to open our first fixed premises in the heart of London. Previously trading as a sole trader, Pomodoro e Basilico has demonstrated multiple revenue streams, including market stall sales, supper clubs, cooking classes and events, online and wholesale orders, festivals (UK and US) and recipe development. Now a limited company, the addition of a bricks-and-mortar location will provide the opportunity for in-shop sales of food, in-house events and office catering and expansion of our popular online and wholesale revenue streams. This investment will be used to secure a location in central London, including refitting costs, salaries, marketing, equipment, furnishings, insurance, accounting services and six months’ working capital. We have a four to six-year exit strategy and anticipate investors could make a return on investment via share repurchase in future funding rounds or in secondary markets and/or mergers and acquisitions or friendly sale.”

US-style restaurant Harvey’s New York Bar and Grill secures fourth site as it continues North Wales expansion: US-style restaurant Harvey’s New York Bar and Grill has secured its fourth site, in Pwllheli, as it continues its expansion in North Wales. The company is opening the venue in Yr Ala on the site of the former Conservative Club, creating up to 30 jobs. The new site will be a restaurant similar to its offer in Llandudno. It also has drive-thru sites in Rhuddlan and Bangor. Director Craig Holmes told the Daily Post: “We have bought the former Conservative Club in Pwllheli. We will be speaking to planners now about some cosmetic changes to the site with the hope to get work under way before Christmas. This will be a restaurant site like Llandudno rather than a drive-thru. The chain is doing well at its current locations and we think this will work in Pwllheli. This is part of our plan to keep expanding the chain in North Wales.”

Benugo extends John Lewis partnership with Oxford opening: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has extended its partnership with John Lewis by opening a cafe in its department store in Oxford. Benugo has launched the site on the ground floor of the new £18m store at the Westgate Centre. It is Benugo’s ninth site inside a John Lewis store. The new cafe offers breakfast, lunch and daily specials, including salads and oven-baked dishes, as well as toasted sandwiches. There is also a range of cakes and scones, alongside speciality tea and coffee. Benugo is part of WSH, a holding company made up of six trading brands in the food and hospitality sector. Earlier this month, Benugo reported sales had moved through the £100m barrier as turnover rose 13% to £100,100,000 in the year to 31 December 2016.

Gravity hires Savills to help with European expansion: Indoor trampoline park operator Gravity has instructed Savills to lead its expansion into Europe, with plans to open sites in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Ireland and Poland as well as other targeted European countries. Gravity is seeking potential sites of between 15,000 square feet (1,394 square metres) and 30,000 square feet (2,787 square metres) in large-scale leisure schemes, shopping centres and retail parks. It is focused on all major markets, particularly those in prime urban areas and regional shopping and leisure venues. Sites are required to have a minimum eaves height of 5.2 metres for at least 12,000 square feet (1,115 square metres) of the internal floor space. The expansion comes with the UK-based chain having established six venues to date including Xscape, Yorkshire; St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, Hull; The Soar, Glasgow; and Edinburgh Fountain Park. A further two are in development and due to open before the end of 2017 at Bluewater, Kent; and Xscape, Milton Keynes; while more UK sites will follow in 2018. All current locations are within high footfall retail and leisure schemes in the UK. Harvey Jenkinson, chief executive of Gravity, said: “Our property strategy has been a key part of our success to date. We look to partner with the landlords and developers of major retail and leisure schemes and venues, and see the Gravity offer as an integral part of the overall leisure mix. This is in contrast to the cost-focused, standalone approach adopted by many local or less brand focused operators.”

Greek street food restaurant The Athenian opens third London site: Greek street food restaurant The Athenian has opened its third site in London. The company has opened the new venue at the White City development in Wood Lane. There are several new items on the menu with the gyros – the Greek version of a kebab – given the burger treatment. The gyros burger features shavings of marinated pork or chicken with condiments and vegetables served on brioche with sweet potato or oregano fries. Other new offerings include courgette fritters and cheese croquettes. Diners are also able to experience items from its Elephant & Castle and Shoreditch venues such as grilled souvlakis with meat and halloumi options, mezze dips including tzatziki and melitzanosalata, salads, and gyros, reports Hot Dinners. The Athenian, which also has a site in Bristol, is one of the four new restaurants at the White City development with Butterscotch Bakery, which is led by Bea Vo, formerly of Bea’s of Bloomsbury; New York-style Pizza Street; and Azzurri Group-owned Coca di Mama joining the line-up.

