Neil Rankin opens whole animal barbecue restaurant and wine bar concept Temper in Soho: Chef Neil Rankin, backed by investment fund Imbiba, has opened his whole animal barbecue restaurant and wine bar concept Temper in Soho. The venue in Broadwick Street has been created in partnership with managing director Sam Lee, with the aim to offer expertly cooked cuts of meat from the whole animal. The menu focuses on specialist breeds from small, hand-picked UK producers. Almost all meat is offered in 100g-plus cuts, available with a range of plates designed around seasonal vegetables – allowing the diner to fully customise their menu. There is an open kitchen and 4.5-metre open fire pit at the heart of the 42-cover main dining room. Further seating is available in the form of four top tables and more intimate banquettes – with the addition of a private dining room for 30 guests. Wine also takes centre stage, with a new and old world list created to match the menu. By night, the space transforms into a bar. Rankin said: “I wanted to move away from small plates and tasting menus and strip things back to a more basic approach. It’s really just meat – cooked well and served with bread, salad, condiments and a nice glass of wine. I wanted to create a restaurant that offered choice, not only in terms of portion size but also in animal breeds, sides and sauces – giving back control to the customer and allowing them to decide what they eat.”




McDonald’s has credit rating downgraded over sales and market share concerns: McDonald’s has had its credit rating downgraded by Fitch, which said the burger company’s weak traffic could lead to further erosion of share in the competitive US restaurant market. The agency lowered McDonald’s long-term Issuer Default Rating to BBB from BBB+. Fitch said that while McDonald’s like-for-like sales have improved, the agency did not view “recent performance as sustainable and would continue to lose share over the medium term”, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. McDonald’s like-for-like sales increased 1.3% in the US in the quarter ending 30 September, the fifth straight quarter it reported an increase following more than two years of weakness. Yet that increase was due in large part to pricing of 3.5%, meaning traffic was down by at least 2.2% in the period. In addition, Fitch noted McDonald’s “gap” in like-for-like sales with its competitors narrowed to 0.6% from 2.9%. The agency said: “Fitch believes McDonald’s will continue to gradually lose share over the medium term in the US due to increased choices for consumers, stemming from the growth of speciality burger shops like Shake Shack and Five Guys, and some weakening in McDonald’s brand perception within the hamburger category and among younger and health-conscious consumers in recent years.”




Upham Pub Company to open £3m site in Haslemere this month: Upham Pub Company, which operates a portfolio of 15 venues, is to open a £3m site in Haslemere, Surrey, this month. The company has refurbished the Inn on the Hill, which will reopen as The Station House on Tuesday, 22 November. The new pub and brasserie, which is opposite the train station, will accommodate 130 diners with 40 covers in an outdoor terrace area, as well as offering 16 boutique bedrooms. The Victorian inn has been styled to reflect a French brasserie, while celebrating its railway heritage, to create a modern twist on an art deco-inspired style. The bar area will include craft ale from Upham Brewery, with a glass-fronted cafe area, a more formal brasserie area, and an open-air terrace. Upham Pub Company chief executive Chris Phillips told the Haslemere Herald: “We’ve always wanted to bring an Upham pub to Haslemere. It’s a vibrant town and The Station House will bring a unique all-day dining and drinking experience to its existing food and drink scene. It is unlike any other Upham pub but customers will be guaranteed the same quality service, local and seasonal produce and fantastic atmosphere that we’re committed to.” Upham Pub Company acquired the 19th century property from Punch last year.




ASK Italian partners with Orderswift to launch click and collect service: Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian has partnered with online ordering company Orderswift to roll-out a click and collect service, allowing customers to order food via computer or smartphone and pick it up at a time that suits them. The collaboration features a branded, two-step interface that allows click and collect orders to be placed and paid for in as little as 30 seconds. Following a successful trial at selected sites, ASK Italian customers can now order from any of the group’s 113 restaurants across the UK. Azzurri Group head of IT Doug Wooten said: “Takeaway is an expanding market and we are pleased to be offering ASK Italian customers yet another great option, on top of telephone ordering and delivery. We chose Orderswift because its no-nonsense solution gives customers a friction-free interaction – which increases sales and the accuracy of orders.” Orderswift co-founder Matt Gilbert added: “We’re delighted to partner with a business of ASK Italian’s size and stature in the casual dining space. The demand for click and collect is growing rapidly in the UK, with more and more operators looking to increase revenues and build stronger relationships with their customers – and we’re enormously proud to be at the forefront of that.”




