Davy’s to open first El Vino site since acquiring business: London operator Davy’s is to open its first El Vino site since it bought the company in 2015. The company will open the 3,000 square foot wine bar and shop in the City of London, serving an Iberian-inspired menu and wine list. The new El Vino will open in Mason’s Avenue before the end of February, taking the total number of El Vino sites to four. The interiors at El Vino Mason’s Avenue will have a more contemporary feel than the other three sites. Set over two floors, it will comprise a ground-floor bar with further lounge seating and a private dining room for up to 12 people on the lower floor. The wine list focuses on Spain, Portugal and South America, alongside “the classics”, to complement the full-flavoured, Iberian-inspired menu, which includes tapas dishes alongside larger main courses. Every wine on the list is also available to buy retail. Davy’s chairman and chief executive James Davy said: “We have made considerable investment in El Vino since purchasing the business in August 2015, with great customer feedback and vastly improved trading. This opening will be the next exciting chapter in El Vino’s long and colourful history.” Established in 1879, El Vino’s other sites are in Fleet Street, Blackfriars and The Olde Wine Shades, which is close to Cannon Street and the oldest bar in the City of London.

Lambeth Council grants rare 5am licence to new LGBTQ nightclub Bloc South: Bloc South is set to open in London’s Vauxhall Triangle after Lambeth Council granted a rare new nightclub licence permitting the venue to stay open until 5am at weekends. The LGBTQ-dedicated venue will be operated by Wayne Shires, one of the principal organisers of Gay Pride and the Summer Rites festival. The club, a sister venue to East Bloc in Shoreditch and Bloc Bar in Camden, will replace Club 65, which had its licence revoked in August after door supervisors were shot at. Lambeth Council’s “hours policy” requires new nightclubs to close no later than 2am but the licensing sub-committee accepted the policy was not intended to be applied inflexibly and it was prepared to make an exception given the individual circumstances of the application. Gary Grant, of Francis Taylor Building barristers, who acted for Bloc South, said: “The grant of this new licence bucks recent trends in the nightclub industry, particularly in London. Between 2007 and 2015, nearly 50% of night-time venues have closed including many iconic LGBTQ venues such as G-A-Y/Astoria and Madam JoJo’s.” Grant was instructed by Andrew Wong, of Keystone Law. Bloc South is expected to open this month.

Greene King applies for licence to supply own water retail services: Pub retailer and brewer Greene King has become the first non-household water customer to apply to provide its own retail services when the market opens in April. The self-supply option will allow Greene King to buy its water and wastewater services at the wholesale price, which is a protected price all retailers pay. The company has applied to Ofwat for a water supply licence and a sewerage licence, with a retail authorisation limited to self-supply. Greene King said the licence would enable it to “build on efficiency works already undertaken, whilst driving cost and consumption control in the next phase of its water management strategy”. To facilitate its application, Greene King has entered a partnership agreement with Waterscan to take on the role and responsibilities for the retail functions. These include meter reading, central market operating system transactions, wholesaler management, paying water and sewerage charges through the settlement process, and finding further water efficiency savings. The partnership will take the form of a contractual agreement between the parties. As a self-supply licensee, Greene King will pay wholesale prices, not pay retail margin added by suppliers in the open water market, and become a market participant including membership of Market Operator Services Ltd (MOSL) with voting rights and the ability to directly influence the market. It will also be able to supply water services to multiple sites for its business.

Shake Shack to open Victoria Nova site next week, seventh UK venue: Shake Shack is set to open its seventh UK site, at the Nova development in Victoria, on Thursday, 9 February. On opening day, any customer buying a burger will get a free limited-edition Mast Cocoa Beer Float, which has been created by Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati and Mast London head chocolate-maker Jon Hogan. The treat features Shake Shack’s freshly spun vanilla frozen custard and non-alcoholic Cocoa Beer, topped with Mast Brothers dark chocolate. The Cocoa Beer is brewed in-house and made with chocolate, freshly roasted cacao, cane sugar and water. Mast Chocolate co-founder and chief executive Rick Mast said: “Mark and his Shake Shack team worked closely with Jon Hogan of Mast and have created something so spot on I can’t believe I didn’t come up with it first.” Mast’s bean-to-bar chocolates will also make an appearance in two Victoria-exclusive offerings, the Union Shack concrete and Peanut Butter Palace concrete. In keeping with Shake Shack’s mission to “stand for something good”, 5% of sales from each Union Shack concrete will be donated to Shake Shack Victoria’s charity partner Caxton Youth. The original Shack opened in 2004 in Madison Square Park, New York. The company currently operates more than 100 sites around the world, including five in London and another in Cardiff. Rosati said: “We can’t wait to introduce Shake Shack to a new area of London.”

