TRG enters supermarket concessions sector: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has become the latest operator to expand into the supermarket concessions sector with the trial of Lebanese and salad bar counter concepts with Sainsbury’s. The trial includes the launch of salad bar concept Grains and Greens in Sainsbury’s stores in Merton, south west London; Heyford Hill, Oxford; and Springfield, Chelmsford. At the same time Lebanese concept Mezze Box is being trialled at two of the retailer’s London stores, in Clapham High Street and Richmond. TRG follows YO! Sushi, Patisserie Valerie, Wasabi, Crussh and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi in trialling counter concessions in UK supermarkets. As revealed by Propel last week, Zizzi recently ended its partnership with Sainsbury’s in which it piloted an in-store concession. The company launched the trial at the supermarket’s store in Balham, south London, at the end of 2017. Azzurri chief executive Steve Holmes told Propel: “We were testing to see if a ‘hot food to eat imminently’ occasion through this channel was a growth one as customers are increasingly looking to replicate restaurant experiences at home, as we see in the rapid growth of Deliveroo. Unfortunately, it seems customers are still very much in ‘grocery mode’ while shopping in supermarkets and, while the feedback was excellent, it didn’t prove this channel is viable at the moment.” Late last year, YO! Sushi signed an agreement with Tesco to pilot YO! To Go counters at two UK stores. Under the agreement, YO! will operate a manned kiosk in each site creating made-to-order sushi and providing sushi to the front-of-store food-to-go range. The first two trial sites are in the Sunbury Extra store in Surrey and the Bournemouth Extra store.
 
Crussh opens debut Sodexo site: London-based healthy food and juice brand Crussh has opened its first site in partnership with services company Sodexo – at City, University of London. The Crussh kiosk at City offers the brand’s classic menu of healthy food ranging from breakfast pots and toasties to salads, wraps, cold-pressed juice and organic coffee. The kiosk is in the main building in Northampton Square. The announcement follows last year’s franchise deal between the companies, which will see Crussh open outlets across the Sodexo business from workplace catering to universities, hospitals and government locations in the UK and Ireland. Crussh said it would take a “creative approach” to the requirements of each location, covering traditional cafe formats as well as larger-scale sites, food trucks and pop-ups. More Crussh outlets are in the pipeline with Sodexo clients in the higher education and healthcare sectors. Shane Kavanagh, chief executive of Crussh, said: “We are delighted to open our first university outlet at City. We know the university well, and it’s really exciting to be able to introduce healthy, nutritious food to campus. We think this is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on the well-being of students and staff.” Simon Knight, managing director, universities, Sodexo UK & Ireland, added: “The university is committed to promoting healthier eating habits for staff and students and the introduction of Crussh helps it to achieve this. We look forward to bringing this innovative and healthy brand to more of our clients and customers in the near future.” In 2018, Crussh opened a number of sites in partnership with SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, and leisure operator Everyone Active.
 
Department for Coffee and Social Affairs appoints new COO: The Coffeesmith Collective, the US-listed company, has appointed Mark Ellis as group chief operations officer for its fast-growing coffee chain and wholesaling business, the Department for Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA) UK & Ireland, Propel has learned. Ellis joins DoCaSA after 18 months as head of retail stores and central operations UK and Ireland at Thorntons. Previous to that, he spent more than ten years at Starbucks, most recently director of retail operations services EMEA. He also spent more than five years at McDonald’s. The Coffeesmith Collective recently took a majority stake in Brighton-based, seven-strong Small Batch Coffee, which was previously backed by sector investor Luke Johnson. During the past few months it has also acquired Baker & Spice, the Patisserie Holdings brand; Bea’s of Bloomsbury; Tap Coffee; mobile coffee brand Café 2 U; and two Bristol-based independent coffee shops. Propel recently learned the company has also acquired the Urban Tea Rooms business, which has sites in London’s Kingly Street and St James’s Market. At the same time, it has taken stakes in Bristol-based independent coffee roaster Roasted Rituals and Yorkshire-based La Bottega Milanese, which operates two cafes in Leeds plus a wholesale arm. The company has further added to its regional artisan coffee house portfolio by acquiring the Brew & Bake business in Cheltenham. It currently operates 22 UK sites under the DoCaSA banner – 20 in London, plus sites in Bristol and Manchester – and has lined up two further openings in the City of London for its core coffee shop brand, plus another two in Manchester.