Rita’s team launches Italian/Argentine canteen concept Quilombero in East India Dock: Missy Flynn and Gabriel Pryce, of late-night, American-influenced restaurant Rita’s, have launched their new venture in East India Dock – Italian/Argentine canteen concept Quilombero. Flynn, one of the founders of Rita’s, which closed its Hackney site in July, and chef Pryce told Hot Dinners their concept has been influenced by Italian migration to Argentina – and the meeting of two cuisines. Meat and fish are a major focus and Quilombero roasts whole fish from Billingsgate and joints of meat from Farmer Tom and Swaledale on an outdoor grill and wood-fired oven. Grouse and partridge are also on the menu alongside sharing plates, with fried potatoes and salsa verde added to meat and fish. Lunch and dinner menus feature three starters, three mains and three desserts, with dishes including burrata with salsa nero, and hand-rolled trofie pasta with fresh pesto. There is an “aperitivo hour” from 5pm to 6pm daily, alongside South American small plates, including farinata, empanada and tostada. The breakfast menu offers homemade bread, fresh focaccia and pastries, while the drinks list features Italian natural wines and a short cocktail list.




Britannia Hotels bucks ‘UK’s worst’ poll by doubling profits to £33m: Britannia Hotels, run by multimillionaire Alex Langsam, has more than doubled profits to £33m only weeks after the chain was voted the UK’s worst in a poll by consumer watchdog Which? The profit spike at Britannia Hotels followed a 6.4% rise in turnover to £84.1m in the 12 months to 31 March 2016, up from £79m the previous year. Pre-tax profits surged from £14.2m in 2015 to £33.3m. Accounts signed off by finance director Robert Ferrari showed that Britannia Hotels benefited from a policy of organic growth and carefully managed expansion, “designed to enhance the future prospects of the business”. In the accounts statement, the directors said they recognised economic conditions in the short term were “likely to put strains” on the business but added they were confident it was well placed to “meet the challenges”. The annual study by Which?, published last month, asked members to rate the UK’s largest hotel chains. Britannia Hotels was the only group to receive only two out of five stars in six categories, including cleanliness, and state of bedrooms and bathrooms. Langsam has an estimated fortune of £220m, placing him equal 460th on the Sunday Times Rich List with Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards.




Malvern Inns to open third site as it strengthens Punch partnership: Malvern Inns, the company led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Alastair Scott, will open its third site, next week, as it strengthens its partnership with Punch. The company has taken on the lease of The Castle Inn in Spofforth, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The new pub adds to Malvern Inns’ other sites – The Square & Compass, near Harrogate, and The George in Backwell, near Bristol, which are also both owned by Punch. More than £1m has been jointly invested to refurbish the pub, which has seen 100 covers added as well as nine bedrooms. Scott told Propel: “We basically take village pubs with a relatively low turnover and add value to them. We’ve taken a pub that had 70 covers up to 170. We’ve converted an old barn at the back into nine bedrooms and joined the barn to the pub, which has also given us the extra space for the additional covers. We’ve already got 120 booked in for Christmas Day.” In terms of potential expansion, Scott, who also runs Catton Hospitality, said: “Our target is always zero and, if we see something we think will work, we’ll look at it. This is a big project for us, though, and our focus at the moment is on making it work.” Scott said he was “very happy” with current trading at its two existing sites. He added: “We had a really good early summer but late summer was a bit poorer. It’s going pretty well at the moment, though, which we’re very happy with.”




