Pret to launch vegan bakery counter: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, is to overhaul its bakery range and launch Veggie Pret’s Vegan Bakery in all its Veggie Pret shops from Tuesday (21 July). The company said the move would see it “veganising” its entire bakery counter, meaning only vegan bakery products will be sold. The move adds eight new items to the menu – three vegan croissants, two vegan brownies and three vegan muffins. It is also removing all non-vegan bakery products from sale. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret, said: “We’re really proud to be the first high street food-to-go retailer to launch a concept like this. Expanding Veggie Pret’s offering for our vegan customers has been a huge focus of our food development over the past year and moving to an entire vegan bakery is very much the result of that. Our previous vegan bakery products, such as the dark chocolate and almond butter cookie; and the very berry croissant have always been big hits with customers – vegan and non-vegan alike. In the first few weeks of the very berry croissant being on sale, it sold more than double the amount per day of the non-vegan jam croissant it replaced.” Veggie Pret’s Vegan Bakery’ is available in shops and for delivery, via Pret Delivers, Deliveroo and its new third-party delivery partners Just Eat and UberEats. Earlier this month Pret said it would undergo a restructure that will see 30 of its UK sites close permanently. The move comes after the company experienced a 74% drop in sales year-on-year due to the “significant impact of covid-19 on operating costs and cash flow”. The company, which has so far reopened 339 of its 410 UK sites, said it would start a consultation to reduce headcount across remaining UK shops to reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures.
Princi London placed into administration: The UK-based company that operates the Princi concept in London has been placed into administration, Propel understands. KPMG has been appointed administrators for Princi London, which operates the Princi sites in Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. Four years ago Starbucks became the global licensee and investor in the boutique bakery and cafe concept founded by Rocco Princi in 1986. Known for its artisan bread created from traditional family recipes, Princi at that point had five locations in Milan and London, and Starbucks said at the time the number of standalone Princi locations worldwide would be expanded. The concept had been brought to London by Alan Yau, opening its first site in Wardour Street, before more recently adding a second site in the capital, on Yau’s former Babaji site in Shaftesbury Avenue.
Costa launches new concept site with grab and go hatch: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has launched a new concept store in London, complete with a grab-and-go hatch. The company has refitted its site in Argyll Street, near Oxford Circus, with the new hatch design at the front of the store, taking up half of the unit’s frontage. The new hatch, which will limit contact, has been designed for takeaway or click and collect orders via the company’s Costa Coffee app. Last week the company said it would pass on the government’s full 15% VAT cut to customers for all food and drink at its owned stores. The move covers 1,500 Costa Coffee stores and more than 9,000 Costa Express machines. Regarding reopening its estate, Costa Coffee tweeted: “We are reopening another 195 stores – taking us up to 2,000-plus. We’re also accepting cash and coffee club cards. We now have 966 stores open for eat-in, with all safety measures in place.”
Frankie & Benny’s aiming to have 35 sites open by end of July: Frankie & Benny’s, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned brand, is aiming to have 35 of its sites reopened for dine in by the end of this month. The company had already reopened its sites in Chesterfield, Doncaster, Dudley, Lincoln, Merryhill and Peterborough for delivery, but these have now added a dine-in option. A second tranche of 12 sites will open for click and collect and delivery from Monday (20 July), with dine-in from Thursday (23 July). A further tranche of sites will then open for click and collect and delivery from Monday, 27 July, with dine-in following three days later. Further tranches of sites will reopen for dine in on 13 and 20 August. Mark Chambers, chief executive of TRG’s leisure division, said: “We are delighted to be reopening Frankie & Benny’s and very much look forward to welcoming back our guests. We are starting with a handful of restaurants and are aiming to have 35 open by the end of the month. Our priority will be to ensure the health and safety of our teams and guests while providing a first-class experience.” Safety measures put in place include clear social distancing guidelines and signage, enhanced cleaning practices, mandatory health screening for team members and increased hand washing. Menus are single use and contactless order and payment will be encouraged as well. Guests will also be asked to book in advance and will be encouraged to pay at the table. During the first days and weeks of reopening, the brand will also be asking guests for feedback through surveys, so it can be “constantly improving the experience”.