Kained Holdings to open ninth site, on Saturday: Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings will open its ninth site, on Saturday (4 February). The company has invested £200,000 to transform The Duchess of Argyle in Argyle Street into a Victorian-era pub serving Mexican street food. The drinks menu includes tequila and mezcal. Managing director Graham Suttle told Herald Scotland: “The Duchess of Argyle will be different from anything else in the city. It is perfect for foodies looking for a different experience to traditional restaurants. The food is fresh and authentic, while the drinks selection is of the highest quality.” The company’s other sites include Lebowskis, The Craft Pig, and Porter & Rye.

Village London to open Rail House Cafe at Nova Victoria development this month: Village London will open its new restaurant and bar in the Nova development in Victoria this month. The company, founded by Adam White, is launching the 330-cover Rail House Cafe. It will feature an extensive ground-floor eating and drinking area, as well as an upstairs bar and raised private dining room. It will also have an outdoor area for 90, complete with seating and an al fresco bar. White has once again spearheaded the design project, working with manufacturing partners to create bespoke furniture and interior touches to soften the contemporary glass and concrete space. The floors are inspired by train carriages and have a distinct distressed character, reports The Handbook. The Rail House Cafe will join Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies, Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, D&D London, Shake Shack, Jason Atherton, and Fulham Shore-owned Franco Manca in the newly established restaurant quarter. Village London’s other sites are its eponymous site in Mortimer Street, The Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia, and Village East in Bermondsey.

Former Apprentice star launches Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar in Liverpool: Kurt Wilson, a former contestant on BBC show The Apprentice, and Harry Marquart, winner of Ireland’s version of MasterChef, have teamed up to launch a restaurant and cocktail bar in Liverpool. Izakaya has opened in Castle Street following a £50,000 investment from business funding provider Merseyside Special Investment Fund. Izakaya offers Japanese-inspired dishes with a drinks menu featuring Japanese beer, sake, wine and a mix of classic and house cocktails. Wilson told BDaily: “Liverpool has such an exciting food and drink scene. The area around Castle Street is booming with lots of independent bars and restaurants nestled in among the big names. Because it’s in the business district it offers great opportunities for trade during the day and in the evening. We offer express lunches and takeaway to cater for the midweek business crowd but in the evening it’s much more about going out for a few drinks with some delicious food on the side. We’re aiming for a 50/50 split of customers wanting food or drink. We want to install bi-fold doors, which we can open during the summer and will double the size of the restaurant.” Izakaya employs 14 staff and Wilson forecasts a turnover of £700,000 in 2017.

Freshii raises $96m in IPO to triple store count by 2019: Canadian-based health brand Freshii has raised $96m in an IPO to fund its plan to triple the company’s store count by the end of 2019. The company sold 10.9 million shares at $11.50 Canadian. Freshii will receive $38.5m from the offering, while shareholders will receive $57.7m. The company’s stock rose 6% on Tuesday (31 January). Freshii chief executive Matthew Corrin told Nation’s Restaurant News: “The IPO is not the finish line for us, this is just the starting line. We plan to triple our store count by the end of 2019. Freshii will continue to execute its brand mission to make healthy eating convenient and affordable to all.” Corrin opened the first Freshii location in Toronto in 2005. The chain has grown to 244 locations in 15 countries. Last month, Freshii’s Irish franchisee announced plans to open 40 to 50 sites in Ireland during the next five years, including its first UK site, in Belfast. CIBC Capital Markets, Jefferies Securities, RBC Capital Markets and Robert W Baird & Co were the lead underwriters in the IPO offering.

All Star Lanes to reopen refurbished Brick Lane venue next week: Bowling alley business All Star Lanes will reopen its refurbished venue in Brick Lane, London, next week. The boutique bowling alley will open on Thursday, 9 February featuring a transformed restaurant layout, a slick new cocktail lounge and The Penthouse – a private space that draws inspiration from the starlit roof terraces of Manhattan. The design also incorporates bespoke murals from acclaimed east London street artist Zabou. All Star Lanes managing director Christian Rose said: “We’re so excited about the refurbishment of our Brick Lane venue, which reflects our ongoing investment in the All Star Lanes brand experience. Each customer touchpoint – from visiting our new website to sipping cocktails in our Brick Lane lounge – must convey the quirky, premium and glorious nature of the brand. Our aim is to create a space where All Star Lanes guests can make great memories.” Since launching its debut venue in Holborn in 2006, All Star Lanes has opened a further four sites in Bayswater, Brick Lane, Westfield Stratford and Manchester.

