Potts – Starting to think about what we might do laterally, looked at smaller businesses: Simon Potts, chief executive of The Alchemist, the 20-strong bar and restaurant concept backed by Palatine, has said that the business is starting to think about what it might do laterally, including exploring the opportunity to invest in smaller businesses. Speaking on Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Potts said that there is a “hard cap” on the amounts of Alchemists the business could do in the UK. He said: “Expansion will continue to happen and we have obviously had to slow that rate down, and we haven’t been going at a crazy rate anyway and been averaging four new sites a year, but importantly we have been quite tactical about how we have done that growth. We used London as a bit of a platform to lift off from pre-pandemic and we got a fifth site open there and that remains our focus as we are going about the acquisition of new venues, which we are starting to do quite actively now. We are on site in Edinburgh, which we signed for at the end of 2019, and that’s bringing quite a lot of zip to the business because it creates external opportunities and gets certain parts of the business geed up to the idea of going at openings again. There were times last year when it was going to be a land of milk and honey and sites were going to be absolutely everywhere and all back in the hands of operators again, we aren’t finding that to be the case, a good site is still a good site, and everything we have been looking at in detail is competitive. We are conscious that there is a hard cap of Alchemists in the UK, before we get into that bloated territory, that well-trodden path of say Jamie’s Italian, where there was too much expansion. I say there is a hard cap but there are another 20 sites to get after at least if not a few more before we run out of space, but we are starting to think about what we might do laterally. We’ve looked at a couple of small businesses and looked at whether we can import some of the infrastructure we have built up behind the scenes and fold that around a smaller business, but we are not the only ones thinking along those lines at the moment and that is a fairly competitive mini sector in its own right. We have a couple of conceptual ideas bubbling away and we started this work with a venue in Liverpool (Aether at Liverpool One) about three years ago, a sort of standalone entity that we have taken some good learnings from, and there might be some routes to evolve a couple more ideas. We are also trying to build our online presence, some of that brand collateral that is being worked into quite good shape at the moment. So, plenty of growth and just starting to think about that but not in the vertical, traditional kind of format.”
Lina Stores eyes Marylebone opening: Delicatessen brand Lina Stores is planning an opening in London’s Marylebone. Propel understands that the White Rabbit Fund-backed company is in talks to take the former Sourced Market site in Wigmore Street. The company recently opened its first site outside the UK in Shibuya, Tokyo. Lina Stores Omotesando opened with a small plate restaurant and adjoining delicatessen for eat-in and takeaway. The 90-seater restaurant features an open-theatre kitchen and dedicated pasta room. Lina Stores currently operates restaurants in London’s Soho and Kings Cross as well as its original delicatessen in Brewer Street.
Escape Live lines up Liverpool opening for fifth site: Landlord Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has announced that leisure brand, Escape Live, has selected Liverpool ONE for its debut venue in the north west – and fifth in total. Due to open in summer 2021, the 8,800 square foot Liverpool ONE location will offer six escape rooms including the brand’s official Peaky Blinders immersive experience, based on the popular BBC television series. Specially designed for groups, the 60-minute escape rooms will be accompanied by a virtual reality arena, a private room for bookings of up to 40 people, and a roof top terrace bar. Escape Live’s interactive ‘against-the-clock’ concept is the latest addition to Liverpool ONE’s competitive socialising offer, which also includes Junkyard Golf, Roxy Ball Room and On the Green. The destination’s combination of experience-led operators, prominent F&B brands, and prime city centre location continue to boost Liverpool ONE’s overall visitor footfall and dwell time. Alison Clegg, managing director, Asset Management, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: “Competitive socialising continues to be an exciting growth area, with consumers keen to spend more on experiences. Liverpool ONE is in a great position to be able to diversify with new concepts and formats to effectively meet this demand. We look forward to welcoming Escape Live to Liverpool ONE this summer, complementing our wider leisure and dining line-up.” Jas Sodhi, managing director at Escape Live, added: “Escape Live has proven to be a great success to date, and we are thrilled to have secured our first site in the north west. When considering our expansion plans, Liverpool ONE was the ideal choice for its unbeatable inner-city location and dedication to experience-led ventures.”
