Central London pub to reopen as Mediterranean fusion concept: A central London pub is set to reopen as a new Mediterranean fusion restaurant concept. Omar Shaaban, who cut his teeth in his family’s hospitality business, which includes a boutique hotel, restaurants, bars and nightclub, is launching Omar’s Place on the site of The Greyhound in Cambridge Street after agreeing a 20-year-lease through agent Davis Coffer Lyons, acting on behalf of the private landlord. The premises are set within a four-storey, grade-II listed Victorian corner property, which currently provides seating for about 60 covers as well as additional outside space. Omar’s Place plans to target the area’s affluent corporate and residential demographic, with a contemporary Mediterranean restaurant and bar with a modern twist. Keith Goodwin, associate director at Davis Coffer Lyons’ pubs and bars team, said it had received multiple offers for the property, which resulted in a letting substantially in excess of the £45,000 per annum asking rent. He added: “It is great to see The Greyhound, which had been closed to trade, will be returned as a licensed premises to this predominantly residential community. This area of central London has recently welcomed a string of reputable eateries, including Franco Manca, Bluebird Cafe, Bleecker Street Burger, and Jason Atherton’s Hai Cenato.”
PizzaExpress is first restaurant brand to sign for new Northamptonshire development: PizzaExpress has become the first restaurant brand to sign for a unit at Rushden Lakes – the new multimillion-pound retail and leisure scheme in Northamptonshire. The first phase of the development is due to open in July, with a range of shops and restaurants. While numerous big-name retail brands have been revealed, including House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer and H&M, the developer behind the scheme – LXB – has remained tight-lipped about restaurant brands. However, PizzaExpress has applied for a premises licence for one of the scheme’s units to open daily from 11am to 12.30am, the Northants Telegraph reports. A separate licence application has also been submitted by Cineworld Cinemas for unit 13 at Rushden Lakes. The proposed 14-screen cinema would be part of the development’s second phase.
Modern Pantry launches Finsbury Square cocktail bar in partnership with mixologist Mr Lyan: The Modern Pantry, run by chef Anna Hansen, has launched a cocktail bar at its Finsbury Square site in partnership with award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan. The Alpha Beta Bar has taken over the space at the front of The Modern Pantry’s restaurant in the Alphabeta building. The cocktail menu includes new drinks from Chetiyawardana such as the Dominican Daiquiri (Matusalem rum, raspberry pastis, Pineau de Charentes and Japanese citrus yuzu) and Firecracker Fizz (whisky and lemon with apricot and chilli sherbet “fluffed” with soda). Drinks are complemented by small plates by Hansen, such as her signature sugar-cured prawn omelette with smoked chilli sambal, Cornish crab rarebit doughnuts, and octopus grilled with liquorice and macadamia pesto. Hansen, who received an MBE for services to the restaurant industry in 2013, opened the first Modern Pantry in St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, in 2008. She opened the Finsbury Square site in September 2015, with a menu fusing classic ingredients with modern flavours. Chetiyawardana is behind London cocktail bar White Lyan in Hoxton and Dandelyan at the Mondrian hotel. He also curated the drinks list for The Cinnamon Collection’s new concept Cinnamon Bazaar, which launched in Covent Garden last month.
Greggs trials London delivery service: Bakery business Greggs is trialling a delivery service in London. The company, which first tested delivery in Newcastle, is now offering the service within two small pockets of the City. Greggs will deliver to any areas within a 0.4-mile radius of its stores in Cheapside and Eastcheap. However, more trials are likely to be introduced across London during 2017. Customers have to spend at least £20 to qualify for delivery and must place orders before 5pm to receive their baked goods by between 10am and midday the next day. Greggs retail director Raymond Reynolds told the Evening Standard: “Convenience is key in the food-on-the-go market and we’re extremely excited to offer delivery of a selection of our great-tasting, freshly prepared food directly to our customers by trialling a free delivery service in two of our London shops.”
