Comptoir Libanais opens first south west restaurant, in Exeter: Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes, has opened a restaurant in Exeter, its first site in the south west of England. The brand, founded by Tony Kitous, has opened the restaurant in the new £12m Queen Street dining quarter at the revamped Guildhall Shopping Centre. The menu includes a selection of mezze (Lebanese small plates), mains, hot wraps, salads, desserts, home-made lemonade, mint tea and a selection of Lebanese wines. Kitous said: “I’m really excited to be opening a new branch of Comptoir Libanais in Exeter’s Queen Street centre. We just love to share our home-style Lebanese food and our generous culture with everyone in the city. Since launching the first Comptoir Libanais in 2008, the response from our guests has been amazing. They really love and enjoy our fresh, healthy and affordable food and I can’t wait to share our generous food with the Exeter community. I really look forward to welcoming our guests into our new Exeter home and celebrating our first opening in the south west.”




Rick Stein to open Marlborough restaurant on Saturday: Celebrity chef Rick Stein will open a restaurant in Marlborough, Wiltshire, on Saturday (8 October). Stein is launching the 100-cover venue at the grade II-listed Lloran House in High Street. A number of Stein’s iconic seafood dishes will feature on the menu, alongside a nod to Wiltshire’s farming heritage. There will also be lunch and Sunday lunch menus. Stein told the Gazette & Herald: “It is very exciting to be opening a restaurant here, everyone is filled with enthusiasm. I have been visiting often since we bought the place and it is a lovely spot. I am glad everyone has made the decisions because I would say we need more seating to get bums on the chairs but it has a lovely amount of space.” Stein operates a number of venues in Devon and Cornwall as well as restaurants in Sandbanks in Dorset, and Winchester in Hampshire. Earlier this year, he pulled out of plans to open a seafront restaurant in Eastbourne, East Sussex, blaming Brexit.



Chozen Noodle to open new prototype unit for 25th site, third venue planned for service station sister brand: Chozen Noodle, the fast casual noodle bar brand founded by Matthew Kirby and John Dodds, will open a new prototype unit in Oxford this month, its 25th site. The store in George Street will feature a made-to-order sushi station and some new hot food offerings. Kirby said Chozen Noodle would also open a double unit at London’s Excel centre in late October, its sixth opening this year. Regarding further expansion, he said: “We are still looking for new sites but want quality locations in good footfall areas and this remains a real challenge, even though we can take on retail (A1/A2) sites.” Kirby said a third venue was also in the pipeline for sister brand Chow Asian Kitchen, which launched this year in partnership with motorway services operator Moto. Kirby said the first two Chow Asian Kitchen sites – at Reading West and Leigh Delamere – had been well received, with a third planned for early 2017. He said: “It’s probably a bit more Thai-orientated in terms of the dishes served but the core menu still has a wide appeal.” On the CP Foods investment, Kirby said: “It’s been 18 months since CP invested in the business and, although like most entrepreneurs we were concerned about how things would work out for us, it’s actually been a largely positive experience.”




Sirius Investments starts expansion of rodizio concept House of Tiago with Lincoln launch: Norwich-based Sirius Investments has opened a second site for its Brazilian rodizio concept House of Tiago, this time in Lincoln. The new all-you-can-eat restaurant at the former Brew Haus site in Silver Street features an £8,000 grill from Brazil, with the menu offering up to 16 different meats and a hot and cold buffet. Carvers pass from table to table and cut up meat in front of customers in Brazilian rodizio style. There are also fish and vegetarian options, while the drinks list features a wide range of cocktails and mocktails – all with a Brazilian twist – such as the South American Sourz and Tiago’s signature drink, the caipirinha. Sirius Investments operations director Charles Hewitt told the Lincolnshire Echo: “We acquired the site in April and wanted to open in May but the gas grill meant we had to wait for an eight-week public consultation period. Now everything is in place, we can concentrate on bringing a restaurant that provides an authentic Brazilian style. We look forward to giving the people of Lincoln a real taste of Brazil.” The company’s debut House of Tiago is in Tombland, Norwich.




