Bodean’s signs with Feed It Back: American barbecue diner-deli brand Bodean’s has signed up with Feed It Back, the EPOS-linked guest feedback service. Feed It Back is the only guest feedback system that integrates in real time with Comtrex EPOS system, among others, enabling feedback questions to be personalised to the guest’s visit. Bodean’s operations manager Bjorn Berkemeijer told Propel: “We are always working to refine our offering to make it more relevant to our guests and we want to understand guest preferences by age, gender, spend, group size and other factors. We also want to ask guests for their opinions on our new menu ideas and Feed It Back is perfect for this. We will invite guests to access Feed It Back via our website, invite our loyal customers to access Feed It Back via social channels and make use of Feed It Back’s tablet app with guests at menu launches and other events.” Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia added: “Bodean’s wants to make the best possible use of data to optimise the guest experience and make its brand stand out in a crowded market. Our job is to put that data at their fingertips and our real-time EPOS link makes us uniquely placed to do that.”
London-based startup helping consumers find best food and drink offers in real time launches £250,000 crowdfunding campaign: A London-based startup that helps consumers find the best food and drink offers in their area in real time has launched a £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand. The startup, founded by Giuseppe Uslenghi and Nikolas Kairinos, is offering a 20% stake in return for the investment. Stinjee operates in more than 30 countries, helping restaurants and bars fill empty tables by “actively managing and promoting customisable offer campaigns to attract nearby customers”. It is raising the funds through the Angel Investment Network platform, which connects startups with angel investors, in a bid to increase the number of venues using Stinjee, particularly in the UK and Italy, and to develop the app. The pitch states: “We aim to become the international digital aggregator for merchants in the food and drink space, for discount vouchers, pre-paid coupons, delivery, and reservations. The simplicity and ease of use for customers and users are at the core of our vision – launch the web or mobile app and see special deal listings in your immediate vicinity. Stinjee is currently a revenue-share partner of Groupon (global e-commerce company), Hungry House and Foodora (food delivery companies), and Quandoo (restaurant reservations company). Right now, Stinjee brings more than 60,000 food and drink specials from more than 50,000 restaurants in more than 30 countries. By the end of 2020, we target in our direct markets (UK and Italy) 10,000 stores, or about 4% of total, publishing their specials on the app and 3,800 stores, or about 2%, paying subscription and other fees.” The startup expects to start making a profit in 2019 with turnover of £2,140,000, rising the following year to £4,100,000 with profit of £880,000.
Banana Tree opens Chelmsford restaurant for ninth site: South east Asian restaurant group Banana Tree has opened a site in Chelmsford, Essex, for its ninth venue. The company, founded by William Chow, has opened the restaurant at the High Chelmer shopping centre. Banana Tree specialises in food from across the Indochina region and offers pan-Asian dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore alongside an extensive Oriental cocktail menu. Chow told Essex Live: “We were attracted to a place like Chelmsford because it’s a fun city and people like to go out there. However, it does not necessarily have a brilliant reputation for pan-Asian cuisine. There is a distinct lack of ethnic food here and we are excited to bring our food to this vibrant city.” High Chelmer centre manager Mick McDonagh added: “Banana Tree is a really exciting and growing restaurant brand and I’m pleased we’ve been able to help bring them to the people of this great city.” Chow launched Banana Tree 21 years ago in London and as well as sites in the capital it also has restaurants in Milton Keynes and Oxford.