Polpo to open Exeter restaurant next month, eighth site: London-based restaurant company Polpo is set to open its eighth site, in Exeter next month, as it continues to focus on expansion outside the capital. The 65-cover restaurant in Higher Market Guildhall, Queen Street, will also feature outside space for 35 people and follow the traditions of its sister sites, which are styled on a “bacaro” – a Venetian word to describe a humble restaurant serving simple food and young Italian wine. However, for the first time and exclusively for Exeter the site will offer a comprehensive breakfast and coffee menu to eat in or take away and a fully open kitchen, visible from the restaurant and bar. Polpo co-founder Russell Norman said: “Exeter is a wonderful city full of beauty, culture and charm, and we are extremely lucky to have found a site for Polpo in Higher Market Guildhall. Being protected from the roads and cars, combined with our large outdoor terrace, it reminds me of the small squares in Venice.” The company, led by Norman and Richard Beatty, opened its debut venue in Soho in 2009. Last month, the company reported a turnover increase to £13,392,318 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £11,534,824 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,043,879, compared with £881,443 the previous year. Polpo said group growth strategy was “largely focused outside London and an experienced team was in place to locate appropriate sites in target locations”.

DHP Family to relaunch Soho music venue Borderline: Live music operator DHP Family is to relaunch Soho venue Borderline in March with a new design and live music and nightlife programming. DHP Family, which is behind Hackney’s Oslo, Nottingham’s Rock City and The Garage in Islington, will be significantly modernising the venue, reviving Soho’s live music scene and “re-establishing Borderline as a London icon for the next generation of music fans”. DHP is altering the layout of the 300-capacity venue to create a “flowing space that provides the best possible experience for performer and audience, from dance floor to green room”. A new cocktail lounge area, tucked away in the corner of the venue, will feature striking brushed brass fittings and surfaces, muted by rich burgundy and teal textures on the walls and soft furnishings. Elsewhere, blackened steel, charcoal undertones and gold finishes will be juxtaposed by vibrant wall art, splashes of sun-bleached colour, alongside a couple of nods to the Borderline’s Mexican heritage. In addition to live music with an excellent pedigree, the new Borderline will feature an accessible yet progressive club programme. Every Friday, “Good Pop, Bad Pop” will play guilty pop pleasures while “Tilted” will continue the venue’s history with indie and alternative acts, playing the best playlist of guitar-oriented music each Saturday. Launched in the 1980s, the likes of Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, REM, Rage Against The Machine, PJ Harvey, and Oasis have all graced Borderline’s stage.

Manchester-based El Capo refused permission to open Nottingham site: Manchester-based South American-themed restaurant and bar El Capo has been refused permission to open a site in Nottingham. The company has had its licence application rejected by the city council after councillors expressed fears it would lead to increased crime in the area. El Capo, which is based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, wanted to open its first outlet outside the city by moving into the former Coco Lounge unit in George Street in the Hockley area of Nottingham. However, the council turned down the licence application despite El Capo’s owners agreeing to alter its opening hours. The council said: “We accept the police evidence confirming the problems associated with alcohol in the night-time economy, which include incidents of theft, violence against the person, drugs offences, robbery and vandalism. The statistics also showed a high volume of antisocial behaviour complaints from the flats situated in George Street near to the premises.”

Punch to plough £1m into Scottish hotels portfolio: Punch plans to plough a further £1m into its hotels in Scotland during 2017 following a record year of investment in its Scottish estate. The pubco invested about £2.5m last year, which led to five of its concept hotels being named as finalists at this year’s Scottish Hotel Awards. The Eagle Hotel in Dornoch, the Clovenfords Hotel in Galashiels, The Crown Inn in Stornoway, The Portree on the Isle of Skye and the Newburgh Inn in Aberdeenshire have all been recognised as 2017 regional winners and will go through to the national finals in Glasgow in April. The new investment will include major refurbishments at The Corriegarth Hotel in Inverness and The Cedar Inn, Aberdour. Brian Davidson, Scottish operations director for Punch, said: “We’ve already invested around £2.5m to transform our Scottish hotel estate and are proud of what we’ve achieved. The launch of new concepts, which focus on contemporary, warm interiors and Scottish hospitality, together with the refurbishment of hotel rooms and guest areas, has dramatically improved the calibre of our venues. As a result, we’ve been able to attract skilled and experienced entrepreneurs to develop these hotels and create strong reputations, locally and further afield, for providing an outstanding customer experience. Now we have an award-winning formula, we don’t want to lose momentum and plan to continue to roll this out across our Scottish hotel estate. We’re committed to investing and are confident we can build on this solid foundation during 2017 to launch more award-winning sites.”