JD Wetherspoon chief executive sees earnings drop: JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson saw his total remuneration drop to £901,000 in the year ended 24 July 2016 – he earned a total of £1,202,000 the year before. Of the total, his basic salary increased to £566,000 (2015: £494,000) but the decrease stemmed from his long-term incentive payments, which dropped to £221,000 compared with £602,000 in 2015. Legal and personnel director earned Su Cacioppo earned £514,000, compared with £687,000 the year before. Chairman Tim Martin earned a total of £339,000, compared with £355,000 the year before. Chairman of the remuneration committee Debra van Gene said: “The committee made the decision to increase the salaries of the chief executive and the personnel and legal director by 9%, in recognition of their performance. This compares with a 6.8% increase in average employee pay across the company. Executive directors will receive an award of 10.42% of basic salary, under the annual cash bonus plan, comprising 5% of basic salary under the quality and standards element and 5.42% under the profit element. Executive directors will also receive an amount equivalent to 25% of their salary in shares under a share incentive plan (SIP). The committee is proposing a change to the owners’ earnings calculation in the deferred bonus scheme, subject to shareholders’ approval at the 2016 AGM. Subject to approval, executive directors will receive 52.2% of their salary in shares under the owners’ earnings per share (EPS) element of the scheme, and 7% under the EPS element. In 2015, long-service awards were introduced across the company for all employees with more than 25 years of service. Because the prevailing remuneration policy for executive directors did not include this element, the remuneration committee has been unable to make payments under this scheme to John Hutson and Su Cacioppo, both of whom have completed more than 25 years’ service, simply because they are executive directors. The remuneration committee intends to include the long-service awards in the policy, which it will submit to shareholders for approval in 2017. These will be calculated on the same basis as for all employees: an additional pension payment equivalent to 2% of salary for 25 to 29 years’ service, a further 2% for 30 to 34 years’ service, and a further 2% at 35-plus years’ service – with similarly staged 5% increments on SIPs.




CG Restaurants & Bars to open two Dirty Martini sites this month, including first outside London: CG Restaurants & Bars will open two Dirty Martini sites this month, including its first outside London. The company will open its eighth London bar on Thursday, 13 October in the City – in Minories on the former Mary Jane’s site – followed by the ninth, in Cardiff, on Saturday, 29 October. It is investing about £1.2m to transform the former Maddison site in St Mary Street. The venue will feature bespoke artwork and a central bar with 16 bar stations. There will also be private, bookable areas that can accommodate six to 300 people. There will be more than 50 cocktails on the Cardiff menu, featuring a diverse range of spirits, as well as a section of Welsh-inspired cocktails such as The Red Dragon, which comprises Brecon botanical gin. Dirty Martini chief executive Scott Matthews said: “This is an incredibly exciting month for Dirty Martini. Over the past three years we have had outstanding success in the City and aim to continue this through our newest bar in Minories. On top of this, we’re thrilled to be able to announce our launch date for Cardiff. We’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to make sure the bar is looking great and that our Cardiff menu has something for everyone.” Dirty Martini’s other sites, which are all in London, are in Bishopsgate, Clapham, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Monument and St Paul’s.




SA Brain’s new advantage agreement leads to 26.3% sales growth: Welsh brewer and hospitality retailer SA Brain has said the new five-year advantage agreement it introduced into its tenanted estate led to a 26.3% rise in wet sales in August, compared with the same month a year ago. Gareth Johns, head of tenancies at SA Brain, added that since the first advantage agreement was granted in April, the company had signed 13 further agreements across South Wales. In 2014, SA Brain’s senior management team visited each tenanted partner and devised the new advantage agreement to improve trading environments, cut the cost of repairs to tenants, and minimise the level of compliance documentation tenants were required to complete. The goal was to free tenants’ time to focus on recruitment, driving sales and improving customer experience. The agreement sees SA Brain take greater responsibility for repairs, maintenance and compliance of the pubs that sign up. In addition, tenants receive access to a wide drinks portfolio, an incentivised discount package on wet products, and input and advice from SA Brain’s tenanted support team. Johns said: “We will continue with this programme, partnering with the best, like-minded operators who share our vision.”




