TRG Concessions launches all-day grab-and-go concept for Eurostar passengers at St Pancras: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has opened a new all-day grab-and-go kitchen and bar concept, at the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International in London. The company has launched The Station Pantry in a 1,416 square foot unit in the departure lounge, which has been developed with “Eurostar’s passengers and current food trends in mind”. The Station Pantry is “premium, fast and fresh”, offering speciality coffee, craft beer on tap and ample vegan and vegetarian food options. There is also a digital food and drink pre-ordering facility available to passengers via the Eurostar website and app. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are delighted to add a new brand to our portfolio that will resonate with Eurostar’s passengers and provide great ‘take on board’ and sit-down meal options in the busy departure lounge.” Jonathan Fletcher, head of procurement and property at Eurostar, added: “We are thrilled to see our ongoing partnership with TRG Concessions bring a fresh dining and bar concept to the Eurostar lounge.”
East Coast Concepts considers appeal after Neighourhood site in Manchester has licence revoked: East Coast Concepts is considering an appeal after the licence of its Neighbourhood bar in Manchester was revoked. Managing director Simon Kaye said it was “disheartened” by the city council’s decision and would learn all the lessons it could from the “deeply regrettable” incident. The council’s licensing committee temporarily stripped Neighbourhood of its licence last month following the incident in which a man was repeatedly stabbed in the chest, back and leg. But following a review the authority said the venue cannot reopen. It was the second review in a year for Neighbourhood after the licence was temporarily revoked in 2018. Kaye, who started his post weeks before the latest incident, laid out a number of stricter conditions he planned such as a stricter ID policy, measures to reduce crowds and facial recognition technology. He also said he had interviewed three door companies with the intention of hiring a new team. PC Alan Isherwood, of Greater Manchester Police, said he thought last year’s review was “last chance saloon” for Neighbourhood but said the same problems still persisted. Extra conditions proposed by the venue also weren’t enough to convince the licensing panel, reports the Manchester Evening News. Speaking afterwards, Kaye said: “We are extremely disheartened by the decision and are paying very close consideration to the outcome, while trying to learn all the lessons we can in relation to these deeply regrettable events. We are confident our proposals would have created the safest possible environment for our customers and staff. As a result, we are considering all available options with our lawyers and advisors, including the possibility of an appeal. The actions of a small minority led to this incident taking place and we are deeply saddened a large number of people may suffer as a result.”
Eddie Rocket’s boss sees substantial opportunities for growth: Adrian Crean, managing director of US-style diner and burger bar Eddie Rocket’s, has said there are substantial opportunities for the brand both in its native Ireland and overseas. Crean was brought in by founder Niall Fortune last year from Applegreen to lead the day-to-day running of the 51-strong business. Fortune has moved up to the chairman’s seat, leaving Crean to run the portfolio that spans Eddie Rocket’s diners; its smaller Rocket’s outlets; the Counter custom-burger chain and Flash Harry’s bar and restaurant in Blackrock, Dublin. Eddie Rocket’s is currently working to open 16 franchise restaurants in Germany. The first opened late last year in a new Center Parcs resort at Allgäu, with the second restaurant slated to open in October at the main railway station in Leipzig. The group is looking “in earnest” at other overseas markets and hopes to identify partners in the near future. Crean told The Sunday Times: “We’re ruling nothing out. Rocket’s is fast-casual [food], it’s millennial-focused, so the potential is there.” The map in Ireland also has gaps, with no Eddie Rocket’s in Cork, Galway or Limerick. There is potential for more than one outlet in each city, said Crean, who prior to Applegreen ran McDonald’s Irish business before it was integrated into the UK operation in 2017. Fortune opened the first Eddie Rocket’s in South Anne Street in Dublin 30 years ago. About half the Eddie Rocket’s diners are company-owned. In recent years, Fortune opened five smaller Rocket’s outlets in Dublin, which have a more modern feel, a scaled-down menu and faster service. Crean said: “Airports, colleges and large businesses would also be well suited to the Rocket’s brand. We see growth domestically and internationally.”