Gourmet Burger Kitchen signs for first Somerset site: Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which was acquired by South African fast food group Famous Brands in September, has signed to open its first site in Somerset. The company will open a 162-cover, 4,500 square foot restaurant at Clarks Village designer shopping outlet on Monday, 21 November after signing a deal with Hermes Investment Management. Located in the outlet’s Restaurant Terrace, Gourmet Burger Kitchen will sit alongside Prezzo, Pret A Manger and The Restaurant Group-owned Frankie & Benny’s. Realm acted for Hermes Investment Management, while Gourmet Burger Kitchen represented itself. Gourmet Burger Kitchen operates 78 sites in the UK, with its closest restaurants to Clark’s Village in Bristol. Last week, the company reported its pre-tax profits had almost trebled following a boost in turnover. The company saw turnover increase 21% to £67,417,000 for the year ending 28 February 2016, compared with £55,807,000 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit nearly trebled to £3,328,000, compared with £1,114,000 the previous year. Clarks Village was the first outlet centre in the UK and attracts more than four million visitors a year. The 200,000 square foot outlet features 82 stores as well as ten cafes and restaurants.




TV chef to launch ‘Yorkshire dining’ concept in Rothwell: Simon Jones, who appeared on Channel 4 television show My Kitchen My Rules, will launch a “Yorkshire dining” concept in Rothwell, near Leeds, this month. Jones will open Dill & Bay Restaurant, named after his newborn child Dylan Bay, on Saturday, 19 November. Jones and wife Remmy previously ran a supper club in their home and the restaurant will feature dishes from the TV show and offer a homely experience, with a wood-burning stove and comfortable seating. Jones told BDaily: “We have created an experience I have named ‘Yorkshire dining’. It is fine-dining food with a warm Yorkshire welcome and comfortable atmosphere, very much ‘style with substance’. I hope the restaurant will become the go-to place for family celebrations, special occasions and date nights, which will be as much about the atmosphere and warm welcome as it is about the food. Remmy’s sweet treats we serve at the end of the supper club have often outshone my four-course creations, so I hope the coffee-shop/afternoon tea aspect to the restaurant will take off too.”




Patisserie Valerie opens second Belfast site: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened a second site in Belfast. The company has opened the outlet, which offers the brand’s patisserie and cake range, all hand-made on-site, in Castle Lane. Chief executive Paul May said: “Our first store in Belfast was really well received, which is why we were so keen to proceed with the opening of our second store so soon after. As a listed company we are embarking on a large expansion strategy, which will see us opening 20 stores a year in the UK. Northern Ireland is a great market for us and we see a wealth of untapped potential. We want to bring consumers a unique experience that sets us apart from the average coffee shop. We look forward to seeking additional units here in the future.” Patisserie Valerie has more than 115 sites across the UK and Ireland, including its other Belfast site, which opened in Donegall Square West in May.




Michelin-trained chef launches Griddle & Shake burger concept in Nottingham: Michelin-trained chef Ed Halls has launched burger concept Griddle & Shake in Nottingham. The 130-cover venue in Fletcher Gate offers four burgers – beef, chicken, pulled pork and tempeh for vegans and vegetarians – with the option of Stilton, cheddar, halloumi or American cheese and extras such as bacon or pulled pork. Diners can choose a brioche, pretzel or gluten-free bun, while there are 12 toppings ranging from iceburg lettuce and tomato to smoked bacon marmalade and sliced avocado. Side dishes include chicken wings and yogurt slaw. The restaurant also offers craft lager from Freedom Brewery and BrewDog and a range of bottomless soft drinks. Griddle & Shake is also environmentally friendly, with plastic glasses, coffee cups, food wrappers, straws and cutlery all compostable. Halls has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens, including Marcus Wareing’s Petrus, and was private chef to the head of the British Army at Kensington Palace. Halls is confident his customers will have top-quality burgers, made from Red Tractor-approved meat, served at their table within five minutes of ordering. He told the Nottingham Post: “I have an obsession with all food, from Michelin-starred fine dining to street food and fast food. I think fast food is generally poor quality but we have a foot in that camp. I think we do it differently and have the opportunity to change perceptions.”




