Hospitality bosses among more than 300 business leaders calling on UK to leave EU: Hospitality bosses are among more than 300 business leaders who have called on the UK to leave the European Union. In a letter published in the Telegraph, the business leaders said Brussels’ “red tape stifles every one of Britain’s 5.4 million businesses” and claim Brexit would allow them to “create more jobs”. Among the 306 signatories are Redcomb Pubs chairman David Franks, Fuller’s president Anthony Fuller, Bibendum Wine director Roger Gabb, JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin, Calcot Hotels director Charles Stone, Chameleon Bar & Dining managing director Phil Strong, and Great Heck Brewing Co managing director Denzil Vallance. The letter stated: “Year-on-year the EU buys less from Britain because its economies are stagnant and millions of workers are unemployed. According to Mervyn King, the former Bank of England governor, the euro ‘might explode’. Brussels’ red tape stifles every one of Britain’s 5.4 million businesses, even though only a small minority actually trade with the EU. It is business – not government – that generates wealth for the Treasury and jobs for our communities. Outside the EU, British business will be free to grow faster, expand into new markets and create more jobs. It’s time to ‘Vote Leave’ and take back control.”
People 1st renames Shine lifetime achievement award to honour Robyn Jones: People 1st, the sector skills organisation for the hospitality industry, has renamed the lifetime achievement category of its Shine Awards to honour Robyn Jones, co-founder of CH&Co catering company, who passed away last year aged 54 following a long illness. The Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to women who have demonstrated long-term dedication to the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry. Jones won the accolade herself in 2011 and was awarded an OBE for her services to the industry the same year. She started her career as a dinner lady and founded CH&Co with husband Tim via the Government Enterprise Allowance Scheme in 1991. Within two years the company had won the Booker Prize for Excellence. Following a merger with HCM Group in 2015, CH&Co has a turnover approaching £200m, with a team of 4,500 people and 400 contracts nationwide. People 1st chief executive Simon Tarr said: “Our research shows a lack of visible role models is still seen as a barrier for a lot of women in the industry and Robyn’s story was – and still is – an aspirational one that will inspire other women to aim high.”
Junior Irish health minister argues for designated smoking areas in pubs and bars: The new junior Irish health minister has argued that pubs and bars should have designated indoor sections for smokers. Finian McGrath, who is a smoker, has also said there should be no further increases in tobacco duty. McGrath is a member of the Independent Alliance and was last week given ministerial responsibility for the disability sector, and will attend cabinet meetings as a so-called “super junior”. But while the government has committed to making Ireland tobacco-free by 2025, with less than 5% of people smoking by then, McGrath has argued the country should roll-back the smoking in workplaces ban, which was introduced in 2004. Speaking to the Sunday Business Post, and expressing his “private, personal view”, McGrath said: “Ireland should allow smoking in designated areas in pubs and bars – something that happens in some other countries. I was in Portugal with the justice committee two years ago and I saw it first-hand. I was in Germany a couple of years ago and – I think it was Frankfurt – they had a similar position and I saw it working.”
Andrew Scott wins top Scottish hospitality honour: Andrew Scott, catering entrepreneur and owner of Victus Consultancy, has added won the “Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Hospitality” category at the Scottish Hospitality & Entertainment Awards 2016. Scott is known for his quirky, award-winning Heaven Scent brand, which comprises an artisan coffee shop, an outside catering business, a unique events and meeting space, and a restaurant at Knockhill, Scotland’s premier racing circuit. 18 months ago he set up Victus Consultancy, putting his knowledge, skill and expertise to good use to help businesses in need of support, guidance and advice. Scott has worked with leading hospitality operators and educators across the UK including Drake & Morgan, Cameron House Hotel, and City of Glasgow College. He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win this award. I’ve worked in hospitality all my life, in various hotels, restaurants, pubs, bistros and bars for 12 years before taking the plunge and setting up my own business 13 years ago. It’s hard work, but I love it and to be acknowledged in this way makes it all worthwhile. Scotland is known for its warm welcome and hospitality is ingrained in our culture. I’m both humbled and honoured for my personal contribution to be recognised in front of the country’s finest talent.”
