Joule’s reports first loss in 20-year history but returns to profit in July: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, has reported the first loss in its 20-year history because of lock-down. Nuttall told Propel the business lost £600,000 compared with the previous year for its first quarter covering April to June. Nuttall said: “These figures show the impact of lock-down and exclude the stock losses we incurred in March. Our business has been operating for 20 years and we have incurred our first loss. It shows the impact of closing and, of course, the support we have needed to provide. The effect of the pandemic has been epic, way beyond anything anyone could have imagined.” Since July the company has reopened 90% of its 42-strong pub estate and managed to break even, “which is good enough for now and well worth celebrating the milestone”, Nuttall said. He added: “We have been aided by a strong group of dedicated franchisees. In our sector we all talk about partnerships – in a crisis this really tests what that actually means. In our case we’re stronger rather than weaker and I feel we are set for whatever shape this takes next. Our pub estate is fully freehold and we brew our own beer so we have some layers of protection and control. That has been crucial for us to get back in the black in July.” The brewery has restructured its central team with head count reduced by 15%. The company has introduced a four-day week for the foreseeable future covering all office and brewery staff. Nuttall said July beer volumes have been 65% versus the same period last year.
Coaching Inn Group sees trading return to pre-covid levels, takes on 18th site:Coaching inn and hotel operator The Coaching Inn Group has seen trading return to pre-covid levels except for its wedding business, Propel has learned. Founder and chief executive Kevin Charity said group occupancy at its venues was running at more than 80%. He hailed the “very positive impact” of the staycationing trend and said the group was “perfectly positioned to take advantage of this”. He added regional geographical positioning had “certainly helped with recovery”, with the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme creating a 15% increase in like-for-like sales for the first three days of the week commencing Monday, 3 August. Charity told Propel 90% of the business’ booked wedding events had transferred to 2021. Meanwhile, Coaching Inn Group has acquired its 18th site, The Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire, after reaching an agreement with the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate. The 17th century coaching house was relaunched eight years ago following an extensive investment by the estate and James Martin as executive chef. Charity said he hoped to reopen the 26-bedroom property with a marquee wedding facility on Monday, 17 August. The move has saved 40 jobs from possible redundancy, he added. The deal takes the total number of bedrooms in the company’s estate to 515. Coaching Inn Group has also reopened The Rutland Arms in Bakewell, Derbyshire. The company bought the venue in February and it has undergone a £1m refurbishment that has doubled the number of jobs at the venue to 50. Charity said he had “never had so many applications for jobs of such outstanding quality”. He added its rooms were fully booked for the first weekend, with “high occupancy after that”. The refurbishment includes a new coffee shop in addition to The Rutland’s bar and restaurant, while three bedrooms have been added to take the total to 35.
Bob & Berts to restart expansion in autumn with debut England site earmarked for late 2021, all 20 stores now reopen: Northern Ireland-based coffee company Bob & Berts is to restart its expansion plans in the autumn, with the company set to open its first site in England in late 2021. The company, which is backed by BGF and employs more than 400 staff, has now fully reopened all its 20 stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The business had been operating some of its sites for takeaway during lock-down but all staff are now back at work. Several sites are staying open until 9pm and stores are performing ahead of expectations, said co-owner Colin McClean. The business has introduced a number of innovations following lock-down, including the launch of an online ordering service through its own app, which has had a “positive” impact on sales. Co-owner David Ferguson added: “Lock-down has given us confidence we can deliver a takeaway service and we have seen the success of our app. We know there may be more twists and turns because of coronavirus but we’re committed to delivering a great service in safe environments to our customers.” Bob & Berts also intends to continue with its programme of store openings, with a store in Stirling that was originally scheduled to arrive in April now expected to launch in October. The company is looking for additional sites in Northern Ireland and Scotland and expects to launch its first store in the north of England in the latter part of 2021.