CPL Training Group buys stake in UK Legion Marketing: CPL Training Group, the largest provider of licensed hospitality training, has entered into an agreement to acquire a 50% joint-venture share in UK Legion Marketing. The Merseyside-based firm, which trades under the brand names of Training Information Centre (TIC), DHTraining, and Legion, was founded in 2009 by managing director Stuart Green, who spent previous years in a senior management role at CPL Training. TIC and DHTraining are leading training providers in the licensed hospitality industry. The company’s latest division – Legion – was established this year to deliver sales, marketing and brand promotions, including site openings and market research. Following CPL’s takeover of abv Training in 2015, the company sought to expand through the acquisition of other training companies. The 50% share will strengthen CPL’s position in the market as TIC is currently the second-largest provider of personal licence training in England and Wales. The three brand names and employees have been retained, including managing director Stuart Green. “We’re delighted to be joining forces with CPL Training Group, a company with vast experience and knowledge of the licensed trade,” said Green. “Since operations began in 2009, we have gone from strength to strength and this development is only going to help us continue growth and ensure a sustainable future. Together with CPL, I’m looking forward to leading my team on to the next chapter.” Daniel Davies, chief executive of CPL Training Group, added: “Over the years, TIC and DHTraining have each developed a strong identity and loyal customer base. The newly formed Legion division has also experienced great success working with the sector to promote brands, products and services. Stuart’s leadership has been a driving force behind this success – increasing turnover by 40% from 2014 to 2015. This deal marks an important step of our future business development plans – representing our ambition to deliver excellence in training and marketing across licensed hospitality.”




Yorkshire-based Indian restaurant Bengal Brasserie to open fourth site and second in Leeds: Yorkshire-based Indian restaurant Bengal Brasserie is to open its fourth site and second in Leeds. The company is opening the £400,000 venue at The Merrion Centre. The 3,600 square foot restaurant, which will have space for 120 covers, is due to launch in the spring, creating 25 jobs. Bengal Brasserie director Malik Dobir told The Business Desk: “Following on from the launch of our newly refurbished restaurants in Leeds, Wetherby and York, the Merrion Centre was a clear choice for us when planning our expansion to the city centre. The restaurant will be our largest in Leeds, and will include a private lounge area for up to 40 people. Helen Green, associate director at Town Centre Securities, which owns the Merrion Centre, added: “Bengal Brasserie will make an exciting addition to the centre, building on our already popular and varied food and drink offering. Restaurants such as this opening in the Merrion Centre help build and maintain the reputation of Leeds as a leader in terms of a culinary capital.”




Japanese ramen restaurant Yamagoya to come to UK with Shuang Shaung residency: Yamagoya is bringing its traditional Japanese ramen to the UK with a six-month residency at Chinese hot pot restaurant Shuang Shaung in Shaftsbury Avenue, London. Founded by Masatoshi Ogata in 1969, Yamagoya means “mountain hut” and will open in London on Monday, 5 December. Located on the first floor of Shuang Shaung, diners will be led through traditional red noren curtains into a space that replicates the interior of Ogata’s original ramen shop, with Shoji wood panelling lining the back wall, detailed with red ribbon mapping Ogata’s progressive journey from his home in Fujioka to London. Low-hanging, woven bamboo light fittings will illuminate the space, with seating a mixture of leather booths for group dining and copper stools along the counter. The menu for the London residency will include Yamagoya ramen (handmade noodles in a smoky tonkotsu broth garnished with Japanese Chashu pork belly, marinated bamboo shoot, Kikurake mushrooms, nori and marinated Burford Brown egg. Ogata said: “It took a lot of trial and error to perfect our recipe and my first customers at Yamagoya were my toughest critics. Eventually, though, my little restaurant was busy and people were enjoying what we were doing. Today our focus remains the same as it always has – making delicious ramen for our guests, whether that be at home in Fukoaka or here in London.” Shuang Shuang founder Fah Sundravorakul added: “Myself and the team can’t wait to host Yamagoya – ramen is something I’ve enjoyed ever since I was a child so playing a part in bringing the authentic flavours of my favourite broths to London is really exciting for me.”




Lincolnshire-based pub operators acquire Caistor restaurant: Lincolnshire-based pub operators Megan Frances and Martin Goodhand have expanded their portfolio after acquiring a restaurant in Caistor. The pair, who run the Royal Oak in Holton-le-Clay, have reopened The Settlement and Parkers Restaurant in Market Place, creating 25 jobs. The venue, which was previously run by Fine Leisure, had been closed since September. Frances said she wanted to ensure the restaurant was family-oriented and promised big plans for the future. She told the Grimsby Telegraph: “It’s a listed building with a lot of character so we want to keep certain things the same. We used to love coming here ourselves and we knew the previous people (who managed it). It all came about by chance.”