St Austell reports turnover up 7.9% to £137.4m: Brewer and pub operator St Austell has reported a 7.9% increase in annual turnover to £137.4m and a 7.6% increase in operating profit before other items to £13.5m in the 53-week period to 2 January 2016. Will Michelmore, non-executive chairman of St Austell Brewery, said: “St Austell Brewery invested £16.6m during 2015 on capital expenditure, of which £8.6m was on new acquisitions. The company has also continued its investment in its production facilities and in refurbishing and improving its pubs and hotels.” James Staughton, chief executive of St Austell Brewery, said: “I am delighted to report another year of significant progress in all our operating divisions. Looking ahead, we have the skills and ambition to pursue future opportunities as they arise and to achieve our five-year strategy of delivering great distinctive experiences through product and service excellence and innovation. The company’s continued success relies on our people and our customers and we thank them all for their support and contribution.
Deltic Group eyes investment options: Nightclub operator Deltic Group will begin exploring finance options as its existing investors reach the five-year point of involvement in the company. Chief executive Peter Marks told Propel the company’s investors would want to realise some or all of their investment and an IPO, private equity investment or other forms of investment are all options the company is likely to consider. He added: “We are talking to a number of corporate advisors with a view to appointing one in the next couple of months.” Meanwhile, Deltic has reported success at its first two Chicago Rock Cafe sites to be converted to the new Bar & Beyond format, with the first site in Chelmsford “trading its socks off” with a street food offer – two more sites will now be converted. Marks said: “Chelmsford is taking double the money of any other Chicago. The site, which is the biggest in the estate, is taking what it used to take in its heyday as a Chicago. The second site in Stevenage is coming up nicely (in takings terms). The public in provincial towns clearly get it – I feared it could be oversophisticated (with the street food offer).” Marks added not all Chicago Rocks sites would be converted to the new brand at the moment because they are “trading so well” – he cited Stourbridge as an example. Marks said average spend per head across the estate rose £2 to £19.50, driven by the company being able to charge more at invested sites. Special occasions are becoming ever more important in trading terms and the year saw a marked shift towards pre-booked parties.
Breakfast Club opens venue at Canalside food quarter in Olympic Park, ninth cafe: The Breakfast Club, which operates seven cafes in London and another in Brighton, has opened its latest site – in the Canalside food quarter at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford. The cafe offers traditional breakfast dishes such as pancakes and berries, alongside more unusual offerings such as fried chicken with sage waffles, maple syrup and chilli butter, Hot Dinners reports. The Canalside dining and drinking area is opposite the artists’ studios of Hackney Wick and will house 12 outlets in total, marking the latest phase in the reinvention of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Canalside, overlooking the Lee Canal, is part of the Here East complex on the site of the £300m former press and broadcast centre, housing BT Sport, a new Loughborough University campus, and a giant data centre. The Breakfast Club founder Jonathan Arana-Morton said: “With two cafes already in east London, a move to Hackney Wick feels very much in our comfort zone.” The other Breakfast Club venues in the capital are in Angel Islington, Battersea Rise, Canary Wharf, Hoxton, London Bridge, Soho, and Spitalfields. The company also operates four cocktail bars in London.
Cotswolds hotelier partners with Enterprise to reopen harbour-side venue in Wales: Cotswolds hotelier Julian Bones has partnered with Enterprise Inns to reopen harbour-side pub-restaurant The Captain’s Table in Saundersfoot, near Tenby in Wales. Enterprise invested £115,000 in the refurbishment. Bones, who has 33 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, told the Tenby Observer: “When I saw the opportunity to take over this quintessential seaside pub, I jumped at it. I’ve kept the menu simple and focused on serving fresh local ingredients. I expect the crab, freshly caught metres away in the harbour and cooked to order, to be a popular choice, as well as traditional roast dinners, served on a Sunday and Wednesday. I worked closely with Enterprise to change the look and feel of the pub. It’s in the perfect location so we wanted the ambience to reflect its stunning views.” The 19th century pub has been fully refurbished with a nautical theme that includes a boat in the garden, bought and renovated by Bones, which will serve tea and coffee. Enterprise Inns regional manager Wayne Jones said: “When we met Julian, he had a clear vision for how he wanted the pub to be and we’ve helped him make it happen.” Bones will continue to run his 11-bedroom boutique hotel in the Cotswolds – The Old Court in Witney, Oxfordshire – which he personally designed.