Casual Dining Group reopens Center Parcs restaurants: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, has reopened a number of its concession sites situated at Center Parcs villages across the country. In total, six sites have reopened as Center Parcs welcomed back guests following a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. For a limited time from the relaunch, the six restaurants will offer a specially curated menu for delivery and collection only. In total, CDG operates 12 restaurants, which are primarily split across its Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas brands, within Center Parcs locations at Whinfell Forest; Sherwood Forest; Woburn Forest Breaks; Elveden Forest; and Longleat Forest. CDG’s other six restaurants located within Center Parcs properties will reopen on Monday, 27 July, whereupon all sites will resume full restaurant service. In addition, five Café Rouge sites will also offer a full-time delivery and collection service. Damaien Houghton, Center Parcs’ group food and beverage operations manager said: “The Casual Dining Group brands across our estate are incredibly popular with customers and form a vital cog in the overall experience that we pride ourselves on delivering.” A CDG spokesman added: “We’re excited to be reopening to the public and alongside our Center Parcs colleagues have implemented rigorous standards and procedures to ensure everyone has a great time, safely.”
Downey to shut Milk & Honey permanently in September after rent impasse: Soho bar Milk & Honey, which is owned by London Union founder Jonathan Downey, is to permanently close in September after an impasse over rent. The venue in Poland Street reopened on Friday (17 July) for what will be its final ten-week stint. In a letter to members, Downey said despite paying almost £4m in rent since first signing the lease 18 years ago, the landlords were “refusing to allow any rent-free or other reduced deal for the period the site has been forced to shut by the government”. Downey said: “At the end of September – when the current lease forfeiture moratorium expires – nine months of rent etc will be due and we cannot pay this. As a result, our landlord will change the locks and repossess the premises. They have already issued court proceedings. For the past few months I have been campaigning and lobbying government to provide a national rent deal for hospitality tenants but so far we’ve seen nothing. This may change – and if it does we will let you know – but, for now, we have to accept and expect the worst.” The bar will open Thursday to Saturday between 6pm and 1am. Last week Downey revealed Dinerama, the Shoreditch venue that is part of his Street Feast business, will permanently close due to a similar rent impasse. Dinerama will trade on Fridays and Saturdays until 26 September.
Birley offers club members £500 each: London club operator Robin Birley is spending millions of his own money to lure members back to his Mayfair venues. He is giving every member of 5 Hertford Street and Oswald’s a free meal up to the value of £500. “Robin thinks the members have been so wonderfully loyal to the club over the past few months that he wants to show just how much he values their support,” a source told The Daily Mail. There are understood to be at least 3,000 members of the two clubs so it could set Birley back more than £1.5m. Members can bring as many guests as they like and, while Sunak’s offer is only for August, Birley’s lasts until Christmas.
Rarebreed Dining eyes two more sites in next year, Hallows says customers have ‘new-found respect’ for restaurants: Restaurant company Rarebreed Dining is aiming to add two further sites to its four-strong estate in the next year as it continues its growth plans. The company has reopened three of its outlets to date – The Plough Inn in Cobham, The Waverley Inn in Weybridge and The Shurlock Inn near Binfield – and has enjoyed a “promising start” to life after lock-down. Rarebreed saw like-for-like sales up 61% across the first four days of reopening compared with last year and all three sites were fully booked at the weekend. Managing director Jordan Hallows told Propel the fact the sites were in affluent neighbourhoods in Berkshire and Surrey, where people were “keen to get back out again”, was probably helping to provide a boost. But he also believed customers had “a new-found respect” for restaurants given so many had supported their communities during the pandemic. Hallows said: “It feels like customers are co-operating more with restaurants – because of the reduced capacity we are in a sense dictating when people are able to come. But I do think people are keen to support those businesses that have done their bit during lock-down to help communities. We stayed open for takeaway and delivered vegetable boxes to the vulnerable and elderly and have kept those services running. It’s clear from the comments we’ve had there’s a new-found respect from customers for what we do.” Hallows said as a thank you the company would pass on the VAT cut through menu prices while signing up to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme during August. Meanwhile, Hallows expects the remaining site – The Corn Stores in Reading – to reopen in early September when schools are due to return in full and “more office workers should start to come back”. He added: “We are in a positive place at the moment and looking to grow. We’d like to add two sites in the next six to 12 months – one in Berkshire and one in Surrey. We’ve got our eye on a couple of possibilities, but we won’t pay over the odds.”
