Tokyo Industries opens second Impossible site with £3m investment: Tokyo Industries, led by entrepreneur Aaron Mellor, has made its biggest investment ever of £3m to open its second Impossible venue, in York. The Impossible WonderBar and Tea Rooms, which features a bar, restaurant and cafe and cocktail bar, opened at the weekend in the former Carluccio’s site in St Helen’s Square. The huge investment also includes the transformation of the site next door into a boutique 18-bedroom hotel with another restaurant inside that is slated to open in September 2021. The project will create 200 jobs when completed. A Tokyo Industries spokesman told The Press: “Impossible York brings a totally new drinking and dining experience to the city, set across its three floors in York’s St Helen’s Square. Located in the historical Terry’s of York building, Impossible York breathes new life into the incredible property, complete with ground-floor tea room and brasserie and opulent first-floor cocktail bar.” General manager of the site, Stephanie Powell, said: “This will include a restaurant bar and tea room – with a British-Bavarian food menu for the restaurant, and an exceptional tea room experience that uses local providers. As well as a beautifully crafted central island bar where classic cocktails have been rejuvenated with added flair.” Powell said more work would begin in January on building a new whisky lounge above the Impossible Wonderbar, and a secret speakeasy bar at the back of the site. There will also be two rooftop terraces overlooking York Minster. Tokyo Industries opened Impossible Manchester in 2017 in Peter Street.
Greene King chief executive – four-week Christmas closure would cost an average £5,000 per pub: Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said that the costs of closing and reopening would cost an average £5,000 per pub, plus significant additional ongoing costs, for a four-week Christmas closure, rising to £13,000 for three months. Greene King has 200 pubs in London, meaning a short shutdown could cost almost £1m. Mackenzie fears smaller pub businesses, and Greene King’s 1,000 tenants, could struggle to reopen. He told The Sunday Times: “December is the busiest time of year and it’s a chance to get some cash to see them through the quietest time of year, which is February.” He said that any move to put London into tier three restrictions should be accompanied by a further support package: “If [ministers] don’t do something, even big businesses are not going to be able to invest on the other side. They don’t seem to understand we are burning cash left, right and centre, which we then can’t invest in the future.” According to trade body UKHospitality, up to 160,000 jobs could be lost if London went into tier three. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive, told the newspaper the impact would be “catastrophic”. “In London, it would have a longer-term impact on business and consumer confidence returning,” she said.
Chopstix adds to franchise estate, makes pubs and dark kitchen debuts:Chopstix, the pan-Asian quick service restaurant concept, has added new franchisees to its business, including its first pub model and dark kitchen launch, Propel has learned. The business, which was founded by Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik, has linked up with the Jason Tudor-led, five-strong Great British Inns group, to launch a trial of the delivery concept. The first site to add Chopstix to its kitchen was the Three Trees in Bletchley, Milton Keynes. A second site under the new partnership is already under development. Propel understands Chopstix is in talks with a number of national pub companies about partnering on the delivery kitchen model. Great British Inns founder and director Jason Tudor said: “We are delighted with our partnership with Chopstix. The Chopstix dark kitchen has provided us with another delivery revenue stream in addition to our current food operations. It’s an amazing brand with great food that was easy to implement into our dormant kitchen space.” The group has also added two new locations with existing franchise partner Welcome Break, at Fleet Services (South) and Warwick Services (South). John Diviney, chief executive at Welcome Break, said: “Chopstix are a great partner and brand and have become a staple part of our portfolio. We are looking forward to extending our partnership further and opening more sites across our estate.” In addition, the group has opened its first pure dark kitchen with a new franchise partner in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, that is quickly becoming the group’s best performing delivery site. Chopstix managing director Jon Lake said: “We had been looking at opportunities to explore new revenue streams pre-covid, but that has now sped up this process. We are pleased with the initial trading that we have seen through the pub with Great British Inns and the dark kitchen in Burslem and hope to expand the concept over the coming months to more locations.”