Barons Pub Company acquires Reading pub for first site outside Surrey, seventh in total: Barons Pub Company has acquired its seventh pub and first outside its Surrey heartland. The company has bought the lease to The Black Boy in Reading from Claire Hawkins and Mike Clegg, who have “called it a day” after more than eight years behind the bar. They told Get Reading: “We know The Black Boy will be in good hands under the ownership of (Barons Pub Company) director Clive Price and operations director Helen Pillinger. They have many exciting plans for The Black Boy and we are looking forward to seeing the changes they make. We would like to thank our customers, suppliers, team members past and present and everyone who has supported us in our journey at The Black Boy.” The pub has closed to undergo a refurbishment. Barons Pub Company’s Surrey sites are The Cricketers in Horsell, The Star in Leatherhead, The Horseshoe in Warlingham, the Crown & Cushion in Blackwater, the Rose & Crown in Thorpe, and The Bletchingley Arms in Bletchingley.
Newly formed leisure operator H&M Hotels acquires first site, plans to add further venues: Newly formed leisure operator H&M Hotels has acquired its first site. The company has bought the Stonecross Manor Hotel in Kendal, Cumbria, with plans to add additional sites in the near future. The company was advised on the transaction by hotel management firm Onecall Hospitality, which will operate the 30-bedroom venue on its behalf. Onecall managing director Mark Chambers said: “Stonecross Manor Hotel is one of Kendal’s best-known hotels and is well-loved by locals and visitors to the Lake District. In recent years it has suffered from a lack of investment. We will be making an immediate start on a refurbishment programme, which will encompass the bedrooms, bar, restaurant and function rooms. It is our ultimate intention that Stonecross Manor Hotel will be the first of a unique collection of hotels of character under the ownership of H&M Hotels.” H&M Hotels is a sister business to Everbright Lodge, owner of the Rossett Hall Hotel in Wrexham and the Wild Pheasant in Llangollen. Onecall’s expanding managed hotel portfolio also includes Provincial Hotels and Inns, the investment firm that acquired 11 pubs and hotels in Lancashire from Lancaster-based Mitchell’s last year. Christie & Co acted as agent for the Stonecross Manor Hotel sale.
Pivovar to expand into north east with Newcastle venue: Bar operator Pivovar is set to expand into the north east by opening a venue in Newcastle. The company has outlined plans for the Newcastle Tap at Baron House, taking the last empty unit in the former office block that has been transformed through a hotel and leisure development. The pub company, which trades as The Tapped Brew Co, already has bars in Leeds, Harrogate, Sheffield, London and York. Now founders Jamie Hawksworth and Jonathon Holdsworth are working on plans with Newcastle interior design firm Collective Design for its latest venue, which will sit within the former office block Baron House, a large chunk of which was converted into the Hampton by Hilton hotel. The Newcastle venture will have room for about 70 drinkers. Collective Design director Simon McIlwraith told Chronicle Live: “Pivovar has quite a few bars around the country and this is its first in the north east and we are very pleased to be involved. We’ve just done Euston Tap with (the company) and it is happy to go ahead with Newcastle Tap. It’s going to be very different as a design. It’s early days but it’s going to be brand-strong with a long bar as the centrepiece and an exposed cellar – it’s going to look great.”
Bayswater hotel sells from guide price of £30m: Singapore-based Lum Chang Holdings has sold the Pembridge Palace Hotel in Bayswater, London, to an overseas investor through agent Savills from a guide price of £30m. The 120-bedroom, grade II-listed property is a tourist hotel, with the majority of bedrooms providing en-suite facilities. Gary Witham, director in the hotels team at Savills, said: “The central location and scale of Pembridge Palace Hotel invited a large amount of interest from European and south east Asian investors and brands looking for a foothold in London. We also had a lot of interest from private family office investors keen on acquiring London hotels offering value.” According to the latest research from Savills, London hotels accounted for half of all UK hotel transactions in 2016. Interest from overseas investors accounted for 29.2% of all 2016 transaction volumes, with private investors increasing their transaction volumes by 152% year-on-year.