Crussh hires Helen Jones as head of marketing: Crussh has strengthened its management team with the appointment of Helen Jones as head of marketing. Jones joins the business from EAT, where she was head of marketing. She brings with her a wealth of experience in food marketing that includes in-house positions at Sainsbury’s, as well as roles in marketing and design agencies. She said: “Crussh is at the forefront of innovation within the healthy eating market and, as someone with a real passion for good food and nutrition, the opportunity to help steer its direction is really exciting. It’s already a well-loved brand as a result of its fantastic food, juices, smoothies and energetic staff. With the current trend for healthy eating and food provenance amongst our target consumer, there’s more scope to raise the awareness of the brand. I’m delighted to be on board to take advantage of this opportunity and help grow the business.” Crussh chief executive Shane Kavanagh, who joined the company himself last month, said: “Having recently joined the business I am constantly amazed at the experience and talent of the team at Crussh. This leadership team is exceptional and the expertise they bring will allow us to rapidly develop what we do for our customers and people, continuing to be London’s leading destination for fit food and juice.” The arrival of Jones comes on the back of further senior appointments. Rowan Grobler, formerly finance director at Nando’s International South Africa, joined Crussh nine months ago as finance director and Ben Tyrer, previously in training and people roles at Be At One, Poncho 8 and Cote Restaurants, has also recently joined as head of people.
Mint Nightclubs to open in former Mood site in Carlisle next month: Mint Nightclubs is to open in Carlisle on Friday, 24 June, taking over the former Mood site in Botchergate. It will feature a rooftop terrace at the back of the building, overlooking Collier Lane. The club will also have two rooms for music – one for chart, dance and classic anthems, and the other for R&B and slower tunes. Kevin Spencer, director and owner of Mint nightclubs, said: “We are very excited about opening in Carlisle. The rooftop terrace is at the back and uses the best in soundproofing. There will be state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and booths available for private parties. We’ve already had more than 500 people who are interested in the club on Facebook and 266 people who have confirmed they want to attend the opening night. The club will open on a Friday and Saturday night and one night during the week for students. I am currently rebranding all of my venues under the Mint name, so that includes clubs in Bradford and Wakefield too.” Mood was once one of Carlisle’s most popular nightclubs but closed in 2008 and has stood empty since.
Pizza Pilgrims opens Covent Garden restaurant, fourth London site: Pizza Pilgrims, co-founded by Thom and James Elliot, has opened a restaurant in Covent Garden, its fourth London site. The new restaurant is in Garrick Street, taking over the space that used to be Middle Eastern café and takeaway Sesame, Hot Dinners reports. The venue will serve Pilgrims’ regular offerings such as Neapolitan thin crust pizzas and calzones. The venue will also offer ice-cream as well as beer and wine. Pizza Pilgrims was started by the Elliots as a pop-up venue in Berwick Street market, Soho. The company’s other sites are in Kingly Street in Carnaby, Dean Street in Soho, and Exmouth Market. All restaurants offer a takeaway service and Pizza Pilgrims also operates a Piaggio Ape van called Conchetta at outdoor events.
