Company News:

Brewhouse & Kitchen making ‘big push’ to add accommodation to sites:Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 23-strong brewpub group, is making a “big push” to add accommodation to its sites as it becomes a key focus for the group. The company has just received approval from Bristol City Council for 18 bedrooms at its pub in Cotham Hill. Meanwhile, it has planning permission in place for 17 bedrooms at its brewpub in Chester and is looking to add 14 bedrooms to its property in Southbourne in Dorset. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell told Propel he was looking at more opportunities across the group and was in the process of allocating capital for projects. He said: “Some of the properties used to be hotels so we have the sites with the development potential. Having accommodation at the pubs gives us another string to our bow and it’s something we are going to be making a big push on. We are reviewing the estate to see where we might be able to add rooms and it will also be something we look at when it comes to acquisitions.” Under the plans for the Bristol pub, a roof extension would be added to create a second floor, while the use of the site would be changed. The public house would remain operating on the basement and ground floors, while guest accommodation would be added on the first and second floors. Brewhouse & Kitchen launched its first “brewtel” last week when it opened the rooms at its latest brewpub, in Worthing, West Sussex.
Cote trials new evolution site with Solihull opening: Cote, the French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, is trialling a new evolution site at its latest opening in the West Midlands, Propel has learned. The 84-strong, Jane Holbrook-chaired, business opened the first site under the new design last week, in Solihull. The company told Propel the launch of the trial site follows an extensive piece of research and a new design, which includes a lighter colour palate. A Cote spokesman said: “We undertook a huge piece of consumer research to ensure we knew exactly what our guests want from Cote in the future. This has helped us to create a modern, all-day dining restaurant that delivers an everyday special experience.” The latest design includes a bar with French wine, cocktails and new menus for “petit dejeuner, brunch, a la carte and prix fixe” with “premium French dishes including the Arnold Bennett Lobster Omelette and Fillet Tournedos Rossini” and a new range of French-inspired vegan dishes such as Beet Tartare and Aubergine aux Ratatouille. Propel understands this is very much a test site at present but the business hopes to take learnings from the new restaurant to help it update the rest of its estate in time as it looks to make the brand more “everyday special”.
Simmons Bars to open first site in more residential location: Simmons Bars, the London-based, Lonsdale Capital Partners-backed group, is to open its first site in a more residential location, after securing a site in Putney, Propel has learned. The 16-strong Simmons Bars, which is led by founder Nick Campbell, has secured the ex-Toy Shop bar site in Putney High Street for an opening later this summer. The business recently opened a new site in Shoreditch, at 235 Old Street. Propel understands the company also recently secured a second site in Soho, after taking on the former Crobar unit in Manette Street. Tom Crosthwaite, of CDG Leisure, acted on the Putney and Soho deals.
Deliciously Ella to launch new restaurant Plants in Mayfair: London-based vegan blogger and Deliciously Ella founder Ella Mills is to launch her first restaurant next week in Mayfair. Plants by Deliciously Ella will open in Mills’ former cafe and deli site in Weighhouse Street on Wednesday, 16 June. The new site’s menu includes pan-fried oyster mushroom scallops with carrot jelly, asparagus ceviche, cauliflower schnitzel and vegan pancakes with dark chocolate sauce. Everything is made in house. Mills previously ran three deli and cafes sites in the capital, closing the last one in March 2020 blaming the coronavirus crisis. Writing about the new restaurant, which she will open with her husband Matthew, on Instagram, Mills said: “When we first started thinking about what we could do, our dream was to open a restaurant. At the time, central London restaurant rents were too expensive for us, so we opened a small deli instead. Our deli in Weighhouse Street has been a home for us, but we’ve always felt it could be so much better if we could do more of a restaurant experience. We’ve been closed for most of the past 15 months and have spent a lot of that time reflecting on how we could make that initial dream a reality. In that reflection, and due to a change in planning rules, we decided to take a leap of faith and turn the deli into a restaurant, with a huge kitchen, a new menu, table service, outdoor seating and plant-based cocktails. Pouring so many resources into this in the midst of a pandemic has been daunting in many ways, but as we get closer to opening, the excitement is really building.”
Caring to open Ivy Asia in Mayfair in August: Serial sector investor Richard Caring will open a third site in London under his Ivy Asia concept, in Mayfair, in August. Caring, who last week confirmed he was opening an Ivy Asia in Chelsea after taking over the former Le Pain Quotidien premises in King’s Road, which is next door to the Ivy Chelsea Garden, will open a 9,418 square foot Ivy Asia in North Audley Street. It will open in the former Princess Garden of Mayfair site, which he acquired in 2016 and had previously been earmarked for a Caprice Cafe concept. Caring currently operates two Ivy Asia sites – in London’s St Paul’s and Manchester – and is thought to be looking at further opportunities to expand the concept, either as stand-alone sites or adjacent to existing Ivy Collection restaurants. Propel understands locations in Guildford and Richmond are also being considered for Ivy Asia sites.