High-end Indian restaurant Baluchi to enter UK market with London launch: High-end Indian restaurant The Baluchi is set to open its first site in the UK. Housed in luxury hotels throughout India, the brand will open in The Lalit London hotel in Tooley Street on Friday, 27 January. The menu will feature a diverse selection of flavours from many Indian regions, including Kashmir, Bengal, Kerala and Goa, Hot Dinners reports. Dishes will include suroor e shorba (Keralan-style lobster bisque with coconut and cognac), and phalahaar (melon, blood orange, pink lady, fresh figs, grapefruit and carom seeds with honey dressing). The kitchen will be headed by executive chef Arup Dasupta using ingredients from far-flung destinations such as Kashmiri Gucchi mushrooms from the foothills of the Himalayas, alongside a selection of teas from the Tea Lounge in Kolkata. The decor will feature vaulted ceilings, hand-made cobalt chandeliers, and Indian furniture and tapestries. The venue, close to Tower Bridge, will also feature a bread bar – the Naanery – and the Baluchi Gallery, which will offer “traditional English tea-time snacks with an Indian twist”, such as Bangla-Scotch egg with kasundi relish and Punjabi samosas.
Patty & Bunn opens new Hackney site: Better burger brand Patty & Bun has opened its new site in Hackney. The company closed its original restaurant in the area – in London Fields – earlier this year to convert the site into a development kitchen. The new venue in Richmond Road is slightly larger than the London Fields site and features communal tables that can fit about 50 people in total, with another 30 seated outside. The venue also features a small bar serving cocktails and craft beer on tap. The menu includes Patty & Bun favourites such as Ari Gold (beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, and smokey mayo) plus a new special, the chicken platter. Patty & Bun’s other sites are in Goodge Street, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Old Compton Street and Shoreditch.
Franco Manca secures Russell Square site: Property agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a new central London site for Pizza brand Franco Manca, which is owned by Fulham Shore. The 1,600 square foot restaurant in Bernard Street, Russell Square W1 is set to open in the spring. Located next to Russell Square tube station, the site is split over basement and ground-floor levels with some outside seating. The pizzeria is in a busy tourist and student area, surrounded by offices and hotels and close to SOAS University. The company has expanded from its debut site in Brixton market, which opened in 2008. The Russell Square site will be its 32nd pizzeria, with more planned to open later in the year. Leo Feldman, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “We are pleased to have secured another great site in central London for Franco Manca. We are thrilled to continue working closely with them, aiding their growth from a startup business to a nationwide success, one which is at the very forefront of the industry.”
£60m investment planned for Milton Keynes shopping centre: Plans have been announced for a £60m investment in the centre:mk shopping centre in Milton Keynes. Ed Sellick, on behalf of centre:mk’s joint owners Hermes Investment Management and AustralianSuper, said: “Our £60m programme of investment is designed to enhance the experience for visitors, leading to increased sales for our retailers and restaurants. As the town of Milton Keynes enters its 50th year, “Re-Imagining an Icon” is seeking to re-equip the UK’s first listed shopping mall for the 21st century. It is about reflecting and paying homage to the building’s iconic status while, at the same time, reappraising what happens inside and, finally, the role centre:mk plays in Milton Keynes.”
Light Cinemas signs for Stoke scheme: Light Cinemas has signed to open a ten-screen cinema at a new shopping centre in Stoke. The company has agreed a deal with developer Realis Estates for the site at Unity Walk. It is due to include an IMAX screen – the first in Staffordshire – along with a cafe bar. Marks & Spencer and Next have already been named as the retail anchors for the 435,000 square foot development, which is set to be built on the site of the East-West Precinct and the old bus station. Light Cinemas chief executive Keith Pullinger told the Stoke Sentinel: “Unity Walk is a fantastic opportunity for us. The cinema’s position alongside new restaurants and immediately adjacent to the new bus station is an excellent location for us. We look forward to bringing our own dynamic cinema experience to the people of Stoke when Unity Walk is completed.” Realis Estates managing director Duncan Mathieson added: “Securing The Light to operate the cinema at Unity Walk is a huge step forward for the scheme. By including a cinema alongside a host of new restaurants we will create a new leisure destination, which will greatly boost the city centre’s night-time economy.” Light Cinemas operates sites in Bolton, Brighton, Cambridge, Brighton, Thetford, Walsall and Wisbech.