Caprice Holdings to open Ivy Café in Wimbledon, sixth London venue: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, is expanding its Ivy concept with the brand’s sixth venue in the capital – in Wimbledon village. The 120-cover Ivy Café is taking over a former Barclays site in High Street and will open on Wednesday, 1 June. The venue will open seven days a week for all-day dining – serving breakfast, brunch, elevenses, snacks, lunch, cream tea, cocktails and dinner. Signature dishes will include shepherd’s pie, chicken liver parfait with caramelised hazelnut, toasted ciabatta and cherry, and Szechuan pepper compote and lobster risotto with fennel, lemon and tomato. A 20-cover private dining room will be available for hire, with customers able to select from a range of menus created specially by executive chef Sean Burbidge. Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, which worked on sister site The Ivy Café Marylebone, has consulted on the interior, with pendant lighting, marble floor tiles, caramel-coloured leather banquettes, burnt orange leather bar stools and an antique pewter bar. Caprice Holdings also operates The Ivy Restaurant in the West End, The Ivy Brasserie Kensington, The Ivy Chelsea Garden, and The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. It also owns The Ivy restaurant, bar and lounge in Dubai.
Former Pieminister sales director in talks to sell noodles in China: Kabuto, the noodle company set up by former Pieminister sales director Crispin Busk, is in talks with a Chinese supermarket chain to stock the product at a few hundred stores in the country. The deal would help the £3m-turnover brand, which still only employs three people full-time, to hit £4.5m in sales this year. Busk said: “The UK is a trusted brand and food from here is well-respected.” Some of the recipes may have to be tweaked for the Asian market, however. Busk added: “The noodles will need to be spicier for China. As we go further from home, the flavours get spicier and stronger.” Kabuto already sells in Spain, Belgium and the Middle East. “That’s the thing about instant noodles, they’re in every market in the world,” Busk said. “Wherever you go, from Mexico to France to Nigeria, there will be an instant noodles aisle.” At the moment, 95% of sales are generated in the UK and 5% overseas, but this mix will shift to 80% and 20% respectively within three years. Busk launched the company after spending five years as sales director at Pieminister. He said: “I got to thinking about the brands that had done well over the last few years and they were all people who took a product range and made it posh. Innocent did posh drinks, Gü did posh puddings, we were doing posh pies. So I started looking for something that there was no posh version of yet.” Busk sold his Pieminister shares to fund the start-up with £50,000. “We started the business and lived on that money for a year and a half,” he said. “The good thing about not having any money is you are forced to do things differently. We didn’t spend on advertising, nice offices or people. We worked from my kitchen table, sold the products ourselves and used all the money that came in to fund the next lot of stock.”
First young people complete Greene King and Prince’s Trust course: A group of unemployed young people from London have completed the first Greene King and Prince’s Trust “Get into Hospitality” programme. A celebration event took place at the George pub in Southwark on Friday, 13 May. Greene King launched the scheme in April and announced its partnership with The Prince’s Trust would give 150 young people from around the country an opportunity to step into work. The celebration event at the historic pub saw 16 young people recollect their experiences and receive certificates from the pub company and charity in front of family, friends and representatives from both organisations. The “Get into Hospitality” programme provides intensive training and experience and is designed to address the skills and experience gaps that prevent unemployed young people from getting into work. The young people learned about many aspects of hospitality, including guest service, alcohol licensing laws and food preparation. Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand said: “We are proud of the young people who not only took the courage and time to look into the scheme, but also came along, faced new learning experiences and completed the course. It is great to see the first leg of our new programme with The Prince’s Trust has proved a success, and I look forward to watching the progression of similar courses across the country.”
Meatball pop-up to open permanent site: Swapping the streets of Spitalfields for south London, Twin brothers Livio and Lorenzo Belpassi are to open a permanent version of their meatball truck in June 2016. The 40-cover restaurant and bar will open in Tooting, one of south London’s emerging foodie hot spots this summer. Following a culinary crusade across northern and central Italy in search of the perfect meatball recipe, Livio and Lorenzo conceived Belpassi Bros meatball company. A series of creative collaborations followed, including a month-long House of Peroni pop-up, a partnership with The Doodle Bar, and a menu within Bites, Camera, Action Union Street Café. 2015 also saw the family duo further their reach with the acquisition of a vintage 1967 Fiat van, a favourite of London’s iconic Old Spitalfields Market. The Tooting restaurant menu will be built around a focal point of meatballs, their classic beef and pork meatball, and homemade sauces, served in a sandwich or on a base of polenta or homemade pasta. Belpassi Bros will be located at 70 Tooting High Street.
