Winchester-based pizzeria Pi launches £500,000 crowdfunding campaign for London expansion, Kevin Bacon to advise board: Winchester-based pizzeria Pi is launching a £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck as it looks to expand to London. The company, founded by Rosie Whaley, is offering a 30% equity stake in return for the investment. In the year to 30 April 2017 the business, which has secured its second site in the Battersea area, achieved sales of £415,000 and an operating profit of more than £27,000. It is targeting three London sites by 2020 opening at the rate of one a year. The Pi format is based on 20-inch sharing pizzas with customers able to choose up to three flavour combinations. Everything is freshly made on-site, with the pizza made from Pi’s 72-hour fermented dough. The company is targeting sites of 50 to 70 covers that require circa £100,000 to fit-out in addition to lease premiums. Whaley, who previously worked in Florence for a leading pizzeria, said Pi was well placed to compete alongside the new breed of pizzerias in the £2bn per annum UK pizza restaurant sector and capitalise on growing consumer demand for more artisan offerings. She added: “We are so proud of what we have achieved over the past two-and-a-half years. We believe we have created a concept that is unique in today’s market. We think it is an ideal format to take to London. Diners are very keen on pizza but there is clearly a move towards innovative, artisan offerings, as opposed to the more sterile formats of the high-street chains.” Frankie & Benny’s co-founder and former Jamie Oliver International managing director Kevin Bacon will advise the board on site selection, while Kim Hayward, senior partner at BDO and previously a partner with Ernst & Young, will join the board as a non-executive director in July. The £500,000 is offered to investors in two strips – £250,000 of EIS-qualifying equity and a secured loan of £250,000 paying interest of 8% per annum. The equity strip offers investors the prospect of 8.3 times money return after the benefit of 30% initial income tax relief. Growthdeck head of investment Gary Robins said: “Rosie’s created a great concept with Pi and the business has made impressive achievements in a short space of time. We expect the Pi investment to complete in July.” Pi will host a “meet the management” lunch in Islington on Tuesday (4 July). Email for more details.

Welcome Break strengthens Chopstix partnership by doubling number of restaurants to six: Motorway services operator Welcome Break is to strengthen its partnership with noodle brand Chopstix as it doubles the number of restaurants at its sites to six. Welcome Break will open the venues at its Leicester Forest East, Abington and Sedgemoor services between now and Thursday, 13 July. A Welcome Break spokesman told Propel: “Chopstix has proved extremely popular with customers at our sites since the first one opened at Birchanger in August 2016. At present there are three Chopstix restaurants across Welcome Break. We are delighted to announce a further three will open at Leicester Forest East, Abington and Sedgemoor. The new openings highlight our commitment to offering customers the widest range of food and drink on the motorway network.”

Five Guys opens site at Liverpool ONE: Better burger brand Five Guys has opened a site at Liverpool ONE. The 5,000 square foot restaurant, which is located on The Terrace, overlooks Chavasse Park and has space for more than 175 covers including external terrace. It is the latest UK location for Five Guys as part of its ongoing expansion plan. Five Guys head of property Neville Maling said: “Liverpool ONE is such a busy, vibrant location. This latest site is a prime position for us within the north west and helps to further expand our brand presence at one of the key retail and leisure destinations in the UK.” Grosvenor Europe asset management director Alison Clegg added: “Five Guys has seen great success in the UK since launching and is a fantastic addition to our line-up of international brands. They will benefit from the very high footfall The Terrace attracts due to its great varied leisure offer, central location, and views over the park, as well as all the outdoor events we are hosting at Liverpool ONE for the summer.” Metis Real Estate Advisors and Cushman & Wakefield acted for Liverpool ONE while Central Retail represented Five Guys.

George Best’s family gives seal of approval to Signature Living’s Belfast hotel plans: The family of George Best has given their approval to Signature Living’s plans to open a Belfast hotel named after the late Manchester United and Northern Ireland football star. The George Best Hotel is due to open next year in the Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast city centre and the project has been given the seal of approval by George Best Company, owned by Best’s sister Barbara McNarry and her husband Norman. Signature Living founder Lawrence Kenwright told Belfast Live: “George Best’s story is legendary and we look forward to celebrating his journey at this new hotel development in his home town. Signature Living has a solid track record of delivering unique hotel concepts and we envisage the George Best Hotel being as popular as the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool, which celebrates the life and career of one of the most successful football managers in history.” Barbara McNarry added: “George would have loved to see his name immortalised in a hotel where he would have also enjoyed staying. We look forward to showcasing some special memorabilia.” Signature Living is also set to transform a historic Belfast courthouse into a £25m luxury hotel as part of the company’s plans to open up to five hotels in the city during the next three years.

