Leon launches Piccadilly Station site for second Manchester restaurant, 49th in total: Healthy eating brand Leon has opened a second restaurant in Manchester, outside Piccadilly Station, two months after launching at the Intu Trafford Centre. The 50-cover restaurant, Leon’s 49th in total, features the brand’s new Sunny Inside summer menu, while it is also one of its few sites to feature a grab-and-go fridge stocked with drinks, shakes and salads for commuters and travellers in a hurry. The opening has created 25 jobs. Leon chief executive John Vincent said: “We’ve been blown away by the big warm welcome given to us by Mancunians, who told us they wanted us in the city centre. So that’s where we are.” The design of the restaurant incorporates two “twisted” columns, retained as part of Leon’s determination to reflect a restaurant’s neighbourhood and respect its architectural heritage. The venue will initially open from 6am to 11pm, Monday to Friday, opening at 7am on Saturdays and 8am on Sundays. The store offers delivery via Deliveroo and a 15% discount to students and NHS staff. Last month, the company secured a £25m investment from Spice, controlled by GP Investments, which acquired a significant minority stake in Leon. The investment will help Leon continue its expansion in the UK and open its first restaurants in the US in the second half of this year.

Dubai-based hotel firm First Group launches dedicated F&B business with plans for 30 outlets: International hotel and property development company The First Group has launched a dedicated food and beverage business that will introduce new restaurant brands to Dubai, some of which will be “global firsts”. In a move that marks significant expansion for the Dubai-headquartered company, the new division will fill a gap in the market for affordable lifestyle-driven dining concepts as demand in the midscale and upscale hospitality sectors starts to boom, The First Group said in a statement. The division aims to launch 30 outlets in the coming years. Duncan Fraser-Smith, who was recently appointed director of global food and beverage at The First Group, will head up the new venture.

Redchurch Brewery hits £400,000 crowdfunding target to accelerate expansion plans: Redchurch Brewery has hit its £400,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to accelerate expansion plans. The company, founded by lawyer turned brewer Gary Ward and television producer Tracey Cleland, is offering a 9.09% equity stake in return for the investment. It has raised £417,820 from 679 investors with the largest investment being £30,000. Ward said: “We will now begin putting into place everything necessary to enable Redchurch to make the most of the opportunities available to us as a business and to ensure Redchurch retains and reinforces its position in the incredibly exciting and dynamic craft beer market place.” The pitch states: “Now in our sixth year of brewing, we have grown from humble origins in a railway arch in Bethnal Green to become a renowned craft brewer selling beer nationally into Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, bars, restaurants, and retail customers, as well as exporting our beers around the world. In January 2016 we completed a Crowdcube round, raising £500,000, well above our initial target of £200,000. We undertook a big expansion project by acquiring 13,500 square feet of industrial premises in Harlow, Essex, to house a new 30-barrel brewhouse, a fully automated bottling and labelling line, and a keg-filling line, while undertaking a rebranding exercise. With the investment we raise during this round we intend to add further fermentation vessels to increase our production capacity to more than 1.3 million litres annually; invest in our packaging line to improve speed and efficiency, employ more brewers, delivery drivers and expand our stretched sales and logistics team; transform our warehouse space by adding a racking system; and add to our fleet of delivery vehicles.”

