Big Easy reports turnover boost: Big Easy, which opened a flagship site in Canary Wharf in November 2015, has reported that turnover rose to £16.4m in the year to 31 January 2016, up from £13,581,592 the year before. The company said its Canary Wharf site was producing “very good trading cash flows”. Operating profit before exceptional items increased from £151,924 to £636,226. Exceptional costs included pre-opening costs of circa £894,000, and aborted funding costs of £58,748, producing an operating loss of £306,165.

Operating losses at Princi despite £90,000 per week turnover: Operating losses at Princi, the Milanese bakery founded by Rocco Princi and Alan Yau, in London’s Wardour Street increased in the year to 31 October 2015 – Yau resigned as a director in June 2016. Turnover rose to £4,601,304 (2014: £4,481,019), while Ebitda was £79,941, compared with £359,767 the year before. The operating loss was £233,364, compared with an operating profit of £27,586 the year before. Overall pre-tax loss was £404,374, compared with £122,799 in the prior year. Shareholders deficit stands at £3,967,690.

Vapiano signs for 11,000 square foot site in Glasgow: Vapiano has signed to open an 11,000 square foot site at the former George Hotel in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. The company has taken a 25-year lease and will shortly commence fit-out work on the units. Real estate investor Hines UK and German investment company Universal-Investment acquired the property at 229-249 Buchanan Street from Hermes Investment Management last year in a reported £38m deal. Euan McGonigle, associate director in CBRE’s retail team, who acted for Hines UK on the lets, said: “Vapiano will bring something different to the city with its fast-casual, high-quality dining concept.

Smashburger unveils five new sites: Smashburger, one of the fastest growing restaurant concepts in the US, has announced it will open five new UK restaurants within the next year. Sites have been acquired in Bath, Glasgow, Dunfermline, Wednesbury and Inverness. The first of the new restaurants to open will be in Southgate Street in Bath city centre in early May. The brand’s first Scottish restaurant will open in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Centre in June, followed by a further two Scottish openings in Dunfermline in July and Inverness in November. Smashburger will open at Junction 9 Retail Park in Wednesbury in the West Midlands in August. Three Smashburger UK restaurants have opened in the past nine months – the first in Milton Keynes’ Kingston Centre Retail Park followed by North Street in Brighton and, most recently, Newcastle’s Intu Eldon Square shopping centre. The group plans to open ten restaurants in the UK during the next 12 months, with a goal to open 35 UK restaurants by the end of 2020, including in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh, Reading and Colchester.

Beatnikz Republic to open permanent site in Manchester: London-based brewer Beatnikz Republic is to open its first permanent home, in Manchester. Founder and head brewer Paul Greetham has applied for planning permission to open a microbrewery and taproom under the Red Bank railway arches in the Green Quarter. He said: “Manchester’s beer scene is absolutely booming. You’ve got places like Cloudwater, which has only just celebrated its second birthday and is now rated as one of the best in the world, producing some absolutely stunning beers and then you’ve got places like Marble with the heritage. It’s just a really vibrant scene to start brewing in.” Greetham started out as a home-brewer before upscaling his operation with sessions at open brewery Ubrew in Bermondsey and other established London breweries – a practice known as gypsy or cuckoo brewing. The Manchester move will enable him to produce more beer, which will be supplied to bars and bottle shops on keg and in 440ml cans, as well as being served fresh from the source at an on-site taproom, which will open every weekend.

MP criticises Caffe Nero after it pays no corporation tax: An MP has criticised Caffe Nero for paying no corporation tax. Despite making a profit of £25.5m, Caffe Nero avoided a £5.1m tax bill after claiming its holding company made a £24m loss. Company filings revealed the coffee chain hit £257.6m in sales in the year ending 31 May 2016, up almost 7% on the year before. The company, which has 613 sites in the UK and Ireland, has not paid UK corporation tax since 2007, despite generating more than £1bn in sales during that period. In its accounts the company boasted of its “strong growth prospects” and said it planned to expand to at least 750 stores. The accounts of Caffe Nero’s parent company – Rome Pikco – claim the loss was down to “arm’s length interest payments to banks”. “Therefore no entity within the group was due to pay tax for the year,” it said. Labour MP John Mann said Caffe Nero was taking money from people paying tax properly and “ripping off the taxpayer”. The head offices of Caffe Nero and Rome Pikco are in Covent Garden in the heart of London. However Rome Pikco’s holding company – Rome Holdco Sarl – is based in Luxembourg, a well-known tax haven. The ultimate parent company –Saratoga – is based in the Isle of Man, another tax haven. The architect of this arrangement is Caffe Nero’s Californian founder Gerry Ford. John Mann, a Labour MP and member of the Treasury Committee, said: “Caffe Nero is taking business from decent people running cafes who are paying their tax properly. This is just ripping off the taxpayer. HMRC needs to get its act together. It’s just a farce.” A Caffe Nero spokesman said: “Overall, the group of companies that includes Caffe Nero did not make a taxable profit in the year to 31 May 2016. This is because of interest payments it makes to third-party UK-based banks.”