Former MasterChef star Tom Simmons to open Welsh restaurant at One Tower Bridge: Tom Simmons, a former star of MasterChef: The Professionals, is set to launch a Welsh restaurant at the One Tower Bridge development in London. The eponymous venture will join a new Ivy brasserie and a 900-seat theatre at the development, which is due to open this autumn. The chef will be the first to open on the Southwark site in April and aims to elevate the simple cooking of his homeland with offerings such as cockle popcorn, laverbread mayonnaise, leek bread and a “refined” version of cawl (a lamb stew). Almost all the produce will come from Wales. Simmons told the Evening Standard: “Wales isn’t known for its culinary delights but it’s all about making the ingredients speak for themselves. I’ve been very lucky in having excellent produce around me my whole life, and it’s something I want to bring to London. The cawl is my mum’s recipe and the best I’ve ever had.” Simmons admitted laverbread (seaweed) wasn’t to everyone’s taste but he will use it alongside deep-fried cockles in a complimentary course to “introduce” it to Londoners.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen to open Southport site this month, 81st restaurant to date: Gourmet Burger Kitchen will open a site in Southport, Merseyside, this month. The company will open the restaurant on Monday, 13 February at the new Ocean Plaza development, creating 20 jobs. It will be the company’s 81st site and takes inspiration from its seaside location. The restaurant will have a “colourful and fun interior”, with a special hatch on the shopfront allowing customers to grab a milkshake on the go. The open plan space will feature table and booth seating. Senior marketing manager Laura Pettingale told the Champion: “Southport will be our first seafront location in the north west and diners will be able to take in views of the Irish Sea while enjoying some Gourmet Burger Kitchen favourites such as the Major Tom or Taxidriver.”

Splendid Hospitality Group acquires derelict Worcester Park pub: Splendid Hospitality Group, which owns hotels and US-inspired chicken restaurant brand Absurd Bird, has acquired a derelict pub in Worcester Park, Surrey. The company has bought The Worcester Park Tavern from Shahrastani Development and is set to turn it into a hotel, reports the Epsom Guardian. Splendid Hospitality Group has yet to release any details of the plans. The site in Park Terrace has been derelict since it was sold by Spirit Pub Company in 2012.

Hooters franchisee to open fast-casual spin-off – without the iconic waitresses: Neil Keifer, chief executive of Hooters franchisee Hooters Management Corp (HMC), is set to open a fast-casual spin-off serving Hooters food but without its iconic waitresses. Hoots will open in mid-February in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, offering some of Hooters’ most popular items, including chicken wings, fries and crab legs to eat in or take away. The 2,800 square foot venue will have 75 seats and employ 30 staff. Unlike a fully counter-service concept, it will also have a bar area with 12 seats. HMC operates 25 sites in Florida, Chicago and New York City. Keifer said the chain was working with the franchisor on the concept, which could be expanded if the first location succeeds. He added that the idea would give his company a more flexible model that could translate to more locations than a traditional Hooters, including densely populated areas where quicker service and to-go orders were in higher demand. He told Nation’s Restaurant News: “This will help us get into neighbourhoods where we can’t find a site big enough. When you look at the price of real estate, this allows us to be a little more flexible. Being privately owned and not the franchisor but a perpetual licensee, we are a little more nimble and we’re still entrepreneurial.” Hooters of America chief executive Terry Marks added: “It’s a logical extension of the brand and will provide more people with more opportunities to enjoy our world-famous wings. We have a lot to learn but we are excited about the potential.”

Creams Cafe to open one of its biggest sites to date, in Tunbridge Wells: Dessert cafe operator Creams Cafe is set to open one of its biggest sites to date, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The 5,000 square foot venue is expected to open in May in Grosvenor Road on a site previously occupied by all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant Cosmo, reports Kent Live. The cafe will serve waffles, crepes, sundaes, milkshakes and 36 varieties of ice cream in the style of Italian gelato. The company will also open a site in Nottingham next month in Trinity Square on the site previously occupied by Hoffs restaurant. Creams Cafe has 43 sites in the UK and is set to continue expanding with another 59 venues listed as “opening soon” on its website. One of those planned sites is in Canterbury, where the company will open a “limited edition” restaurant in the city centre later this year, complete with a “steampunk” aesthetic and chocolate fountain centrepiece.

Tahola appoints new business development executive: Business analytics company Tahola has appointed Syed Bokhari as business development executive as the company continues its expansion within the hospitality sector. Bokhari joins Tahola from PS Financials, where he specialised in advising clients on finance system selection. He will provide help and advice on all aspects of Tahola’s product and services portfolio. Bokhari said: “Tahola is a market leader in business intelligence and I am excited to make my mark as it continues to grow. My aim is to assist businesses in making good business decisions, give them insight into what is happening, why it’s happening and, of course, to ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible.” Tahola commercial director Simon Blackbourne added: “Syed will be at the forefront of our business to ensure we are tailoring our service to meet our customer’s needs – helping them understand exactly what is possible with their data and which of our range of resources will provide amazing analytic results. Syed has a proven track record for success so we are confident he will be an invaluable member of the Tahola team. We now have over 20 employees and it is important to have someone on board who understands us, our service and, most importantly, our customers.”