Piers Adam – Mahiki could ‘rival Hard Rock brand’ as fourth site launches, in Sardinia: Entrepreneur Piers Adam, the man behind nightclub concepts such as Whiskey Mist and ski chalet-themed Bodo’s Schloss, has told Propel his Mahiki brand could be rolled out to major cities to rival the Hard Rock Café brand. Speaking at the launch of the fourth Mahiki nightclub – in Forte Village resort on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia – Adam said the move was “merely the beginning”, with a flagship club to launch in Manchester in partnership with former Manchester United and England footballer Gary Neville at “the end of August or beginning of September”. Forte Village is a luxury resort that also features 21 restaurants, including offerings from a number of Michelin-starred chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Emanuele Scarello and Rocco Iannone, alongside 14 bars. Adam told Propel: “People see Mahiki as a place to let their hair down and have a drink. I see it as a kind of open kitchen. Running nightclubs, I know they can often seem intimidating but Mahiki is fun, accessible and with the DNA of a pub but in a late-night environment. Originally, we had little in the way of funds to publicise Mahiki but Scarlett Johansson and Prince Harry, for example, discovered it and it took off. Because it was cool by being uncool, people loved going there and letting their hair down.” Managing director Andrew Torrance added that expansion of Mahiki would be steady for now. He said: “We’re in a good place for this year and there are no major expansion plans right now but Piers and the team are always looking for opportunities.” The brand has also entered the drinks sector by launching Mahiki Rum – a 21% ABV coconut-flavoured drink featuring Polynesian and Caribbean blended rum. The company is also releasing three cocktails as a ready-to-drink range in cans. Adam told Propel: “The Mahiki brand is ten years old so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t release our own range of rum and cocktails. We’re going to take our three most popular cocktails and release them in cans as RTDs (ready to drink).” Adam, David Phelps and Nick House launched Mahiki in London in 2005, followed by a Dubai venue in 2011. A third site – Mahiki Beach – opened in Marbella, Spain, a few weeks ago.

Hickory’s Smokehouse hunts for new sites as it plots expansion: Hickory’s Smokehouse, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, is on the hunt for new sites as it plots expansion. The company is looking for sites of between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet with a large alfresco space and a minimum of 60 parking spaces. They need to be within two-and-a-half hours of Chester and the company said “generous fees” would be paid. The company currently has six sites – in Burton Green, Castle Bromwich, Chester, Rhos-on-Sea and West Kirby – with its Wall Heath venue currently being rebuilt following a major fire in August last year. Hickory’s was founded in Chester by Neil McDonnell in 2010 following extensive research into the American barbecue and smokehouse sector, which included touring the southern US states in 2009. Piper Private Equity invested £6m in Hickory’s in October 2014.

Hoxton gets go-ahead to start building Chicago hotel: Hoxton, the brand owned by investment company Ennismore Capital, has been given the go-ahead to start construction of its planned hotel in Chicago. The company has received its building permit to start foundation work at a vacant site in Fulton Market on the corner of Lake and Green streets. The 12-storey Hoxton Hotel will feature 175 guest rooms, two levels of office space, indoor valet parking, ground-floor retail units, a rooftop terrace, and an as yet unnamed restaurant and bar from Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group. First announced in early 2016, the hotel will be developed by Shapack Partners, which is also behind the nearby Soho House hotel and private members’ club. The Hoxton is expected to open in the first quarter of 2019, joining other boutique offerings in the area such as the soon-to-open Ace Hotel and the slow-to-start Nobu Hotel, Curbed Chicago reports. The brand has two hotels in London – The Hoxton, Shoreditch and The Hoxton, Holborn. The brand’s first international opening was The Hoxton, Amsterdam. Ennismore, owned by Sharan Pasricha, acquired The Hoxton, Shoreditch and the brand in 2012 to scale the business. A third London hotel will open in 2018 in Southwark, while Hoxton is also scheduled to open hotels in New York, Paris and Los Angeles.

D&D London to open fourth Leeds site next month: Restaurant group D&D London is launching its fourth Leeds restaurant, East 59th, next month. The company will open the Manhattan-style rooftop bar and grill, named after the address of D&D’s New York venue Guastavino’s, at the top of the £165m Victoria Gate development on Friday, 14 July. The all-day grill, bar and rooftop restaurant will feature a US-inspired menu and boast panoramic views of the city. It is taking up 5,400 square feet of the development and follows the launch of the group’s third Leeds site, Issho, which has opened in the same space next door. Senior general manager Paul Rogers told The Business Desk: “Leeds’ nightlife scene is incredibly diverse and we’re excited to add something different to the offering with a New York-inspired rooftop bar and grill. East 59th comes hot on the heels of the launch for our stunning Japanese bar and restaurant Issho, and the two distinct venues are unique in their own way, offering something for everyone.”

