Loungers to take over Prezzo site in Moseley: Cafe brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, is set to take over a Prezzo site in the Birmingham suburb of Moseley. Prezzo is leaving the site in Alcester Road only 16 months after arriving due to competition from PizzaExpress, which opened next door but one in September 2016. Prezzo, which launched two months beforehand following the conversion of a former Halfords Autocentre, is scheduled to close early in the new year. The site is set to be taken over by Loungers, which has submitted a licensing application to Birmingham City Council. A Prezzo source told the Birmingham Mail the site had been sold and it was likely it would close in February with staff dispersed to other sites, including Harborne and Shirley, where the company is also in direct competition with PizzaExpress. Loungers, which operates the Lounges and Cosy Club brands, has a number of sites in the area, in Mere Green, Harborne, Kings Heath, Shirley and Wylde Green.
Graffiti Spirits Group outlines expansion plans outside Liverpool as it reveals further details of new city food market: Graffiti Spirits Group has outlined plans for further expansion outside its Liverpool heartland as it sheds further light on proposals to create a new food market in the city. Matt Farrell and John Ennis founded the company in 2007, launching Santa Chupitos in Slater Street two years later. The group now has six venues across Liverpool – Santa Chupitos, Santa Maluco, Salt Dog Slims, Slim’s Pork Chop Express, El Bandito and 81. It also recently launched a Slim’s BBQ Express in the Digbeth area of Birmingham. Farrell said further expansion is planned with opportunities being explored in Manchester and Birmingham as it looks to grow to a ten-strong estate in the next three years. The possibility of a tri-branded site in Manchester is also being explored, bringing the Salt Dog, Slim’s and El Bandito brands to the city. Graffiti Spirits Group previously unveiled plans to create a food market in Duke Street, Liverpool, and Farrell said an opening is earmarked for summer 2018. He told Insider Media: “We have the Baltic Market and that’s very street food led. We’re looking at a more ‘high-end’ offering on the culinary side of things. We’re planning five or six units downstairs but we’re looking at really well-respected restaurants as occupants. We’re also looking at having a bakery, deli shop and an outside area.” For the market’s 50-cover restaurant on the upper floor, Graffiti is seeking experienced chefs who would be interested in a “residency”.
Former Revolution boss misses out on bonus after failing to hit performance targets: Former Revolution Bars Group chief executive Mark McQuater missed out on his annual bonus after failing to hit performance targets, the company’s annual report has revealed. As a result McQuater, who left the company last month, saw his total remuneration for the year ending 1 July 2017 fall to £473,000 compared with £570,000 the year before. This consisted of £368,000 salary and fees, £41,000 in taxable benefits and £64,000 pension. The company had an adjusted Ebitda target of £16,280,000 but fell short at £15,066,000, while the adjusted profit before tax target was £9,805,000 but the company achieved £9,296,000. Executive directors did not receive a salary increase in July due to the “shortfall in underlying profitability relative to market expectations as at the beginning of the period”. Writing in the report, remuneration committee chairman Michael Swallow said: “Performance against the adjusted Ebitda and adjusted profit before tax bonus threshold targets were not met and no bonuses are payable to any of the executive directors or to senior management.” Meanwhile, the report revealed new chief financial officer Mike Foster was appointed in June on a salary of £200,000 a year – £45,000 less than his predecessor Chris Chambers – that was considered “appropriate” for his experience.
Gaucho opens £1.5m Edinburgh restaurant for first Scottish site: Gaucho has opened its £1.5m flagship restaurant in Edinburgh for the brand’s first Scottish site. The company, which also operates Argentinian-inspired brand CAU, has opened the 120-cover restaurant on the recently rebuilt south side of St Andrew Square, which now features a cluster of restaurants including The Ivy and Dishoom. Gaucho Edinburgh features a glass-fronted bar overlooking St Andrew Square and an open-plan restaurant where interiors take inspiration from ombu, giant trees that are a striking feature of Argentine landscapes. The restaurant also features a glass private dining room with walls adorned by more than 200 bottles of Gaucho’s exclusive wine collection. Gaucho is best known for its steaks but also offers special fusion dishes that, in Edinburgh’s case, includes haggis empanadas. Gaucho’s wine list features 130 Argentinian wines while there are also ranges of scotch, gin and Scottish craft beer. Gaucho opened its first site in Piccadilly in 1994. In May, the brand opened its first eponymous UK restaurant in seven years, in Birmingham. Gaucho also has restaurants in Dubai, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires. Last week, Gaucho founder Zeev Godik stepped down as chief executive after 41 years at the helm.