Fazenda team launches rodizio concept Picanha in Chester: The company behind Brazilian chain Fazenda – City District Group – has launched all-you-can-eat rodizio concept Picanha in Chester. The 130-cover restaurant is in a 6,000 square foot site in Newgate Street, on a site formerly occupied by Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, offering all-you-can-eat cuisine and a bar for 30 people. Picanha features a smaller, less expensive menu than Fazenda and offers a selection of ten prime cuts of meats, ten to 15 gourmet salads from a dedicated bar, and a selection of side dishes. City District Group founder Tomas Maunier told Liverpool Confidential: “Picanha is inspired by the prime lean cut of meat in Brazil. Brazilians pay tribute to this special cut as it represents quality and great taste, with an outer layer of fat bringing juiciness and flavour. Our success with Fazenda shows us South American flavours and atmosphere are really loved by a wide range of people in the UK, and we plan to roll out more Picanhas after Chester.” Fazenda has sites in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds and also offers unlimited grilled meat served at the table for a fixed price.




Surrey-based pub operators take on second site: Surrey-based pub operators Sam and Fiona Daffin have taken on their second site. The Daffins, who run The White Hart in Witley, are set to reopen The Winterton Arms in nearby Chiddingfold after agreeing a 25-year lease with owners Punch. The pub, which Punch put on the market as a going concern last year, is undergoing a “spruce-up” ahead of its relaunch. Sam Daffin told the Haslemere Herald: “We hope to be open before December. We are just giving the place a lick of paint and a bit of a spruce-up. The White Hart is going very well and this is a chance to expand and grow.” The Daffins took on The White Hart, which is owned by Young’s, three years ago.




Bolton-based multi-site operator opens third site in town: Bolton-based multi-site operator Rosario Latona has opened his third site in the Lancashire town. Italian restaurant La Piazza was officially opened in Nelson Square by former Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba. Latona, who also owns Leo’s in Horwich and Dolce Cafe in Blackburn Road, picked the town centre spot because he believes it has become neglected in the wake of the recent Market Place redevelopment. He told The Bolton News: “Nelson Square has become a bit neglected with everywhere opening up in Market Place. What it needs is some investment and then it can regain all of its glory. We are hoping that by opening up here, we will encourage other businesses to do the same. We want people coming into the town centre. We already have two popular businesses in Bolton so we know what the people of Bolton like. We want to bring high-quality Italian and Mediterranean food to Bolton. There is nothing like this here at the moment.” Latona has opened the venue with Forshaw Land and Property Group.




New concept DD Thai launches in Warrington: Husband-and-wife team John and Khwan Kelsall have launched new concept DD Thai Food Restaurant and Bar in Warrington town centre. The new venue in Church Street offers dishes from southern Thailand, with the name derived from “dee dee”, which means “very good” in Thai. Khwan Kelsall told the Warrington Guardian: “I’m from the south and this is reflected in my cooking. We do offer the classics – pad Thai, massaman, green and red curries – but green curry from the north is very different from my area. We saw an opportunity to fill this gap in the market. Thai culture is very focused on the family so we don’t want families to feel awkward bringing children in. The dining area is long and thin so we can allocate tables for families and couples in different parts to keep everyone happy. We tested the water by doing deliveries during the winter and my food was well received. After looking for some time, we were lucky to find this place.”




New Mexican bar and grill concept launches in Liverpool: New concept The Mexican House Bar and Grill has launched in Liverpool promising “fabulous food and fun”. The venue in Queens Drive is at the former site of the King of Hearts pub and Jalebi Indian restaurant. The menu has been created by chef Deepak Khadka and offers albondigas and enchiladas, nachos and burritos, chipotle chicken and chilli. There is also a signature fajita dish, burgers, steaks and desserts such as banana and marshmallow quesadillas and chimichangas. The decor features themed designs by local artist Jayde Marie-Bell, while diners will be invited to don ponchos and sombreros to “get into the salsa spirit”. Owner Mahesh Regmi told the Liverpool Echo: “Queens Drive is a great location because it’s a main thoroughfare from one end of the city to another and en route to the two famous football grounds, so we are hoping to welcome Liverpool and Everton fans to eat with us before kick-off or celebrate here after the game. And there will be lots of match day offers. It’s a win for everyone, whether they’re red or blue. I’m not biased, my daughter’s called Chelsea!”