Marston’s Pitcher & Piano brand secures Durham site: The developers of Milburngate in Durham have announced an agreement with Marston’s that will see the development house a new site for its Pitcher & Piano brand. Set over two storeys, construction of the glass-fronted, 693 square metre bar is due to begin in late 2017, with an opening scheduled for 2019. It will be designed to complement the styling of the contemporary Milburngate development, which will offer views of the historic city’s riverside and skyline including the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which features Durham Cathedral and the city’s castle. Marston’s is the second premium leisure operator to choose Milburngate, following boutique independent cinema operator Everyman. Steve Roberts, head of acquisitions at Marston’s, said: “We are always looking for opportunities that create a unique experience for our customers in fantastic settings. Milburngate is an exciting step for us and it’s great to be part of this development of Durham city’s riverside.”

JD Wetherspoon plans first Cardiff hotel: JD Wetherspoon is planning to open its first Cardiff hotel as part of one of its pubs. The plans, approved by Cardiff council, will see rooms built above The Gatekeeper pub in Westgate Street/Womanby Street. Three floors, which are currently vacant, will be turned into either rooms or facilities required for them. A fourth floor will be created and, in total, there will be 17 rooms. The only change people will see, according to the application, is the creation of two windows. An objection from a lawyer acting on behalf of Clwb Ifor Bach and Gwyn Thomas, of Hub Bars, said their venues formed an “integral part of a vibrant night-time leisure and entertainment scene along Womanby Street, which maintains an extremely popular focus for Cardiff’s night-time economy”. It added: “With such vibrancy comes a certain degree of noise at evening times as revellers move along the street and between venues. Moreover, existing establishments also provide smoking areas for customers, some of which are visible (and audible) from the street. I am conscious that hotel rooms exist to serve a particular purpose – to enable persons to enjoy a night of sleep. And, to this end, it is rightly assumed that those individuals occupying the proposed rooms will be seeking the right to a decent night’s sleep.”

Youngest Papa John’s UK franchisee opens fourth site: Papa John’s UK has announced that its youngest franchisee, Abdul Kasana, 27, has opened his fourth franchised store. The new Papa John’s venue is in Grimsby Road in central Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, and will employ about 20 staff. Kasana, who first joined the company in 2016, also runs two Papa John’s sites in Nottingham and another in Ilkeston. The former education consultant said: “I believe Cleethorpes represents a gap in the pizza market. With Papa John’s gaining ground and expanding rapidly in the UK, if I didn’t open there, someone else would! My journey so far with Papa John’s has been a good one.” Papa John’s now has more than 350 stores across the UK.

Killingworth Castle coaching inn on the market for £1.5m: The freehold of The Killingworth Castle coaching inn, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, has been placed on the market for £1.5m with agents Colliers International. The multiple award-winning 17th century venue is in the village of Wootton. It offers 70 covers and has eight letting bedrooms. Sales are £795,000 net. The Killingworth Castle was bought in 2012 by Claire and Jim Alexander, who also own the multi-award winning Ebrington Arms in Ebrington, near Chipping Campden.

Michelin-starred Matt Gillan struggles with Redroaster crowdfunding campaign: Matt Gillan, who won a Michelin star at South Lodge Hotel in West Sussex and the main course section of the Great British Menu television show two years ago, has been pledged £13,080 in his crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Gillan is bidding to raise £80,000 for his new coffee house by day and restaurant in the evening project in Kemp Town, Brighton, opening in partnership with former Mitchells & Butlers executive Mike Palmer. The project is only 16% funded with five days to go. Gillan’s pitch states: “We are looking to raise funds to help us with phase two – the garden and roastery. Behind Redroaster we have a great space and are also looking to secure the garden space next door that runs behind the retail units in St James’s Street. Our vision for the garden is to create a focal point at the back of Redroaster, with an area that merges indoors and outdoors.”