Boparan continues gradual reopening of Carluccio’s: Boparan Restaurant Group will continue the gradual reopening its Carluccio’s estate this week, Propel has learned. The company, which paid £3.2m to acquire 30 Carluccio’s sites and buy the rights to the brand in May, will welcome customers back to its Chester, Leamington Spa and Wimbledon restaurants on Thursday (13 August). It will then reopen its Cheshire Oaks, Meadow Hall and Portsmouth restaurants on Thursday, 20 August. That will take the brand’s total number of reopened restaurants to 11, with its Beverley, Richmond, Stratford-upon-Avon, South Kensington and Walton-on-Thames venues already back in operation. All the reopened restaurants are taking part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, with Carluccio’s having removed the £10 limit as Boparan has done with its other brands.
Leon opens fourth US site as it makes Virginia debut: Natural fast food brand Leon has opened its fourth site in the US. The company has opened its first site outside Washington DC, in the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Virginia. Leon opened its first US location in Washington DC in 2018, in L Street. It has since opened a site in New York Avenue, and a third at 1,350 I Street. Leon US president Glenn Edwards said: “This is our first site in a new state, Virginia. Despite a delay opening since April, and the challenges of recruiting and training with social distancing, I’m proud of our US team here making it happen.”
Rick Stein urges unemployed chefs to join restaurant empire but witnesses large number of recruitment ‘no-shows’: Rick Stein is urging unemployed chefs in other parts of the UK to consider moving to Cornwall to work in his family’s restaurant empire – but added the group is witnessing a large number of recruitment “no-shows”. The restaurant and hotel group, which has 13 sites, is trying to fill 39 vacancies, including for a pastry chef and junior sous chef at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. With the group’s accommodation venues also close to full occupancy for the summer season, the company said there were jobs going across the board, including in front-of-house and finance. Stein told The Guardian: “If you have found yourself out of work due to the covid-19 pandemic, I urge you to consider coming to Cornwall. It’s thriving and there’s great hope the staycation will extend through to early winter and bring some much-needed revenue to the locality.” Since the company started recruiting last month, it has received more than 3,500 applications for the jobs – which range from minimum wage to salaried roles. In 2019, the group received 5,500 applications over the whole year. One demi-chef position received 111 applications, which is ten times the usual level, the company said. For some roles there is help with accommodation. However, despite the high volume of applications, Michael Rabone, the group’s head of human resources, said it was still struggling with a large number of “no-shows”. He said: “We have seen a noticeable increase at all stages of the recruitment process. This includes candidates who apply and can’t be contacted, candidates invited to interview that don’t attend, and individuals offered roles that don’t start work.” Last month Stein revealed the company’s restaurant in Marlborough, Wiltshire, had been saved from closure after the landlord made rent concessions.
Papa John’s success continues with record-breaking second quarter: Papa John’s has reported its success has continued with like-for-like sales in North America increasing a record-breaking 28% and international like-for-likes up 5.3% for the second quarter ended 28 June 2020. The company said it had thrived in the off-premise-driven consumer culture of the past few months, with margins and profits at “the highest they have been in several years” and site closures at their “lowest in a decade”. Papa John’s attributed its like-for-like sales jump during the strong second quarter to its long-term recovery strategy and quick pivoting during the pandemic, including adding three million new digital customers during the second quarter. The company’s success continues to grow into the third quarter, with preliminary like-for-like sales for July estimated to have increased 30.3% domestically and 13.9% internationally. Papa John’s president and chief executive Rob Lynch said: “Mobile ordering is our fastest-growing platform as customer ordering and consumption continues to be affected by the pandemic. This is accelerating our growth. We currently have robust partnerships with three out of four of the major delivery aggregators and our transactions delivered by delivery partners are up more than 100% – to 5% of our total sales. Papa John’s strategy is to win by providing better pizza wherever our customers are and however they choose to order. The next phase of turnaround will be getting development ramped up. We recently added a chief development officer when we previously hadn’t had one. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we’re targeting significant growth in sites in 2021. We’re building infrastructure right now – we’re working to make up for lost ground.” For the second quarter revenue increased to $460.6m, compared with $399.6m the year before. It closed a net total of 31 stores during the quarter.