Reigning community hero takes on second Enterprise pub: Reigning Enterprise Community Heroes Awards champion Victoria McDonald has taken on her second Enterprise pub – The White Lodge in Attleborough, Norfolk. The 15th century former coaching inn has undergone a full refurbishment following a £260,000 investment from Enterprise Inns and £50,000 from McDonald and her husband Grahame. Improvements include a new kitchen, bars, flooring, and a patio area at the rear. McDonald, who also runs Enterprise pub the Cellar House in Eaton, near Norwich, won the annual Enterprise Community Heroes Awards in 2015. She received £6,000 to spend on community projects after being chosen for her work to make The Cellar House a “hub of the community”. She has since opened a post office in the pub. She said of The White Lodge: “The team have been very supportive of us and what we want to achieve and their significant investment to revive the pub has been fantastic. I want the pub to be famous for cask ales, home-cooked food, and its family-friendly beer garden.” Enterprise regional manager Adam Cogan added: “I’m sure Victoria and Grahame will make a success of this landmark local pub and make it as popular as it used to be.”




Small Batch to open Worthing site on Thursday, first outside Brighton and Hove: Brighton and Hove coffee chain Small Batch, which is majority owned by sector investor Luke Johnson, will open its first site outside the city, along the coast in Worthing, on Thursday (6 October). The company, which was launched ten years ago and has seven shops in Brighton and Hove, is opening the outlet in Portland Road. The 1,775 square foot venue will have seating inside for 100 people and an external dining area for 20. It will offer an array of artisan coffees, from its signature freshly roasted Goldstone Espresso to new single-origin coffees sourced from Guatemala, El Salvador and Ethiopia. There will also be a range of freshly made food such as filled sourdough breads, homemade cakes, sweet and savoury pastries, yogurts and freshly squeezed juices. Other dishes to be introduced by head of food Ben Goldsmith include vegetarian super salads and warm frittatas. The store will have a different look and feel to its sister venues, with a syphon filter brew bar, a world map mural showing the core coffee continents, and a vibrant colour scheme contrasted with stark white walls and an industrial interior. Small Batch chief executive Nigel Lambe said: “We’re really delighted to be opening in Worthing. It’s a great new Sussex destination for us and we have wanted to branch outside of Brighton for a while. Worthing represents a significant investment for us, which will create more than ten jobs for local people and also allow us to bring our freshly roasted coffee and freshly made food to a brand new seaside location.”




JD Wetherspoon to close Grimsby pub: JD Wetherspoon will close its pub in Grimsby’s Riverhead Centre – The Ice Barque – which will cease trading on Thursday, 3 November. The company said the move was the result of “commercial decisions”. No jobs will be lost as staff will be relocated to other Wetherspoon pubs in the area, including the Yarborough Hotel in Bethlehem Street, Grimsby. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Grimsby Telegraph: “We appreciate that The Ice Barque’s loyal customers will be disappointed. However, Wetherspoon has to make commercial decisions for the benefit of the company and, as a result, decided to close the pub.” The news signals the closure of the last remaining pub at the Riverhead Centre, which previously hosted Stonegate Pub Company’s Yates’s, nightclub operator Deltic Group’s Chicago Rock Café, and Walkabout, operated by Intertain.




French restaurant Chez Francis to start expansion with second site in Wales: French restaurant Chez Francis is set to start expansion with a second site in Wales. The restaurant, which made its debut in Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, will open a new restaurant in Penarth later this week. The new Chez Francis will open in Glebe Street at a site formerly occupied by BJ’s Burger and Juice. The new restaurant will feature some additions to the menu, such as French-style tapas, and will also open for breakfast, unlike its Cardiff site. Chez Francis owner Francis Dupuy told Wales Online: “We are very excited to open in Penarth. The location was fantastic and the rates and rent was right. I know a bit about Penarth and it has got a growing reputation for food. The restaurants here are packed and there’s a real buzz about the place. It’s really on the up, so I thought ‘I will have to have a bit of that’.”