Papa John’s franchisee reveals plans for eight-strong estate as he collects sales award: Papa John’s franchisee Tofur Ali has set his sights on an eight-strong estate in the Sheffield area having scooped the company’s highest sale growth store award for 2018. Ali praised his team’s efforts at the store in Prince of Wales Road after collecting the accolade. He said: “I took over the store at the end of 2017 and since then have restructured the team and worked to improve the processes to ensure everything was in order. There was no magic wand! I didn’t do any big marketing campaign, I just simply got right back to basics. Having a solid structure, a good rota system means staff know what’s going on and what is expected. In return, I really appreciate their efforts and create a positive vibe and buzz around the store and the customers pick up on it too. My first Papa John’s store in Brentwood was a huge success and it became one of the busiest in the UK. I have since sold Brentwood and now run two stores in Sheffield with plans to open a total of eight in the surrounding area. I like a challenge and I haven’t finished yet, so watch this space!”
Grace Dent – Soho House Group’s venture Mollie’s is ‘Happy Eater meets Crossroads’ but has recipe to succeed: The Guardian restaurant critic Grace Dent has described Soho House Group’s new venture Mollie’s as “Happy Eater meets Crossroads” but said it has the recipe to succeed. Soho House Group has opened the American-style diner with rooms, on the A420 in Buckland in Oxfordshire. In her review, Dent said Mollie’s is a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a soft, sweet burger bun”. She added: “Yes, it’s all a bit weird. There is literally nothing else to do aside from eat at the diner or walk to the Marks & Spencer’s food outlet in the nearby BP garage, or lie on your bed feeling like Alan Partridge. But still, Mollie’s feels perfectly pitched to succeed. There may be nothing here to wow those folk who spend £400-plus a night hiring cabins at Soho Farmhouse in Great Tew, 25 miles down the road, but let them keep their splendid isolation. Mollie’s is a cool blast of fresh air. The next morning, the kitchen at Mollie’s was broken, which meant, in the cold light of day, I was on holiday at a BP garage on the A420. Eventually, it came up with an ultra-limited menu of thick waffles that turned out to be the sweetest, crispest and freshest I have tasted, all loaded with berries and fresh cream. Nothing makes sense about Mollie’s. We’re on a road to nowhere. Come on inside.”
Italian ice cream parlour and coffee shop eyes Newcastle for debut UK site: Italian ice cream parlour and coffee shop We Love Puro is set to open its debut UK site, in Newcastle. The company has applied to the city council to convert a former betting shop in Pilgrim Street. The plans include a full refurbishment of the existing unused retail space, which spans three floors. The main coffee shop and ice cream parlour would be on the ground floor with further seating on the first floor and staff area and storage facilities on the second, reports Chronicle Live. The application said: “The proposed operator We Love Puro is an established artisan coffee and ice cream brand in Italy and Spain – and the refurbishment will bring to Newcastle a truly unique leisure offering – this opportunity should be embraced.”
Chipotle bets on gaming industry in bid to increase visibility: Chipotle is partnering with e-sports and lifestyle companies in its quest to become a more visible brand. The company is also launching its own Chipotle gaming tournament. It is working DreamHack, which produces festivals for gamers that feature e-sports competitions, and e-sports business ESL on the project. Champions of the amateur tournament dubbed the Chipotle Challenger Series will win among their prizes a custom Chipotle trophy and free Chipotle food for a year. Chipotle chief marketing officer Chris Brandt told Nation’s Restaurant News the partnerships allow Chipotle to become even more established with the e-sports community. Over the past year, Chipotle has focused on bringing visibility to the brand by pivoting away from regional marketing and focusing on partnerships that put the brand in front of relevant audiences. Customers are responding to the changes. In February, Chipotle reported like-for-like sales increased 6.1%, including a 2% increase in transactions, for its fourth quarter ending 31 December 2018 – its highest like-for-like sales growth in six quarters. Digital sales grew 65.6% during the quarter.
Little Blue Door team launches second site for house parties-style bar and restaurant concept: Kam Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel, who operate The Little Blue Door in Fulham, the house parties-style bar and restaurant concept backed by Edition Capital, have opened a second permanent site in London. The Little Yellow Door has launched in All Saints Road, Notting Hill, at a site formerly occupied by Rum Kitchen. The concept is based on a fictional flat share with flatmates hosting a series of “house parties” to welcome new friends. The business is thought to have plans for further sites with names such as The Little Neon Door and The Little Black Door. The sale of the Notting Hill site leaves Rum Kitchen with restaurants in Kingly Court and Brixton. It is thought the company has a new site lined up for the Westfield London extension. Adam Bowers, of Stonebrook London, acted on the Notting Hill deal.