D&D London opens Queensyard in New York: D&D London has opened Queensyard, a new restaurant, bar and cafe within the Hudson Yards development in New York’s Manhattan. Offering luxury retail, office and residential space on the west side of Manhattan, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in US history which, on completion, will form an entirely new neighbourhood. Located on the fourth level of the development’s shops and restaurants area, Queensyard’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the Hudson River and Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel structure. The restaurant joins a collection of fashion brands, global business offices and dining spots, including Thomas Keller’s latest restaurant. With a menu taking inspiration from both sides of the Atlantic, Queensyard aims to bring a “flavour of London to New York”, with British-born chef Owen Sullivan overseeing the menu. His menu blends classic English cooking with more modern dishes, reflecting the international food scene in the UK today. Each dining space has been inspired by the rooms of a traditional home – a relaxed kitchen for casual meals, a sophisticated dining room for more formal dining, a modern cocktail bar, and a daytime cafe, which turns into a wine bar in the evening. “To match the scale and boldness of Hudson Yards, we wanted to create a flagship restaurant that embodies the neighbourhood in which it will thrive,” D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said. “With thousands expected to work, live and visit this area, we know one thing to be true – food brings people together and that is our main focus with Queensyard. We’re building a beautiful environment where residents and visitors will be comfortable, with a menu from which they will eat well.”
Oodles Chinese opens sixth site: Indo-Chinese concept Oodles Chinese has opened its sixth site, in Luton. Oodles Chinese has opened its restaurant at a site in Dunstable Road that was formerly occupied by a Dixy Chicken shop. Oodles Chinese director Mohammed Umar said: “We are delighted to finally open the doors to our first store in the south. We want Dunstable Road to be our flagship store in the south and the first of a long chain in this region creating jobs.” The restaurant serves Indo-Chinese dishes such as Malaysian chicken, chilli chicken, Chinese lamb curry, chilli prawns, teriyaki chicken, Schezuan beef stir fry and crispy prawns. Side options include vegetable spring rolls, Chinese fried wings and prawn crackers. The brand is certificated halal and also offers vegetarian options. The other Oodles Chinese sites are in Birmingham, two venues in Leicester, Derby and Bolton.
Camerons to open second Head of Steam gaming bar, in Nottingham on Friday:Camerons Brewery is adding a gaming bar to a second Head of steam site, in Nottingham. The company launched the concept at its Head of Steam in Headingley, Yorkshire, in January. It is currently transforming the top floor of its Nottingham site, with the space opening as “Power Up” on Friday (22 March). The space will open from 5pm, closing at 1am on Thursdays and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Power Up will offer shuffleboard, American pool, pinball, electronic darts and retro arcade games. The pub will also launch new food and cocktail menus. David Scott, head of managed estate at Camerons Brewery, told the West Bridgford Wire: “We are lucky to have such a great space in Nottingham – it’s perfect for this new venture. We often run ‘game nights’ at the bar, which have been really successful, so we wanted to take those to the next level. Competitive socialising is becoming more and more appealing to those looking for something a bit different. It’s perfect for after-work drinks, groups of friends or even a first date, and offers a new twist on a normal night at the pub. The concept is proving successful in our Headingley venue so we hope it goes down as well here.”
Glasgow-based burger brand to open third site in the city: Glasgow-based burger brand Bread Meats Bread is set to open its third site in the city, next month. The company, which has locations in Great Western Road and St Vincent Street in the city centre, is expanding east, with a site in Glasgow Fort shopping centre. Bread Meats Bread recently introduced home delivery through UberEats in the Glasgow area.
Social enterprise Britannia bids to launch takeaway and deli for sixth site in Norwich: Social enterprise Britannia has submitted plans to transform public toilets in Norwich into its sixth site in the city. Britannia Enterprises, which operates four cafes and a pub, wants to open a takeaway, deli and retail unit in Swan Lane. The enterprise offers mentoring and training to former prisoners. Britannia Enterprises chief executive Davina Tanner told the Eastern Daily Press: “The project is an exciting extension of Britannia Enterprises’ work. The aim is to create a takeaway outlet/deli run by Britannia and a small retail kiosk.” Cafe Britannia opened its debut site in the former Britannia Barracks in Mousehold Heath in 2014 and added Guildhall Britannia in Norwich city centre, Park Britannia in Waterloo Park and Court Britannia at Norwich Crown Court. Last year the organisation took over an Ei Publican Partnerships-owned pub in Norwich for its fifth site. Gibraltar Gardens in Heigham Street closed in September but reopened as Britannia Gardens in December.