Southampton-based pizza concept Pi Woodfired secures first London site as part of expansion plans: Southampton-based pizza concept Pi Woodfired has secured a site in Battersea as part of its expansion plans into south London. The venue will open early next year in Battersea Rise at a 1,519 square foot site with a rent of £48,000 per annum, a premium of £90,000 and a lease that runs until 2026. The company is running a £500,000 campaign on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to fund three openings in south London to go alongside its debut Winchester site. The company, founded by Rosie Whaley, is offering a 30% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, the campaign has raised £397,000 from 19 investors. Pi is targeting three London openings by 2020 at the rate of one a year. The concept is based on 20-inch sharing pizzas with up to three flavour combinations. The company is targeting sites of 50 to 70 covers. Whaley said: “We think it’s an ideal format to take to London.” 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. Matthew Englender, head of sales at agents Restaurant Property, which sold the site on behalf of Scoffers, said: “Battersea Rise is a vibrant location with plenty of exciting operators. I am confident Pi Woodfired will fit in nicely.”
Escape Reality bids to launch late-night escape room attraction in Manchester for eighth UK site: Escape Reality has lodged plans to open a late-night escape room attraction in Manchester for what would be its eighth UK site. The company is seeking to change the use of a first-floor unit at the Printworks into a live escape room experience. The 6,286 square foot unit, which is above a Prezzo restaurant, previously housed a nightclub but has been vacant since 2011. The venue would feature seven escape rooms, a photo-wall, lockers, a social area and a bar. Escape Reality promises players its “movie-inspired thematic rooms engage the hero in you as you overcome challenges and defeat your doubts on the way to victory”. The brand operates venues in Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Leicester, with another in Preston marked on its website as “coming soon”. It also operates two sites in the US and another in Dubai and is looking to expand across Europe, North America and Africa, Insider Media reports. The Printworks was once Europe’s largest printing facility producing national newspapers including the Telegraph and Mirror. The building has been reinvented as a leisure complex featuring a Vue cinema and brands such as Hard Rock Café, Tiger Tiger, Walkabout and Nando’s.
Paskin siblings to reopen Soho pub next month to feature kitchen and cocktail bar: Siblings Layo and Zoë Paskin, founders of London restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary, are to reopen Soho pub The Blue Posts next month as a three-storey venue including a kitchen counter and cocktail bar. The Paskins, who opened coffee shop concept Jacob The Angel in Seven Dials in August, will reopen the pub on Tuesday, 5 December. The ground floor of the Georgian building in Rupert Street will house the main pub with the beer cellar transformed into Evelyn’s Table, which will seat 11 diners who will be handed food directly from the kitchen counter. The first floor, meanwhile, will feature The Mulwray, a cocktail lounge featuring marble, brass and a wood-burning stove, Hot Dinners reports. Nacho Pinilla, former executive chef at The Barbary, will head the kitchen at The Blue Posts, overseeing Evelyn’s Table and creating a bar menu for the other areas.
Black Sheep Coffee signs lease for first site outside London: London-based independent coffee shop Black Sheep Coffee has signed a lease for its first site outside London, in Manchester. The company has signed a lease for a site at mixed-use development Piccadilly Place in a deal brokered by Property Alliance Group. The new venue is the first of two sites the brand will open in the city, with a second due to launch in Spring Gardens. As well as the deal with Black Sheep Coffee, Property Alliance Group brokered a lease deal for a Simply Fresh convenience store at Piccadilly Place with a combined floor space of 4,500 square feet. Property Alliance Group head of offices Rob Peill said: “There has been a lot of interest in the available retail units in the piazza, particularly since we announced our plans to further improve the amenity and landscaping.” Black Sheep Coffee currently operates 14 sites in London with another five in the capital labelled on its website as “coming soon”, including a venue that will launch in Hackney on Thursday (16 November).
Star appoints new food strategy and implementation manager: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has appointed Mark Teed as its new food strategy and implementation manager. Teed has 20 years’ experience in the pub and casual dining sector, most recently as food development manager at Greene King. His career also includes three years as area manager for Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian and four years as a leased pub operator, successfully turning around an underperforming Dorset pub. He takes over from Luke Davies, who recently took a Star lease at the Cowick Barton in Exeter. Teed said: “Star provides extensive food support to its licensees. I’m looking forward to building on this, helping licensees keep their offers fresh, capitalising on the latest food trends. With food inflation a major factor for pubs, a key focus will be helping Star licensees adapt their offers to maintain profitability and leveraging Star Pubs & Bars’ scale to get them further great deals from suppliers.” Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, added: “We’re pleased to welcome Mark to Star Pubs & Bars at an exciting time in our evolution and a dynamic time for pub food. At the end of 2016, 70% of our pubs were shown to serve food, the highest percentage of any national leased pub operator. Mark is able to provide a strategic overview of the food challenges and opportunities leased pubs face and, as a former licensee and area manager, he understands the support both need.”
