Rosa’s Thai Cafe to sell majority stake to US private equity firm: Thai restaurant group Rosa’s Thai Cafe, set up by husband- and-wife team Saiphin and Alex Moore, is poised to sell a majority stake to the US private equity firm TriSpan. The couple, who opened their first restaurant in east London 12 years ago, have grown Rosa’s Thai Cafe into a 13-strong chain in the capital. New York-based TriSpan, which counts former YO! Sushi boss Robin Rowland as a partner, is expected to take a majority stake this week, as Rosa Thai Cafe looks to expand outside London, with its first regional site opening this summer, in Liverpool. The couple, who met in Hong Kong 17 years ago, will remain involved in the company part-time and as minority shareholders, reports The Sunday Times. Rosa’s Thai Cafe began when the Moores moved to the UK and discovered an old greasy spoon in Spitalfields called Rosa’s, which they snapped up using credit cards and money borrowed from friends and family. They sold their home in Hong Kong to fund the second site, in Soho, before it gradually expanded across London. Saiphin Moore secured a recipe book deal with Octopus Publishing. The value of the deal is unknown, but in its latest accounts available at Companies House, for the year ending 31 March 2017, Rosa’s Thai Cafe reported sales of £8.2m with Ebitda of £1.4m.
Jamie Rollo – we expect Whitbread to report weakest quarter since 2009 downturn: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has said he expects Whitbread to have its weakest quarter since the 2009 downturn when it reports its first-quarter results at the end of the month. He said: “There has been a recent deterioration in trading for UK hotels, pubs/restaurants, and high street footfall. While some of this is due to the poor weather, the trend has been getting worse for some time, and we expect Whitbread to report its weakest quarter since the 2009 downturn with a 1.5% like-for-like sales decline in the first quarter of FY2019 (covering March to May). The company should still generate circa 4% total sales growth due to the benefit of expansion, and this plus its efficiency programme should limit margin deterioration, but we still see modest downside risk to forecasts. Meanwhile, the shares have been very steady since its FY18 results, despite the company’s plan to demerge Costa, rumours the company has been approached by private equity firms, and JAB’s acquisition of Pret A Manger for a healthy 16 times 2016 Ebitda. We think the shares are fairly valued given they trade at our £42 sum-of-the-parts, but value may continue to leak if the environment remains tough, and a demerger in of itself may be insufficient to turn Costa around. The company deserves credit for its efficiency programme, which has limited bigger downgrades, but we question how bad things could get in the next downturn if the company is seeing declining like-for-like sales now in a market with high employment and reasonable GDP growth, and it might have exhausted its margin cushion with the current efficiency programme.”
Former Gordon Ramsay Group chief executive set to open restaurant business: Former Gordon Ramsay Group chief executive Stuart Gillies is set to open a restaurant business just months after leaving. Gillies ran Ramsay’s restaurant group until he left in January after more than 15 years with the company. Documents filed at Companies House show Gillies, a former chef, is sole director of a new restaurant business called Alfa-Zero. A trademark filing made by Gillies last month suggested his new venture could be called Wood & Wood, reports the Mail on Sunday. While at Gordon Ramsay Group, Gillies helped launch the Boxwood Café, Plane Food at Heathrow Terminal 5 and the Savoy Grill. Ramsay rewarded him with £2.7m worth of shares in the firm, and promoted him to chief executive in 2016. But Gillies resigned as a director of 28 companies in the group in February. Gordon Ramsay Group was previously run by Ramsay’s father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, who was jailed for six months last June after admitting conspiracy to hack the company’s computer systems. Ramsay, whose group posted a £3.8 million pre-tax loss for the year to August 2017, is now shutting his Mayfair restaurant Maze.
Leon makes Scandinavian debut, with Oslo opening: Natural fast food brand Leon has made its Scandinavian debut, in Norway. The restaurant, operated by Umoe, has opened in Oslo Central station. At the same time, by Aker Brygge pier, Leon has opened a food truck serving a curated menu of Leon classics. This first foothold in Oslo will pave the way for further Scandinavian restaurants as part of Leon’s plans to expand internationally. The Leon Oslo menu gives guests the opportunity to try dishes that have been on the menu since its first restaurant opened in Carnaby Street in London in 2004, including the Moroccan meatball hotbox, fish finger wrap and the original super salad. Leon co-founder and chief executive John Vincent said: “I am so happy to be opening in Oslo. It’s a wonderful city full of the most interesting and inspirational people. I can’t wait to see what people think of Leon and of naturally fast food.” Helene Skjenneberg, managing director of Leon for Umoe, added: “Launching Leon means we get to bring the future of fast food to Norway. We have exciting times in front of us and look forward to offering Norwegians a whole new concept of fast food based on natural ingredients.”
Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer Mad Squirrel launches £250,000 fund-raise to expand craft beer shop estate: Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer Mad Squirrel has returned to Crowdcube to launch a £250,000 fund-raise to expand its craft beer shop estate. The Hertfordshire-based company, founded by Greg Blesson and Jason Duncan-Anderson, is offering 1.93% equity in return for the investment. It plans to use the funds to expand its five-strong craft beer shop estate by adding two more sites this year, with plans for three more by 2020. The pitch states: “We recently installed a state-of-the-art brewery and have shown 180% growth in three years. We operate five Mad Squirrel Craft Beer outlets in commuter belt towns with moving annual total revenues up 45%. We seek further growth in 2018 by opening two new outlets, with plans for three more by 2020. Our taprooms have built up a positive reputation for great beer and education – this has created cordial relationships with the authorities. Our strategy of opening more wet-led Mad Squirrel taprooms is focused on current consumer trends for great beer and value for money; market insights show food biased outlets are experiencing a decline in revenues, compared with wet-led outlets showing a renaissance.” In 2016, Mad Squirrel, then trading as Red Squirrel Group, raised more than £665,000 on Crowdcube to expand its brewery and craft beer shop estate.
Chef restaurateur Damian Wawrzyniak to open first London venue: Chef restaurateur Damian Wawrzyniak is to open his first London restaurant. Wawrzyniak, who runs House of Feasts in Peterborough, is launching Jan in Clapham in mid-June. The chef is taking over a current restaurant of the same name, redesigning its interiors and starting completely anew. Jan will include an open kitchen and robata grill and will serve food focused on preserving methods and curing techniques. Sharing plates will be available alongside an a la carte menu with dishes such as cured herring with smoked beetroot, and lamb chump with nettles and roasted celeriac. Wawrzyniak told Hardens: “I’m excited to open Jan and cook in London. The restaurant is looking great and we’ve been recipe testing for a long time now. I know it’s going to be great.” While Polish himself, the food will not be a classic take on the cuisine of his country, but will be influenced by its origins. Wawrzyniak has owned House of Feasts, a modern-European restaurant, for more than a decade, having arrived in the UK in 2005.
Subway franchisee to help grow premium grilled chicken restaurant as it secures Peterborough site: Five Lads, a premium restaurant specialising in flamed peri peri grilled chicken and steak, is to open its second site, in Peterborough. The new restaurant, which builds on the original in Leyton in east London, will open in Cowgate on the site of a former estate agents and accommodate up to 50 diners. It will be run by Subway franchisee Jay Ayub and Zeeshan Manzoor, who have struck up a relationship with the Five Lads team and there are now plans to expand in partnership. Manzoor told Peterborough Today: “It is a bit like a franchise, but the plan is to grow the brand together, with the new Peterborough opening being the flagship restaurant. We felt there was an opening for a restaurant like this. Yes, there is a Nando’s but we will also do sizzling steaks. We felt Peterborough did not have somewhere like this that is independent and offering quality food and excellent service at a reasonable price.”
Papa’s Fish and Chips opens new-look restaurant in Hull, plans to roll-out in rest of estate: Papa’s Fish and Chips has opened a new site, in Hull, which features a new look and offer that will rolled out to its other sites. The company has opened the venue in Princes Dock Street. As well as its fish and chips, there are breakfast and afternoon tea menus. The style of the two-floor restaurant, which has been in the pipeline for a year-and-a-half, takes diners back to the 1920s and will be rolled out into the rest of Papa’s restaurants. The decor features dark wood panelling, big mirrors and chequered black and white tiled flooring. Dino Papa, who owns the chain with his dad Sid, and brother George, told the Hull Daily Mail: “We think it is a really up and coming area and the restaurant fits in really nicely to the area. We’ve been to Liverpool and Salford Quays where everything is happening around the marina and that’s starting to happen here.” Dino Papa said although there were new breakfast and afternoon tea menus, the big focus was still on fish and chips. The family-owned company, which was founded in 1966 in Margate, Kent, has almost 20 restaurants nationwide.