Andina in Shoreditch to not reopen: Andina in Shoreditch, which was part of the three-strong business acquired out of administration by Rosa’s Thai Cafe founders Alex and Saiphin Moore last year, will not reopen, after the owners were unable to come to an agreement with the site’s landlord. The Moores, which sold a majority stake in Rosa’s to private equity firm TriSpan last summer, acquired the original Ceviche site in Frith Street in Soho, Andina in Shoreditch and Casita Andina in Great Windmill Street, also in Soho, last November. The company is seeking a new location for Andina, with the now closed site in Redchurch Street currently being marketed by Davis Coffer Lyons. In a statement on the closure, Andina’s parent company Mesa Latina said: “We came at the end of our lease in May and the landlords decided to kick us out of our home of more than six years. We have never missed a rent payment, and we were exemplary tenants, but the attraction of some big shot money was stronger and more important than saving our restaurant and our jobs. We would like to thank all of you for your incredible support over the years. But this is not a goodbye, we are working hard to find a new site and bring all of us together again. The spirit of Andina is not in a building, it is inside us, engraved on our souls. See you all soon. Mucho amor, Andina team.”
River Cottage Kitchen in Winchester to remain closed: Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is closing his River Cottage Kitchen restaurant in Winchester due to “unprecedented challenges from covid-19”. The restaurant in Abbey Mill Gardens shut in March following the government lock-down and now it has been revealed it will not reopen. It is believed the restaurant had been struggling before the health crisis. A notice on the eatery’s website said: “We all face unprecedented challenges from covid-19 and with a heavy heart, we have made the very difficult and sad decision River Cottage Kitchen in Winchester will be closing permanently.”
Mission Mars to permanently close Deaf Institute and Gorilla: Two of Manchester’s best-known music venues have closed for good. The Deaf Institute in Grosvenor Street and Gorilla in Whitworth Street are both shutting in the wake of the pandemic. Mission Mars, the north west-based operator of fast-growing concepts such as Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, operates both sites. It confirmed the news, describing it as a “difficult decision” announced with “great sadness”. The Deaf Institute has been part of Manchester’s music scene for more than a decade, while Gorilla opened in 2012. Roy Ellis, chief executive and founder of Mission Mars, said: “The Deaf Institute and Gorilla have been at the forefront of the music scene in Manchester for many years and it is with great sadness we announce we won’t be reopening. This difficult decision has been made against the backdrop of covid-19 and the enforced closure of all our sites and with continued restrictions on opening live music venues. We appreciate these music destinations are well loved and have provided an early stage for many acts in the north west and are therefore well known in the world of music.”
Edinburgh-based @Pizza plans UK’s first pizza drive-thru as it hits expansion trail: Edinburgh-based pizza concept @Pizza is planning to launch the UK’s first drive-thru pizza concept as it hits the expansion trail. @Pizza has instructed Colliers International to identify seven shipping container sites for the concept, which it plans to roll out in retail parks, initially in Birmingham and Edinburgh or Glasgow. @Pizza currently trades from sites in Charlotte Lane in Edinburgh and the Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham. The new concept would enable @Pizza to open sites for its eat-in, takeaway, home delivery and now drive-thru offering while providing a safe environment for customers and employees during the pandemic. The shipping containers will occupy spaces of between 22 and 30 square metres. The drive-thrus would be able to make up to ten pizzas a minute, with customers offered unlimited options to customise. They would be able to order via an app with the option of collection or delivery to their vehicle. Bhasker Dhir, chief operating officer and co-founder of @Pizza, said: “These drive-thrus will bring quality and speed together as one, offering everything anyone could want from somewhere serving pizza, 24 hours a day, whatever the occasion. Last year, customers waited an average of 255 seconds in a drive-thru lane (Forbes). With a 90-second cook time and an ability to cook ten pizzas per minute, @Pizza can perform well within those averages. Even before the covid-19 pandemic hit, between 60% and 70% of certain quick serve restaurant sales came from drive-thru lanes.” Tom Beaumont, associate director, licensed and leisure, at Colliers International, added: “The cost of opening is circa £120,000 per site compared with £650,000-plus for a restaurant so this is a particularly attractive option for restaurant brands as a way to attract new customers during the pandemic.”