Calcutta Street founder reveals aspirations to follow in footsteps of Wahaca and Honest Burgers as she eyes expansion: The founder of London-based Bengali restaurant Calcutta Street, which has two sites, has told Propel she plans to open further venues and focus on the capital for expansion. Shrimoyee Chakraborty pointed to the success of brands such as Wahaca and Honest Burgers, which started by building their estate in London before branching out into the regions. Chakraborty launched the concept in Fitzrovia last August having previously operated as a pop-up. Now, having opened her second restaurant, this time in Brixton, Chakraborty is eyeing further expansion and hopes to eventually take Calcutta Street abroad. She said: “I definitely want to open a few more in the next few years but we will take it one step at a time. We will focus our expansion plans on London. It’s such a vibrant city. It’s a fantastic market for us and there’s definitely a lot of opportunity. I went to university in Manchester so I think we can open there and in other regional cities. Who knows, eventually we could go international – New York is somewhere I’d love to go. I look at brands such as Wahaca and Honest Burger that have built themselves into successful businesses and I have aspirations to be just like them.” The 70-cover restaurant in Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, is larger than its sister site and features a cocktail jazz bar downstairs with a “1950s vibe”. The restaurant has been designed to evoke the spirit of Park Street in Calcutta – the “street that never sleeps” – where Chakraborty spent a great deal of her teenage years. She added: “I don’t like replicating things so each site will have a new twist. Being creative is the fun part of the job. Fitzrovia has the association with Virginia Woolf so the bills there come in books while in Brixton they come in cassettes.” Chakraborty said she was inspired to open in Brixton because the area “promotes independence”. She added: “It’s been amazing so far. Brixton is an area full of independent traders, artists and musicians and I thought it was a great fit for us. I also felt south London didn’t have a modern Indian restaurant and there was an opportunity to attract people from the surrounding areas such as Peckham, Dulwich and Wandsworth. It’s a completely different crowd to Fitzrovia.”

Soho Coffee Co opens fifth London site, in Austin Friars: Artisan fresh food and coffee brand Soho Coffee Co has opened its fifth London site, this time in Austin Friars in the City. The store is also the fifth of 11 new venues the company plans to open in the UK this year. Austin Friars, which is home to the Soho Coffee Co’s 40th store in total, is known for its 13th century heritage when an Augustinian friary occupied the street providing visitors with refreshments and produce grown in the monastery’s garden. Managing director Penny Manuel said: “Our London stores are proving crowd-pleasers and we’re delighted to bring our innovative menu to new customers in London that adds our own twist to classics such as the Soho Caesar salad with kale and quinoa and showcases our strong, fresh hot food menu alongside our signature coffee.” The company said new stores were being prepared for opening “very shortly” in yet-to-be-revealed locations.

Papa John’s to operate pizzerias and parties at Silver Blades ice rinks: Papa John’s is to run restaurants in the majority of UK ice rinks operated by Silver Blades. Papa John’s pizza and pizza party packages will operate in six out of seven Silver Blades sites in the UK, with the partnership rolled out to a new site due to open in Leeds shortly. Papa John’s business development manager Anthony Round said: “We are delighted to be associated with leading ice rink brand Silver Blades. Putting pizza firmly ‘on the menu’ enables visitors to enjoy pizza and skating at their leisure and we anticipate this combination will be a success.” Silver Blades brand manager Andreas Petrakas added: “Aligning with Papa John’s is an exciting development and it means we can add another great ingredient into our mix, ensuring a visit to our rinks is the perfect activity for all the family. Papa John’s will also become part of our party packages. These include skate admission and hire for all children, party room with off-ice host plus invites and goody bags, satisfying demand for a unique party experience.” There are more than 350 Papa John’s sites in the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets. Silver Blades’ rinks are in Altrincham, Blackburn, Cannock, Gillingham, Slough, Solihull and Widnes.

London-based multi-site operators reopen Soho LGBT+ bar Molly Moggs: Wes Deaton and Jimmy Patrick, who operate three pubs in north London, have reopened famous Soho LGBT+ bar Molly Moggs. Molly’s was at the heart of the capital’s gay scene but closed on 30 March, leading London night tsar Amy Lamé to vow to stem the tide of LGBT+ venue closures. Deaton told the Islington Gazette: “It’s such a famous pub and Jimmy hates to see pubs close down. It’s an institution and the punters love it. We got the keys, did a quick clean and had it back open within three days. It’s going to be exactly the same, with all the old acts and DJs, and most of the previous staff.” Deaton and Patrick also operate The Alma in Newington Green, a regular in London’s “pub of the year” award ceremonies, North by Northwest in Islington, and the King William IV in Hampstead. When Molly Moggs closed, Lamé said: “The importance of these venues cannot be overstated in the role they play in the LGBT+ community and the contribution they make to London’s buzzing nightlife. We need to stem the flow of these closures now.”