The Dairy and Dandy co-owner launches pizza concept: Matt Wells, co-owner of London restaurants including The Dairy and Dandy, has launched a pizza concept. Wells has teamed up with music promoter Fred Letts to launch Party Store Pizza in Brixton. The restaurant in Coldharbour Lane offers “Detroit-style” pizza – baked in bespoke deep rectangular steel pans so the dough is focaccia-like and has a very crispy crust. The menu includes the Top Boy – vodka sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, ‘nduja, pepperoni and honey – and Lord of Pep, which comes with extra pepperoni. The drinks offer features two beers and a range of soft options, reports Hot Dinners. Wells founded The Dairy and Counter Culture with Robin and Sarah Gill, created Knife Steakhouse, and backed 24 The Oval. In December he partnered with chef Dan Wilson to relaunch Dandy, in Bermondsey.
Casino operator Napoleons to open £8m Manchester site next month for fifth venue: Casino operator Napoleons, which is owned by The A&S Leisure Group, is to open a site in Manchester next month – its fifth in total. The company has invested £8m in the Portland Street venue, with the opening creating 120 jobs. The 24-hour casino will feature gaming tables, including American roulette, blackjack, three-card poker and baccarat, plus electronic roulette and electronic slots. The venue will feature a restaurant overlooking the gaming area and a private dining room. There will also be a cocktail bar. As per government guidelines, the casino will have limited capacity, sanitising stations at key points and table service only in the restaurant. Mark Allen, chief executive of The A&S Leisure Group, said: “This is an exciting time for the company and we’re eager to show Manchester what Napoleons is all about. Our key focus for the business, first and foremost, will be on our personalised service to the customer, something we are very proud of.” Napoleons also operates sites in Bradford, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield.
Farmstand hits £750,000 fund-raise target as it eyes more than 1,000 sites in ten years: Farmstand, the fast-casual concept led by US entrepreneur Steven Novick, has hit its £750,000 target of its convertible share equity campaign, which is offering a 25% discount on the equity valuation. The fund-raise only launched on crowdfunding platform Seedrs last week. So far, 111 investors have pledged £751,510, and is “overfunding” with 37 days of the campaign remaining. Farmstand stated it hopes to open in more than 1,000 “canteens and outdoor markets in ten cities in ten years”. Farmstand built its central kitchen in Deptford in 2016, launching a debut permanent site in Covent Garden the same year. A second site opened in Canary Wharf in February last year. The brand also operates cafes, stands, mini-stands and an online subscription service in London. The company has five major catering contracts, while the 11th and 12th Farmstand concessions opened this year. The pitch states: “We cook our plant-powered food in our central kitchen. We only need one per city. We deliver it to canteens and outdoor markets, which sell it to customers via Farmstand-branded concessions staffed by their teams. Customers can also pre-order, pay and pick up via the Farmstand app. There’s no rent or build costs, while it’s capital efficient, technology-enabled and globally scalable. Our all-day offering is flexitarian and 100% customisable. We’re disrupting the $200bn catering market, which will double by 2032. Our plan is to be in 1,000-plus canteens and outdoor markets in ten cities in ten years. Your investment will focus only on our UK expansion. We’re also hiring a data scientist, a head of technology and a head of marketing.” Farmstand has raised more than $6m, including $3m in June 2018 in a record-breaking venture capital financing round. The company is majority-owned by Novick and his team, who are all shareholders.
Hollywood Bowl to open third Puttstars site, in York this month: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, is to open a third site for its mini-golf concept Puttstars. The company will launch the venue in York on Monday, 17 August in the LNER Community Stadium. The site will feature three interactive nine-hole courses, known as Zig Zag, Slingshot and Pinball. It will also feature a bar and diner offering pizza, hotdogs and milkshakes. Extensive cleaning and social distancing measures will be in place including safety shields at all till points, hand-sanitising stations at the entrance and around the venue, and team members cleaning all putters and balls after each use. Game booking slots will be appropriately limited to control capacity, while amusement machines and bar and dining seating will be spaced out. Centre manager Nathan Barwick told York Mix: “Puttstars is an all-round entertainment hub for the families and young people of our city and we know newbies and pros alike will love this new interactive mini-golf experience.” Hollywood Bowl launched Puttstars earlier this year, in Leeds, and opened a site in Rochdale on Friday (7 August). The company is also eyeing a site in Colchester for the concept.