Fat Hippo to open sixth site as it heads to East Midlands: Gourmet burger brand Fat Hippo is to open its sixth site – and first in East Midlands. The company is heading to Nottingham after securing the former Hockley Rebel unit in Broad Street. The deal was brokered by Frankie Labbate, of Box Property, on behalf of the landlord and Ian Angus, of @retail, for Fat Hippo. Labbate told The Business Desk: “Fat Hippo is a cool operator that’s taking an amazing building that fits the brand perfectly.” Fat Hippo describes itself as doing “the good kind of gluttony” and was set up in Jesmond in 2010. It also operates sites in Durham, Newcastle and two in Sheffield
Swingers to reopen sites in September: Crazy golf and food and beverage concept Swingers is to reopen its two London sites in September. The venues in the West End and the City will have a raft of measures in place to ensure they meet covid-19 safety guidelines. These will include a new app that combines food and drink ordering capability with an online scorecard and a track and trace form. Each of the courses is being revamped ahead of the reopening on Tuesday, 22 September. The line-up of street food traders will also return, including Mexican brand Breddos Tacos, the joint venture between Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney and Gleneagles owner Ennismore; Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman; Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria concept founded by brothers Thom and James Elliot; and London-based pizza company Made of Dough. Swingers started as a pop-up in Shoreditch and opened its first permanent venue beneath the Gherkin in the City in 2017 before transforming the former BHS store in Oxford Street for its second.
KFC brings back plant-based chicken for third US test run: KFC is bringing back its Beyond Meat plant-based chicken for a third test run in the US. The plant-based chicken nuggets, which were reformulated after the product debuted last year, will be available from Monday (20 July) at select KFC restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego while supplies last. Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer of KFC US, said: “I have said it before – despite many imitations the flavour of KFC is one that has never been replicated, until Beyond Fried Chicken. We know the East Coast loved it so we thought we’d give those on the West Coast a chance to tell us what they think in an exclusive sneak peek.” When KFC debuted Beyond Fried Chicken last summer in Atlanta the product sold out within five hours. During the second trial, held in early 2020, KFC and Beyond Meat tweaked the recipe so it pulled apart like a chicken breast. The product was sold at more than 60 stores in Charlotte in North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.
Tennent’s commits to sustainability at Wellpark brewery: Tennent’s, the C&C Group lager brand, is moving forward with its commitment to sustainability with the installation of a new carbon capture facility at its Wellpark brewery in Glasgow. It will see the brewery capture and store more than 4,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent of 27,000 flights to London from Glasgow annually. The new facility will be the biggest of its kind in Scotland and will enable Tennent’s to capture and store the carbon dioxide generated as a byproduct from the brewing fermentation process. This carbon dioxide will then be used to carbonate Tennent’s. By no longer having to source carbon dioxide from the north of England, Tennent’s will also eliminate the emissions from 100,000kms of journeys each year. It is anticipated the new facility will enable Tennent’s to become as close to self-sufficient as currently possible with more than 95% of the captured carbon dioxide being reused, supporting the brewery’s commitment to be net carbon zero by 2025. Tennent’s has invested £2.6m in the new carbon capture plant that will be fully operational by September following completion of installation works that also includes the modification of 24 existing fermentation vessels. Significant ground work was also undertaken to support the tanks, which will each weigh 130 tonnes when full.
Crosstown Doughnuts arrives at London Bridge City: Crosstown, the artisan doughnut and speciality coffee concept, has joined the line-up at riverside destination London Bridge City. The company is operating a takeaway food truck called Daisy at More London Riverside on a daily basis, serving its sourdough doughnuts alongside ice cream, which it recently added to its offer. Earlier this month better burger brand Five Guys launched its first new site since the lock-down at the complex, while other businesses including Pret A Manger and Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, have reopened. All stores have measures in place to adhere to government guidelines. Crosstown operates 11 stores in London plus nine market stalls and kiosks.