Papa John’s seeks franchisees as it ramps up European expansion: Papa John’s has said it is seeking to recruit franchisees in a number of new regions in Europe as it targets expansion across the continent. Papa John’s International senior vice-president and chief development officer Tim O’Hern said: “Excluding the UK, we have opened over 30 stores in western Europe in the past 12 months. France and Spain are really delivering and we plan to continue to open more restaurants in both countries. We are also actively recruiting new franchisees to help us develop the Papa John’s brand across eastern and western Europe in regions as diverse as Greece, Romania, Germany, France and Ukraine.” Gareth Davies, regional vice-president for western Europe, added: “Papa John’s has been very well received in Spain where we opened more than 20 stores in our first year, France where we have seen huge demand, and in the Netherlands where a group of UK-based franchisees joined forces to bring our pizzas to the Dutch. However, there are some regional differences when it comes to understanding local preferences and culture. This is why we are always keen to work with franchisees as partners when entering a new country.”

JKS Restaurants to start expansion of Hoppers concept with Marylebone sister site: JKS Restaurants is to start expansion of its Hoppers concept, which offers snacks from southern India and Sri Lanka, by opening a second London site, in Marylebone. The company launched the concept in Soho in late 2015. The much larger, 85-cover sister restaurant will be set across two floors of a site in Wigmore Street at the top end of St Christopher’s Place and also feature outside seating. The restaurant will open in September and, unlike the Soho site, will take bookings. The menu will include new dishes such as Jaffna beef rib fry, tuna and tapioca cutlets with avocado sambol, claypot baby chicken, and black pork ribs with fennel and turmeric sambol. There will also be a daily changing rice and kari dish alongside new cocktails that feature arrack as the main ingredient, Hot Dinners reports. JKS Restaurants was founded by the Sethi family and also operates Michelin-starred Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Trishna, Indian food delivery concept Motu Kitchen, and gourmet hotdog and champagne concept Bubbledogs.

BrewDog launches Beer Geek Awards: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched the Beer Geek Awards, which feature seven categories that acknowledge exceptional individuals across Europe’s craft beer scene. Craft beer fans have until Tuesday, 18 July to enter, with prizes including a break to the Stockholm Beer & Whisky festival, and a holiday in San Diego. An awards ceremony will be held later this summer at BrewDog Clerkenwell in London, where a panel of beer experts, including BrewDog co-founder James Watt and presenter and author Pete Brown, will select the winners. One awards category will see BrewDog host a beer-tasting event in all its UK and European bars on Wednesday, 26 July. Entrants must buy a £5 flight of eight beer samples and identify their styles on a scorecard. The top eight scores will be invited to the awards ceremony for a live taste-off. Watt said: “They’ve been the real driving force enabling craft brewers of every shape and size to redefine what beer is, so we’re giving the beer geeks a platform to do what they do best, celebrate craft beer.” To qualify, entrants cannot earn their primary income in the beer industry.

Vapiano secures Edinburgh site: Vapiano has agreed a deal to open a restaurant at the St Andrew Square development in Edinburgh. The company, which in March agreed a deal for a site in Glasgow, has signed a 25-year lease with Standard Life Investments, which owns the building. Vapiano, which launched its initial public offering in Frankfurt earlier this week, is taking an 8,770 square foot unit in South St David Street that will open in October. Standard Life Investments fund manager David Stewart told Property Funds World: “We knew the development would have appeal and carefully targeted a number of top-class names in order to create a new leisure hub in the heart of the city. It’s a great boost to Edinburgh that Vapiano has committed to St Andrew Square.” The 165,000 square foot mixed-use development by Standard Life Investments and joint-venture partner Peveril Securities comprises 100,000 square feet of office space, plus 65,000 square feet of shops, restaurants and apartments. Culverwell and Bruce Gillingham Pollard acted for Standard Life Investments, while Vapiano was advised by Jackson Criss. Vapiano opened its first restaurant in Hamburg in 2002 and currently has four sites in the UK – three in London and one in Manchester. The new 11,000 square foot site in Glasgow will be at the former George Hotel in Buchanan Street.