Enterprise Inns sells West Sussex pub to local community: Enterprise Inns has sold The Half Moon in Balcombe, West Sussex, to the local community after residents raised almost £300,000 to buy the pub. Contracts have been exchanged and the sale is due to complete on Monday, 23 January following a campaign by the Balcombe Community Pub (BCP) committee. More than 300 people invested to take ownership of the pub, which was listed as an Asset of Community Value. Enterprise Inns asset and development director Richard Broadribb said: “There was considerable interest in The Half Moon and we are delighted the local community has been successful in its bid to take over ownership. As a business we regularly review our pubs and unfortunately there are occasions when some of our pubs no longer fit the criteria to remain under our ownership. It’s pleasing to see the community has managed to take on The Half Moon to secure its future as a pub. We wish them the best of luck for completion next week and have offered to support them over the coming months should they need it.” The BCP is now looking for a publican to run the business. Secretary Rodney Saunders said: “Village support has been critical and our success is a testament to the strong community spirit in Balcombe. More than 300 villagers invested to keep our pub a pub. We are also grateful for the advice and support from The Plunkett Foundation. With their help we didn’t need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and we are proud to have joined the growing ranks of community-owned pubs.” The sale was handled by agent Fleurets.
Carlisle-based operators acquire second site: Carlisle-based operators Ilka Rhoades and Alex Murrell have acquired their second site in the city. The duo, who run The Thin White Duke in Devonshire Street, have bought the Hourglass in Scotland Road, Stanwix. The Hourglass, which opened in 2007, is currently closed for refurbishment and is expected to relaunch in March. Rhoades told In Cumbria: “We’ve been looking for another bar for a while. Gordon McGregor, who ran the Hourglass, approached me last year and asked if I would be interested in taking it over. We’ve now bought it from him. It’s in a great catchment area and is different to opening another bar in town. It will serve food of the same quality as The Thin White Duke.” The Thin White Duke opened in 2010 on the site of the former Glasshouse pub.
Elliotts appoints new non-executive chairman: Sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts has appointed a new non-executive chairman. The appointment of John Farrell is one of four by the company – two at executive level and two new client directors. Farrell, who has spent more than 25 years working at some of the world’s most notable marketing service agencies, replaces Steve Wilkins. As president and chief executive of global brands, including Publicis Groupe’s SAMS, DMB&B and IMP, Farrell gained experience in building, growing and managing creative campaigns. Elliotts has also welcomed its first business director, Dan Eaves. With more than 15 years of agency and client-side experience, Eaves joins from west London creative agency RPM, having most recently worked across Diageo’s European and global accounts. The two new client directors are Karen Abrams and Rob Daniels. Abrams joins from leading consumer PR agency Freerange communications, having most recently delivered national and global campaigns for entertainment brands such as Madame Tussauds and SeaLife Aquariums. Digital expert Daniels arrives from integrated marketing and digital agency Graymatter, where his clients included Accor Hotels and WorldVision UK. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott said: “I want to thank Steve Wilkins for his support and guidance over the past four years and foresee John building on this progress and taking us into our next chapter. The rest of our newcomers join a committed and talented 30-plus team and I believe we can really push boundaries and take things up a notch in 2017. We put our clients at the heart of what we do and it’s our job to create demand for their brands. I am confident we have a team in place that can help us keep on delivering excellent results for existing and new clients and ultimately contribute to their commercial success.”
North west-based chef to start expansion of Thai tapas concept with second site: Chef and owner Goya Griffiths is set to start expansion of her Chiangmai Thai Tapas concept by opening a second site in the north west, this time in Warrington, Cheshire. Griffiths launched the concept in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, in May offering bistro, light lunch and takeaway menus. The new restaurant will open on Saturday, 21 January at a site in London Road formerly occupied by deli and wine bar Benvenuti, which relocated to Warrington Market last year. Griffiths told the Warrington Guardian: “The culture in Thailand is to share a selection of small dishes so that is where the idea of Thai tapas came from. This allows people to try different dishes, which is possible because Thai food is quite light. It’s about bringing people together to share in the experience.”
