Albion and East founder – we’re aiming to open two more sites next year: The founder of Albion and East Group, which is supported by The Imbiba Partnership, has told Propel the company aims to open two sites next year as it prepares to launch its second site, in Brixton. Sarah Weir said she was in “early discussions” over potential sites to add to Martello Hall in Hackney and Canova Hall, which will launch in Brixton in September. She added that expansion would be on a site-by-site basis and focused, at least initially, on areas of London where millennials live and work. She said: “I’m looking at a lot of properties every week. We don’t have a third site secured at the moment but we have a few in the pipeline. We are looking at up-and-coming areas of London, as well as more established areas such as Soho or the City. Finding suitable properties is certainly one of the most difficult things. We are constantly challenging ourselves and with each new site opening we learn and then adapt – both ourselves and our business strategy. We will be nimble and tack accordingly. We will develop as the market moves and we are aiming to open sites three and four next year, which is our business strategy.” Canova Hall, which is based in a former department store building in Ferndale Road, will follow a similar format to Martello Hall, which was launched eight months ago. There will be a bar and restaurant with 200 covers in total offering freshly made food with ingredients from local suppliers. As well as hand-made pizzas from a wood-fired oven, there will be food inspired by Italian street vendors and some home-made pasta. Live music will also be core to the offer at weekends, just as it is in Hackney. Weir said current trading was “really good” and the company was starting to focus on the “crucial” Christmas period and took its first large festive booking this week. She added: “Our bookings are now starting to come through recommendation, which is rewarding not just in terms of pounds in the till but it also shows we are giving people the service and experience they want.”

Jamie Oliver opens 32nd international Jamie’s Italian: Chef Jamie Oliver has opened his 32nd international Jamie’s Italian, this time in Reykjavik, Iceland. It is located in the Hotel Borg, one of the most well-known hotels in Iceland. Oliver told Propel: “I’m incredibly excited to be bringing Jamie’s Italian to Iceland. Reykjavik is a beautiful city with a rich heritage, fantastic food scene and real passion and love for locally sourced ingredients, so it’s the perfect spot for us.”

Savills reports £205m investment in south west hotel market in first half of 2017: Investment into hotels in south west England reached £205m across 22 deals in the first half of 2017, according to agent Savills, as a beneficial exchange rate and development potential continues to attract investors. The company noted there is more than £209m of stock on the open market, suggesting a strong second half of the year. Savills said demand was being driven by overseas investors as the favourable exchange rate boosted spending activity. There has also been an increase in demand for hotels with development potential as the south west remains popular with visitors, particularly as the staycation market grows. James Greenslade, associate in the hotels team at Savills, said: “The south west is a popular holiday destination for visitors from home and abroad and, as such, the hotel market has been robust in the first half of the year. As well as strong domestic demand we have experienced a particularly diverse range of overseas capital from locations including South Africa, Singapore and India.” Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, added: “The UK hotel market has had a strong start to the year as the sector remains resilient to the headwinds of the past six months. The anticipation of a softer Brexit will provide further comfort, encouraging development and relieving pressure on staffing.”

Paskin siblings to open coffee shop concept: Siblings Layo and Zoë Paskin, founders of The Palomar, The Barbary, The End and AKA, are to open an English coffee house called Jacob the Angel. Located at 16a Neal’s Yard, the 300 square foot site is due to open in mid-August. Positioned next to The Barbary in Seven Dials (voted one of Time Out London’s “100 best restaurants” 2017), Jacob the Angel will serve breakfast, lunch and tea daily. While the offer will largely be takeaway, there will also be seating for ten covers inside and a small outdoor area. The Paskins are finalising a menu that will include freshly baked cakes, pastries and pies, sandwiches and seasonal salads, updated daily. The design has been led by Layo Paskin in collaboration with Gundry & Ducker and Here Design. Layo Paskin said: “The opportunity to take this space in Neal’s Yard was too good to pass up. We love the area. It’s full of other thriving independent restaurants and boutique shops and it struck us as the ideal location to launch something very different to the other catering concepts we’ve launched. We look forward to working with Shaftesbury and the Seven Dials team.”

