McDonald’s adds gourmet burger range, first new permanent patties on menu for 30 years: McDonald’s is rolling out gourmet burgers across its UK sites following a trial, The Sun reports. Burgers in the Signature Collection are made from 100% British and Irish beef and served in a brioche-style bun. They are the first burgers permanently added to McDonald’s menu for 30 years. The move comes in response to a rise in competition from upmarket chains such as Five Guys and Shake Shack. Signature Collection burgers are more expensive – £4.69 for an individual burger with a meal at £6.19 – but at 20mm deep and weighing a third of a pound, the burgers are thicker than traditional McDonald’s patties. The premium burgers come in three flavours – The Classic, The BBQ and The Spicy. The BBQ and Classic both come with Beechwood-smoked bacon and mature cheese, while The Spicy comes with jalapeño, Pepper Jack cheese, Batavia lettuce, mayo and spicy relish. Duncan Cruttenden, McDonald’s food development director for the UK, said the Signature Collection had taken four years to develop by its specially commissioned Chef’s Council. He added: “It’s about offering customers more choice and creating more occasions. It’s not about them buying the Signature Collection instead of a Big Mac, it’s about creating another opportunity. It’s an eat-in as opposed to a drive-thru or takeaway experience.”
Bistrot Pierre to offer bedrooms in Plymouth: Bistrot Pierre has agreed a deal with property company Urban Splash to develop visitor accommodation at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard. Bistrot Pierre Rooms will open in Residence One, the grade I-listed Admirals House on The Green. The 14-bedroom scheme will be the first visitors’ accommodation created at the historic ex-naval yard. The interiors will be designed by Jackie Gillespie, of Devon-based Gillespie Yunnie Architects. Emily Handslip, director of commercial lettings at Urban Splash, said: “The vision for The Yard has always been to introduce unique and high-quality visitor accommodation. Bistrot Pierre Rooms will be a game changer – making it a must for people wishing to visit The Yard and explore Plymouth.” Bistrot Pierre director Rob Beacham added: “We are really excited about the opportunity to open Bistrot Pierre Rooms in Plymouth. It’s a model that’s worked well for us elsewhere and The Yard is such a stunning place and so successful for us, it felt like the natural next step.”
JD Wetherspoon wins go-ahead for £2m Belfast pub after three-year wait: JD Wetherspoon has won the go-ahead for its £2m project to transform a former Belfast church into a bar. The long-awaited decision to redevelop the Methodist Church in University Road marks progress for the plans three years after they were first lodged. The building has suffered substantial water damage and its pews and organ have already been removed. However, it still has original features including wrought ironwork, joinery and stone carvings. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “I’m delighted. It’s a great building and will make a wonderful pub. It’s a very big investment by us, it will cost about £2m just in the development phase. We hope it will create 60 to 70 jobs and become a catalyst for other investment in the area.”
Nightclub operator Piers Adam eyes Glasgow scheme: Nightclub owner Piers Adam wants to turn former offices at Glasgow’s Ibrox stadium into a new multi-use venue. Adam plans to use Copland House for live music, conferences and wedding receptions. A licensing application has been put forward by Copper Dog Ibrox, of which Adam is director. The former first-floor offices in Edmiston Drive sit within the stadium and are owned by Glasgow Rangers. In 2014, Adam bought the Craigallachie Hotel in Moray and opened the Copper Dog bar. Adam’s Copper Dog whisky, a blended scotch sold at the Speyside hotel, was reportedly used in this year’s traditional New Year toast at Ibrox. Adam launched a copycat Copper Dog bar in Dubai last year, which reportedly boasts the most extensive whisky collection in the country. The entrepreneur also owns London nightclubs Mahiki and Whisky Mist and co-owns The Punch Bowl in Mayfair.