Grantham-based fish and chip restaurant owners to open second site in town: Grantham-based fish and chip restaurant owners Allison and Dave Wells are to open their second site in the Lincolnshire town. The Wells, who run Wellies Fish and Chips in Springfield Road, are launching Wellingtons Kitchen and Bar in High Street on the site of the former Chameleon Music Bar. They are investing more than £100,000 to refurbish the site having leased the premises from Grantham Estates. It is expected to reopen in March with up to 50 covers and table service. It will also have a takeaway counter. The menu will also feature British homemade pies, braised beef and a selection of vegetables. Drinks will include bottled and draught beer, cider and wine. Allison Wells told the Grantham Journal: “We feel Grantham needs this. We get a lot of customers at Wellies who say they would like to be able to sit down and eat their fish and chips. Grantham is well catered for by Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants but lacks a venue providing good British home-cooked meals.”
Restaurateur starts expansion of vegan CookDaily concept with Boxpark Croydon site: Chef King Senathit has started expansion of vegan food concept CookDaily by opening a second London site, this time at Boxpark Croydon. Senathit launched CookDaily at Boxpark Shoreditch in 2015, serving vegan food based on dishes from around the world. He also opened restaurant Home opposite the boxpark, offering south east Asian dishes. The new CookDaily is the last venue to open at the food and drink mall next to East Croydon station and features a larger kitchen, allowing Senathit to offer a menu of 16 dishes. Those include Yoga Fire, inspired by computer game Street Fighter; High Grade, which features stir-fry vegetables with hemp oil in a smokey sweet and sour barbecue sauce; and vegan “chickn” and mushroom pie, influenced by East End “pie and mash with a pint”. CookDaily also makes its own vegan hemp milk and offers smoothies. Senathit told the Croydon Advertiser he based the menu around “my upbringing, my life and my city”. He added: “It’s vegan food you can’t get anywhere else. CookDaily has been kicking down the doors. Right now it’s the rebirth of veganism and I am flying the flag for it.”
Experienced operator to open new sports bar concept after taking on first Admiral Taverns pub: Experienced operator Paul McIver is to open a new sports bar concept after taking on his first Admiral Taverns pub. McIver, who runs the Champs sports bar in Liverpool with Punch, is launching Brooklyn’s Sports Bar in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. A £300,000 refurbishment is being given to the former Ironmarket pub ahead of reopening in early March. Plans include an American grill food offer as well as British family favourites such as fish and chips. Sports will be at the core of the Brooklyn’s offer, with four televisions showing the latest action. Admiral is also working with McIver to develop a comprehensive drinks offer that will include a range of cask ales. The third mezzanine level will be available for private functions, while McIver hopes Brooklyn’s will become a popular live music venue. He said: “I’m thrilled to announce our plans to rebrand the pub to Brooklyn’s Sports Bar and give a flavour of what we have in-store. Admiral has provided us with incredible support and, with the help of the local community, we can’t wait to bring Brooklyn’s Sports Bar to the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme and the surrounding area.” Alan Hurt, Admiral business development manager for the local area, added: “The significant investment from Admiral is another example of the passion and commitment we have for restoring pubs at the centre of their local community. In Paul, we have invested behind a dedicated and experienced entrepreneur who is determined to transform Brooklyn’s Sports Bar to a venue the town of Newcastle-under-Lyme can be proud of.”
Talash Hotels Group acquires NUT’s national training centre, plans 20 sites by 2020: Talash Hotels Group has bought Stoke Rochford Hall, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, for an undisclosed sum as it aims to build a 20-strong estate by 2020. The building has housed the National Union of Teacher’s National Education and Training Centre since 1978. The 96-room Victorian mansion will now become the expanding group’s flagship operation. The hotel group’s head office is in Warwickshire, with the business owned by brothers Ravi and Sanjay Kathuria. Sanjay Kathuria told The Business Desk: “We are immensely excited about Stoke Rochford Hall joining our group and proud to be its new owner. We have significant plans to refurbish the property and develop the business. The hotel is trading successfully and we see a number of opportunities to enhance this within our group. Stoke Rochford Hall is the latest step in our ambition for 20 hotels by 2020.” Talash Hotels owns eight other sites in Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, the West Midlands and Aberdeenshire.