Nottingham-based operators to launch bar, kitchen and arcade next month for third site: The team behind Nottingham bars The Hockley Arts Club and Das Kino are to launch a third site in the city. Penny Lane will open in Fletcher Gate in Nottingham’s Lace Market in late April inspired by seaside family holidays to Blackpool and Brighton. The all-day bar and kitchen will occupy a 7,000 square foot, purpose-built unit and feature a “nostalgic” amusement arcade. The decor will feature a “1950s glam vibe”, with flashes of neon and bold-coloured textures. Operations director Michael Johnson said: “Penny Lane will be our flagship venue and feature some of our most exciting and adventurous ideas yet. Nottingham is such a vibrant city, it was really important we created something different with a unique interactive element. There will be unusual cocktails on the menu designed to bring back British childhood memories. We are really excited to open up the venue during the daytime too, which will be suitable for families and children looking to have a go on the games and relax with some casual food and drink.”
Tavistock Group brings pubs to market: North east-based operator Tavistock Group has brought two County Durham pubs to market – The New Plough in Burnopfield and The Lambton Worm Hotel in Chester-le-Street. The New Plough offers two open-plan trading areas – a 70-cover restaurant and a separate bar. There is also a private dining room on the first floor, a patio with covered seating at the front, and a rear garden with three inter-connecting tipis licensed for 150 guests in total, which host private events. The Lambton Worm is a boutique hotel with 14 en-suite bedrooms, a lounge bar and separate restaurant, with seating for 110 covers in total. Tavistock Group has decided to sell the pubs to concentrate on its gin distillery and brewing operations. Managing director Mark Hird said: “Having decided on a shift in strategy, we are looking to reduce the number of outlets we have in the portfolio. While we are disposing of good, profitable properties, it will free up valuable management time and resources for the expansion of our distilling and brewing operations.” David Lee, regional director of Christie & Co, which is handling the sale, added: “The venues represent excellent opportunities for a new owner to significantly increase trade and drive the businesses forward, whether purchased individually or together.” Christie & Co is seeking an asking price of £900,000 for freehold interest of The Lambton Worm Hotel and £450,000 for the freehold interest of The New Plough Inn.
McDonald’s launches vegan nuggets in Norway: McDonald’s has introduced a vegan take on its popular chicken nugget. The meat-free menu item is available in its Norway locations. The nuggets are filled with chickpeas, cauliflower, corn, carrots, onion, and potatoes and are coated in a crunchy breaded outer. The company has also launched a Vegetarian McFeast burger in its restaurants in Norway. The burger is served with a breaded bean-based patty, McFeast sauce, dairy cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion. If ordered without cheese, the burger is vegan. The new menu additions follow the success of various meat-free launches across the region. In 2017, the McVegan burger arrived in Sweden and Finland, where it was purchased 150,000 times in one month. The McVegan burger patty was made by Nordic food group Orkla. Orkla chief executive Peter Ruzicka branded the partnership with McDonald’s “very successful”. He added: “People want to eat more plant-based food, partly because of health reasons but also because of environmental reasons. The McVegan has less climate impact than a regular burger made of meat and this has received a lot of attention worldwide. This trend, of course, is not only in the Nordics.”
Italian gelato brand Badiani signs for third London site, in Chelsea: Italian gelato brand Badiani has signed to open its third London site, in Chelsea. The company will launch next month in a 1,457 square foot space in Fulham Road to add to its sites in Mercato Metropolitano and Notting Hill Gate. The brand offers gelato jars and cakes alongside its trademarked flavour, the Buontalenti, which is dedicated to Bernardo Buontalenti, who invented Florentine gelato in the mid-1500s. All furniture will be made in Tuscany, while the site will offer 30 covers on the ground floor and 30 seats in a bookable private space downstairs. Badiani head of production Paolo Pomposi said: “We started by serving our products in third-party restaurants throughout the capital and it was obvious to us the test was a success. The Chelsea catchment was always a target location for us and with its chic variety of food and beverage operators, it really resonates with our brand.” Hannah Grievson, property director at landlord Sloane Stanley, added: “Badiani is a wonderful brand to add to the assortment of eateries in Fulham Road.” Savills and Miles Commercial represented Sloane Stanley, while Badiani represented itself.