Rick Stein Group turns cookery school in Padstow into pop-up seafood restaurant: The Rick Stein Group has launched a pop-up seafood restaurant in Stein’s On The Quay in Padstow in the space that hosted Rick Stein’s Cookery School. The school is unable to reopen until the autumn because of social distancing regulations. The space has been transformed into a casual dining spot, which opens from Wednesday to Sunday between 5pm and 9pm. Using the live cooking station at the rear of the restaurant, head chef Nick Evans is finishing and plating dishes in the dining room. The concise menu, created by chef director Jack Stein, is described as a “love letter to the famed fish and seafood of Cornwall”. Main dishes include a south Indian cod curry, and moules frites and goujons of lemon sole with tartar sauce. There is a list of summer wine to accompany the food. Wine and beverage director Charlie Stein said: “When we heard restaurants were able to reopen but the cookery school would have to remain shut for the time being, it seemed like the most logical solution to utilise the space we have here.”
Scotland’s ‘largest’ restaurant and bar ‘fully booked’ for opening month: Events and hospitality brand Platform has said its new casual restaurant and street food kitchen in Glasgow is fully booked for advance reservations for its opening month. The 350-capacity venue in the Argyle Street Arches opened on Friday (17 July) after Platform pivoted its indoor food market to create what it claims is Scotland’s largest restaurant and bar. Glasgow street food traders such as Gallus Pasta, Tiny Dancers and Ginger & Chilli are collaborating to serve “flavours from across the world” in conjunction with Platform owner Scott McCormick. Safety measures include thermal scanners, ordering apps and increased ventilation within the arches. The menu is dedicated to street food from Asia, Italy and the US with dishes such as sticky Korean fried chicken bites, homemade pizza and hand-cut pasta. Platform said limited walk-in tables will be available each day, while demand has been such it has now opened its diary for bookings to September. McCormick told Herald Scotland: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the support from Glasgow. A lot of love has gone into this menu development and we’re confident in our new offering.”
Harrods launches standalone bar in partnership with French crystal brand:Harrods has opened a bar in partnership with French crystal brand Baccarat that will open until midnight. A separate entrance to the ground-floor venue in the Knightsbridge department store allows it to open outside store hours. The bar has capacity for 23 people under social distancing guidelines, with the decor inspired by colours refracted through crystal. Colour-themed drinks have been created by award-winning bar manager Cameron Attfield. Options on the yellow menu include the Tryptophan Fix (Monkey 47 gin, soy cashew distillate, banana water, spinach cordial and soda water), while the green menu includes the Balancing Act (Hennessey VS Cognac, roasted butternut squash, green caffeine-infused artichoke distillate and truffle caramel). The food menu features high-end bar snacks such as beef cheek beignet, Baccarat beef and foie gras sliders, and Oscietra caviar with blinis and sour cream, Hot Dinners reports. Before lock-down, Harrods replaced its shoe department with 125-cover Harrods Brasserie offering breakfast, flat iron steak, Sunday roast, and a children’s menu. In October, the brand opened its first standalone cafe outside London – H Cafe in Henley, Oxfordshire.
Britain’s Best Home Cook winner launches crowdfunding campaign to open cookery school and events space: Pippa Middlehurst, winner of BBC show Britain’s Best Home Cook in 2018, is launching a crowdfunding campaign to open her first permanent cookery school and events space – Noodlehaus. Middlehurst hosts supper clubs in her home city of Manchester and teaches cookery workshops with a focus on noodles, dumplings and broths, with particular attention to molecular biology. Now she is looking to raise £30,000 on Kickstarter to help get Noodlehaus off the ground. The money will go towards equipment for the cookery school as well as free workshop spaces for local schoolchildren. Middlehurst said: “The building is in an old mill and has the most incredible natural light, which will be amazing for the photography workshops I will be hosting. The space will be open to all and I look forward to working with the community to provide a space people can learn about cooking as well as share my love of cooking.”
Selfridges launches street market: Selfridges department store has launched a street market after taking over the mews behind its Oxford Street store in London. Market On The Mews will operate from 9am to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday until 30 August. The market will be a “rotating edit of food, drink, magazines, plants, flowers, bikes and furniture.” The move will see Selfridges take over Edwards Mews with a range of yellow stalls. Traders will include Assembly Coffee, Hackney Gelato and Two Tribes brewery. Selfridges will sell its own bakery treats along with items “handy for taking on picnics”, while new pop-ups will appear regularly, Hot Dinners reports. Because of social distancing, initially only 16 customers will be allowed in the market at a time, with a one-way system in place alongside other safety measures.