All Star Lanes looking to develop smaller city format, set to open second site outside London: All Star Lanes managing director Christian Rose has told Propel the company is looking at developing a smaller city format as it looks to continue its expansion. Rose also said it would review how it operates within shopping centres as it looks to build on the success of its Westfield Stratford City site. The company has agreed terms on two new sites – one in London and the other in the north of England, which will be its second site outside the capital. Rose also has his sights set on another venue in London. He added the focus for the next 12 to 15 months is on the UK but he is looking to take the brand overseas beyond that. He said: “We’ve been approached a couple of times about going to the UAE and I think that’s an option. I also believe we can be a success in continental Europe and maybe Australasia. I’m not sure about the US.” The company saw revenue grow 5.7% in 2016 to £15.3m (2015: 3.1% to £14.5m), while Christmas sales increased 13.5% year-on-year. Gross margin continued to improve to 82.1% in 2016 (81.8% in 2015 and 78.9% in 2014) as a result of the continuing emphasis on improving product offerings and operational efficiencies implemented during this period. Adjusted Ebitda grew by 39.5% to £1,463,000 (£1,049,000 in 2015 and £854,000 in 2014) as the management continued to focus on labour utilisation rates, driving synergies and implementing standard operating procedures. As previously reported, the company agreed a £3.5m refinancing deal with HSBC to support its expansion plans. Rose said two-thirds of its revenue came from food and drink sales. He added: “We are not just in the business of bowling or food and drink – we are about creating memorable events. It’s about being experiential. We are trying to differ ourselves from mainstream – all our food and cocktails are made from scratch. We have also introduced craft beer and reworked the wine list. We’ve also pushed our private rooms so companies can hold a meeting and then do a bit of bowling and have food. It’s all about creating that memorable experience.” Last week the company reopened its Brick Lane venue in east London following a £700,000 refurbishment, while it has also completed an £800,000 refurbishment of its Holborn venue. The first All Star Lanes venue opened in Holborn in 2006, followed by Bayswater in 2007, Brick Lane in 2008 and Westfield Stratford City in 2011. Its only current site outside the capital opened in Manchester in 2013.

Nando’s partners with Touch Central to engage with millennials: Nando’s has partnered with digital-only radio station Touch Central to launch a new campaign – Millennial Zeitgeist 2017 (#MZ17) – in an attempt to listen to millennials by listening to them and giving them a “platform to share their stories”. Touch Central creative director Arye Kellman, who conceived #MZ17, told Marketing News: “#MZ17 is a six-part podcast and short documentary series. The content reflects the mood and opinions of some well-known and some lesser-known millennials on the subjects of passion, purpose, fame, success, happiness and social media.” Nando’s chief marketing officer Doug Place added: “Nando’s knows all about getting conversations started. We have fired up many debates with our spicy adverts and the social commentary we have become known for. At Nando’s we try to make people’s voices heard on issues that matter to them. Partnering with Touch Central on #MZ17 is an authentic way to begin understanding a new generation, while also giving them a platform to share their stories.” Touch Central is a collaboration between two of South Africa’s leading radio and TV personalities – Thabo Molefe, known as T-bo Touch, and Gareth Cliff.

Whitbread opens first standalone restaurant in 20 years with third Bar + Block site: Whitbread has opened its first standalone restaurant in some 20 years with its third Bar + Block site, at the Whiteley Shopping Centre in Fareham, Hampshire. The 4,500 square foot, 177-cover venue includes a central feature bar with copper detailing, a large open kitchen, branded mosaic signage at the entrance, and a mix of upright seating and leather booths. Exposed brick walls are adorned with contemporary art pieces, including the brand’s signature neon cow and preserved moss ‘Hello’ sign, as well as wall calligraphy detailing the Bar + Block brand story. The venue, which follows on from the brand’s launch in Birmingham last year and a second site in King’s Cross, London, also offers a 24-cover external seating area. Bar + Block has an emphasis on high-quality steaks at affordable prices, all hand-cut to order, while the “Butcher’s Block” features a range of rotating specials. Bar + Block also offers an extensive drinks list, with a focus on craft beer and cider, innovative cocktails, and a specially curated wine list. Whitbread chief operating officer David Murdin said: “Bar + Block number three is now open, this time in Whiteley, where we’ve opened Whitbread’s first standalone restaurant for some 20 years. It’s another mark of how far we’ve come.”