Aston Manor reports five-year investment plan boosts turnover: Five years of investment totalling more than £30m has supported increased sales for Aston Manor Cider. The independent cider-maker has announced turnover of almost £113m in 2016 – a 4% increase on 2015 – and Ebitda for the year amounting to £8.2m. The Midlands-based company said results demonstrated the business was on track with its five-year plan to “consolidate and broaden” operations. In recent years, Aston Manor Cider has planted 400,000 trees and the first batch will contribute to the harvest this autumn. The company said investment in production facilities meant it has the capability and capacity to accelerate performance as the scale of future investment reduces. Aston Manor Cider chief executive Gordon Johncox said: “We are delighted with the progress we are making. Our strategic plan is delivering ahead of expectations, meaning we are confident no other cider-maker, perhaps no other drinks producer, is better established and better placed to respond to challenges and develop opportunities. We regard being responsive and nimble, even with our scale, as essential. Hence investment has focused on developing our manufacturing and packaging capability as much as expanding capacity. I believe Aston Manor offers a greater breadth of cider in more packaging formats than any other producer. With 17 product and business awards in 2016, and more already in 2017, it looks like others recognise what we have achieved and what we are capable of.” The company added that investment in a new research and development facility was “helping to drive innovation as evidenced by new products in the growing market for craft cider in cans and in mini-kegs – a sector Aston Manor is driving”. Looking to the future, chief financial officer James Ellis said: “Given the intensive investment of recent years will reduce, we anticipate our continued performance will grow income and profits. Having also invested time and effort into overseas markets, we expect to see exports making an even greater contribution.” Johncox added: “Although the challenges facing the cider industry remain, we are confident that as an independent, nimble and very capable business we can continue to progress.”
MeatLiquor to open King’s Cross restaurant this week for 13th site: MeatLiquor is to open its King’s Cross restaurant on Wednesday (2 August) for the company’s 13th site. The 120-capacity restaurant and bar will open in St Chad’s place for drinks only, with the food offering launching two days later. MeatLiquor King’s Cross will feature bold interiors created by Shed Design and artwork from ilovedust, with staff preparing food and serving drinks from a replica train carriage. MeatLiquor co-founder and managing director Scott Collins said: “When choosing a new place to open, we’ve never had a plan as such. It has always been about finding the right place at the right time – and that’s what’s happened with this, our 13th opening. King’s Cross is a fantastic area with a host of brilliant bars and restaurants, something we’re excited to be part of.” Collins founded MeatLiquor with Yianni Papoutsis in 2011, initially operating from a burger van. Last month, the company announced it would close its debut W1 site to make way for a luxury hotel development. With the closing date unconfirmed, W1 will remain open on a month-by-month basis. Other MeatLiquor sites in the capital include Islington, Hoxton, East Dulwich, Brixton, Croydon, Queensway and Covent Garden – as well as sites in Brighton, Bristol and Leeds. There is also a Deliveroo-only site in Canary Wharf.
Chef with plans to operate six sites takes on second Star Pubs & Bars venue: A chef whose first pub is listed in the Michelin guide aims to build a group of six sites after taking on his second venue in partnership with Star Pubs & Bars. Mark Anderson, of The Ruddington Arms, which recently won the Nottingham Post’s best pub award, has taken on The White Lion in Bingham. Unlike the food-focused Ruddington Arms, which also won “best food pub” in the Star Awards, The White Lion is a more traditional urban pub with sports and a strong wet trade. Anderson’s plans for the pub are to maintain its robust wet trade while broadening its appeal by reintroducing food and upgrading facilities. About 15 to 20 jobs will be created when the pub reopens at the end of August. A £180,000 investment by Anderson and Star Pubs & Bars is being spent to upgrade the pub’s interiors. Anderson said: “I believe a good pub is about having a broad mix of clients who reflect its community. The White Lion will feature a pool table, darts board and Sky Sports, which will make it stand out from other pubs in the area. This style of pub requires less skilled kitchen staff, who are hard to come by, and so can be rolled out more quickly. My ambition is to have six pubs in similar large villages and small towns with a mixed demographic outside Nottingham.”
Street food operator The Ugly Dumplings opens permanent site, in Carnaby: The Ugly Dumplings has opened its debut site, in Carnaby, following a number of years trading at markets in the capital including Spitalfields and Startisans in Covent Garden. The 700 square foot site has opened in Newburgh Street, split over two levels, at the site formerly occupied by barbecue restaurant Pitt Cue. Ugly Dumplings founder Ping Wong has launched the site following a collaboration with investment partner Philipp Chaykin to evolve the brand from street food operator to new-concept restaurant. Wong, who formerly worked at Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saison, has created a menu that combines traditional Asian recipes with western ingredients. Dumpling dishes include aromatic duck, prawn and chive, pork belly, satay chicken, and spinach and tofu. Wong told Hot Dinners: “Working with Philipp and settling down at a permanent site is a fantastic opportunity. We still plan to continue satiating the bellies of our loyal customer base across the London street food markets, while the restaurant gives us a platform to explore new flavours and shapes.”