Anglo-American bagel-brioche concept Sub Cult to open City of London site next month: Anglo-American bagel-brioche concept Sub Cult is to open a site at Finsbury Avenue Square in the City of London on Wednesday, 5 July. The company is the final independent operator to sign up for British Land’s new street food space at Broadgate alongside Italian restaurant Wolf, bhangra burger brand BaBa G’s, eggs-centred diner Yolk, and crab burger concept Claw. Offerings will include Skandi Sub (oak-smoked salmon and peppered cream cheese), Sub Contractor (smoked back bacon, white pudding and free-range egg), and the vegan Sub-Conscious (spiced vegan patties, raw veg chop, oyster sauce, pickled ginger and toasted sesame). Sub Cult will serve signature and weekly seasonal specials from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, with breakfast subs until 11am. Coffee will be provided by Climpson & Sons alongside soft drinks by Karma Cola. The unit will have room for 15 diners, alongside alfresco seating and a takeaway option. Sub Cult, founded by Ben Chancellor and Gareth “Gaz” Phillips, has been operating in Maltby Street, Leather Lane and Brockley Market since 2014, serving subs out of a 1970s camper van called the Soul Roller. Awards include Time Out’s “London’s Best Sandwiches 2017” and British Street Food Awards’ “Best Sandwich”. CODE Hospitality has invested in Sub Cult and is advising and supporting the company on future growth.

JD Wetherspoon now raised £14m for CLIC Sargent: JD Wetherspoon staff and customers have now raised £14m for their chosen charity, CLIC Sargent. The charity works to support young lives struck by cancer. Wetherspoon began its partnership with the charity in 2002. Chairman Tim Martin said: “When this partnership was launched all those years ago, we had no idea it would result in such a spectacular fund-raising total for such an important cause. All our Wetherspoon staff and customers are passionate about fundraising for the charity. We look forward to raising even more money for CLIC Sargent to assist them in the wonderful work they do throughout the year.”

Cottons launches third London site: London-based Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shack has opened its third site in the capital, this time in Shoreditch. The company closed its site at Boxpark Shoreditch in April in order to move into its 70-cover bricks and mortar site in nearby Curtain Road. Cottons’ jerk chicken and barbecue pork ribs are grilled and smoked over coals and oak-wood chips with hickory and pimiento and covered in a secret homemade jerk sauce. As well as its Caribbean street food menu, the Shoreditch beach shack offers 235 different rums and classic rum cocktails at a tiki-style bar. Owner Chris Singam launched Cottons in 1985, with the brand’s other sites in Camden and Notting Hill and a fourth site due to open in St George’s Wharf, Vauxhall, which will feature a terrace overlooking the Thames. Singam also operates pan-Asian bar and restaurant concept Miusan in Camden.

Landry’s offers $55m for Ignite Restaurant Group: Landry’s, which is owned by the “world’s richest restaurateur” Tilman Fertitta, has made a $55m offer for Ignite Restaurant Group. Ignite, owner of the Joe’s Crab Shack brand, filed for federal bankruptcy protection earlier this month, with a stalking horse bid of $50m from private equity firm Kelly Investment Group, owner of the Fox & Hound and Champps chains. However, Landry’s has said its bid should give it the “inside track” in the sale process, according to bankruptcy court filings. Landry’s told Nation’s Restaurant News it had agreed to put a $10m “good faith deposit” on its purchase – higher than the $2m deposit from Kelly. Landry’s sold Joe’s Crab Shack to private equity group J.H. Whitney Capital Partners in 2006 for $192m. J.H. Whitney took Joe’s Crab Shack public in 2012 under the Ignite Restaurant Group name. Ignite began losing money in 2013 after its ill-fated acquisition of Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Ignite ultimately filed for bankruptcy with $133.3m in secured debt. The emergence of Landry’s promises Ignite’s lenders could take less of a loss on that debt.