McMullen starts work on new-build pub restaurant: Hertfordshire brewer and retailer McMullen has started work on a new-build hotel and pub restaurant in Cambourne, Cambridgshire, which is scheduled to open in February 2020. The development is being built on vacant land between Back Lane and De La Warr Way. The pub restaurant – set to be named the Princess Elizabeth – will be located beside Lambert Lake. It will be linked to the 144-bedroom hotel by a pedestrian walkway. The buildings were designed by Glasgow-based ICA Architects and the plans put forward by SBH Cambourne, a company related to Starboard Hotels, a fast-growing independent owner and operator of franchised hotels.
Team behind Chinese restaurant Xi’an Impression launches third London site, in Bloomsbury: The team behind Chinese restaurant Xi’an Impression in Highbury, north London, has launched its third site in the capital, this time in Bloomsbury. Master Wei has opened at a site in Cosmo Place formerly occupied by one of London’s oldest restaurants, Cagney’s, which was founded in 1978. As at its sister sites, Master Wei specialises in dishes from Xi’an City in Shan Xi province in central China. The kitchen is led by Xi’an Impression co-founder Guirong Wei, with the new venue featuring some favourite dishes from the original restaurant, which is opposite Arsenal football club’s Emirates Stadium, as well as more traditional dishes. In July, the Xi’an Impression team launched sister site Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles near Spitalfields in east London.
‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity as Dublin’s best-known nightclub comes on the market: Well-known Dublin nightclub Copper Face Jacks is up for sale, with the asking price expected to be more than €40m (£34m). Owner Cathal Jackson is retiring and is selling the premises and the Jackson Court Hotel to which it’s attached. Jackson said: “Over the past 23 years I have been totally committed to setting up and establishing Copper Face Jacks as one of the most enduring and successful entertainment venues in Ireland. It’s now time to hand over the reins to new owners who have the energy and expertise to take Copper Face Jacks to the next level.” Coppers, as the club is more commonly referred to, is probably the Republic of Ireland’s best-known nightclub and has been a rite of passage for young adults for decades. It opened in 1996 and has been extended a number of times over the years. The sale is being handled by estate agent Dermot Curtin, who described it as a “once in a generation” opportunity. “The intrinsic property value alone of these five buildings in the heart of Harcourt Street in central Dublin underpins the future of this project,” he added. “The property is in excellent condition and has been very successful and profitable since it opened.”
Midlands-based operator takes over JD Wetherspoon pub in Reading for fourth site: Midlands-based operator Darren Brett has taken over Reading pub The Baron Cadogan, one of 16 sites JD Wetherspoon put on the market last week, for his fourth venue. The pub in Prospect Street was due to close on Sunday, 24 March. Brett told Get Reading: “A deal has been struck to keep The Baron Cadogan as a local pub. The pub has traded successfully for about 20 years and has established itself as an integral part of the community. The Baron Cadogan has offered a combination of value and quality, and has developed into a thriving business. The essence of our new offer will be similar, with value, quality and service at the heart of the business. We are extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to reopening the doors as soon as possible.” Brett’s other sites are The Arrow in Yeovil, The Oak Apple in Worcester and the Woodman in Dudley.
Southampton-based Unity Brewing Co closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £200,000 for expansion: Southampton-based Unity Brewing Co has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising £200,000 to double production and expand its taproom. The brewer hit its initial £130,000 target within 24 hours of public launch. The brewer was offering 7.51% equity in return for the £130,000 investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.6m. In total, 382 investors pledged £200,000 and the campaign has now closed. Founded in late 2016 by head brewer Jimmy Hatherley, Unity Brewing Co became profitable within two years of launch with net profit of £6,476 in December 2018. It has also seen 105% year-on-year sales growth to £236,669 during the same period. The pitch stated: “We are now struggling to meet demand and we’re brewing at capacity on our ten-hectolitre kit while customers queue out the door in our on-site taproom. With your investment we’ll take on larger premises, purchase equipment to double capacity and build a destination taproom.”
Bliss Hotels secures £15m funding to roll out multi-faceted leisure resort: Bliss Hotels has secured a £15m funding package, which will support its plans to rebrand and refurbish one of its sites, in Southport. The 133-bedroom Ramada Plaza Hotel anchors the 250,000 square foot, multi-faceted leisure resort The Waterfront, which also comprises a casino, theatre and conference centre. Bliss Investment Partners – which is behind the project – will use the cash injection to bring forward proposals for the venue together with wider plans across the entire site. It will then look to bring the brand to other locations around the UK. Bliss Hotel co-founder Daniel Broch, who is also behind Everyman Cinemas, said: “What a moment for Southport and Bliss Hotel. Our shared vision is about to become a reality fuelled by the enthusiasm and excitement of all those involved. Creating anything from scratch is hugely inspiring and challenging. We’re aiming high.”