CG Restaurants lines up two more Dirty Martini openings: CG Restaurants is to expand the portfolio of its Dirty Martini brand following acquisitions in Leeds and Birmingham. After announcing expansion in Manchester at the start of the year, with a planned investment of £1.5m to convert 6,700 square feet of retail and office space spread across three floors, Dirty Martini has acquired a site each in Leeds and Birmingham subject to conditions. The openings would increase the Dirty Martini estate to 11. CG Restaurants is looking to acquire a site at 31 King Street, Leeds, from Atlas Brauhaus. The group plans to invest £800,000 in the refurbishment of the current restaurant and bar, which has a capacity of 250. In Birmingham, Dirty Martini has agreed a lease for 7 Bennetts Hill with REI. The site was previously operated by Viva Brazil and CG Restaurants plans an investment of £950,000 to overhaul the venue. The substantial investment builds on the success of the brand’s first regional site, Dirty Martini Cardiff, which has exceeded expectations and generated more than 40,000 pre-booked covers since opening in late October. Dirty Martini offers “handcrafted cocktails, sophisticated interiors and a spirited atmosphere that makes for an unforgettable night”. Dirty Martini chief executive Scott Matthews said: “We are excited about bringing our portfolio up to 11 sites with the Birmingham and Leeds locations. Both have a thriving nightlife and we look forward to being part of it. Our expansion in Cardiff was a huge success and, as a result, we are progressing with our national roll-out with confidence.” The bar group currently operates eight sites in the UK – in London’s Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Monument, St Paul’s, and Minories – as well as the Cardiff venue. Manchester is due to open later in the year, while Leeds and Birmingham are also scheduled to launch in late 2017.
Chai Naasto to open vegetarian street food cafe in Harrow for third London site: Indian street food brand Chai Naasto is to open a vegetarian cafe in Harrow, north west London, for its third site. Chai Naasto Vegetarian Street Café will open in Streatfield Road on Friday, 11 August and be the brand’s first fully vegetarian and vegan venue. New additions to the Harrow menu include Pani Puri Shots (crisp wheat balls stuffed with spicy potato and served with sweet-and-sour tamarind reduction), and Desi Thepla Tacos (fenugreek flatbread served with chana masala, red onion salad and mint chutney). The Desi Pizza Menu features several options with a variety of Indian-inspired toppings. The drinks list includes craft beer, including the brand’s own brew Chai Naasto Pilsner, while the company has teamed up with a producer to develop its own house range. Chai Naasto was founded by three brothers inspired by their grandmother’s cooking and offers the “flavours and informality of street food dining in the comfort of a traditional restaurant”. The other Chai Naasto restaurants in the capital are in Beckenham and Hammersmith.
St Austell to invest in Bath Ales: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery is to invest in its Bath Ales acquisition to support further expansion. Work is under way to build a brewery for Bath Ales as part of a multimillion-pound investment. St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton told Business Insider: “The project has been given the green light by the board and is now active. We’ve also got approval for a new bottling line, which will merge with the new brewery. Both should be open in April next year. The brewery is at capacity so investment is needed to take it to the next level. It will give us a platform to reinvigorate the Bath Ales brands and others we’ll create.” Plans are also in place for a new 40,000 square foot distribution centre as St Austell Brewery expands across the south west. Staughton added: “We’re completing on a new Avonmouth distribution centre shortly, moving from a 10,000 square foot site in the area. We’re employing a similar business model to that at our St Austell site. We moved distribution off-site to St Columb, which in turn allowed us to grow the brewing operation. It gives us the infrastructure to support growth for the next decade.” In June, the company was named the UK’s best manufacturer at the Made In The UK Awards 2017, winning the manufacturer of the year (over £25m) category.
Coca-Cola creates advert featuring 100% recyclable packaging: Coca-Cola Great Britain has created its first advertisement made entirely out of 100% recyclable packaging. Love Story, created by Berlin-based agency Ogilvy & Mather, tells the story of two bottles who fall in love as they meet over and over again as they are recycled. Artist Lacy Barry used more than 1,500 Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Smartwater and Honest bottles and cans to produce the advert, which is part of Coca-Cola Great Britain’s new sustainable packaging strategy, with the aim to recover all its packaging and double recycling of PET in its bottles by 2020. Coca-Cola Great Britain marketing director Aedamar Howlett said: “All our packaging is 100% recyclable and has been for some time. The multimillion-pound campaign shows how serious we are about encouraging more people to recycle so we reach our aim of getting all our bottles back.”