Black and White Hospitality to open two Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill sites: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to seven restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, is to open two new Steakhouse Bar & Grill sites. The first will launch at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Sheffield Park in Sheffield following a deal with Vine Hotels. It will replace the hotel’s Piano Restaurant and is expected to open towards the end of June. Meanwhile, Black and White Hospitality will also open a Steakhouse Bar & Grill at the Bredbury Hall Hotel, near Stockport. The company has agreed a deal with hotel owner Golam Sarwar and will open the restaurant towards the end of July. The Steakhouse Bar & Grill menu is exclusively curated by Pierre White and includes a mix of “childhood favourites and modern-day delicacies”. Black and White Hospitality operates about 50 sites across the UK.
Ale Rooms and Gin Bar opens second site, in Kenilworth: West Midlands-based Ale Rooms and Gin Bar has opened its second site, in Kenilworth. Mark Caldicott and Craig Woodley have invested £100,000 in the pub in Smalley Place, which is a sister site to its venue in Knowle, near Solihull, which opened about two years ago. The Kenilworth site has opened on the site of the former Gallery venue and has capacity for 100 customers over its two floors, plus an outside seating area. The pub offers cask-conditioned ale from several local breweries with new beers introduced on a weekly basis. Alongside the ale range, there are more than 50 different gin brands, as well as wine, champagne and prosecco, artisan rum, vodka and premium bottled lagers and ciders. Caldicott said: “We are delighted to be able to bring our concept to Kenilworth and are looking forward to welcome those customers who enjoyed the Gallery as well attracting new ones who want to enjoy everything a great local offers.”
Peel Hunt – UberEats latest performance demonstrates its growing threat to Just Eat and IPO will make it even more of a force: Peel Hunt leisure analyst James Lockyer has said UberEats latest performance demonstrates its growing threat to Just Eat and Uber’s impending initial public offering in the US will make it even more of a force. Lockyer said: “UberEats now represents 13% of Uber revenue, according to SEC filings. This is up from 7% the year before as the star performer grew by 149% year-on-year to $1.5bn. The potential initial public offering is speculated to be valued at more than $100bn (8.9 times 2018 revenue) and will include a level of primary proceeds to fund general business purposes as well as mergers and acquisitions. In our view, this could be to accelerate its market place offer (in direct competition to Just Eat ‘s core), acquire delivery logistics players, or invest in data analytics to make itself more attractive to its consumers, drivers, and restaurants alike. Of the 91 million monthly actives on its Uber platform, more than 15 million received a meal using UberEats in the quarter ended 31 December 2018, using its network of 222,000-plus restaurants in more than 500 cities around the world. Just Eat had 26 million actives in 2018 as a whole. Uber plans to expand UberEats from more than 500 cities into all of the almost 700 cities it offers taxis. It plans to invest in its existing cities to increase restaurants, drivers, and consumers. Just Eat was a pure-play, high margin takeaway platform, focusing on restaurants that do their own delivery. But it is now investing in its own delivery as competition takes its toll. Moreover, as Uber opens its platforms to restaurants that do their own delivery too, its margins and cash flow profiles will improve, while Just Eat’s diminishes as it does the opposite.”
Mordue founders put brewery up for sale to focus on new bar venture: North Shields-based Mordue Brewery has been put up for sale as its founders focus on their new bar venture. Offers are being invited for the business, which is being marketed through agents Christie & Co. The brewery features state-of-the-art equipment, including 150 brewers barrel fermentation vessels and a 20-barrel steam powered brew-length, within 12,000 square foot premises on the Tyne Tunnel Industrial Estate. Owners Garry and Matt Fawson have decided to sell the business after 24 years, in order to focus on their Beeronomy bar, which opened in Newcastle earlier this year. They said: “It’s an exciting new venture for us and one we want to get right – as it’s taking up lots of our time we want to focus on this and avoid neglecting the brewery. As such, we’ve taken the decision to market the brewery for sale and we’d love to hand over the reins to somebody as passionate as we are and who’s capable of carrying on where we leave off. If that involves us staying on in some capacity then we’re more than happy to look at all options. Up until such time that the brewery sells, it’s very much business as usual for us.”