Scott Hallsworth launches pan-Asian pop-up Freak Scene in Farringdon: Former Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth has launched pan-Asian pop-up Freak Scene in Farringdon in the City of London. Hallsworth, who launched his Japanese rock ‘n’ roll restaurant concept Kurobuta as a pop-up before opening a permanent site, has created a menu featuring a “whistle-stop tour of Asia, stopping by everywhere from Thailand and Malaysia to South Korea and Japan”. The 40-cover restaurant has opened in Cowcross Street, with seats at the bar that allow customers to watch Hallsworth in action in the open kitchen, while there is additional seating outside. Dishes include hot short rib rendang, miso-yaki foie gras croissant with star anise jus, chilli crab with avocado wonton “bombs”, and tea-smoked lamb chops with spicy Korean miso. The drinks menu features classic cocktails with an Asian twist alongside a range of sake. Hallsworth said Freak Scene would offer an “affordable, lively and laid-back place for people to tuck into delicious and balanced Asian food”.

Star Pubs & Bars invests more than £4m in kitchen fixtures and fittings: Star Pubs & Bars, owned by Heineken, is investing £1.6m in 2017 on kitchen fixtures and fittings, part of its policy that funds high-cost items such as ovens, fridges and grills to help licensees save capital and improve cash flow. The company has already invested £2.7m in kitchen fixtures and fittings since the programme launched in 2015, benefiting 153 licensees, with a further £1.8m spent on kitchen building work, compliance and improving services at these same pubs. The policy, designed to make it easier for licensees to develop a strong food offer, has helped increase the number of Star pubs offering food to 70%, the highest percentage of any national leased operator. Turnover from food is also high in the Star estate – in 2016 it rose 6% to 31% of sales, which compares with an industry norm of 23%. Matt Dyson, head of business support, said: “We want to attract the right operators with the right offer to invest in their pubs to provide them with the support needed to be successful. That means putting in place robust and reliable, good-quality commercial kitchen equipment that can cater for volume. Our unique fixtures and fittings policy means licensees have access to kitchen equipment, which can be prohibitive for them to buy. It frees up cash flow and ensures kitchens are kitted-out properly and that high energy efficiency-rated equipment is used. Our approach to kitchen investment is to invest for the long-term – to build kitchens that allow businesses to grow. This helps make Star pubs competitive, more sustainable and increases licensees profit.”

Cosmo to open in former Red Hot World Buffet site in Manchester: All-you-can-eat brand Cosmo is to take over the former Red Hot World Buffet site in Manchester. The new restaurant will offer 160 dishes from around the world, including fresh sushi, a teppanyaki and robata grill, and a Malaysian and Vietnamese section, alongside Chinese and Italian. There will also be an English carvery and local specialities such as Lancashire hotpot and Eccles cakes on the menu. Cosmo diners will be able to return to eight live cooking stations to refill their plates as many times as they like for a set price, starting from £14.99 for dinner and £8.50 for lunch. Cosmo plans to invest more than £1m to turn the former Deansgate site into a flagship venue. Spread across three floors, the 25,000 square foot restaurant will seat 350 diners. Cosmo commercial director Kan Koo said: “When we opened our first restaurant in 2003 we revolutionised the idea of buffet by offering freshly cooked global cuisine in a sumptuous and elegant setting for a great price. Since then we’ve launched 20 venues around the UK and Ireland and learnt some valuable lessons along the way, watching many of our rivals fall by the wayside. In Manchester, we plan to genuinely shake up the country’s restaurant scene once again. This is a wonderful location in a city that has become famous as an eating-out destination, so we are extremely proud to open what we believe will be one of the most innovative world buffet restaurants anywhere in the UK.”

Five jobs at risk in Moorhouse’s restructure: Five jobs are at risk at Burnley-based Moorhouse’s Brewery, which is restructuring to meet challenges within the “dynamic beer market”. The company said it aims to establish a cost base in line with market conditions and create a new culture of flexible working across the business with a stronger focus on the north west beer market. The proposed changes mean the brewer has started consultation on five jobs at risk in the 33-strong team employed in packaging, distribution, telesales, and finance and administration. Managing director Lee Williams said: “If we are to secure a long-term business in Burnley we need to bring our cost base into line with the market and adapt in all areas as to what today’s customers and consumers want from a beer supplier. Regrettably, these changes are necessary to meet our business aims. Having said this restructure is about the future, we are acutely aware of the need for us to consult with the staff affected and we will be working closely with them over the coming days and weeks.”

