Issa brothers make new bid to seize control of Caffe Nero: The billionaire brothers behind Asda are attempting to seize control of Caffe Nero with a raid on the coffee company’s £350m debt pile. Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who last week completed a £6.8bn acquisition of Britain’s third-biggest supermarket, are in talks with Alcentra and Partners Group to buy loans totalling £180m, reports The Sunday Telegraph. City sources said the “aggressive move” would leave Caffe Nero cornered if it were to default on its debts. Talks “were moving at quite a pace” and are delicately poised and there was no certainty a deal, which would be made in partnership with TDR Capital, will be agreed. Banking insiders said lenders believe after a year of lockdowns Caffe Nero could breach its covenants this summer. Ownership of the loans would position the Issas to make a bid for control through a debt-for-equity swap if Caffe Nero is then forced to restructure its borrowing. Sources close to Caffe Nero insisted the company does not expect to breach banking covenants this summer. One insider said the Issas had previously approached bank lenders including HSBC, Santander, Lloyds and Rabobank to acquire their debts but were rejected. A source close to the Issa brothers and TDR said: “The investor group would be a natural partner for Caffe Nero. We have made no secret we want to develop a solution for Caffe Nero’s problems that will work for all stakeholders.”
Taco Bell earmarks former Pizza Hut site in Lincoln for drive-thru restaurant:Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is lining up a site in Lincoln. Taylor Lindsey is seeking permission from the city council to convert the former Pizza Hut restaurant on land to the south east of Nettleham Road into a Taco Bell, along with a new drive-thru lane. The restaurant is expected to create almost 60 jobs, reports Insider Media. A statement submitted on behalf of the applicant said: “As well as bringing a well-known national operator to Lincoln, the proposals will lead to direct and indirect employment opportunities. Such economic benefits are considered to represent a most welcome boost at a time where the economic shocks and associated levels of unemployment resulting from the covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt and, accordingly, are considered to represent a material consideration that should be afforded significant weight by the decision maker.” Taco Bell operates more than 50 sites in the UK. The company has more than 7,500 restaurants across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first in Downey, California, in 1962.
Native returns to London for restaurant at Browns in Mayfair: Zero-waste wild British food restaurant Native, founded by Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis, has returned to London to join British multi-brand luxury retailer Browns at its new flagship boutique in Mayfair. The partnership will see the launch of a restaurant centred around sustainable dining at the Brook Street site. The restaurant, due to open in the spring, will champion seasonal produce and ethical dining through a selection of sharing plates, natural wine and foraged cocktails. The menu will include dishes such as poached brill, seaweed Beurre blanc with Sutton Farm chard; and retired dairy cow ribeye, yeasted onion puree and wild mushrooms. Davis said: “We are excited to be embarking on this new chapter of Native in partnership with Browns and it’s been a delight to see our vision for a closed-loop restaurant supported at every step.” Meanwhile, Native has also launched an at-home range, including two set menus to choose from, featuring three or six courses of Native’s seasonal and signature dishes. The menu will be updated every fortnight and orders can be placed daily for delivery the following Friday, with UK-wide delivery is available. In August last year, Native relocated from London to Osea Island on the Essex coast. Native had been operating at Flat Iron Square, near London Bridge.
Leeds-based restauranteur to revive Mediterranean restaurant brand: Leeds-based restauranteur George Psarias and his family are to revive the Olive Tree Greek restaurant brand at the end of this month. They will launch a click and collect and online delivery service, running from their existing site, Giorgio’s, in Headingley. The “business within a business” aims to restore a recognised brand in the Greek food industry that promotes healthy and nutritious food, reports The Business Desk. The Olive Tree was first established in Ilkley in 1982, winning multiple awards over 35 years as well as being listed in the Good Food Guide for more than 20 consecutive years. The new click and collect service menu will be made up of a series of classic Olive Tree dishes such as moussaka and lamb kleftiko, while specially imported Greek wine will also be on offer. Current head chef at Giorgio’s, Jean-Paul Ramouche, who was part of the original Olive Tree team, is leading the kitchen on the new project.
Star Pubs & Bars kick-starts reopening plans with series of virtual operator forums: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has kick-started its reopening plans with a series of virtual forums with operators. The company is hosting the online sessions with its 130 Just Add Talent (JAT) managed operator pubs to obtain feedback on its plans. Star Pubs & Bars is preparing to streamline systems and procedures across its JAT estate – including simplifying risk assessments, reviewing supplier performance and better Wi-Fi provision, as well as revisiting its facilities management provision. To help remind customers of social distancing regulations, covid-19 safety point of sale will be refreshed and reissued to all JAT pubs once full details on opening conditions are known. Star Pubs & Bars is also introducing new training modules for operators and staff including upselling opportunities and hosting sport safely. The company will also be launching new promotional activity and a refreshed drinks menu to attract new and existing customers back into their JAT sites once it is deemed safe to do so. As with the first lockdown, Star Pubs & Bars will be sharing learnings, training videos and modules, menus, point-of-sale and customer journey templates with its leased and tenanted estate and its Heineken UK on-trade customers. Retail concepts manager Beki Davies said: “We know our pubs have the potential to have a great summer, and we want to support them to make the most of every opportunity.”
Stint strengthens advisory board: Staffing solution app Stint has strengthened its advisory board. Joining founders Sam and Sol Schlagman and their management team are Brigid Simmonds, the current chair of the Betting & Gaming Council and ex-chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association; former Ei Group HR director Andy Holness; Fiona Ryland, chief operating officer at University College London and ex-HR director of Compass Group UK & Ireland; former WH Smith chief executive Stephen Clarke; and Dino Rocos, ex-John Lewis Partnership operations director. Stint allows businesses to bring in staff for just a couple of hours during spikes in trade, allowing the business’ core staff to focus on the revenue-generating jobs. Sam Schlagman said: “It is a privilege to be working with some of the most well-respected individuals in their respective sectors and their strategic counsel has already proved invaluable as we start to engage with more and more businesses ahead of reopening. We strongly believe Stint will revolutionise the way operators cater for busy periods post-lockdown, and in the process giving them a fighting chance of survival.”