London-based micro-brewer sets £250,000 stretch crowdfunding target:London-based micro-brewer The Park Brewery has set a £250,000 stretch target in its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to relocate, build a taproom and increase production five-fold. The company, which hit its initial £175,000 target last week, is offering 10.45% equity in return for investment. So far, 247 investors have pledged £205,560 with the campaign “overfunding” with 19 days remaining. Last week, the brewery also secured a listing with Stonegate Pub Company. The Park Brewery stated: “After such a fantastic start and knowing we have more potential investors who are keen to be involved, we’ve had a chat and we’re going to shoot for £250,000. The extra £75,000 will help to accelerate the business even more, and now we have been listed on Stonegate Pubs, we can drive it on faster.” The pitch states: “The company was founded in autumn 2014 with an initial £5,000 set-up producing just 200 litres a brew. Our aim was to create alternative, thought-provoking beer for our community. Struggling to keep up, we injected £30,000 and expanded capacity mid-2015 to 600 litres, brewing three times a week to keep up with sales. We are a husband-and-wife team (Josh and Frankie Kearns) and take inspiration from nearby Richmond Park to name our beers. Once again we have hit full capacity and our brewery is at breaking point!”
Greene King launches support for Pub Partners ahead of World Cup:Greene King has launched support for its Pub Partners division ahead of the World Cup. As part of he company’s Mission to Russia campaign, three roadshows took place – at Ascot, Old Trafford in Manchester and Royston – for partners to visit and take advantage of support from a variety of suppliers who were on hand to discuss key opportunities with pubs. Representatives from Sky, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch InBev and MatchPint attended to showcase their support as Pub Partners aimed to build on the success of its Christmas roadshows last autumn to help pubs have a successful summer. Following up on the roadshows, more than 50 members of the Pub Partners head office team will be out on the road visiting pubs to offer advice and support to help them get ready for one of the most important sporting events in the calendar. Greene King Pub Partners managing director John Forrest said: “I’m a big believer in the benefits of getting everyone out the office to support our pubs. Our Mission to Russia campaign comes in three sections – launching promotional material and offers for our pubs, running roadshows to allow our partners the chance to come and meet with first-class suppliers and finally following it all up with personal visits to some of our pubs to see if they are all set and to offer extra tips and guidance. We want to provide fantastic support to help our pubs by creating new and exciting reasons for customers to visit.”
Laurent Tourondel opens debut UK restaurant as he returns to London: French-born chef Laurent Tourondel has returned to London to launch his first UK restaurant. Tourondel has opened the venue at Hotel Café Royal in Regent Street. He is best known in the US, where he has restaurants in New York, Miami and North Carolina, while he also owns ventures in Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and the Caribbean. Tourondel trained in France before moving to London, where he worked in the kitchen at Boodles. The 110-cover Laurent at Café Royal is on the first floor of the hotel, with an open kitchen, grill and sushi bar. Tourondel said: “I am thrilled to be returning to London. Having worked for years at Boodles, I’m delighted to create a new home in the iconic Hotel Café Royal.” Hotel managing director Guillaume Marly added: “We pride ourselves on bringing world-class chefs and cuisine to our guests. I am delighted to welcome Laurent to our hotel.”
Fever-Tree takes over direct control of US operations: Fever-Tree, the world’s leading supplier of premium carbonated mixers, has, following a six-month transition period, taken over direct control of its US operations through its US subsidiary, Fever-Tree USA. Headquartered in Brooklyn, Fever-Tree USA is responsible for all aspects of the group’s North American business, including importation, warehousing, distribution, marketing, sales and direct customer relationships. Fever-Tree first entered the US market in 2007 and previously worked with its US agent Brands of Britain. Fever-Tree North America chief executive Charles Gibb said: “The past 11 years has seen Fever-Tree establish a great platform in the US and this move to a directly controlled structure underscores our belief in the tremendous opportunity that exists in the market. Thanks to Fever-Tree’s entrepreneurial culture, we have rapidly built an exceptionally talented team and infrastructure in less than five months and we are set to hit the ground running.”
Yorkshire-based brewery opens first taproom bar: Yorkshire-based brewery Hop Studio has opened its first taproom bar, in Pocklington. Founder Dave Shaw has opened the venue having converted an empty shop building in Market Place. The Market Tap has 18 beers on the bar at a time, as well as a large selection of bottled beers and ciders, a broad wine range and bar food. Shaw told Minster FM: “We have been looking for some time for the right property, so we could open a brewery tap. We looked at a few of the villages around York and other towns, but when we found this place we knew it was ideal for us. More and more breweries are opening their own taprooms, and it is a good way for us to have a direct route to the market.” Shaw founded Hop Studio in the village of Elvington, near York, in 2012, having previously been a local government IT worker for 20 years.