Antic to open second Crystal Palace site at end of June: Antic, the Downing-backed London pub operator led by Antony Thomas, is to open a second site in Crystal Palace at the end of this month. The company is launching Walker Briggs in Westow Hill, just down the road from its Westow House venue. The site, billed as a cafe bar, will server a range of beer and real ale as well as Antic’s own cider – George Arthur – cocktails and wine. The menu will feature British seasonal fare with a nod to familiar childhood favourites. Westow House acting general manager Chris Bray said there was room in Crystal Palace for two Antic venues and believed both would be quite different. He told the Croydon Advertiser: “We always work together to offer a wide range of services to our customers. I think Crystal Palace is actually looking for more bars and restaurants.” Antic operates more than 40 sites, including the Shelverdine Goathouse in South Norwood, which opened last September.

Christie & Co puts two freehold Essex pubs on the market: Agent Christie & Co has brought two freehold pubs in Essex with development potential to the market. The Swan, which is at the end of Witham High Street, features an open plan trading area with games spaces as well as a garden and outbuilding. The Green Man in Little Braxted, which sits in 1.3 acres, has two bars, a separate stable block currently used for letting accommodation, trade garden and a further plot of land with its own access. Anthony Jenkins, associate director at Christie & Co, said: “There is great scope to develop a new bar or restaurant concept or to look at the development of these two sites for alternative use whether bought separately or together. This part of Essex, which is easily accessible from London via the A12, is seeing high levels of demand from licensees and developers keen to get a foot in the area. Our recent sale of the Bull Inn at Great Totham for in excess of £1m is testament to this so we expect a high amount of interest in these sites.” The Swan is available for £450,000, with The Green Man available for £415,000.

Filmore & Union to open cafe in John Lewis York, first major retail site: Healthy eating cafe and restaurant company Filmore & Union will open its first major retail site on Wednesday (21 June), on the ground floor of the John Lewis store in York. The opening will be the company’s 14th cafe, bakery and restaurant since entrepreneur and former wellness clinic owner Adele Ashley launched the first site in York in 2012. The John Lewis site will offer Filmore & Union’s menu of “fresh, seasonal and wholesome food and drink” using local produce to create “energising breakfasts, nourishing lunches and gluten-free cakes and bakes”. Ashley said: “We’re thrilled to be working with John Lewis as it is the perfect brand fit for us. Our success is due to our loyal customers, who share our passion for eating well and we hope to attract many more at John Lewis.” Emma Greendale, head of branch at John Lewis York, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Filmore & Union into our shop and to be part of its expansion. It’s a well-known and popular cafe across Yorkshire and we’re sure our customers will love its fresh and wholesome food.” Filmore & Union raised almost £1m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in 2015 and expects to reach 30 sites, with projected turnover in excess of £25m, in its five-year forecast.

Pidgin owners to launch second London restaurant next month with all dishes served from trollies: James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, who operate Pidgin restaurant in Hackney, are to open a second restaurant in London next month, with all dishes served from trollies. Ramsden and Herlihy will launch Magpie in Heddon Street on Tuesday, 11 July. The restaurant, which will have 54 covers, will feature high ceilings, a poured concrete bar, and leather stools. Interiors will borrow from Asian and Californian influences, combining canvas-hung walls with burnt-wood tiling and a huge landscape imprinted on the back wall. The menu will feature about 30 dishes, with diners able to pick what they want from the trollies as they are wheeled around the room – having as much or as little as they want and in whichever order they wish. The menu will feature British small plates, including chicken heart popcorn with hot sauce, mussels with miso and beef dripping toast, and duck rillettes with sourdough and nukazuke pickles. Wine and cocktails will also be served from the trolley, featuring pre-mixed cocktails (including Pidgin’s barrel-aged negroni) and a wine list of about ten white and ten red wines available by the glass, carafe or bottle. Ramsden said: “We’d discussed doing something like this before we even opened Pidgin. It seemed a fun and novel approach to our current eating out habits and a way of tackling some of the more frustrating aspects of ‘sharing’ plates.”