Bourne Leisure sales near £1bn: Sales are closing in on the £1bn mark at Bourne Leisure, the holiday park company that owns Butlin’s, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels. Companies House accounts show Bourne Leisure Holdings’ revenues climbed to £996.6m in the year to 31 December 2016, compared with £951.4m 12 months earlier. Group operating profit also increased by almost £10m to £161.4m, which the company said was down to “improved trading” and “despite lower exception credits from HM Revenue & Customs relating to overpaid VAT”. Pre-tax profits increased to £143.9m from £134.1m. Capital expenditure in 2016 totalled £111.4m, with Bourne Leisure continuing to invest in its hire fleet, pitches, entertainment complexes and swimming pools, and caravan parks. Some of the cash also went towards improving accommodation at Warner Leisure Hotels and Butlin’s. A statement accompanying the results said directors “anticipate 2017 will show further growth in sales and profits”. During the financial year, Bourne Leisure Holdings employed more than 13,600 staff. The company has Butlin’s resorts in Skegness and Minehead and almost 40 Haven parks along the coast of England, Wales and Scotland. Warner Leisure Hotels are located in Somerset, Hampshire, Suffolk, Berkshire, Nottinghamshire, Herefordshire, Cheshire, North Wales, North Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight.

Plant-based burger concept The Vurger Co celebrates Crowdcube’s fastest restaurant fund-raise: Rachel Hugh and Neil Potts are celebrating after their plant-based burger concept The Vurger Co produced the “fastest restaurant fund-raise” on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company offered a 23.08% equity stake as it looked to raise £180,000 to open its first bricks and mortar venue following a series of pop-ups and appearances at markets and festivals. It hit that target within 30 hours of launch and closed the campaign having reached its overfunding target of £300,000 from 284 investors in only 77 hours – 66% more than the brand’s target and allowing Hugh and Potts to raise the equity offer to 33.33%. The Vurger Co’s mission is to “revolutionise fast food forever through the power of plants”. Hugh and Potts said: “We just love that everyone has got behind our mission, believed in us and our team, and understood how much of an impact our concept can have on the future of food. We cannot wait to start working on our permanent home!” The Vurger Co hopes to open its debut permanent site in early 2018.

New US-inspired brand to open two sites in Yorkshire: A new US-inspired brand, Holy Moly’s Deep South Kitchen, is launching in Leeds and York. The sites in Yeadon and Flaxton will offer cuisine from the American South, ranging from grits and gumbo to biscuits and gravy along with more unusual ingredients such as alligator meat. Holy Moly’s is operated by Simon Robinson and Ben Jones, who previously founded Huckleberry’s – both restaurants are based on the original premises of the former Huckleberry’s Diner. Challenge dishes will also be on the menu, with five man-versus-food contests available including the Meat Marathon, which carries a £100 cash reward if completed inside 40 minutes. Food challenges at both Holy Moly’s restaurants have been designed by Adam Moran, the UK’s leading competitive eater and a Guinness Book of Records world record holder. New challenges will be created throughout the year to test the biggest appetites. Robinson said: “An authentic Deep South-inspired eatery is a first for the region. We are truly dedicated to the delicious taste of the southern states and there’s nothing else like it on the restaurant scene at the moment. We aim to take our customers on a road trip through America’s Deep South.”

London-based Chisou launches third Japanese restaurant, in Fitzrovia: London-based restaurant group Chisou has opened its third venue in the capital, this time in Fitzrovia. The company, which is led by David Leroy and operates restaurants in Mayfair and Knightsbridge, has launched Sushi Atelier in Great Portland Street. The contemporary venue features a long sushi counter where people can watch the chefs at work, while larger parties can book tables, Hot Dinners reports. Dishes range from carpaccios, sushi rolls and nigiri, including shime saba nigiri with chilli lime oroshi, barbecue tuna with Parmesan, and tofu salad with tofu cream and house dressing.

Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social reports six sector contract wins: Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social has reported six new contract wins worth more than £150,000. In addition to existing clients throughout the sector such as Carluccio’s, Leon and Pho, Wireless Social has signed agreements with Brasserie Bar Co, Spaghetti House, Beds and Bars, The Draft House, Azzuri Group and Oakman Inns as their sole Wi-Fi provider. Wireless Social reported 139% growth in unique users from December 2015 to December 2016, with expected growth for the end of 2017 predicted to rise 129% to 4.6 million and a further 110% to 9.7 million by the end of 2018. Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross said: “Through Wireless Social, businesses have the ability to personalise their communications to specific customer interests, connecting with customers in a way that is more meaningful and relevant. We are delighted to have welcomed six prestigious brands on board and look forward to working closely with them over the coming months.”

Notting Hill-based restaurateurs to launch second site: Luca Longobardi and chef Chris Denney, who opened Notting Hill restaurant 108 Garage in January, are to start expansion by opening a second site in the area. Longobardi and Denney will launch Southam Street, in the road of the same name, in September having taken over a former Victorian pub. The ground floor will feature a robata grill, while a Big Green Egg charcoal grill and smoker will provide “big, bold barbecue flavours”. In the first-floor Raw Bar, a Japanese sushi master will preside over a mostly nikkei menu, mixing Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and techniques. The floor will also feature a separate sake room, while the space upstairs will house a private members’ champagne bar. Longobardi launched an international investment bank before a false accusation of money laundering put him on Interpol’s “most wanted” list. He was sent to prison in Brazil before he was exonerated. Denney has worked in a Michelin-starred kitchen. The duo said their next project, Home Noir, would combine a members’ club with 20 loft apartments, a restaurant, clubhouse and roof deck. They said it would be the world’s first hospitality project to raise its capital through an Initial Coin Offering.

Tombo opens third site, in Fitzrovia: London-based Japanese food and tea specialist Tombo has opened its third site, this time in Fitzrovia. The company has opened the Japanese-inspired poké and matcha bar in Windmill Street. The venue offers a range of poké dishes, including salmon, tuna and teriyaki chicken, while diners can also build their own bowl from a selection of bases, mains, toppings and sauces. The venue also offers a range of Tombo green teas – sourced from the foothills of Mount Fuji – alongside Tombo matcha lattes and matcha brownies, gateau and sundaes. Tombo’s other sites are in South Kensington and Soho, while it also supplies teas to some of London’s best-known restaurants, including Jason Atherton’s Sosharu. Last month, Tombo co-founder Louis Sloley told Propel the company was looking to “more than double its estate in the next three years and strengthen its wholesale division by supplying more restaurants”.

Covent Garden restaurant and wine bar owners to launch sister site: Ian Campbell and Will Palmer, who operate The 10 Cases restaurant and wine bar in Covent Garden, are set to open a “classic” fish restaurant in the same street for their second site. Campbell and Palmer will launch Parsons – in honour of their mothers, who share the same maiden name – in Endell Street in October as a “classic fish restaurant bar with a classic London fish restaurant feel”. The menu will include two catches of the day alongside staples such as squid, clams, oysters, sardines, sea bass and turbot. The drinks list will focus on white wine to accompany the fish. There will also be standing space for anyone who wants wine and snacks before moving on. Campbell told Eater. “The aim is to create a relaxed, European-style venue that can be the setting for the night or as a quick drop-in for a glass of wine, an oyster or two and be out for a tenner.” Campbell and Palmer opened The 10 Cases in 2011. They also launched the Drop Wine app – a wine delivery service.

Cote to open £1m Bournemouth brasserie on Friday: French brasserie Cote will open its £1m venue in Bournemouth on Friday (28 July). The restaurant will open in Westover Road on the site of the former Austin Reed shop, which had been empty since the store closed last year. The new restaurant will create 40 jobs, with the Victorian building featuring a small balcony for alfresco dining. Cote chief executive Alex Scrimgeour told the Bournemouth Echo: “Bournemouth has a real buzz about it and we are proud to invest in the town. The grade II-listed building has been lovingly restored and we look forward to welcoming our guests to the new brasserie. We’re sure our friendly, professional service and great-value food will be a perfect fit for the town.” Cote, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, has more than 90 sites in the UK. The latest to open was at the Trinity Leeds shopping centre on Monday (24 July), while earlier this month the company launched a third site for its all-day California kitchen brand Limeyard in the same city – its first in the north of England. Cote’s only other venue in Dorset is in Dorchester.

