Bird reports like-for-likes up 24%, fourth consecutive quarter of £1m-plus turnover: London-based fried chicken restaurant group Bird has reported like-for-likes were up 24% in the three months ending 2 October with turnover of more than £1m for the fourth consecutive quarter. Continuing the trend in the first half of 2017, the company said the growth continued to be spread evenly across its four London sites, with the group seeing like-for-like sales increase 18% for 2017 to date. Bird’s three-year-old Shoreditch site posted like-for-likes of more than 8% in the third quarter, while its Islington site benefited from a strong summer with like-for-likes for the three months up 24%. The company’s Camden venue saw the biggest increase, with like-for-likes up 30%. Meanwhile, the group’s Westfield Stratford site passed its one-year anniversary last month, moving into positive like-for-likes of more than 20%. Managing director and co-founder Paul Hemings told Propel he saw the group’s performance as “incredibly positive” and “pay-off for our team’s hard work to get to this point”. Hemings said the group’s in-store sales had continued to significantly outpace the growth of delivery sales, with deliveries falling as an overall percentage for the third consecutive quarter. Hemings added he believed the positive growth was a result of a continued increase in general awareness of, and interest in, quality fried chicken as a standalone restaurant experience – “in particular the interest in chicken and waffle dishes, which has long been its own category in North America but is really still emerging here”. Hemings said while the company’s menu development earlier in 2017 had continued to contribute to overall growth, the group was still seeing firm favourites chicken and waffles, wings and burgers driving 90% of volumes. The group will launch another menu update in the first half of October, with a “few tweaks and a handful of new dishes”, including proper Canadian poutine, a nod to co-founders Hemings and Cara Ceppetelli’s Canadian roots. Hemings said: “With the evolution of the market and our own brand over the past 12 months, we now feel ready to properly engage on future new sites – but there are still plenty of reasons to be cautious heading into the fourth quarter and into 2018.”

BrewBroker signs Laine Pub Company to platform: BrewBroker, which describes itself as an online market place for the global brewing industry and is currently raising £380,000 on Crowdcube, has signed Laine Pub Company to its platform. The company has also become a Society of Independent Brewers supplier associate member. The aim of BrewBroker is to enable businesses to search, sell and buy brewing services from one another. It likens itself to Airbnb and Uber by “taking an established industry at a certain stage and disrupting it using a sharing economy model”. BrewBroker said contract brewing allows that opportunity in the beer sector, with the huge rise in consumer demand leading more breweries to contract-out production or sell excess capacity to maximise efficiency. BrewBroker said providing a “simple digital platform to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between two parties” would “transform the way the industry operates”. The company said: “We’re very happy to have Laine Pub Company on board. It will be part of the Beta test group, which is made up of representatives from across the industry that we have been working closely with to ensure the features we are building match the requirements of the industry. Laine will also be using the platform once it is live to sell its excess brewing capacity.” BrewBroker was founded last year by drinks marketing expert Toby Chantrell and Ben Morgan-Smith, a digital industry veteran. They have been advised by Craft Beer Rising founders Chris Bayliss and Daniel Rowntree. BrewBroker is looking to raise £380,000 on Crowdcube in return for a 25% equity stake. So far, 171 investors have pledged £130,450 with 20 days remaining.

Stonegate converts Salisbury Slug and Lettuce into craft pub: Stonegate Pub Company has converted its Slug and Lettuce venue in Salisbury, Wiltshire, into a craft pub that “reflects the desires of modern pub-goers”. Stonegate has reopened The Bridge Street Tap in Salisbury as one of its “independent craft pubs” following a £350,000 investment that has created 17 additional jobs. The pub in Fisherton Street offers 14 craft beers, 55 cocktails, an expansive gin range, and an autumn menu featuring sourdough pizzas, wagyu beef burgers, tapas sharers and desserts. The decor features memorabilia, neon lights and industrial finishes, while extended outdoor seating and a Riverside Room have been added. A large screen and high-definition televisions have also been added for sports-lovers, with table service during big games. The venue will also host quiz nights, retro games evenings and live entertainment. Manager Ryan Dack said: “The city was in need of a bar that reflects the desires of modern pub-goers – and we’ve got exactly that.” Stonegate Pub Company operates more than 690 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues) and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, and Classic Inns).