Punch invests more than £7m in community pubs: Punch has invested more than £7m in 43 community pubs during the past three months. The rapid investment programme spans the UK – from Glasgow in Scotland to Folkestone in Kent. By March, Punch will also have launched 22 Falcon sites with an average investment of £250,000. Falcon offers potential entrepreneurs a five-year retail contract to run a pub on a self-employed basis with the support of a dedicated team to guide the venture. In addition, the company has also launched 21 leased and tenanted pubs, from community ventures to real ale sites. Punch chief executive Duncan Garrood said: “Great pubs need great people at the helm and our ability to invest has helped to set up 43 entrepreneurs during the first three months of the year with well invested pubs that are at the heart of the communities they serve. It truly is a partnership approach to business and the £7m investment is only the start of our plans to continue to build a strong and prosperous community-leased pub estate.”

Bistrot Pierre to open Middlesbrough site: Bistrot Pierre, the restaurant group backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, is to open a site in Middlesbrough in July. The company is advertising for staff to work at the venue, which is though to be in an empty unit opposite Middlesbrough Town Hall. The advertisement reads: “We are proud to announce the newest Bistrot opening in Middlesbrough, in July 2017, for which we are recruiting. We currently have a portfolio of 17 restaurants nationally, with ambitious plans for expansion, creating plenty of opportunity for career progression for those who seek to continue to grow their skills and position within the company. The company’s vision is great value, delicious cooking in a busy, buzzy atmosphere by a friendly and professional team enjoying themselves.” Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd told Gazette Live: “A key part of our vision for the centre of Middlesbrough is our food and drink offer. We want a full complement of independent and major national chains standing side by side, increasing visitor numbers and creating a destination where people want to go, and then want to stay.” Last month, Bistrot Pierre opened its 17th site, in Altrincham, which the company said was its “busiest opening ever”. In late December, Bistrot Pierre reported turnover increased 18% to £19,519,578 for the year ending 30 June 2016, compared with £16,562,199 the year before. Trading Ebitda fell to £1.89m, compared with £1.96m the previous year. It reported a pre-tax profit of £74,498, compared with £587,479 the year before.

Revolution Bars Group submits plans for Revolution site in Solihull: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 66 premium bars across the UK under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has submitted plans for a site in Solihull, West Midlands. The company has applied to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to convert the former Jimmy Spices restaurant in Station Road into a Revolution bar. The restaurant ceased trading in June last year and, prior to that, the site was occupied by a Yates’s Wine Lodge. Under the plans, the corner unit will be refurbished to provide bar areas on the ground and first floors. A retractable roof will also be erected to provide external seating, reports Insider Media. A planning statement said the proposed bar would bring the building “back into a viable, long-term and productive economic use that will contribute to the vitality and vibrancy” of the area.

JD Wetherspoon and Whitbread certificated as ‘Top Employers’: JD Wetherspoon and Whitbread have been certificated as a Top Employer United Kingdom 2017. It is the 14th consecutive year Wetherspoon has been certificated by The Top Employers Institute, the independent organisation behind The Top Employer awards, while for Whitbread it was the seventh year running. The certification is based on independent research that shows the companies have “outstanding HR policies and excellent working conditions”. They were assessed on primary benefits, secondary benefits and working conditions, training and development, career development and company culture. Wetherspoon legal, personnel and commercial director Su Cacioppo said: “We are very proud to be named as one of the UK’s top employers. It is even more pleasing that it is our 14th consecutive year to receive this accolade. The company employs more than 37,000 staff across its pubs and head office and is committed to offering each and every one the best opportunity to succeed and grow with the company.”

Blanchette promotes Tam Storrar to chef director: French bistro Blanchette, which operates sites in London’s Soho and Brick Lane, has promoted Tam Storrar to the position of chef director. Storrar has been a shareholder since the business was founded and its first head chef when Blanchette launched in Soho at the end of 2013. Blanchette East opened in Brick Lane last summer, with Storrar taking on the role of executive chef across both restaurants, developing innovative French sharing plates unique to each site. The brand, which is owned by brothers Maxime, Yannis and Malik Alary, is named after their mother. Managing director Maxime Alary said: “(Our) family is bigger and glad to have Tam as its new business partner. He has been instrumental in the success of Blanchette and his appointment comes as a well-deserved addition to the family.”