Food delivery platform Foodhub to launch in US: Food delivery platform Foodhub is to expand into the US, starting with a launch in Louisiana. The company told US magazine The Advocate it has opted to start in Louisiana because the state’s population densities, city sizes and number of independent restaurants are most similar to the UK. The company will target restaurants in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Co-founder Ardian Mula said: “We’ve made fantastic progress in several overseas territories throughout the last year, and one of our big goals in 2021 is to develop and expand our offering in the United States, starting with Louisiana. If you look at how fast we’ve grown in the UK, for example, that will give you an idea of how rapidly we as a brand can develop in a new market.” Foodhub will focus on technology at the start and seek out restaurants with their own delivery system, Wil Chung, Foodhub’s marketing manager, said. It is exploring a delivery system with a US partner that could debut soon. Founded in 2017, Foodhub now has more than 25,000 restaurant partners.
ETM Group appoints new marketing director: ETM Group, which operates 13 premium bars, pubs and restaurants in central London, has appointed Marcia Genjelian as its new marketing director. Genjelian who has held prominent positions within hospitality businesses, notably director of marketing at Casual Dining Group (now known as The Big Table), joins the 14-strong ETM Group this month. Genjelian replaces Sam Bourke, who left ETM Group last month after four and a half years to join Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain led by Henry Birts and backed by Capdesia. ETM Group co-founder and chief executive Ed Martin said: “This year is already shaping up to be a year like no other with new opportunities in the pipeline and strengthened pre-booked sales across the group, highlighting the pent-up demand in the market. I have no doubt Marcia’s appointment will drive and complement our guest-centric vision as we finally get back to doing what we do best, creating memorable experiences for our guests.” Genjelian added: “Ensuring value is at the forefront of our offer and understanding our guests’ changing needs is vital to our next chapter of growth. I look forward to developing our guest strategy to meet, and surpass, these needs.”
McDonald’s pilots automated order-taking at US drive-thrus: McDonald’s is testing automated order-taking at about ten drive-thrus in the Chicago area. The automated voice order-taking drive-thru test leans on a technology acquisition McDonald’s made in September 2019, when it acquired Apprente, a company that specialises in voice-based conversational technology. McDonald’s chief executive Chris Kempczinski told the AllianceBernstein Strategic Decisions conference: “Do I think in five years from now you’re going to see voice automated technology in the drive-thru? I do, but I don’t think this is going to be something that happens in the next year or so. There’s still a lot of work, but I do feel confident the acquisition we did with Apprente, the work we’ve done since then, we feel good about the technical feasibility of it and the business case.” Humans have to be trained to work alongside the machines, he added. Kempczinski said technology acquisitions could accelerate some aspects of technology for the foodservice company. He added: “But I think what we’ve also discovered is, long term, we’re not going to be able to always be on the bleeding edge of where technology is. The industry is just evolving too rapidly.” While automation has applications in some parts of the restaurant business, Kempczinski said, the costs of equipment, such as in automated fryers or automated grills, could be prohibitive. “Most of those are not ready for prime time, nor will they be ready for prime time over the next five years or so,” he said. “The level of investment that would be required, the cost of that equipment, we’re nowhere near to what the break-even would need to be from a labour-cost standpoint to make that a good business decision for franchisees.”
YO! to launch chilled ready-meal range: YO!, the multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese and Asian food group, is launching a range of chilled ready-made meals. The company has partnered with chilled and frozen prepared meal business Kerry Foods, with the range available exclusively to Tesco. The new range consists of three mains and four starters and sides and includes YO! chicken katsu curry, duck udon noodles, chicken gyoza and panko pumpkin. It will be available in 424 Tesco stores from this week. The launch of YO! branded chilled meals in Tesco follows the recent agreement to supply YO! Food-to-Go products to 390 Tesco front-of-store fridges. YO! also supplies Tesco with YO! branded sauces, seasonings, marinades and mayos, as well as operating 52 YO! kiosks, offering freshly made sushi. David Hampton, managing director of retail at YO!, said: “We’re really excited about moving into another category, and having YO! products available in the chilled meals section. It’s another important step in our diversification strategy and reflects the increasingly multi-channel nature of the brand. As the demand for Japanese and Asian food continues to grow, we see this as another great way to introduce consumers to YO!.” Louise Stone, category lead for chilled meal solutions at Kerry Foods, said: “Consumers are increasingly looking for new food experiences at home, but in a way that makes it easy and accessible, particularly with dishes that many find hard to replicate well from scratch. We are delighted to be partnering with YO! and see this as a huge opportunity to attract younger foodies currently less engaged in our category.”