Everyman confirms Clitheroe cinema launch: Cinema company Everyman Media Group has confirmed it will open a site at the Holmes Mill development in Clitheroe, Lancashire. The scheme has secured detailed planning approval for the final stage of the development and will comprise 10,000 square feet of cinema space leased to Everyman and an additional 5,000 square feet of office space and a 4,500 square foot gym. Everyman chief executive Crispin Lilly said: “We believe Clitheroe is the perfect town and Holmes Mill the perfect place for an Everyman cinema. While we are a national company our venues are rooted in the community. We would expect to recruit 15 to 20 local staff and, as we get to know our customers, the films we offer will be orientated towards their preferences.” Warren Bennett, properties and estates manager of landlord James’ Places Group, added: “We are pleased to move forward with the last phase of the Holmes Mill development. It is envisaged the cinema will open in early September.” Everyman is the fifth-largest cinema operator in the UK, with 26 venues and 84 screens. It has a further 14 committed venues, of which seven are expected to open in 2019. James’ Places Group purchased grade II-listed Holmes Mill in 2015. The complex also houses Bowland Brewery and its taproom, Bowland Beer Hall.
Peggy Porschen expands with second site, in Chelsea: London-based bakery brand Peggy Porschen has opened its second site, in Chelsea. Peggy Porschen and husband Bryn Morrow have launched a flagship 2,400 square foot parlour in King’s Road. The venue spans two floors with The Café, The Lounge and The Salon on the ground floor, while The Chelsea Rose Room and Pink Peony Bar are on the floor below. With 64 covers throughout, the venue offers an all-day-dining menu and the brand’s range of cakes, cupcakes and confectionary, alongside tea, coffee and champagne. Peggy Porschen said: “King’s Road is the ideal location to launch our second parlour and full range of sweet and savoury delights.” Hannah Grievson, commercial property manager at landlord Sloane Stanley, added: “Peggy Porschen embodies the essence of Chelsea. We’re so pleased the brand has selected King’s Road to expand its business and begin trading its evolved menu. The day-to-evening offering will suit the ever-bustling crowd of visitors to King’s Road.” Savills and Miles Commercial represented Sloane Stanley, while Peggy Porschen represented itself. Founded in 2003, Peggy Porschen started as a bespoke cake business, opening a debut bricks-and-mortar site in Belgravia in 2010.
Boxpark wins best retail destination award: Boxpark’s Shoreditch and Croydon sites have won the best retail destination category in the Retail Week Awards 2019. Launched in 2010, Boxpark Shoreditch was the world’s first pop-up mall, fusing concepts of modern street food markets and pop-up retail malls. In October 2016, the second Boxpark site opened in Croydon featuring a 2,000-capacity events space that hosts a programme of music and entertainment alongside a diverse selection of food vendors. Following the success of Boxpark Shoreditch and Croydon, the company has since launched the largest Boxpark site to date, in Wembley Park. Boxpark Wembley provides the ultimate fan zone with a 20,000 square foot events space creating an immersive leisure experience based on the Boxpark philosophy of Eat. Drink. Play. Roger Wade, chief executive and founder of Boxpark, said: “I am so proud and humbled to have won this award. We passionately believe in the future of retail and that retail is a form of entertainment – if you’re not entertaining the customer, you won’t exist.”
SA Brain officially opens Dragon Brewery: Brewer and retailer SA Brain has officially opened its new brewery. The company is moving its brewery and headquarters from its iconic base near Cardiff city centre to the new Dragon Brewery site on the Pacific Business Park in Tremorfa. The new site already houses the company’s head office and support centre, with the brewing operation scheduled to be moved by the end of next month. The Dragon Brewery will produce more than 20 million pints of beer a year once in full production. Plans are under way to turn the company’s former brewery into a 2.5 million square foot development featuring office, residential and leisure space. The Central Quay scheme will retain the listed 19th century brewhouse and chimney. Brains chairman John Rhys told Wales Online: “This marks an important step in our exciting plans to set up our company to prosper in the long term. We look forward to launching new beers and building on the success of our thriving pub estate.