The Speratus Group to open Boozy Cow restaurant in Dundee, fourth site: Bar and restaurant operator The Speratus Group is to open a Boozy Cow site in Dundee. The company is adding to the brand’s venues in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Stirling with the new restaurant in Roseangle on the former site of Laing’s Bar and Kitchen. The company said: “Rumours have been circulating the streets of Dundee, whispers about Laing’s and the Boozy Cow and murmurs of beer gardens no more. We’re thrilled to announce some of the rumours are true. Laings was an established and well-liked institution in Dundee and we understand there are some of you who are gutted to see it go. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to honour its legacy.” The Speratus Group also confirmed it would retain the beer garden. Boozy Cow donates all its profits to local charities and good causes. Last year, The Speratus Group said it was actively exploring opportunities for Boozy Cow in cities across the UK.

French chef and writer Stéphane Reynaud to open his first London restaurant, in Shoreditch: French chef and cookery writer Stéphane Reynaud will open his first London restaurant in April, at Shoreditch’s Boundary hotel. The new restaurant – Tratra – will take over the hotel’s basement space. Tratra is a colloquial French term meaning “traditional with a modern twist”, the Evening Standard reports. Reynaud, who operates two restaurants in Paris, has appeared on BBC television show Saturday Kitchen and written nine best-selling cookery books. His cooking tends to place an emphasis on meat and charcuterie as he grew up in a family of pig farmers and butchers. His books include Pork & Sons and Stéphane Reynaud’s Book of Tripe. Tratra will be the latest in the Prescott and Conran restaurant group, run by Sir Terence Conran and Peter Prescott. The group also owns Les Deux Salons, near Trafalgar Square, Parabola at The Design Museum in Kensington, and Albion restaurants in Shoreditch, Bankside and Clerkenwell.

Turtle Bay to open Middlesbrough restaurant at former Walkabout site: Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay will open a venue at a former Walkabout site in Middlesbrough that has been empty since Intertain shut the venue in March 2015. The restaurant in Corporation Road will open in April, with the company holding auditions at Middlesbrough FC’s stadium next week to hire up to 50 staff. Auditions at the Riverside Stadium will involve limbo dancing and a group task involving prospective employees imagining they are stuck on a Caribbean Island. A Turtle Bay spokesperson told Gazette Live: “The auditions are a great couple of days and really put hopefuls to the test when it comes to being in tune with the Caribbean vibe and the essence of Turtle Bay.” Meanwhile, Turtle Bay has opened its latest site, in the new £34m Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn. Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema and has 35 sites across the UK, having opened its first in Milton Keynes in 2010.

BrewDog launches ‘puppy parental leave’ for staff: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a new perk for staff – puppy parental leave. Employees, who are already allowed to bring their dogs to work, will now get the added bonus of a week’s paid leave if their dog has puppies or they take a rescue dog into their home. BrewDog stated in its blog: “We care about many things but have two main focuses above all others – our beer and our people. We have noticed our people also care about many things but have two main focuses above all others – our beer and their dogs. That’s why we let them bring their four-legged friends to work and why we are going one better with the latest staff perk. Having a new arrival – whether a mewling pup or unsettled rescue dog – can be stressful for human and hound alike. So we are becoming the first in our industry to give our staff a working week’s leave to help settle a new furry family member into their home. This pooch-based perk will be available to all BrewDog crew members across the globe, including those joining our ship Stateside as part of BrewDog Columbus. Whether man, woman or pup we encourage all members of our family to support and look out for one another, and this also applies to those who visit our BrewDog bars. Every one is dog-friendly so, as our staff don’t have to leave their faithful friends behind, you don’t need to either.”

Tapas Revolution opens Newcastle restaurant, sixth and largest site: Tapas Revolution, led by celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy and managing director Mac Plumpton, has opened its sixth and largest site, in Newcastle. The new venue is in Intu Eldon Square’s 80,000 square foot Grey’s Quarter leisure extension, joining brands including Red’s True Barbecue, Handmade Burger Co, Bella Italia, ASK Italian and Crepeffaire in the £25m development that opened in October. Last month, Tapas Revolution secured £2.5m investment from equity investor Mobeus Equity Partners to fund expansion. Plumpton said the company had a number of new restaurant locations “in its sights” and the funding would “allow us to take the Tapas Revolution concept more widely”. Also last month, Allibhoy was granted the International Tapas Award – Gold in recognition of his commitment to Spanish cuisine throughout his career in the UK. He said: “Tapas is more than just food, it’s a way of life in Spain. I’m passionate about bringing this easy, convivial style of eating and socialising to the UK.” Tapas Revolution’s other sites are in Birmingham, Bluewater in Kent, Sheffield, and Shepherd’s Bush and Shoreditch in London. The next site to open will be in Bath in April.