Anglian Country Inns reopens Hertfordshire farmhouse hotel and restaurant for eighth site: Anglian Country Inns (ACI), the award-winning operator of gastro-pubs and restaurants led by James Nye, has reopened The Farmhouse At Redcoats, a 15th century farmhouse hotel and restaurant in north Hertfordshire, for its eighth site. The project was set up as a Special Purpose Vehicle by ACI to enable the project to bring in investors from outside the Nye family for the first time. ACI raised the capital from a combination of loan notes and equity from private individuals and senior debt provided by Downing. The kitchen and restaurants have been refurbished, while the project will also include the development of two adjacent grade II-listed barns into further accommodation and a 120-cover wedding venue. Four acres of gardens will also be landscaped to include orchards, a herb garden and raised vegetable beds to establish a kitchen garden.

Plans for Longleat hotel and water park get go-ahead: Plans for a new 240-bedroom hotel, water park and conference facility at the Longleat estate have been given the go ahead by Wiltshire Council. A water park will be developed together with conferencing facilities at the hotel that will cater for up to 200 delegates. Multi-purpose entertaining and ancillary buildings will also be created. The plans are aimed at enabling families to extend their stay at the park. It has been estimated the new facilities will create about 300 full-time equivalent jobs, supporting more indirectly. Wiltshire Council voted to grant consent for the scheme at a meeting of its strategic planning committee in line with a report from the planning officer. Planning permission has been granted subject to conditions, including the approval of a reserved matters application, submission of an operational noise management plan and that no “special events” are held at the site. Longleat Enterprises has committed to spending £3m per year over a ten-year period to support development of the park.

Everyman Media Group issues trading update: Everyman Media Group has issued a trading update prior to the intended announcement of its interim results on 6 September 2017 for the six months ended 29 June 2017. It stated: “The group ended the six months to 29 June 2017 operating 21 cinemas, with Stratford-upon-Avon having opened during the period. The group remains on track to open a permanent three-screen cinema in King’s Cross in November this year. In addition, contracts have been exchanged on the acquisition of a 28-year lease for the existing five-screen Reel cinema in York, which is expected to be fully refurbished and open as an Everyman in early 2018. Demand for the Everyman offer continues to strengthen and the group is excited to announce new contracts have been exchanged for venues in Borough Market (2020), Liverpool (2018) and Newcastle (2018) which, along with those previously announced, commits the group to a total of nine more venues. In summary, the group has performed in line with expectations in the first six months of 2017, the board is confident of a successful outcome for the full year and the pipeline is continuing to be developed in line with investors’ expectations.”

Liverpool-based Burnt Orange Bars launches French cafe: Liverpool-based operator Burnt Orange Bars has launched French cafe Petit Café Du Coin in the city. The company has opened the venue in Berry Street offering wine, cheese, coffee and cocktails at the site of its fried chicken restaurant Yard Bird, which will now operate as a delivery only service via Deliveroo and UberEats from a city centre kitchen. Petit Café Du Coin will also offer pastries, sandwiches and French-inspired dishes alongside an extensive cocktail and wine menu, the Liverpool Echo reports. Burnt Orange Bars also operates Death Row Diner and Motel Bar in the city.

Virtual freehold of London theatre on sale with £1.9m guide price: Agent Savills has brought the virtual freehold investment in The Other Palace theatre in London’s Victoria to market for a guide price of £1.9m, reflecting a net initial yield of 5%. The sale is on the instructions of Aiden Murphy, of Crowe Horwath, receiver of the virtual freeholder. The purpose-built theatre opened in 2012 and is operated by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Group. The business will continue to trade unaffected from the premises during the marketing of the property and post completion of the sale. Extending to 14,761 square feet (1,371 square metres) over four levels, the property comprises a 302-seat main theatre and 102-seat cabaret venue, plus bar and restaurant areas. It is in Palace Street close to the high-profile Cardinal Place and Nova developments. The theatre is held on a 999-year lease at a peppercorn rent from 2006, with a 75-year occupational lease expiring in 2087. The occupational lease and current rent of £100,000 per annum is guaranteed by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Group. Paul Breen, director in Savills’ licensed leisure team, said: “This is an incredibly rare opportunity to acquire a modern, central London theatre investment that is let on a long lease to one of the leading operators in the sector. The scarcity of long income opportunities in central London, combined with the attractive lot size for this asset, will no doubt generate strong market interest from UK-based and overseas investors.”