Tim Hortons lodges plans to add to Scottish portfolio with Linwood site: Tim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, has lodged plans to add to its Scottish estate with a site in Linwood, Renfrewshire. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of Tim Hortons, has applied to Renfrewshire Council to build the venue at the former Rootes car factory in Linwood Road. SK Group plans to invest £700,000 in the site, which would create 25 jobs. The application stated: “The attraction of a new brand in the UK and across Europe to Renfrewshire will contribute to promoting Renfrewshire as a key location for inward investment. The first UK Tim Hortons restaurant opened in Argyle Street, Glasgow, in early June with a second due to open at the city’s Silverburn shopping centre. The company has further sites in Scotland lined up – at a retail park on the outskirts of Ayr and a drive-thru in Stenhousemuir. Earlier this month, Tim Hortons revealed the second phase of its UK roll-out plans as it prepares to open sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year. The company will be opening sites in Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast during the coming months, with plans for a minimum of 100 venues in total. Tim Hortons was founded in 1964 by its namesake, a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create a space where “everyone would feel at home”.
Smashburger to open Birmingham site next week: Better burger brand Smashburger is to open a site in Birmingham next week, its fifth UK restaurant in total. The venue will open on Thursday, 5 October at Gallagher Retail Park in Wednesbury, just off the M6 on the outskirts of the city and close to IKEA. The 120-cover restaurant will also have seating for 28 people outside and feature an industrial look with exposed brick, hanging pendant lights and urban typography describing the heritage story behind the brand. Smashburger, one of the fastest-growing restaurant concepts in the US, uses 100% British beef at its UK sites, which is hand-formed into a meatball and smashed on to a hot buttered grill, searing in juices and flavour. The company is also set to open a site in Glasgow city centre site in October, with a further Scottish launch lined up for Dunfermline. Smashburger’s other UK sites are in Bath, Milton Keynes, Brighton and Newcastle. In May, the group said it planned to reach 35 restaurants in the UK by the end of 2020. Smashburger was founded by Tom Ryan in Denver in 2007. The brand now operates more than 370 sites in ten countries.
Five Guys opens Wandsworth site: Better burger brand Five Guys has opened a site in Wandsworth, south west London. The company has opened the restaurant at the Southside shopping centre. Five Guys, which was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family, has 73 sites in the UK. It opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013, while locations listed as “coming soon” on its website include Cheltenham, Oxford and South Kensington. It has also secured a site at the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London.
Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar Taka launches in Mayfair: Restaurateur Andrey Datsenko and his sister Anastasia have brought their Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar concept Taka to Mayfair. The venue has opened in Shepherd Market taking inspiration from the Datsenko’s debut restaurant in Tokyo of the same name. Taka offers an “authentic Japanese dining experience in a contemporary setting”. The venue is set over two floors, with the 28-cover restaurant on the ground floor offering a range of Japanese signature dishes. An illuminated sign at the bottom of the stairs reads “for the sake of the saké” and leads to a lower ground-floor bar. The centrepiece is a bespoke illustration of a flowering tree created in Japanese newspaper, while there is a range of saké, Japanese liquor and whiskey cocktails on offer. The decor features walnut and bespoke oak on the ceiling, weathered brick walls, and a built-in leather and oak bench mixed with larger sharing tables.
Thwaites back on track for £6m Beverley coaching inn launch: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has said work is back on track at its much-delayed £6m venue in Beverley, East Yorkshire. The Beverley Arms was set to reopen in August after closing the year before when the hotel went out of business. However, following a number of planning delays workmen have now caught up on work to transform the venue into a coaching inn that will reopen in April. Work has included demolition of an ugly 1960s block at the rear of the hotel to pave way for a 40-bedroom extension. The scheme is for 40 high-quality bedrooms, a restaurant and bar, alongside private dining and meeting rooms. Thwaites estates director John Draper told the Hull Daily Mail: “The project is progressing well and anyone going past will have noticed our contractors hard at work. The Beverley Arms is a stunning building with so much potential. We have been keen to strip out anything from the 1960s and restore Georgian character wherever possible. That has included bringing some historic features back to their former glory. Everything has been done with quality in mind and we want guests to see that from the minute they walk in. We are still on track for opening in 2018.”