Paisley hotel owner lodges plans to transform fire-ravaged nightclub into restaurant: The owner of the Ashtree House Hotel in Paisley has lodged plans to transform a fire-ravaged nightclub in the Scottish town into a restaurant. Tom Stewart has applied to Renfrewshire Council to convert the former Institute club that was destroyed by arsonists in 2008. He has pledged to replace the destroyed roof, glazing and spruce up the front and back of the Bridge Street venue, reports the Paisley Daily Express. The Institute, which attracted thousands of revellers in its heyday, closed its doors in 2003 and soon fell into disrepair. Re-elected Paisley MSP George Adam said: “It is great to hear that another new business could be opening in Paisley town centre. Even better, a building that has lain dormant for around a decade will be brought back into use. New businesses are thriving in Paisley and this restaurant will add to and complement the many new and established eateries we have to offer.”
Innis & Gunn hires Jane Cannon as head of marketing: Brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has hired Jane Cannon as its new head of marketing. It is a new role which reflects the rapid expansion that the brewer is going through following its acquisition of the Inveralmond Brewery in April. In the new role, Cannon will develop Innis & Gunn’s global brand strategy and lead its execution across existing and developing markets. This will include overseeing all planning, development and implementation of the brewer’s marketing strategies, communications and public relations activities. Cannon led the development of the beer portfolio at Tennent Caledonian, part of the C & C Group from 2008 to 2015. She also developed a number of new brands from conception to launch, such as Heverlee, a premium Belgian beer, and Drygate in collaboration with the Williams Brothers. Prior to that, Cannon held positions at Scottish Power, the Scottish government and Barkers Advertising Agency.
New raw and vegan dining concept Amala launches in Bournemouth: A new raw and vegan dining concept – Amala – has launched in Bournemouth. The restaurant in Seamoor Road is a refocus by owner Jacqueline Kelly of her former vegetarian restaurant Zoukinis. Following a major refurbishment, Amala offers a selection of raw foods, such as noodles with special teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds, Balinese-style salads, a vegan cheeseboard, and vegan wines. Kelly told the Daily Echo: “It is what we call ‘conscious food’. We want to inspire people to start thinking about the planet and to start thinking about what they are eating. I’m very excited as it is the start of a new era. I went to Bali to get inspiration – so it is very green and fresh. I wanted to create a sense of calm. Everything is biodegradable and eco friendly.” Restaurant manager Justina Schmidt added: “Most of our food is organic and locally sourced. Our chef also makes the most amazing cheesecake – you won’t believe it isn’t made with dairy products. We also have a dehydrator which is a special technique to keep the food alive because it is so much better for our bodies.” Amala is open from 11am to 11pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
Steamin’ Billy Brewing to open second Hinckley pub, 13th venue: Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Steamin’ Billy Brewing, led by Billy Allingham, will open its 13th pub – The White Bear in Hinckley – in June. The pub in Coventry Road was formerly known as The Sportsman Inn and will be the second Steamin’ Billy site in Hinckley, alongside The Railway. Allingham told Propel: “We’ve already got big plans for the new pub. We’re renovating and creating new signage to bring a new spark to the local area. We want The White Bear to have the best beer garden in Hinckley and eventually Leicester, so we’re developing the exterior too. The concept of the new place will be based around street food mixed in with great craft beers and burgers.” The White Bear will feature a new “Burgers & Brews” menu, offering home-minced and handcrafted burgers seven days a week, from midday to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm. In December, Steamin’ Billy Brewing said it was considering issuing a “Steamin’ Billy bond” to fund further acquisitions.