Scottish chef and restaurateur Tony Singh creates food bank recipes: Scottish chef and restaurateur Tony Singh has created three bespoke recipes for people, using food banks in Edinburgh. Singh, who has had stints at restaurants such as the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and Skibo Castle in the Highlands, has created spiced neep soup, cheese cookies and bread soup – reflecting his style of using local Scottish produce combined with fusion influences from around the world. He told the Edinburgh News: “I wanted to create something achievable people without a cooking background or were not taught could cook without having to have fancy equipment and a set of pots and knives. People get a lot of good produce from food banks such as pasta, flour and pulses but I was showing them how easy it is to add a little bit of spice to bring some glamour and colour to a simple meal.” The project is part of a partnership with Hilton Hotels to tackle food poverty as part of its Global Week of Service.

Historic Dartmoor hotel sells from guide price of £1.5m: A historic Dartmoor hotel visited by Agatha Christie has been sold from a guide price of £1.5m. Hieronymus Gruff has sold the Moorland Hotel near Haytor Rocks to a private individual through agents Savills. The hotel has 34 en-suite bedrooms and also features the Tinpickle & Rhum cafe brasserie as well as a bar, restaurant and function room. A two-bedroom owner’s flat is also located on the site. Dating to 1887, Moorland Hotel was built for tourists visiting Haytor Rocks and in 1916 was visited by Agatha Christie for two weeks as she wrote her first novel. James Greenslade, associate at Savills, said: “We are delighted to have secured a new owner for the Moorland Hotel. Its location and potential generated significant interest when brought to market.”

Patisserie Valerie opens fifth Glasgow site as it continues Debenhams partnership: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened its fifth Glasgow site as it continues its Debenhams partnership. The company has opened a concession within the department store in Argyle Street, creating about 20 jobs. The new venue is the brand’s next step in its expansion strategy to open 20 new stores annually. The cafe offers the brand’s patisserie and cake range, with items hand-made on-site. Chief executive Paul May said: “We’re pleased to open our newest store in Glasgow, which sees the continuance of our partnership with Debenhams.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has more than 150 sites across the UK and Ireland.

Bill’s opens site at Rushden Lakes development: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has opened a site at the new Rushden Lakes development in Northamptonshire. The company has opened the venue on the boardwalk at the retail and leisure complex. It has capacity for 111 people inside with outside seating for a further 74 diners, reports the Northants Telegraph. Bill’s joins other restaurant brands at Rushden Lakes including Tasty-owned Wildwood and Foodco-owned international cafe Jamaica Blue. Other restaurants due to open in the future include Wagamama and PizzaExpress. Bill’s has more than 80 restaurants around the UK. Founder Bill Collison opened the first site in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

Wahaca co-founder shortlisted for exemplary women in business award: Thomasina Miers, the co-founder of Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca, has been shortlisted for the entrepreneurial spirit accolade in the second annual Variety Catherine Awards, which honour exemplary women in business. Miers, who launched Wahaca with Mark Selby in 2005 having previously won the BBC show MasterChef, is up against A Very Good Company director Natalie Campbell, Essentia Analytics founder and chief executive Clare Flynn Levy, and Slapp founder and chief executive Jamila Robertson in the category. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on Tuesday, 21 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The Variety Catherine Awards showcase and celebrate inspiring women in the UK who have excelled in their respective industries. All money raised from the awards will help Variety improve the lives of children and young people throughout the UK who are disabled or disadvantaged. Wahaca has 24 sites in the UK and is set to open a restaurant in Birmingham.

Former Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes chef opens tapas restaurant in Belfast: A chef who has worked with Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes has opened a tapas restaurant in Belfast. Jonny Elliott has launched Edo, which is Latin for “I eat”, in Upper Queen Street. The 58-seat venue has a Bertha oven, which allows chefs to cook with apple and pear wood to give dishes a “distinctive flavour”. Elliott told the Belfast Telegraph: “I’ve worked all over Europe and in London with Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes, which was very stressful. I also ran the kitchen on board a Russian billionaire’s Mediterranean yacht. I would go ashore to the markets and pick up the freshest stuff around the Mediterranean and I wanted to bring that to Belfast. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have the climate, we can still enjoy the food and the freedom of tapas dining.”