GG Hospitality launches fourth Cafe Football: GG Hospitality, led by former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs alongside Singaporean backer Peter Lim, has launched its fourth Cafe Football, at the National Football Museum. Neville and Giggs appeared with fellow “Class of 92” stars Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt to officially open the football-themed bar and restaurant on the ground floor of the Manchester museum. The restaurant offers a selection of comfort food dishes inspired by football, including The Special One piri piri chicken and The Nicky Butty club panini, alongside an Eat Like A Pro menu offering high-protein performance food. The venue is the fourth Cafe Football, with other sites at Old Trafford, Stratford in London and Singapore. Scholes told the Manchester Evening News: “Gary, Phil, Nicky and Ryan will be here quite a bit and I’ll be here as much as I can because this is definitely my type of food.” Neville and Giggs are also set to open a trio of Manchester restaurants with Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare and launch a site for the popular Mahiki nightclub franchise in Manchester in late August or early September.

Franchised grill restaurant concept Kebabish Original lodges plans for east Lancashire village site: Franchised grill restaurant concept Kebabish Original has lodged plans to open a site in the village of Oswaldtwistle, east Lancashire. Franchisee Umraz Khan wants to convert the former Queens Bingo Hall in Blackburn Road into the new venue. He has applied to Hyndburn Borough Council to open the 50-seater restaurant on the ground floor of the building that is also home to Potter’s Sports Bar, a snooker and pool club in the basement. The menu will include burgers, steaks, kebabs and chicken. Kebabish Original has 110 restaurants across the UK, all run under franchise, with a second site in Blackburn set to open, this time in the Bastwell area of the town. The Kebabish Original in Whalley New Road came top in TripAdvisor reviews of the best restaurants to eat in Blackburn last year, reports the Lancashire Telegraph.

Easyhotel gets go-ahead for Leeds site: Easyhotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Leeds. The company has had its plans for the four-storey, 94-bedroom hotel in Lands Lane approved by the city council. Although not listed the site, which formerly housed a women’s fashion store, was originally the Scala Cinema before being turned into retail units, and has architectural and historical interest. It has been identified as a “non-designated heritage asset” and the design for the new hotel aims to retain the historic character of the building, according to planning agent HOW Planning. Principal planner Phil Grant told The Business Desk: “Leeds is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities and the new Easyhotel will help inject even more new activity and add to the vibrancy of the local area. The new development has clear synergies with the wide mix of other land uses found in this part of the city and it is anticipated there will be a rise in the number of new visitors to the area, which will undoubtedly increase expenditure in local economy, in particular in the cafes, bars, restaurants and shops close to the site.”

Freshii freshens menu: Canada-based health brand Freshii, which operates nine sites in the Republic of Ireland, has introduced a poké bowl and a new “energy bite” to its menu. Pokii Bowl is vegetarian-friendly and fish-free, featuring steamed brown rice, kale, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, edamame, avocado, green onion, sesame seeds, Asian sesame dressing, spicy yogurt sauce and pickled ginger. Ingredients can be easily swapped to make the dish vegan or dairy and gluten-free, Freshii said. Cocoa energii bites are an addition to Freshii’s range of sweet protein ball snacks. Freshii Ireland chief executive Dave O’Donoghue said: “We love evolving our menu and we are excited to introduce Pokii, Freshii’s twist on the traditional Hawaiian dish.”

Belfast-based coffee company to begin retail expansion with second shop in city: Belfast-based coffee company Root & Branch is to start expanding its retail estate by opening its second site in the city. The company is launching the shop at the newly developed Ormeau Baths development. Founded by Ben Craig and Simon Johnston, Root & Branch began life as a pop-up but found a permanent home in Jameson Street in May last year. The company’s micro-roastery supplies coffee to outlets in Dublin, London and across Europe as well as being available online. Simon Johnston told the Irish News: “Root & Branch’s aim has always been to combine art, science, care and attention to create something beautiful for Belfast and beyond. The coffee bar in Ormeau Baths will be run with that same ethos.”

Star Pubs & Bars to launch videos helping licensees counter kitchen skills shortage: Star Pubs & Bars is launching a series of videos to help licensees counteract the skilled kitchen staff shortage and ensure high standards. Created following licensee requests for help to train kitchen staff, the videos are also designed to alleviate the expense and resource pressures of sending staff on training courses. Hosted by professional training chefs, the 12 step-by-step videos highlight the essential practices that need to be embedded in a commercial kitchen to achieve high standards and consistent delivery. The videos encourage best practice in preparation, cooking and presentation of core pub dishes such as Sunday roasts, risottos, burgers, sausages and mash, fish and chips, and steaks. The videos are part of the company’s food training support it launched for licensees in 2015, ranging from five-day residential training courses and in-pub mentoring to chef recruitment advice and staff workshops. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “With consumer demand for premiumisation, food quality has never been more important and, with the chef recruitment crisis, help with kitchen staff training is invaluable. The videos cover both and are all mini-training courses with learning points for everyone, regardless of whether their offer is premium or value.”