Chilango – our goal is to have more sites than Barburrito before the end of 2021 and become larger than Tortilla before 2025: Sameer Rizvi, chairman of Mexican brand Chilango, has said the goal of the business and its new backer RD Capital Partners (RDCP), is to have more sites than Barburrito before the end of 2021 and become larger than Tortilla before 2025. Earlier this summer, the ten-strong Chilango was acquired out of administration by investment group RDCP, of which Rizvi is a co-founder, for £1m. It marked the first move into the hospitality industry for RDCP. In the investment firm’s annual update, Rivzi said: “The Chilango accelerated M&A was a highly competitive process, with more than ten bids made for the business. Although, our bid was the third highest, we negotiated a good deal with the secured creditors and officially became the approved buyer. The transaction completed within a month in August 2020. Chilango is one of the strongest brands in the UK hospitality sector. There is no question about it. In a ‘new normal’ of being stuck at home, no other food delivers as well as Mexican food. So why did the business get into trouble as the lockdowns started? The previous shareholders had funded growth with the wrong type of capital. They had also focused on growth and not profitable growth. They had made a number of poor decisions when it came to site selection and lease negotiation. In addition, the head office was unusually bloated for a business of this size. Fortunately for us, English law has allowed us to save all 130 jobs, leave all of the historical debt and liabilities with old company, acquire just the business and assets, and set up a new company. This means we have a strong operating business, all of the brand recognition and brand identity, renewed leases at favourable terms, a clean balance sheet with no debt, a trimmed head office and an extremely bright future.” He said that the growth strategy for Chilango is focused on two simple principles – “risk minimisation when it comes to site selection; we do this by getting Deliveroo data on area sales, as well as by testing a new location by firstly opening a very low capex ‘Vibrant Kitchen’, and reduction in investment required by focusing our site and Ebitda growth almost exclusively via the highest ROI sites, which are ‘Vibrant Kitchens’ and ‘Chilango Express’-style small-sized sites. I have no doubt Chilango could become the next Chipotle. This is my long-term vision for Chilango. As for my five-year vision, as a bare minimum, I want Chilango to become one of the three largest Mexican restaurant groups in the UK.”
Roadchef opens debut stand-alone Costa Coffee drive-thru site: Motorway services operator Roadchef has opened its first stand-alone Costa Coffee drive-thru site. Roadchef has opened the drive-thru at the Integra 61 development, just opposite the main services site, following a £500,000 investment. Additional investment has also been spent on a full rebuild for the existing Costa Coffee in Roadchef’s Durham services, as well as a total refurbishment of the WHSmith shop and the introduction of a McDonald’s drive-thru. In line with government guidelines, the Costa Coffee drive-thru will be open for takeaway only while Durham remains in tier three. Roadchef chief executive Mark Fox said: “We have a real confidence in the Durham area following our launch of the UK’s first and only McDonald’s drive-thru on the motorway here. Integra 61 is an exciting development to be a part of, and Costa Coffee is an ever-popular brand, so we are delighted to work with it to develop our first stand-alone Costa Coffee drive-thru unit.” A Costa Coffee spokesman added: “We’re delighted to be opening our first stand-alone Costa Coffee drive-thru store at Durham’s Integra 61. The drive-thru lane includes a bespoke serving hatch to support social distancing and we have enhanced hygiene measures in place to help serve customers as safely as possible.”
Unsecured creditors of Bristol-based restaurant group Aqua owed more than £1.3m: Unsecured creditors of Bristol-based Italian restaurant group Aqua, which went into administration last year, are owed more than £1.3m. A progress report by administrators Simon Rowe and Rachel Hotham, of Milsted Langdon, showed claims from 45 creditors totalling £1.04m had been received with claims from 64 creditors, whose debts total £334,000, yet to be received as per the company’s statement of affairs. Based on the present information, the administrators said they estimate the value of the company’s net floating charge to be £110,860. Arising from this, the value of the unsecured creditors’ fund is estimated to be just over £25,000. The report also showed secured creditor Barclays indebtedness had now been agreed at just over £1m and, to date, an interim payment of £85,000 has been made. Preferential claims from 66 employees totalling £6,700 have been received but yet to be agreed although preferential pension contributions of £536 have been agreed with The People’s Pension and paid by the Redundancy Payments Service. As previously reported, Aqua went into administration in April last year after “struggling to meet its repayments on a £1.5m loan to funds its expansion into the south east”. The company, founded by Richard Smithson in 1998, borrowed the money from Barclays as it built on its first two sites in Bristol. The sites in Milton Keynes, Lewes and Worthing were closed with the remaining four sites – two in Bristol and one each in Bath and Portishead – were sold in a pre-pack agreement to Smithson through a new company, Smithson & Sons, for £305,000. The company has no connection with Hong Kong-based Aqua Restaurant Group, the David Yeo-founded international restaurant business that operates more than 20 restaurants in London, Hong Kong and Beijing.
Costa Coffee launches books and treats Christmas giveaway: Costa Coffee has teamed up with charity The Reading Agency to give 100,000 books to families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The 50,000 book and care packages will include one adult book, one children’s book and a range of festive Costa Coffee treats that will be distributed to food banks, community hubs, hospitals and care homes across the UK, in time for Christmas Eve. The books in each Costa Coffee Gift-A-Book care package have been selected from the works of six best-selling authors connected to the Costa Book Awards, including Malorie Blackman, Candice Carty-Williams and Michael Morpurgo. Costa Coffee UK & Ireland managing director Neil Lake said: “Tradition is a big part of Christmas and, although this year will feel different for many people, we wanted to help some of those hardest-hit to create a new tradition inspired by this heart-warming custom of gifting books on Christmas Eve.” The Reading Agency chief executive Karen Napier added: “We have had an extraordinary response to the campaign. We are working towards a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life, and initiatives like this help our work towards giving every child and adult equal access to the joy of reading.”