Encant owner Victor Garvey opens Catalan restaurant Rambla in Soho: Victor Garvey, chef patron of modern Spanish restaurant Encant, has launched his third venture – Rambla – in Soho. The 60-cover venue in Dean Street focuses on Catalan cuisine, the food of Garvey’s youth, while the venue takes its name from Barcelona thoroughfare La Rambla, where he lived as a child. The menu is divided into three sections – Cru (raw and cured), Mar (seafood), and Muntanya (mountains). Dishes include fresh Mediterranean sea urchin with Iberico lard toast, jumbo scallop with smoked roe sauce and crystallised veal jus, and Catalan black pudding sandwich with green apple slaw. It features an all-Spanish wine list as well as gin and classic cocktails. The decor is reminiscent of Barcelona’s elegant-but-casual beachfront restaurants. Garvey said: “Rambla will bring many of the characteristics our guests love about Encant to Soho, while also being very much its own place.” Garvey opened Encant in Covent Garden in March 2016 followed by wine and cheese bar Sibarita in nearby Maiden Lane in June this year.

Whitbread secures four new Premier Inn sites in Germany, targets more than ten further hotels: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has secured four new sites in Germany and plans to accelerate growth as it targets more than ten further hotels. The company has completed deals for two hotels in Hamburg and one each in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, taking the total number of open and committed hotels in Germany to ten. It will open a 297-bedroom hotel at the central station in Düsseldorf; a circa 225-bedroom site in Reeperbahn, Hamburg; a circa 280-bedroom hotel in Nordkanalstraße, Hamburg; and a 275-bedroom site in the lower part of the Turm am Mailänder Platz development in Stuttgart. All four sites are new-build hotels and will be developed in conjunction with development partners. The four sites increase Premier Inn Germany’s portfolio of trading or secured bedrooms to more than 2,200. Premier Inn said it was particularly interested in new sites in Berlin, Cologne and Munich, and has additional new hotel requirements in other cities across Germany. In support of its growth plans, Premier Inn Germany has also recruited a new head of acquisitions, Chris-Norman Sauer, who has joined from GBI AG where he was head of development. Mark Anderson, managing director property and Premier Inn international at Whitbread, said: “These four new deals give our growth plans in Germany real momentum and we’re well on track to hit our target of six to eight hotels open by 2020. The German market is attractive and presents exciting opportunities, meaning we’re looking to accelerate our growth and are targeting another ten-plus sites in premium locations.”

Chapel Down appoints former BrewDog executive to lead beer division: England’s leading wine producer Chapel Down has strengthened its beer ambitions by appointing Gareth Bath as its new managing director, beer. He joins Chapel Down from BrewDog, where he was formerly managing director, brewing and international. Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “It’s a very exciting time at Chapel Down. Not only are we challenging the greatest global wine brands with our wine but we have also developed Curious Brew as a unique and distinctive proposition in the thriving but competitive beer market place. We have been excited by the success of our beers but think there is a huge global opportunity to grow this side of the business. Gareth will bring a new level of energy and expertise to grow the Curious Brew business and brand. With his ‘blue chip’ background and the success he enjoyed with BrewDog, he is a great addition to our management team and we look forward to working with him.” Bath added: “Chapel Down has created a fantastic brand in wine and has a great team. I love the Curious Brew proposition and look forward to building the new brewery, giving the consumer an amazing experience and exciting the trade. With the team we have in place, I am confident we can take Curious on to the world stage.”

Young’s gains ‘employer provider status’, chef academies welcome 75 new apprentices: London pub retailer Young’s has been awarded “employer provider status”, allowing it to become an official training provider for apprentices. Young’s will now deliver all its training in-house, opening the doors of its chef academies to more than 75 apprentices this year. The status means Young’s can also leverage funds paid to the government’s Apprenticeship Levy for the training process itself, contributing more than 0.5% of its annual payroll to invest and develop kitchen talent internally. Two new Chef Academy programmes have been launched and will run for 18 months, with apprentices receiving on-the-job training and development. Level two gives commis chefs the opportunity to gain practical experience in cookery and business, while the level three programme focuses on advancing knowledge across a wide range of skills including business, people leadership, management, hospitality and customer service. This programme helps emerging chefs take their first steps into leadership and prepare for a future role as a head chef. Head of apprenticeships Jo Mears said: “Gaining employer provider status means we can deliver in-house training and high-quality apprenticeships that are aligned to Young’s core values and tailored to the needs of our business. The chef academies will harness and develop talent from within and with the continued support of a dedicated team, we know apprentices will flourish and grow their careers with us. It is widely acknowledged that there is a shortage of talented chefs in the UK and the Apprenticeship Levy helps us create significant opportunities for individuals who are hungry to learn and develop.”