Turtle Bay to open long-awaited Coventry site in August: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay is to open its long-awaited site in Coventry in August. The company is joining the line-up of operators at the Cathedral Lanes development, creating 50 jobs. It was originally slated to open in 2019, but the company then went quiet, despite ongoing work taking place at the site that had been earmarked for the restaurant. Turtle Bay has now revealed it will open the 5,140 square foot restaurant on Saturday, 14 August. Turtle Bay operations manager Carl Jones told Coventry Live: “We are very much looking forward to opening Turtle Bay in the heart of Coventry. It’s always exciting to launch somewhere new, but the fact that we’re coming into the city in the midst of its UK City of Culture year definitely adds to the excitement.” Cathedral Lanes centre manager Charmain Wright said: “We are thrilled to be adding Turtle Bay to our little part of the city. It’s wonderful to see so many big-name restaurants sitting alongside our amazing independent businesses and helping to bring the city back to life again.” Cathedral Lanes is home to operators including New World Trading Company brand The Botanist and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi.
Common & Co closes Manchester city centre craft beer pub: Manchester-based operator Common and Co has closed its craft beer pub in the city centre after five years. The Pilcrow Pub, which Common & Co ran in partnership with Piccadilly-based Cloudwater Brewery, has shut “after a difficult year and ongoing uncertainty within the hospitality sector”. The pub, in Sadlers Yard, was originally built with the help of 500 volunteers. Common & Co, which already operates Common, Port Street Beer House and The Beagle, said its energy would now be poured into the forthcoming opening of its new pub, Cornerstone, and a Nell’s Pizza shop, at Kampus, the £250m garden neighbourhood being developed by Capital & Centric and HBD. In a statement, Common & Co said: “With a new site of our own (Cornerstone) launching in a few short months, and our teams already operating at capacity at Common, Port Street Beer House, The Beagle, and in our Nell’s Pizza kitchens, we could find no way in which we could invest the amount of time and money that would be needed to reopen The Pilcrow in way that matched the building’s ethos before our lease was due to come to an end in September 2021.”
Stevie Parle to shut Portabello Dock pop-up restaurant this month with site to be taken over by new operator: Chef Stevie Parle is to shut his pop-up restaurant Joy at Portobello Dock in London at the end of the month, with the site set to be taken over by a new operator. Parle, who is also behind fast casual pasta concept Pastaio, launched Joy last July as a spin-off of his Ladbroke Grove restaurant Dock Kitchen, which closed in 2017. However, in a post on Instagram, Parle said: “Sadly, despite our best endeavours and contrary to our expectations, we were not given an opportunity to sign a long lease and we have lost the site to a west London-based street food/pub/club operator. I don’t know what they’re planning for it but I do wish them luck. We’ve loved being here and are so grateful for the support and love we have received through all the crazy times and crazy things we have done. It’s been a huge privilege to be the place where so many of you chose to meet friends and family you hadn’t seen for months.” However, Parle said he was hoping to find a new home for Joy – if he can find suitable premises. He added: “We’re on the hunt for a permanent space in the neighbourhood, but it’s hard to find somewhere like Portobello Dock.”
North Coast Brewing acquires fellow Scottish brewer WooHa out of administration: North Coast Brewing has acquired the assets and goodwill of fellow Scottish brewer WooHa out of administration for an undisclosed sum. The deal adds to the portfolio run by Kenny Webster, which includes Isle of Skye Brewing Co and Black Wolf Brewery, together with several artisan beer brands and links with key trade, wholesale and export markets. Isle of Skye Brewing has been trading since 1995 and supplies leading supermarket and pub groups. The business also recently launched Skye Gin, with all products now on sale from an on-site shop, via a growing online business and to an expanding retail and trade customer base, mainly across the UK. Founded in 2015 by Heather McDonald, WooHa has been operating from a purpose-built 16,000 square foot facility in Kinloss since 2017 with the capacity to support fast-growing demand. Since its inception, the business has raised £2.3m from private investors, which included a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube last year that raised almost £630,000 and another in 2019 that raised £180,000. Webster said: “We have ambitious plans to grow and the acquisition provides us with access to high-quality production facilities, a range of quality brands and an established network of trade and consumer customers. We hope to restart brewing at our new site very soon and, as the business develops, we hope to create a number of new jobs.” Iain Fraser and Tom MacLennan, of FRP, were appointed joint administrators of Morayshire-based WooHa in March this year.
Benugo parent company joins Race to Zero climate change initiative: WSH, the parent company of hospitality brands including BaxterStorey, Caterlink, Holroyd Howe, Benugo, Portico and Searcys, has signed a landmark pledge, committing to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C, which will see the business join the UN Race to Zero climate change initiative. Spearheading WSH’s focus on sustainability is Mike Hanson, director of sustainable business. He will be leading the business’ commitment to setting science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement to reach global net-zero global emissions by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. WSH has also joined the Zero Carbon Forum, a collaborative programme across the hospitality industry, to deliver a roadmap to net zero. WSH achieved ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system in 2007 at the same time as Carbon Neutral Company status. The business held this certification for ten years before committing to 100% renewable electricity in 2018 alongside carbon neutral fleet and business travel. The company’s food waste management programme – Food Waste Costing the Earth – has saved more than 61,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide since 2014.