Angela Hartnett extends opening hours on back of Eat Out To Help Out success: Angela Hartnett is increasing the opening hours of her Michelin-starred Murano restaurant in Mayfair and Cafe Murano site in Bermondsey on the back of increased demand created by the government’s Eat Out To Help Out campaign. A spokeswoman told Propel that Wednesday (5 August) was the busiest day yet at Cafe Murano in Bermondsey in terms of covers. There were queues and the venue ran a waiting list, but still had to turn a lot of guests away. Bookings for dinner on Tuesday (11 August) and Wednesday (12 August) are already full. Meanwhile, at Murano cover numbers are in excess of pre-lock-down levels. As a result Cafe Murano in Bermondsey will be open for dinner on Mondays and lunch on Tuesdays in addition to its usual hours. Murano will also open for lunch and dinner on Mondays from 17 August . The restaurant had been running revised hours of noon until 3pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm Tuesday to Saturday.
Mr Lyan announces permanent closure of Hoxton’s Cub: Ryan Chetiyawardana – aka Mr Lyan – and Silo founder Doug McMaster have said they won’t reopen their Hoxton venue, Cub. Launched in September 2017 on the site of Chetiyawardana’s debut bar, White Lyan, in Hoxton Street, the restaurant was Chetiyawardana’s first full foray into the world of dining and McMaster’s first venture in the capital. They worked with experts such as Noma scientist Dr Arielle Johnson to create experimental ingredients grown on-site. Chetiyawardana said: “Cub was the baby of the group – precious and important – and it’s incredibly sad to see it go. What the team created was something we were truly in awe of – something that reflected our desire to provide a super fun space for our guests that also showed our generation could have a positive impact on the world through food and drink. Although it won’t reopen as a permanent space, we will continue its legacy as that still stands strong.” The Lyan team plans to continue the Cub brand through pop-ups and events. Chetiyawardana’s creative agency, Lyan Studio, will continue to be based at the site.
Umbrella Project reopens East End bars: The Umbrella Project has reopened The Sun Tavern and Discount Suit Company in London’s East End. Discount Suit Company in Spitalfields is offering table booking for parties from two to 30 people, while Hackney-based The Sun Tavern is back serving cocktails, craft beer and frozen Irish coffee. Both venues are operating with a limited capacity and have strict and frequent cleaning schedules. Staff have been given gloves and face masks. Since March, The Umbrella Project has run an online store delivering cocktails, spirits, wine, beer and snacks nationwide, with free delivery within a three-mile radius. The service will continue to operate. Andy Kerr, Steve Thompson and Alistair Tatton founded The Umbrella Project in 2014.
Vivek Singh launches Feast Out To Help Out at Cinnamon Club: Vivek Singh, executive chef and founder of The Cinnamon Collection, has launched a Feast Out To Help Out scheme that will offer diners The Cinnamon Club’s signature seven-course tasting menu at almost half-price throughout August. The offer will cover lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday at the Westminster restaurant throughout August. Dishes include Spencer Gulf wild king prawns with Alleppey curry sauce and kokum-crusted halibut. Singh said: “These are unusual times but we still need joy in our lives. We hope Feast Out To Help Out encourages old and new diners to visit The Cinnamon Club to enjoy our tasting menu. We are so proud of this menu, which has two decades of our menus and cooking at its core.” Boparan Restaurant Group owns The Cinammon Collection, which includes two Cinammon Kitchens in London and one in Oxford, Cinammon Bazaar in Covent Garden and Anise bar in Devonshire Square.