Social media channel Twisted launches delivery-only restaurant: Social media channel Twisted, which is owned by Jungle Creations, has launched a delivery-only restaurant. Twisted, founded in March 2016, has more than eight million followers on Facebook and Instagram, with its videos achieving more than 200 million global views per month. It is known for its recipe videos that are filmed from a bird’s-eye perspective and posted on its social channels. Items available from the new restaurant include burgers and dishes such as Korean slow-cooked beef with sticky rice and red cabbage slaw, and salted caramel cookie dough brownie. Each dish is accompanied by a recipe video, with consumers able to “order now” and expect their delivery to arrive via Deliveroo and UberEats within 30 minutes – as long as they live within a two-mile radius of the E1 postcode in and around Aldgate East. Twisted London will also ask fans to vote on their favourite foods via a poll on Instagram Stories, Hot Dinners reports. Ten chefs will work at the “dark kitchen”, led by head chef Tom Ewer. Jungle Creations founder and chief executive Jamie Bolding said: “Twisted London is a natural extension of our offering and provides our followers with the best user experience imaginable.”
Black and White Hospitality signs with Feed It Back to launch marketing platform at Marco Pierre White restaurants: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the franchise rights to the Marco Pierre White brands, has signed a multi-year agreement with EPOS-linked guest feedback service Feed It Back as part of a new sales and marketing initiative. Black and White Hospitality is deploying Feed It Back at its 43 restaurants to gain more detailed feedback from guests as a brand development tool and as a basis for decision-making to support a period of substantial growth. Pierre White said: “Our guests’ experience in our restaurants is paramount. After all, we want everyone who visits to return. Feed It Back provides the perfect service for fine-tuning our restaurants and making sure we maintain our high standards.” Black and White Hospitality marketing director Jade Mallia added: “We will be using Feed It Back’s integrated guest recovery system to ensure every guest leaves happy and that any issues are dealt with swiftly, sometimes before they have even left. Also, guests will be able to select a team member to applaud and this will be key to celebrating the achievements of our talented restaurant teams.” Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “Having seen the passion and professionalism of Marco Pierre White’s restaurant teams at their recent annual awards, we are proud to support the growth of this iconic and prestigious brand.”
East Sussex-based vineyard aims to raise £500,000 to open restaurant: East Sussex-based Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard has launched a £500,000 fund-raise to open a restaurant. Owners Roy and Irma Cook are raising the money through the Angel Investment Network, which connects startups with angel investors, to add a 60-cover restaurant. They believe the restaurant will help double the current 5,000 annual visitor numbers by 2020. For the year ending December 2016, the vineyard reported turnover of £300,000 with year-on-year sales up 22% and gross profit of 30%. The pitch states: “The plan to build this restaurant is seen as the vehicle to take the business to the next level and would represent at least a doubling of the current £300,000 turnover. It is also a partial exit strategy for current owners Roy and Irma Cook, aged 71 and 60 respectively. They intend to oversee the construction and bringing into operation of the restaurant. They will continue to run the vineyard, wine-making and tourism. However, restaurant expertise is needed for the restaurant. It is likely the restaurant will be leased to the operator.” The vineyard is England’s oldest organic vineyard having been established by the current owners in 1979.
Crab burger concept Claw to open debut permanent restaurant, in Carnaby next month: Crab burger concept Claw is to open its debut permanent restaurant, in Carnaby next month. The concept has operated at festivals and as a pop-up across London. It was also part of the first batch of operators to open sites at British Land’s street food space at Broadgate in the City of London, launching a takeaway-only site in one of the shipping containers in May. Claw will open its first restaurant in Kingly Street on Monday, 11 December offering shellfish and surf and turf options alongside its staple crab burgers. Claw, founded by Fabian Clark, is a “homage to the best of coastal Britain”, with seafood delivered directly from Devon. Dishes on the all-day menu will include bacon and scallop muffin, fried chicken and caviar, squid Bolognese, duck nuggets, and trout poké, Hot Dinners reports. Claw is backed by West End theatre producer and entrepreneur Phil Cameron, who is also chief executive of No1 Lounges, which operates pay-on-entry lounges at airports across the UK.