Loungers to launch Wokingham site next week: Cafe brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, will open a site in Wokingham, Berkshire, next week. The company will launch Sedero Lounge on Wednesday, 11 October in Central Walk, creating 25 jobs. It has invested £555,000 to transform Baileys House, with the decor featuring eclectic artwork, pop art-inspired table tops, vintage sofas and school benches. It will be the company’s third site in Berkshire alongside Bosco Lounge in Woodley and Alto Lounge in Caversham. Loungers operations manager Adam Whittard told Get Reading: “We’re really looking forward to throwing open the doors at Sedero Lounge and showing locals how to lounge in style.” Loungers, which also operates Cosy Club, was founded in 2002 in Bristol by friends David Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop. It has 106 sites in total across the two brands.

Warrens Bakery to open most northerly store, in Altrincham next month: Cornwall-based baker Warrens Bakery is to open its most northerly store next month, in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. Warrens Bakery has partnered with Sim Trava, the Altrincham-based franchisee behind numerous Costa Coffee branches across the north. The bakery is due to open in Cross Street in the town centre in early November at a site formerly occupied by another bakery chain, Greenhalgh’s, which closed suddenly in March following failure to agree a lease extension with landlords the Stamford Quarter. Trava told Altrincham Today: “We are so excited to bring our local community a breakfast and lunch offer that is baked fresh in-store each day and look forward to reigniting our town’s passion for having a truly British bakery in their high street.” Warrens, which opened its first store in St Just in 1860, operates more than 50 stores across Cornwall, Somerset, Devon and Bristol. It opened its first site outside the West Country – in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands – in February. Earlier this year, the company said it was looking to double its estate in the next five years through franchising, with chairman Mark Sullivan announcing a pipeline of 100 stores.

Faucet Inn to open second Babel site, in Cheltenham next week: Faucet Inn is to open the second site for its Babel bar concept, in Cheltenham next week. The company, which has a portfolio of pubs, bars, restaurants and boutique hotels, will open the venue on Saturday, 14 October at The Brewery Quarter. The 5,000 square foot unit will become its second Babel bar alongside its site in London’s Clapham Junction. Faucet Inn managing director Steve Cox said: “The Brewery Quarter is key to our ongoing expansion programme and growth strategy for the south of England. The development is right in the heart of Cheltenham, providing the perfect location for Babel and helping us celebrate 16 years in the industry.” The Brewery Quarter is a leisure scheme with a mix of restaurants, bars and entertainment, including an 11-screen Cineworld IMAX, restaurant brands Prezzo and Nando’s, Hollywood Bowl, and Fitness First Platinum Club.

Aberdeen-based multi-site operator acquires sixth site: Aberdeen-based multi-site operator Allan Henderson has acquired his sixth site after adding a seafood restaurant to his portfolio. Henderson has bought The Silver Darling in Pocra Quay for an undisclosed sum from Didier Dejean, who opened the venue in 1986. Henderson told the Evening Express: “We are delighted to welcome the iconic Silver Darling into our growing hospitality portfolio. This a unique venue and one we have long admired. Adding it to our family group is a proud moment.” Henderson also operates McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, The Stage, No 10 Bar & Restaurant, Ferryhill House Hotel, and The Fourmile.

Nottingham-based Blue Monkey Brewery lodges plans for fifth pub, in Southwell: Nottingham-based Blue Monkey Brewery has lodged plans to open its fifth pub. The company, based in the village of Giltbrook, has applied to Newark and Sherwood District Council to convert the former NatWest bank branch in Church Street, Southwell. Blue Monkey Brewery wants to convert the banking hall into a pub and turn a large office at the rear into a restaurant. Managing director Amanda Robson told the Nottingham Post: “We have tried to spread our pubs around. We would like to encourage people from the city centre to the outskirts of Nottinghamshire to go to a real ale pub. We would like to do anything we can to restore the original features of the bank. We like our pubs to have that old feeling.” Blue Monkey Brewery’s other pubs are in Canning Circus, Arnold, Newark and Loughborough.

Former Pied a Terre manager launches French neighbourhood concept Noizé at Dabbous site in Fitzrovia: Mathieu Germond, former general manager and head sommelier at Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant Pied a Terre, has launched French neighbourhood concept Noizé, also in Fitzrovia, for his first solo venture. The 2,600 square foot restaurant has opened at the site of former Michelin-starred restaurant Dabbous in Whitfield Street, with references to Germond’s childhood spent enjoying the cooking of his grandparents in the village of Noizé in the Loire Valley. The kitchen is led by former Pied a Terre chef Ed Dutton, with dishes including sea bass with clam and smoked emulsion, and partridge with celeriac. Desserts include chocolate fondant with banana and milk, and baked alaska with blackberries. Noizé offers a downstairs bar and an eight-cover private dining room alongside the street-level restaurant. Pied a Terre owner David Moore, who acted as consultant on the venture, told Hot Dinners: “Noizé aims to eschew the typical, modern French cuisine offered across London and re-establish simple cuisine, interesting wine and service as it should be.” In July, Propel reported agent Davis Coffer Lyons had assigned Dabbous’ lease for a six-figure premium on behalf of co-owners Ollie Dabbous and Oskar Kinberg, who closed the venue at the end of June so they could focus on a “new and larger project to launch in 2018”.