Escape Room Guys eyes Derby expansion: A Derby-based escape room business plans to expand its footprint in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. The Escape Room Guys occupies the first floor of 1-5 Iron Gate, which dates to the 1860s, and has submitted plans to Derby City Council to transform the remaining space from offices into an escape room venue. The Escape Room Guys currently operates one room for a game in which participants “break into the office of a chief executive to reveal the history and secrets of a company with a scandalous past”, Insider Media reports. A statement filed with the plan reads: “We’re only renting half the current floor space but have agreed terms to expand and take on the next area providing planning permission is approved. The build will continue the style already implemented in the changes made to the currently occupied side of 1-5 Iron Gate. We propose to update the layout to give a modern vibe. All the changes we propose to make are internal and won’t effect the outside aesthetics of the building.” Derby City Council is expected to make a final decision on the application before the end of the year.
Lincolnshire-based operators open second site after acquiring former Dexters restaurant: Lincolnshire-based operators Rebecca and Craig Robinson have opened their second site after acquiring the lease of a former Dexters restaurant. The Robinsons have launched the Scarlet Red Alehouse and Kitchen following a £130,000 investment in the Lincoln city centre site. It offers home-cooked food, six hand-pulled ales, lager and a variety of ciders. Rebecca Robinson told The Lincolnite: “We’re trying to keep the standard pub mentality and offer home-cooked food at reasonable prices, but still offering good quality.” The Robinsons also manage the Lincoln Green pub in North Hykeham. Fine Leisure closed its Dexters restaurant in Lincoln in February.
Merlin Entertainments earmarks hotel as part of Warwick Castle master plan: Merlin Entertainments has drawn up a master plan for the future of Warwick Castle, which includes building a hotel. The company has earmarked a location close to the new Knights Village for the 60 to 80-bedroom hotel and said a decision on whether the plan would progress would be made within the next year. The hotel is one of a series of projects in the master plan, which sets out how the castle wants to develop during the next five to ten years. Others ideas include a new glass-fronted cafe/restaurant on what is known as The Long Walk, close to where falconry displays are held. Two cottages at the original entrance in Banbury Road, known as Porters Lodge, could be refurbished and rented to visitors to the castle and town, while rooms in Guy’s Tower could also be converted into bedrooms to replicate the two popular luxury overnight stay suites in Caesar’s Tower. Merlin Entertainments divisional director Nick Blofeld told the Stratford Herald: “The hotel is the more contentious part of the master plan but everything in there are ‘aims’ and some of them might not happen. Merlin wants its sites to be resorts, it makes no secret about that, and we would like to add at least 40 bedrooms here.”
Ei Group to roll-out Zonal Aztec EPOS software to further 30 managed pubs: Ei Group, formerly Enterprise Inns, is further rolling out Zonal’s Aztec EPOS software in its managed estate that will see up to 30 more pubs active by the end of the year. The move comes as Ei Group awarded the hospitality management solutions company a service-led accolade at its annual suppliers conference, with Zonal account manager David Williams presented with an engraved tankard. The awards are based on Ei Group’s five core values – service-led, respect, innovative, collaborative, and commercial. Head of programme delivery Richard Fisher said: “The Zonal team is a worthy winner of the service-led award. It shares the group’s service mind-set and sees things through our customers’ eyes. Zonal shares our high standards and works hard to achieve and exceed them.” Williams added: “At Zonal we pride ourselves on delivering the highest service standards and do our very best to exceed our customers’ expectations. We are delighted to have our efforts formally recognised by Ei Group and look forward to continuing to deliver outstanding products and service.”