Harry Ramsden’s opens site at WestQuay in Southampton: Fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden’s, owned by Boparan Restaurant Group, has opened its latest restaurant, at the WestQuay shopping centre in Southampton. The company has opened the venue in the fourth-floor dining area of the complex. In a natural progression for the brand, the Southampton outlet features ocean and aquamarine blues and shrimp pink colour schemes, reflecting Harry Ramsden’s seaside heritage. Its most famous dish, fish and chips, is celebrated with a tongue-in-cheek colour scheme that includes ketchup red, pea greens and chip golds. Harry Ramsden’s, which is celebrating its 90th year, marked National Fish and Chip day on Friday (1 June) with a week-long giveaway of almost £20,000 of free fish and chips to guests served with a bespoke golden fork. The company has now launched its new summer menu designed with a “new generation of customer in mind”. As well as the introduction of Harry’s fish and chips in the largest portion size ever, there are new items including Sri Lankan fish curry, cajun fishbites and seabass fillets served with pesto. Harry Ramsden’s chief executive Tom Crowley said: “90 years is a landmark few companies reach, so we see it as a cause for celebration. We are looking forward to the ongoing evolution of Harry Ramsden’s and are excited to open the next chapter of what is clearly a national love affair with Britain’s longest established restaurant brand.”
Cranberry cider-maker Cranes hits £150,000 crowdfunding target to boost on-trade distribution: Cranberry cider-maker Cranes has hit its £150,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to boost on-trade distribution. The company, led by twin brothers Ben and Daniel Ritsema, produces three flavours of cranberry-based cider and a liqueur. The company is offering 4.78% equity in return for investment. So far 203 investors have pledged £150,198 and the campaign is now “overfunding”. Cranes launched a campaign on Seedrs in 2016 that raised more than £190,000, double its original target, with investors including Brothers Drinks. Cranes underwent a full rebranding last year and has agreed a UK distribution agreement with Paragon Brands. The pitch states: “Our aim is to be one of the top three leading brands in the UK’s fruit cider and fruit liqueur markets. We believe people will always enjoy a drink but are increasingly looking to choose one that has healthier ingredients without impairing the taste. We believe our ciders provide that choice to the mass market and along with our liqueur we are building a strong distinctive brand. We feel our partnership with Paragon Brands ensures the successful navigation of this market with its vast experience, contacts and track record. With listings already in numerous major wholesalers, we are in a great position to advance in this sector. In the shorter term, we will use the funds to deliver our marketing plan to help achieve our 2018 revenue target, invest in increasing distribution and support sales in the on-trade through Paragon Brands, support working capital so we can produce larger batches of cider and liqueur, and invest in production capability to ensure we can meet the expected sales demand in 2018.”
Vale of Glamorgan Brewery lodges plans for first micro-pub: Barry-based Vale of Glamorgan Brewery has lodged plans to open its first micro-pub, in Cardiff. The company has applied to the city council to launch the Radyr Tap in an empty building in Station Road. If it opens it would be the first pub in the area following the closure of the Radyr Arms in 2003. In a planning statement, Vale of Glamorgan Brewery said it wanted to “provide a much needed venue to serve as a local watering hole and social space as well as somewhere to celebrate local beer trade in Radyr”. Managing director Phil Newbould told Wales Online: “As well as our own beers, we’ll be stocking local cask ales alongside more modern craft beers and some great wines and spirits. We will have wines and beers available for customers to buy to take away. Although there will be no cooked food offering, we will have a selection of artisan meats and cheeses as well as other snacks that will be served from the bar.”
Camerons launches beer tasting experiences at Head of Steam pubs:Camerons Brewery has launched beer tasting experiences at its Head of Steam pubs, aimed at getting more people trying and talking about beer. The project, led by team member Kieran Cant, will see the bars offering two masterclasses – “An Introduction to Beer” and “Around the World in Beer” – with the added option to tailor a bespoke tasting. In-house beer experts in each bar will take customers through the brewing process and ingredients, to help them learn more about beer, and the flavours associated with each beer style. Established in 1995, Head of Steam currently has 14 bars across the UK, in cities such as Leeds, Newcastle, Hull, and Liverpool. As well as launching in Nottingham and Leicester earlier this year, it is preparing to open in Birmingham this week, with more venues to launch further down the country in upcoming months.
Marston’s gets go-ahead for 39-bedroom hotel next to Nottinghamshire village pub: Marston’s has been given the go-ahead for a new-build hotel in the village of Nuthall in Nottinghamshire. The company has been granted permission by Broxtowe Borough Council to build the 39-bedroom hotel on land to the north of its existing Old Moor Lodge pub in Mornington Crescent. Planning permission was previously granted for a 44-bedroom hotel in 2008 but work never started, reports Insider Media. Approving the application, planning officers stated: “The overall provision of 100 spaces to serve the hotel and the existing public house is considered sufficient to provide adequate off-street parking. Therefore, the proposal is considered to be in accordance with the relevant local and national policy guidance and there are no material considerations that would warrant a decision being taken at variance to this.”