Farmer J to enhance offer with debut bar: City of London-based, all-day market food concept Farmer J is to open a bar in its King William Street home next month. The Shouk, which launches on Wednesday, 1 May, is inspired by the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv and the lively bars of the city. With a focus on fresh ingredients, the cocktail menu will feature a Strawberry Mule, made with kombucha, vodka, strawberries, basil and ginger; and Lady in Pink consisting of rosé wine, elderflower and egg white. There will also be a dedicated gin menu, lager, ale and kombucha on tap. The bar’s Graze menu will include grilled chorizo served with yoghurt and Chimichurri dip; and Farmer J’s signature polenta spiced sweet potatoes. Founder Jonathan Recanati said: “It’s time for Farmer J to plough the next field, so we’re looking forward to opening our first bar and inviting guests to enjoy long evenings with us over cocktails and tapas-inspired plates.” In February, Farmer J secured £1.9m of investment capital towards its London expansion, which was supported by Imbiba, the specialist investor in the UK leisure and hospitality sector, alongside existing shareholders and business angels. Its other sites are in Leadenhall and Canary Wharf.
London-based vegan Chinese restaurant goes from pop-up to permanent:London-based pop-up vegan Chinese restaurant Mao Chow has opened a permanent site. Having staged a residency at Dalston cocktail bar Pamela, Mao Chow has moved into a permanent home in Mare Street, Hackney. The venue has just 12 seats for guests to sit at the noodle bar, reports Hot Dinners. The menu features smacked cucumber salad with black vinegar, sesame oil and crushed garlic; and Chongqing noodles in a spicy aromatic sauce with chickpeas and vegetables.
Gourmet pie company to open first permanent site: Gourmet pie company Pie Jackers is opening its first bakery and diner, at a former court chambers in Middlesbrough’s historic quarter. Pie Jackers was founded by husband and wife Neil and Julie Fletcher in 2016 when they began selling handmade pies at markets and foodie events. Plans for the stone-fronted building include a bakery counter, licensed casual dining and a takeaway service. Julie Fletcher told Insider Media: “We love the work being carried out to regenerate the historic quarter and hope Pie Jackers proves a popular destination for those working in the creative digital industries that are flourishing in that part of town.” The site is in Albert North, a business community being renovated by regeneration company Jomast and Middlesbrough Council. Mark Hill, commercial property director at Jomast, said: “It is great news to have signed Pie Jackers as our latest tenant.”
Lake District hotel acquired out of administration: The future of a Lake District hotel and more than 30 jobs have been secured after it was bought out of administration. Hydro Hotel in Bowness has been acquired out of administration by the Thai-based Lake Merritt Group in a deal brokered by Colliers International. Colliers acted on behalf of Phil Pierce and Paul Whitwam, partners at FRP Advisory, after they were appointed joint administrators of the business. The hotel, which is on the banks of Windermere, went into administration earlier this year after a large-scale renovation project led to cash flow issues. Built in 1985, the hotel comprises 78 en-suite rooms, conference and meeting areas, a restaurant and bar, and a 150-capacity ballroom. Prab Thakral, an advisor to Lake Merritt Group, told The Business Desk: “The Hydro is an exciting addition to our fast-growing portfolio. We have identified a significant opportunity for development within both the grounds and the hotel itself. We are confident our developments will reposition this great hotel within the strong Windermere leisure market.” Pierce added: “We worked closely with all parties to secure the sale of the Hydro Hotel, and the acquisition is the best possible outcome for everyone involved.”
Starbucks and Nando’s planned for Coventry: Planning applications have been submitted to open a Starbucks and Nando’s at a Coventry retail island. If approved, the former Carphone Warehouse building on the retail island at Coventry Business Park in Tile Hill will be transformed into a Starbucks coffee shop and drive-thru. Prior to its spell as a phone shop, the building was a Burger King with a drive-thru. A second planning application has been submitted to build a Nando’s restaurant on land beside the existing Carphone Warehouse unit. A previous application for a Nando’s at this site was approved in March 2016 but has now lapsed. If approved, Starbucks and Nando’s would join McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and other brands on the island, which is located off Tile Hill Lane and the A45.