Naughty Piglets opens theatre restaurant co-run with Andrew Lloyd Webber, second London site: Brixton neighbourhood restaurant Naughty Piglets has started expansion with a second London site. The new venue in Palace Street, Westminster, is co-run with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The impresario was said to be so impressed with his dinner at the Naughty Piglets debut site in Brixton Water Lane, he suggested it took over the in-house restaurant at the refurbished St James Theatre. The venue has been relaunched as The Other Palace – because of its close proximity to Buckingham Palace – and The Other Naughty Piglet has taken over the theatre’s entire first floor. The 60-cover restaurant features a large open kitchen – headed by The Clove Club’s Joe Knowlden – alongside the original theatre bar. There are more dishes than at the debut site and The Other Naughty Piglet offers a daily changing menu from founders and husband-and-wife team Joe and Margaux Sharratt.

Costa Coffee begins new agency search for global ad account: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has begun a search for a new agency for its global advertising account. The brand contacted companies last week via client relationship agency AAR, which is handling the review. The current UK incumbent agency 101 will not repitch for the account because it does not have a global footprint, Campaign reports. Another creative agency, Karmarama, which has worked with Costa since 2010, has yet to say whether it will repitch for the account.

Marston’s to open new-build pub restaurant in Runcorn: Marston’s is to open a new-build pub and restaurant in Runcorn, Cheshire. The company is expected to open The Ten Lock Flight in early April, creating 45 jobs. The pub – named after the ten flights of locks on Bridgewater Canal – is being built as part of the redevelopment of the Crosville bus depot site. The pub’s general manager, Adam Williams, told the Runcorn and Widnes World: “We believe The Ten Lock Flight will be a hub for the community that will not only offer great food and drink but also excellent value for money and fantastic customer service.”

New Italian restaurant and bar Il Pampero to open in Belgravia hotel next month: A new Italian restaurant and bar – Il Pampero – is set to open next month in The Hari hotel, Belgravia. The head chef at the 58-cover venue in Chesham Place will be Claudio Covino, formerly of Mayfair restaurant and bar Novikov. Covino will prepare fine Italian food using traditional methods, including smoking and curing, The Handbook reports. Sharing dishes will be prepared at the table, with the “whole restaurant oozing vintage Italian glamour with bartenders dressed in crisp white jackets”. The hotel’s website states the interiors will be “designed by British interior authority Tara Bernerd, who is behind the design of the hotel”. The Hari was the debut venue for a new concept by Harilela Hotels, with the 85-bedroom hotel opening in August. The next site to open for the brand will be The Hari Hong Kong in 2019.

Yorkshire bakery brand Costello’s to open new production facility: Yorkshire bakery brand Costello’s is to open a new production unit, in Malton. The company is opening the facility at a new site in Navigation Wharf, near York House. Navigation Wharf, an area of former riverside warehouses, is being developed by Fitzwilliam Estate as a second phase of food production units now the first phase at Talbot Yard is almost fully let. Costello’s will be the first to open there. The new Costello’s site will provide more space for the business to produce its craft baking products for its shops in Malton and Driffield. Tom Naylor-Leyland, who leads the Malton food town project, said Costello’s range of pies and cakes would now have the “Made in Malton” stamp of approval and would certainly boost Malton’s credentials as a “foodie destination”. Co-owner James Costello told Insider Media: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to increase our offering and to sell our products to other high-quality food retailers, restaurants and cafes. Over the past few years I have seen great things happening in Malton, some fantastic independent businesses have been created and it’s an honour to be a part of its development as the food capital of the north.”

Hastings Group submits plans to build Northern Ireland’s largest hotel: Hastings Group has submitted plans to build Northern Ireland’s largest hotel, turning Windsor House in Belfast city centre into a 304-bedroom hotel called Grand Central. The £30m, four-star complex would transform the 23-storey building in Bedford Street and be the family-run firm’s largest project so far. If approved, the scheme could include bars and restaurants on the ground, first and 22nd floors, the Belfast Telegraph reports. The initial grand design, which was revealed in 2015, was for 200 rooms including 18 serviced apartments. New plans state: “Following further analysis of the local leisure, hospitality and commercial property market, and re-evaluation of the company’s investment and business strategy, it was decided to concentrate on providing a full-service, four-star hotel, providing 304 bedrooms and enhanced public spaces.” Hastings Group said the development would create 150 jobs and 120 during the construction phase