Tim Hortons acquires former Pizza Hut site in Altrincham: Tim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, has acquired a site in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of Tim Hortons, has agreed a deal to open an outlet in the former Pizza Hut unit in Cross Street. The property, which is currently being refurbished, has been vacant since Pizza Hut left in 2009, reports Altrincham Today. Tim Hortons offers its signature coffee, espresso-based drinks, hot chocolate, French vanilla and classic frozen Iced Capp, as well as baked goods and breakfast and lunch offerings. 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. Last 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 the Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast areas 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”.

New World Trading Company to add mezzanine level to The Botanist site in Newcastle to meet demand: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company is creating a mezzanine level at its The Botanist site in Newcastle to meet demand. The company, which opened the venue in 2014 in the Monument Mall and served 10,000 diners in its first month, said the bar had gone from strength to strength, which is mirrored in this latest investment. Overlooking the nine-metre sycamore tree centrepiece, the 645 square feet mezzanine will primarily be used as a private function space for larger-scale events, accommodating up to 80 guests. When not booked out for a private party the space will also act as a dining area, adding 60 covers to the restaurant’s current 142-seat capacity. The mezzanine level will also have its own bar. General manager Andrew Shiel-Redfern said: “Since bringing The Botanist to Newcastle we’ve been overwhelmed with the response and are really pleased to be extending our offering, which will allow us to welcome more diners and accommodate private hire bookings for up to 80 guests. Work is now under way and will be carried out outside of our trading hours, meaning we’ll remain open throughout the duration. We’re hoping to unveil our new mezzanine next month.”

Taco Bell to open restaurant in York shopping centre: Taco Bell is to open a restaurant at Monks Cross shopping centre in York. The new restaurant will open next to electrical retailers Herbert Todd in Monks Cross Drive. Taco Bell, which is part of the Yum! Brands group, has yet to reveal an opening date but has started advertising for staff and applied for an alcohol licence to cover opening hours of 10am to 3am daily. The company is looking for a restaurant manager who is a “dynamic individual to lead the right people to help grow our business”, York Mix reports. In August, Propel reported Sheffield-based food franchise firm QFM Group had acquired the site at Monks Cross. The company bought the 19,000 square foot site from York-based property development company S Harrison. The franchise business operates a number of quick-service restaurant brands across the north of England and Scotland, including Taco Bell, Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee, and KFC. Taco Bell has more than 6,000 restaurants across the US and continues to grow with over 250 restaurants internationally. Eighteen are in the UK, with the nearest to York in Bradford and Leeds.

Wagamama launches plant-based menu to meet demand: Wagamama has launched a plant-based menu to meet consumer demand. Executive chef Steve Mangleshot has created a vegan and vegetarian menu featuring 29 plant-based dishes, including kare burosu ramen, spicy yasai samla curry, which was named “best curry” in PETA’s 2017 Food Awards, and yasai steamed gyoza and itame rice noodle curry. The menu also features a wide range of beer, spirits and wine alongside vitamin-packed juices. Wagamama customer director Emma Woods said: “When talking to vegan customers, what they want the most is inclusion. That is the same with our vegetarian fans. Our first dedicated vegan and vegetarian menu can be the starting point to support a vegan lifestyle choice. We will listen to our fans to make sure we are constantly adapting and innovating to meet customer desires and a modern lifestyle.”

Nottinghamshire-based Dessert Haven to start expansion with second site only two months after launch: Nottinghamshire-based Dessert Haven is to start expansion by opening a second site, this time in Beeston, only two months after the brand made its debut in Long Eaton. While the Long Eaton branch will remain a takeaway-only site, the new restaurant will have space for 20 people to eat in and offer additional items that “don’t travel well” such as crepes and coffee. Other items on the menu include gelato, fudge cake, cheesecake, sundaes, and old-school puddings such as jam roly poly and apple crumble. Co-founders Shafiq Rahman and Moreen Shafiqs decided to expand shortly after seeing how much demand there was at the Long Eaton store. They chose Beeston because of its large student population and the volume of orders they were getting from the town. Rahman told the Nottingham Post: “The business took off really well, everybody loves desserts. I think it will be great for the area. It is something a bit different and it will employ local people.”