Pint Shop appoints head of people, first senior hire ahead of expansion: Pint Shop, the award-winning Cambridge beer house, has appointed Nickie Bartsch as head of people, the operator’s first senior hire as it looks to open its second site this year. Bartsch joins Pint Shop from natural fast food brand Leon, where she worked for more than nine years, playing a pivotal role in opening the brand’s first franchise at King’s Cross and running its flagship site in Spitalfields. She said: “There are so many opportunities available for a long-term career at Pint Shop and we want to make sure new and existing team members are aware of this and encouraged to progress.” Pint Shop co-owner Rich Holmes said: “People and culture are the most important things to us at Pint Shop, which is why we wanted to employ a head of people. We are going to have more than 100 members of staff by the end of the year and we need someone who understands us, our brand and, most importantly, our team to help make this expansion an easy one for everyone involved.” Pint Shop, which launched its inaugural venue at Peas Hill, Cambridge, specialises in meat, bread and beer, and took its inspiration from beer houses of the 1830s. It will open its second site in George Street, Oxford, in late summer.
Soho restaurant owners open second London venture – Gotto Trattoria – at Canalside: The owners of Soho restaurant Mele e Pere, a northern Italy-style trattoria concept, have opened their second venture in London. Peter Hughes and Andrea Mantovani have launched Gotto at the new Canalside food quarter at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford. Gotto is a “casual, rustic Italian trattoria”, which includes an open kitchen. The menu showcases “seasonal, quality Italian ingredients with the best British produce accompanied by our unique selection of wines, beers, negronis and handcrafted vermouths on tap”, the company said. Hughes and Mantovani met while working at the Michelin-starred Wild Honey restaurant in 2008 and launched Mele e Pere in Brewer Street four years later.
Blackpool-based restaurant Stone Grill secures licence for second site: Blackpool-based restaurant Stone Grill has secured a licence to open its second site in the town. Hotelier David Davies is planning to open the second site within the Belgrave Madison Hotel in Queens Promenade, reports the Blackpool Gazette. Blackpool Council granted a licence until midnight seven days a week and until 2am on New Year’s Eve despite objections from residents. In a statement accompanying the decision, the council said it “carefully considered the concerns expressed by the residents”, but Davies “appeared to be a responsible operator”. The statement added: “The applicant explained they already operated one premises in Blackpool as a Stone Grill and due to its success they wanted to expand. There would be about 120 covers and food would be served until about 9.45pm.” Davies’ other Stone Grill restaurant is at the North Ocean, also in Queens Promenade.
Kettle Chips reports sales decline as market share falls: Pre-tax profits have declined on the back of a drop in sales at the company behind the Kettle Chips brand of crisps. Kettle Foods reported sales of £79.4m for the year to 31 July 2015, down from £83.9m a year earlier. Pre-tax profits fell to £8.3m from about £12.1m in 2014. The company said in its annual report that competition in the UK marketplace was “very intense” throughout the year, and it increased investment in the brand in an effort to protect its market share, which fell from 4.5% to 4.1%. Kettle Foods, which employs more than 400 staff in Norwich, said its directors also took action to reduce costs in certain areas of the business. The company incurred costs of £74,000 in “seeking out ways to improve the production process” as well as developing new products, compared with £66,000 in 2014.
Vaulkhard Group’s revamp of Newcastle city centre Barluga ‘creates job opportunities’: Vaulkhard Group said it has had to “ramp up its recruitment drive to cope with demand” following the launch of a £180,000 terrace extension at its Newcastle city centre Barluga bar. The 80 square foot extension has raised capacity from 16 people to 75 and features umbrellas, heated seats and a barbecue. Vaulkhard Group director Ollie Vaulkhard said: “The previous terrace was a sun trap and was always full when the weather was fine, so the new terrace opens up the space for nine months of the year and to a much greater number of customers.” The revamp of Barluga in Grey Street is part of the company’s £4m development plans across a number of its venues, which will be completed in 2018. Vaulkhard said: “Our biggest challenge now is finding high-calibre staff. The growing economy is clearly having a positive effect on the jobs market.” Newcastle-based Vaulkhard Group’s next developments include refurbishing Perdu Bar in the city centre and expanding its Central Bean coffee shops, with a third site to open in Sheffield on Thursday, 16 June joining venues in Newcastle and Morpeth. Vaulkhard Group, owned by brothers Ollie and Harry Vaulkhard, owns 14 bars, coffee shops and restaurants in and around Newcastle, employing more than 100 staff.