Fitzrovia’s The Remedy to launch all-day offering: Fitzrovia wine bar and kitchen The Remedy will launch a new breakfast and lunch menu on Tuesday, 18 October, featuring produce from some of London’s best-known independent suppliers. The new breakfast menu will include coffee from Climpson & Sons and milk from Northiam Dairy, served alongside Postcard Teas and homemade pressed juices. The Little Bread Pedlar will supply pastries and bread, served with Bookham’s South Downs butter and jams from England Preserves. The Remedy will also offer a small selection of breakfast tipples in 50ml servings. The lunch menu will feature a selection of sandwiches inspired by regions of the world, including The English Po’Boy (deep-fried oysters and cod with homemade remoulade on a French baguette). The Remedy will also offer a changing selection of cakes, baked in-house, and seasonal cocktails and craft beers to go alongside an extensive list of more than 100 wines. The evening menu will feature seasonal small plates, sharing boards and a native oyster offering.




Starbucks opens 1,000th LEED-certificated store: Starbucks has opened its 1,000th Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certificated store. In 2008, Starbucks made a commitment to build company-owned stores to meet LEED standards – a rating system that evaluates a building’s environmental performance and encourages sustainable design. Starbucks has LEED-certificated stores in 20 countries and was the first retailer with buildings certificated in France, Germany, Spain, Thailand and the Philippines. Starbucks stores currently make up 20% of LEED-certificated retail projects globally and the company’s most recent certifications demonstrate an “ongoing commitment to sustainable design around the world”. Starbucks corporate architecture manager Tony Gale said: “Sustainability is a key element of our approach to design at Starbucks. Our teams have worked hard to design, construct and operate our stores to meet LEED requirements on a global scale, as we continue to push the envelope of what our stores can be in the future. We hope our success will encourage and influence other retailers to do the same and collectively make a long-lasting impact on the future of sustainable design.”




Kaspa’s to open Liverpool site: US-style dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s Desserts is set to open a site in Liverpool. The company is opening the venue in Victoria Street, reports the Liverpool Echo. Kaspa’s offers waffles, speciality ice creams, sorbet, frozen yogurt, sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and crepes. The company currently has 26 sites in the UK with another 23, including Liverpool, listed on its website as “coming soon”.




Krispy Kreme to open first Iceland site next month as part of five-store deal: Krispy Kreme has signed a development agreement with Icelandic retailer Hagar Verslanir to open five stores in Iceland during the next five years, with the first to launch in Reykjavik on Saturday, 5 November. Hagar Verslanir operates Hagkaup sites in Iceland and the new doughnut store will feature at Hagkaup’s flagship store in Smáralind Mall. Krispy Kreme senior vice-president Dan Beem told Business Wire: “We are excited to bring the joy that is Krispy Kreme to Iceland with a very knowledgeable partner.” It has been a busy week for Krispy Kreme, with the brand owner announcing it will purchase 100% of Krispy Kreme UK’s share capital. Private equity group Alcuin Capital, which controls the UK operations of the global brand, was preparing to float in a deal being handled by Investec. However, the London listing was ditched following the takeover offer from its American parent in a deal that will bring the British operation back in-house.




Bristol-based pop-up Chris & Jo’s Kitchen to launch permanent site: Bristol-based pop-up Chris & Jo’s Kitchen will launch a permanent site in the city following a year-long residency at The Vittoria pub. Chefs Chris Newall and Jo French will open a restaurant at St Michael’s Hill at the former QED Bistro site. The couple are refurbishing the restaurant ahead of an opening at the end of November, offering “simple, bistro and gastro-pub dishes”. Chris & Jo’s Kitchen will cater for a wide range of customers during the day and offer a more bistro-style menu in the evening. Newall told the Bristol Post: “It will be simple dishes using local ingredients – no fuss or nonsense. We’ve kept our popular dedicated vegan and gluten-free menus, as well as serving local craft beer and cider. We’ll try to keep the prices down as much as possible and there’ll be no service charge. The aim is to go back to the fundamentals of good, clean cooking and unfussy, friendly service.”




Aberdeen-based nightclub operators to launch live music venue Unit 51 this month: A team that operates two nightclubs in Aberdeen will open live music venue Unit 51 in the city on Saturday, 29 October. The new venue is in Carnegie’s Brae on the site of the former Foundation Nightclub and will host live music featuring local bands, as well as having regular club nights. It is also hoped events such as beer festivals and art exhibitions will be held at the site. One of Aberdeen’s biggest music promoters, Let It Bleed, has already lined-up events at the new club. The team behind Unit 51, which also runs Bridge Street Social Club and The Underground Klub, both in Bridge Street, told the Evening Express: “We want it to be a concert and events venue. Live music is something we are really trying to focus on.”