Loungers to open in Weston-super-Mare this month: Loungers is to open a new venue on Weston-super-Mare seafront this month, named after engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brunello Lounge will open in Beach Road – in the former Seven nightclub – on 29 March. The new restaurant will create 25 jobs for Weston and the Loungers group has already transformed the building into a family-friendly retreat.

Ola BarbeQue to start expansion with second Somerset site: Somerset-based restaurateurs Dimitri Karnachoritis and Harvey Mihalas are set to expand Ola BarbeQue only a month after launching the concept. The debut site launched in Nunney Catch, near Frome, on 14 January at a site formerly occupied by The Catch fish and chip restaurant. Now Karnachoritis and Mihalas will turn their No6 restaurant in Midsomer Norton into a second Ola BarbeQue site. Mihalas told Somerset Live: “It’s all about the meat. Lamb chops, pork chops, kebabs, you name it, we have it. We also have vegetarian options – halloumi will be grilled to service and we’ll also have a special Greek salad. People should expect high levels of customer service from both restaurants – this is where we hope to stand out from the crowd.” At the time of the launch, Mihalas said: “We’ve invested a great deal of time and effort into this to make sure it works. This is just the start – we hope it will take off and over the course of the year we can open a few more restaurants.”

Chester-based Deva Craft Beer to open debut brewhouse: Chester-based brewer Deva Craft Beer is to open its debut brewhouse in the city this week. The company, led by father and son Adie and Nick Gilbody, will launch the bar in Brook Street on Thursday (2 March) at a site that formerly housed the Kash Tap Rooms, a brewhouse for Runcorn-based Blueball Brewery, which is shifting its focus back to brewing. Deva Craft Beer has won the best local brewery category in the Chester Beer Awards for the past two years. Nick Gilbody told The Chester Chronicle: “We aim to continue where Kash left off and bring even more exciting beers and events to our customers. We know we have really big shoes to fill but we will make sure those who have called Kash their local can expect the same level of amazing beers and the same welcoming atmosphere.” Deva Craft Beer is in the process of moving its brewery closer to the tap room to be able to keep the bar well-stocked at all times. It plans to retain Kash’s award-winning food menu and add its “own twist”.

Dorset-based restaurateurs to take over Earl of Sandwich’s country house cafe: Cass Titcombe and Louise Chidgey, who operate Brassica restaurant in Beaminster, Dorset, are set to take over the management of a country house cafe in the county. Brassica was the only restaurant in Dorset to appear in The Sunday Times list of the UK’s top 100 restaurants this year. The Brassica team will take over The Sawmill Café at Mapperton House from April. Viscount Hinchingbrooke, who runs Mapperton House, the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, told Bridport & Lyme Regis News: “Over just a few short years, Cass and Louise have developed an outstanding reputation at Brassica for delicious food. We are pleased they are now partnering with us at Mapperton.” Titcombe added: “We are looking forward to offering visitors homemade cakes, cream teas, a range of light lunch dishes and some memorable sandwiches, all with Brassica’s signature touches.”

Paisley-based multi-site operators to launch Pendulum Bar and Grill concept in town: Paisley-based multi-site operators Stefano and Riccardo Cardosi are set to launch their Pendulum Bar and Grill concept in the Scottish town in April or early May. The 120-cover venue was due to open last year in the ground floor of the former Arnotts department store in Gauze Street. However, the project has been plagued by delays after it was found the shopfront at the B-listed store was rotten. Pendulum Bar and Grill will sit alongside retail units and 11 luxury apartments that will overlook Paisley Abbey and the town hall. Stefano Cardosi told Renfrewshire 24: “Things in the town are moving at such a fantastic rate, we want to complement what is already available by creating a new, exciting bar and grill. Pendulum will offer a varied menu, beer, wine and cocktail list in a stylish, contemporary setting.” The brothers opened Cardosi’s Restaurant in Paisley in 2002. They also operate Cardosi’s Espresso Bar coffee shop and Allan’s Chip Shop in the town.