Euro Garages gets go-ahead for new M1 service station: Euro Garages, the forecourt and roadside operator, has been given the go-ahead to build a service station near the M1 in Northamptonshire. The company has been granted permission by South Northamptonshire Council to redevelop land south of Junction 16. The plans include construction of a petrol station, convenience store, food retail unit, drive-thru coffee shop and access roads, reports Insider Media. A document published by planning officers states: “The site is not allocated for development under the development plan and, as the site is outside the settlement boundary of Upper Heyford, the site would be viewed as an area of open countryside where local plan policies seek to restrict development. Notwithstanding this, it is accepted that although not currently in active use the former use of the site as a highway works depot and for tipping of waste has resulted in the site having a brownfield appearance.”
Hawthorn Leisure shortlisted for finance awards: Hawthorn Leisure, the 312-strong pub company formed in 2013, has been shortlisted for two accolades in the West Midlands Finance Awards 2017. Hawthorn is in the running for small business of the year and finance team of the year at the event, which takes place at the ICC in Birmingham on Thursday (16 November). It will compete against companies such as BT Fleet and Volvo in the awards and is the only pub company to be shortlisted for two accolades. Hawthorn has been shortlisted as a result of its performance in the first three years of results, showing consecutive year-on-year growth and achieving a 10.1% increase in Ebitda to £9.0m for the year ending 25 December 2016. Judges said they were impressed by the company’s strong values and ability to think differently to drive performance. Hawthorn Leisure chief executive Gerry Carroll said: “Hawthorn Leisure has been built from the bottom up and we are incredibly proud of our achievements. We could not have achieved our success without the talent of the finance team. Its relentless commitment to the business, strategic planning and business intelligence keeps us on track and optimistic for next year. It’s fantastic for us and also the industry for a pub company to be recognised within the wider business community.”
Chelmsford-based cafe concept to open second site: Chelmsford-based cafe concept Acanteen is to open its second site in the Essex city. Acanteen, which launched in 2001, is opening the new site within Foyles bookstore in Bond Street. The 40-seat cafe will serve a range of food cooked from scratch, including patisserie, soup, and vegetarian and vegan lunches, alongside coffee and juice. Co-founder Emma Odell told Essex Live: “It’s our dream to expand further in the future but we’ll always remain a family-run business and keep the nice feel we have.”
Liverpool-based Indian fine dining restaurant Yukti starts expansion with street food site: Liverpool-based Indian fine dining restaurant Yukti has started expansion by opening a second site in the city, this time dedicated to street food. Yukti Indian Street Fusion has opened in Renshaw Street in the city centre. Manager Shishu Hawaldar told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s a different concept offering Indian street cuisine. We think it will do well in the city centre. What you get here is what you would get if you travelled to India.” Decor at the two-storey restaurant includes pictures of Liverpool’s waterfront alongside Beatles memorabilia and electric guitars. The first floor features large-screen televisions, a bar and private function room, while there is also a bar on the ground floor. Hawaldar said: “There will be instrumental Indian music and Beatles music too – it’s a fusion of India and Liverpool.”
Mindful Chef reaches 100,000 milestone in charity school meal partnership: Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef has donated more than 100,000 meals in support of One Feeds Two since partnering with the charity in July. For every food box purchased by a Mindful Chef customer, a school meal has been donated to a child living in poverty. Mindful Chef, which raised almost £2m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last month, plans to donate one million meals by the end of 2018. One Feeds Two was founded in 2013 by JP Campbell, who paired with established grassroots feeding programmes in the developing world. Mindful Chef co-founder Myles Hopper said: “We wanted to work with One Feeds Two as it’s a really effective way of using our business to help children in need. More than 60 million children miss out on school every single day due to hunger, which is simply unacceptable.”
Australian chain Adina eyes Glasgow for its first UK aparthotel: Australian hotel chain Adina has submitted plans to open an aparthotel in Glasgow city centre. Mosaid Architecture + Design has submitted a planning application to Glasgow City Council to turn an office building in Blythswood Square into a 110-bedroom, four-star hotel with glass penthouse and courtyard. If approved, it would be the first Adina Apartment Hotel in the UK following branches across mainland Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Mosaic director Neil Haining told Glasgow Live: “The proposed extension to the top-floor level would create high-level suites with exemplary views across Blythswood Square. The overall increase in scale of the building has been carefully balanced with the scale of adjacent B-listed properties.” Adina Apartment Hotels are marketed as having home comforts such as kitchen and laundry facilities but hotel services such as 24-hour reception, room service and gym.