Hogs Back Brewery embarks on £400,000 expansion programme: The arrival of three new fermenting and maturation vessels at Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has marked the start of a £400,000 expansion programme. The installation of one 80-barrel and two 120-barrel dual-purpose vessels also includes the infrastructure for a further four 120-barrel vessels, as well as a new boiler and chilling system for the entire brewery. The capital investment at the brewery in Tongham will also see construction of a hop store and racking building, with a keg racker and sterile filtration equipment. A second warehouse will be built beside a listed barn, which will free space for a new visitors’ centre. Hogs Back is also investing in jobs, with two new assistant brewers having already joined the team, and the business is now searching for additional marketing and sales staff. The vessels will be used to ferment and mature Hogstar English Craft Lager to keep up with growing demand. They will also provide more capacity for the brewery’s new craft keg beer, London’s Outback, which launched at Craft Beer Rising earlier this year. Hogs Back owner Rupert Thompson said: “Hogstar is an authentic lager which is matured for a minimum of 28 days to give the beer its combination of depth of flavour and refreshment. With sales of Hogstar growing in bottles, cans and kegs, we needed increased maturation capacity and to free up fermentation space for our bestseller, TEA. The successful launch of London’s Outback has also created a need for increased kegging capacity, and the filtration plant will allow us to do small runs of cans on-site. Our biggest challenge is adding capacity on our existing small site. There were one or two sharp intakes of breath as the new vessels were moved into place, but our location in Tongham is an integral part of our identity. This is where we grow our hops and brew our beer, and it’s well worth the time and investment needed to expand on our existing site, in order to retain our place at the heart of the Surrey community.”




Northern Ireland multi-site celebrity chef declares himself bankrupt: Northern Ireland-based celebrity chef Danny Millar, co-owner and chef at three top restaurants in County Down, has declared himself bankrupt following a year of “personal challenges”. Millar, who has appeared on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and the Great British Menu, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I deeply regret that personal challenges over the past year have resulted in these proceedings.” He is listed in bankruptcy notices as having filed a debtor’s petition – meaning he has declared himself bankrupt rather than waiting for a creditor to file a petition against him. He has already resigned as a director from his former company Balloo Inns, which runs The Parson’s Nose in Hillsborough, Balloo House in Killinchy, and The Poacher’s Pocket in Lisbane – all of which will remain open. The directors who now own the three restaurants outright, Ronan and Jennifer Sweeney, said they fully backed Millar, who will stay on in his position as executive chef of the restaurants. In a statement, Balloo Inns said: “Danny Millar is committed to honouring the full terms of the bankruptcy proceedings and his responsibilities to creditors and has the full support of the team at Balloo Inns during this challenging time. The proceedings have no impact on the trading of Balloo Inns, which employs 110 people, and it is business as usual across the group.”




Inception Group wins best hospitality group award for third year in a row: Inception Group, which operates bars, restaurants and clubs in south west and central London, has won the 2016 London Lifestyle award for London Hospitality Group of the Year for the third year in a row. The company, owned by Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling, scooped the accolade ahead of companies such as Caprice Holdings, London Cocktail Club, Milk & Honey and D&D Group. Founded in 2009, Inception Group owns and operates venues such as Chelsea speakeasy Barts, 1980s-themed nightclub Maggie’s, and late-night 1940s-inspired bar Cahoots in Soho. It is also opening a second Bunga Bunga, this time in Covent Garden, in early 2017. The awards showcase the best of London and achievements throughout the lifestyle industry.




Poppins submits plans for first Kent site: Retro cafe Poppins has submitted plans to open its first site in Kent, in Tunbridge Wells. The company has applied to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to open the venue in Grosvenor Road, reports Kent Live. Poppins serves breakfasts and lunches, with an extensive menu that includes grilled dishes, fish, steak, omelettes, salads, jacket potatoes, burgers and snacks, as well as sweet treats and desserts. The company, which was founded in 1979, currently has 33 independently-owned town centre sites.