Cambridge-based restaurateurs to start expansion with Varsity sister site: Matthew Marshall, owner of Varsity restaurant in Cambridge, is set to open a sister site in the city. The new site will be called Trinity and is set to open on Friday, 7 April at a site that formerly housed Coast fish and chip restaurant. Sisters, rather than twins, Trinity will have a different menu to Varsity, with a greater emphasis on seafood. Where Varsity offers its unique Claret Card, with bin ends of interesting reds, Trinity will have its own Fizz Card, offering a choice of champagne and sparkling wines. The head chef will be Jonno Khan, formerly of Jamie’s Italian, while the general manager will be Richard Kruller, former manager of The Tickell Arms and Cambridge Chop House. Kruller told the Cambridge News: “Cambridge has a lot of good restaurants but I think where we’re different is the level of service. The staff of Trinity are all friends and we’ve all worked in the industry for a long time. It’s all about very good food with excellent service, which has always been at the heart of Varsity. Trinity will offer a set lunch and pre-theatre menu, from Monday to Friday, between midday and 7pm.

The Liquor Co bids to launch cafe and restaurant concept in Newcastle: The Liquor Co, which operates The Empress bar in Side, Newcastle, has applied to launch a cafe and restaurant concept next door. Managing director Matthew Settle wants to turn the site that formerly housed the city’s first Peruvian restaurant – Solano’s – into a concept entitled A Bit On The Side. The restaurant, named after former Newcastle United player Nolberto Solano, closed recently. Settle said he had spent almost two years working on the all-day cafe and relaxed restaurant concept and had submitted an application to Newcastle City Council. A Bit On The Side would feature leather seating, velvet drapes and curtains, smoked mirrors, reclaimed timber panelling, white-washed brickwork, and soft rugs. The menu would feature twists on British classics and homemade delicacies alongside cocktails, breakfast bagels, lunchtime grills and sharing plates. The planned opening hours are from 7am to midnight, with extended opening until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Settle told Chronicle Live the concept would be aimed at the 25-plus market looking for a “quality food and drink offering while being surrounded by an urban chic vintage decor”. He added: “The aim is to offer uncompromised table service for every guest with a laid-back atmosphere via a well-educated soundtrack during the day, ending in a cool, easy-going seated vibe through the late evening.”

Dark Star Brewing Company secures fifth site: Sussex-based Dark Star Brewing Company has announced it has secured a fifth site, this time in Crawley, West Sussex. The latest site will break new ground for Dark Star as it introduces a new concept to sit alongside a pub in the shape of a bottle shop and tasting room. Located in Crawley’s High Street, the site will operate under the name The General Store and offer a wide selection of drinks to enjoy on and off site, along with a range of cheese and charcuterie. Heath Ball, of Dark Star, said: “Crawley has always been a priority for us; it was a case of finding the right site and then creating the right offer. This is less of a bar and more of a hybrid between a great off-licence and a place people can explore a great range of beer and wine with a little something to eat. We’ll be introducing a huge range of beer on cask, keg, bottle and can as well as a growler fill-station. Alongside the beer, we’ll have a world-class wine offer and a great selection of spirits.” The General Store, which is set to open in early summer, will also offer a wide selection of beer-related items such as merchandise and home-brew kits. There will also be a local delivery service. The General Store joins Dark Star’s estate, which includes two pubs the company opened last year – The Anchor Tap in Horsham and The Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath – as well as The Evening Star in Brighton and The Partridge in Partridge Green, all in Sussex.

MEATliquor to launch delivery-only site at Canary Wharf: MEATliquor has launched a delivery-only site in Canary Wharf in partnership with Deliveroo. Following the success of MEATliquor deliveries through Deliveroo across its ten sites, the delivery-only partnership is a first for the growing restaurant group. The move will offer more consumers the opportunity to have a wide-ranging menu of classic MEATliquor dishes, signature shakes and bespoke craft beer delivered to their front door or office. Scott Collins, MEATliquor co-founder and managing director, said: “Our customers love to visit MEATliquor restaurants for the unique experience but also enjoy the luxury of eating one of our classic dishes from the comfort of their desk or sofa. Our delivery service through Deliveroo is increasingly popular and we hope through this innovative site we can offer fast and quality food to more consumers in Canary Wharf and local areas. We are always learning and trying to improve our service and will continue to look for ways like this to do so.”