Four brands sign for Leeds Pinnacle building: Four new restaurant and coffee shop brands have signed to occupy space in the Pinnacle Leeds building in the city centre. Agent Savills has secured four brands for the landmark building on behalf of a private client. Loungers has signed a new 15-year lease for its Cosy Club brand to open in a 7,586 square foot unit on the first floor of the building. Gourmet Burger Kitchen has taken a 20-year lease for a 2,000 square foot unit, while Mexican brand Chilango has signed up for a 15-year lease on a 1,492 square foot unit. Coffee shop 200 Degrees has also opened a 2,942 square foot site, for which it has agreed a ten-year lease. A further three deals with restaurant operators are under way for the remaining units. Barker Proudlove and Pudney Shuttleworth are joint letting agents for the landlord. Steve Henderson, retail director at Savills Leeds, said: “The casual dining and coffee shop scene in Leeds has undergone a resurgence in recent years, with a mix of national brands taking space and new operators starting up to meet consumer demand. These four deals will further enhance the line-up at Pinnacle Leeds, where retail and leisure operators continue to thrive thanks to its location on one of the busiest pedestrian routes in the city.”
Wagamama finally opens Cheltenham site: Wagamama has opened a site in Cheltenham following years of speculation. The restaurant in Clarence Street was formally opened by Cheltenham mayor Klara Sudbury, who told Gloucestershire Live: “It is great to see new businesses opening in Cheltenham and this place looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it out, it’s very exciting. With Boston Tea Party and other restaurants along this road it is becoming a real destination for food.” General manager Sam McKay said Wagamama had been looking for the right site in Cheltenham for years. He added: “It’s great to be finally here.” In January last year, comedian Dom Joly, who lives near Cheltenham, issued a challenge to Wagamama to “hurry up” and move to the Gloucestershire town. Wagamama operates more than 140 restaurants across the UK, with the closest ones to Cheltenham in Hereford, Swindon and Bristol.
Bar Soba launches new cocktail menu: Glasgow-based Bar Soba has launched a new cocktail menu. Additions include a “Disco Drinks” section – a tribute to the 1980s featuring “alcoholic twists on childhood memories and tuck shop sweets”. New drinks include The Refresher (vanilla and lemon vodkas churned through crushed ice with lemon juice and sugar syrup served with a Refresher chew). There are also more Thai Tiki cocktails such as a caramelised rum punch, and an Asian Persuasion collection inspired by south east Asia to match Bar Soba’s pan-Asian street food offering. The menu follows a £3m investment from the Business Growth Fund late last year, which will help accelerate the brand from its estate of five venues to 30 sites within the next five years. Expansion will begin in the north of England with a site in Liverpool. Bar Soba lead mixologist Scott Stevens said: “We wanted to put the fun back into drinking cocktails and hope our guests have as much fun exploring the new menu as our bartenders have had creating them”. Chief executive Brad Stevens launched Bar Soba in 1997. It currently operates five restaurants – in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds.
Island Poké starts expansion with second London site: Island Poké, the concept backed by the White Rabbit Fund and led by James Gould Porter, has started expansion by opening a second site in London, this time in Broadgate Circle. The Hawaiian raw fish concept launched in Kingly Court, Soho, last year. The new City venue has added dishes to the menu such as Poké Nachos, Poké Tacos and a special bowl from Yum Bun founder Lisa Meyer, which will be available throughout August. The breakfast menu features overnight apple and cinnamon oats and salmon and yuzu cream cheese rolls. Diners can also opt to build their own bowl. The Island Poké website states: “Growing up in California and trips to Hawaii were James’ inspiration for Island Poké. Born from the frustration of the monopoly of the office lunch trade, Island Poké presents London with a more vibrant, flavoursome and original offering, making lunch fun, interactive, healthy and, above all, delicious – just like those fresh flavours James remembers as a boy.”
Molson Coors to deliver snacks in new partnership: Molson Coors has announced a partnership with PepsiCo UK and Ireland that will see bar snacks offered as part of Molson Coors’ delivery service to on-trade outlets. Customers will now be able to purchase Walkers crisps, Nobby’s Nuts, Bacon Fries and Scampi Fries from Molson Coors, which will be delivered as part of their drinks order. Molson Coors said the partnership was the latest development in its continued support for the on-trade. In March, the brewer announced the launch of an initiative to invest in the Great British Pub. “Putting The Great Back Into Great British Pubs And Clubs” is a cross-discipline campaign designed to provide practical, first-hand support to pubs and clubs across the UK. The campaign will help outlets get more money behind the bar through a suite of resources. Support includes helping outlets stage customer events, maximising live sporting occasions, on-site staff serve and quality training, advice on social media, and consumer tasting and sampling kits. James Harrison, director of trading at Molson Coors, said: “This is a really exciting partnership for us that allows us to expand beyond simply offering drinks. We strive to be first choice for our customers and their consumers and having a diverse product range is an important part of this, so for us the partnership made complete sense. The snacks will be a great complement to our range of more than 2,000 drinks, including over 700 wines and 70 permanent cask ales.”