Las Iguanas opens at Bournemouth’s BH2 development: Las Iguanas, the South American-inspired restaurant brand owned by Casual Dining Group, has opened a site in Bournemouth. The company has opened the venue at the BH2 development in Exeter Crescent with 160 covers inside and another 20 outside. The restaurant’s vibrant decor showcases the tropical styles and sun-kissed colours of Rio de Janeiro as well as big bold graphics inspired by Buenos Aires street art. The menu offers new additions such as Bolinhos de Caranguejo (crab, prawn and potato croquettes), as well as the Cuban sandwich consisting of roasted pork belly, pulled pork, Emmental cheese and ham with sweet mustard and green pickle. The brand offers a two-for-one cocktails policy, with new drinks on the menu including Chilli Paloma (Ancho Reyes liqueur, Olmeca Blanco tequila, grapefruit, Ting grapefruit soda and salt), and a Lulo & Agave non-alcoholic cooler (Colombian lulo citrus fruit with agave and soda).

Yorkshire country house with Michelin-starred restaurant brought to market: The Yorke Arms hotel, which houses a Michelin-starred restaurant and is located in Yorkshire’s Nidderdale Valley, has been brought to market by agents Lambert Smith Hampton for offers in the region of £1.75m. The country house is on the village green at Ramsgill and is originally the site of a monastic cheesery. The ivy-clad 18th century coaching house and shooting lodge now serves as a 16-bedroom hotel, including four superior courtyard apartments. The restaurant, which has held its Michelin star since 2003, is operated by award-winning chef Frances Atkins. In addition to two dining rooms with up to 60 covers, the venue offers a reception area, bar, lounge, snug and gardens. Alistair Greenhalgh, director – hotels at Lambert Smith Hampton, said: “The Yorke Arms is a renowned establishment that has undergone tasteful renovation and refurbishment over the years. The characterful hotel offers customers a peaceful escape with countryside views, while the restaurant enables an experienced operator to take on a business with an established customer base and excellent reputation. The business draws trade from all over the UK in addition to regular, local custom.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen opens 18th site, in Nottingham: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has open its latest venue, in Nottingham, taking its estate to 18 sites. The venue has opened following a £500,000 refurbishment of the former Riverbank Bar & Kitchen in Trent Bridge with a micro-brewery as the centrepiece. As well as its own core brews and a number unique to the two-storey Nottingham site, the bar offers Oranjeboom lager, Whitstable Bay Black Oyster Stout and Aspall Suffolk cider on draught. The decor features two rowing boats used as lighting features and painted washing machine drums turned into lampshades. The pub has been turned into an open-plan layout apart from a private dining room to the rear, while there is an indoor fire pit and another outdoors with large groups able to pre-book the space with two fridges eliminating trips to the bar. The company acquired the Riverbank Bar & Kitchen, popular for its cocktails and DJ sets, in January.

Gymkhana sommelier named UK’s best for Italian wine: Valentin Radosav, head sommelier at Michelin-starred Gymkhana restaurant in Mayfair, has won the Best UK Sommelier Villa Sandi Award at this year’s Bellavita Expo. The made-in-Italy food and beverage trade show, held at London’s Business Design Centre, culminated in Radosav being handed the award. He said: “I am incredibly pleased to have won this prestigious award. It has been a great experience to be a part of and this year I was up against a particularly tough group of sommeliers. The tests we were set were challenging and I am proud to have come out on top.” Bellavita chief executive Aldo Mazzocco added: “Valentin has captured the essence of what it is to be a sommelier in a thriving, competitive industry by sharing his expert knowledge and skill.” This year, Bellavita Expo featured more than 250 exhibitors and 60 wine producers.