Former NME journalist to start expansion of craft ale bar and street food concept Overdraft: Amrik Rai, a former journalist at the New Musical Express and manager of 1980s cult band Cabaret Voltaire, is to start expansion of his craft ale bar and street food concept Overdraft. Rai opened his debut site with partner Teresa Zammit in Southampton in 2015. Now he is set to open a second venue in Hampshire, this time in Jewry Street, Winchester, at a site that formerly housed Ruby Reds Burger Shack. Overdraft Winchester is due to open on Friday (30 September) offering a rotating selection of 30 craft beers, real ale poured straight from the cask, rustic cider, and a range of locally sourced botanic spirits, mixers and organic soft drinks. The food menu will feature tacos filled with locally sourced meat, seafood and vegetarian fillings. Rai and Zammit have invested £200,000 in the venue and signed a rolling lease. Rai told the Hampshire Chronicle: “We are not a micro-pub – we have street food, music and events as well as 38 different beers. The atmosphere is different to pubs – at (our Southampton site) about 40% of customers are women.”
South African winery invests in Aberdeen-based brewer Fierce Beer to double brewing capacity: Aberdeen-based Fierce Beer has secured £400,000 investment from South African winery Southern Cross Beverages (SCB) to double its brewing capacity. SCB has taken a 20% stake in Fierce in return. The deal is the company’s first UK investment. Fierce Beer was founded in 2015 by former oil industry workers Dave Grant and David McHardy, who started out making home-brewing kits before moving into a dedicated brewery at Kirkhill Industrial Estate in May 2016. Companies House records show SCB was incorporated in London on 22 August. It was launched by US investor John Murphy and South Africans Derek Szabo and Russell Boltman, who are also listed as directors in Devil’s Peak Brewery, which was incorporated in London in July. Fierce said the investment would allow it to double brewing capacity to 600,000 litres per year, with plans to consolidate three sites in a new 13,000 square foot premises. Aberdeen City Council is helping Fierce to find a new premises and will purchase a property to lease back to the company. Fierce said the investment would also fund new equipment, while it plans to open a taproom and bottle shop at the site. Grant told Insider: “We are excited to be able to plan ahead for future growth and expansion to meet demand for our beers, and also move towards in-house canning.” An SBC spokesperson added: “We look forward to the journey with Fierce. What the team has created in such a short space of time is amazing.”
The Strand’s historic India Club ‘under threat’ from hotel plans: The Strand’s historic India Club is “under threat” from plans to refurbish the venue to make way for an upmarket hotel. Marston Properties, which owns 143 and 145 the Strand, has submitted plans to Westminster Council that include replacing the India Club’s first-floor canteen-style restaurant and lounge bar with en-suite hotel rooms. India Club director Yadgar Marker told the Evening Standard: “I could have easily modernised (the club) but it has such a strong heritage. The ambience is still the same, the furniture is still the same. People feel as if they are in Mumbai or Calcutta.” Celebrity fans include writer Will Self, who described the club as “beautifully old-fashioned”. A petition to ensure the future of the India Club has gathered more than 1,000 signatures. A Marston Properties spokesman said the submission was “just one explorative option” and “certainly not a notice whatsoever of our intention and must not be interpreted as such”.
Nottingham-based pub operator takes on second site in city: Nottingham-based pub operator Kev Allen has taken on his second site in the city. Allen, who currently runs The Hop Merchant in Upper Parliament Street, has acquired The Gatehouse, in Toll House Hill. It will reopen on Monday, 1 November as the Toll Bar serving real ale, gin, craft beer and coffee as well as food, including a selection of Pieminister pies. Allen told the Nottingham Post: “We’re taking it in a completely different direction. It won’t be a party pub – we want it to be a proper pub. There will be background music and maybe some live music, an acoustic night or something towards the weekend.”
Holkham Estate inks deal to supply majority of Marston’s grain: Holkham Estate in Norfolk has signed a deal to supply grain for the majority of Marston’s Brewery’s Burton malt. Marston’s head brewer Patrick McGinty told the Eastern Daily Press: “Our whole focus is built around ‘From Burton With Love’ and what better way to celebrate this than taking the grain from the heart of crop agriculture to the heart of Burton brewing.” Holkham farm manager James Beamish added: “The soil and climate here are ideal for growing superlative malting barley and we are confident our product fits well with Marston’s values for provenance and quality.” The agreement is set to extend past the 2019 harvest