Wendy’s planning Brighton opening: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, which made its return to the UK with an opening in Reading in June, is planning to open a site in Brighton. Propel understands that the brand, which hopes to open five company-owned sites in the UK this year, has applied to take over the Gap store in the city’s Western Road. The Gap store is set to close later this month. Wendy’s is continuing to build its openings pipeline here, with sites in London’s Camden and Wood Green on its radar. Propel reported last month that the brand is looking to take the NatWest bank site in Camden High Street. At the same time, it is thought to be looking to make a return to Wood Green, where it previously operated a site at the turn of the century during the brand’s last attempt to expand in the UK. It is believed it is looking to open a site in Capital & Regional’s The Mall scheme. The brand is also planning to open a drive-thru site in Peterborough. The company, which hopes to eventually open up to 400 sites in the UK, has submitted a planning application – alongside ones from Costa and Taco Bell – to build a drive-thru site at a planned new 3.1-hectare development off Maskew Avenue, New England, in the town. Wendy’s has already confirmed it will open sites in Oxford and Stratford, east London, in the second half of this year. It is also believed to have lined up openings in Romford and Croydon. The company has a target of eventually operating about 20 company-owned branches in Britain.
Megan’s looks to add to regional presence with Marlow opening: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s is to begin adding to its regional estate, with an opening in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The 13-strong group, which recently opened in Wandsworth, has secured the former Prezzo site in the town’s High Street. The Sarah Hills-led company already operates a site in St Albans and recently secured the former Laura Ashley site in Church Street, Weybridge, for an opening next year. On the Marlow site, Hills said: “We are so excited to be opening in Marlow, a beautiful town that we have had our eye on for some time. We really believe that our home from home, neighbourhood restaurant will be a welcome addition to this wonderful community. The team and I are so looking forward to welcoming our new neighbours into our restaurant soon.” Last month, Propel revealed that Megan’s will open a second Chelsea site as it adds to its openings pipeline in the capital. The company is set to open on the ex-Cote site opposite Chelsea & Westminster hospital, adding to its outlet in King’s Road, which was the first cafe to launch. It has also secured a site at 25 Dulwich Village for an opening later this year. In June, Megan’s said it was looking to recruit a further 100 staff, including two senior board positions as it continues its growth plans. It is looking to add to its workforce, including the appointment of a people director and operations director – both board positions. The business has big plans for growth and brought in a new management team with Hills, formerly managing director of Bill’s and Wagamama, and Gill Clements, ex-finance director of Byron, both joining last year.
Kanada-Ya set to open in Soho: London-based ramen concept Kanada-Ya is set to open its fourth restaurant in the capital, in Soho. Propel has learned that Kanada-Ya, which is led in the UK by Tony Lam and Aaron Burgess-Smith, has lined up an opening in Foubert’s Place. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed that the business was also planning to open a site in the Filmworks Walk scheme in Ealing, with Neat Burger rumoured to also be taking a site there. Earlier this year, Kanada-Ya announced it planned to open three new sites in London this year, including two new restaurants. The brand launched a delivery kitchen site in Greenwich in March. The group currently operates restaurants in Covent Garden, Haymarket and Angel. Founded in Japan, Kanada-Ya opened its first site in the UK in 2014. It also has locations in Spain and Hong Kong. Lam and Burgess-Smith also operate the Machiya restaurant in Soho. Distrikt and Hanover Green acted on the Foubert’s Place deal.
Pieminister eyes franchise route to growth, lines up 100 shops by 2030: Bristol-based pie and mash restaurant operator Pieminister is launching a franchise opportunity in the UK, with the goal of having 100 pie shops and 300 digital pie restaurants by 2030. The business, which was founded by Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon in 2003, is working with Seed Consulting on its franchise plans – which will focus on the roll out of three formats – kiosk, cafe and restaurant. The company currently operates 16 restaurants across the country and sells its pies through circa 60 pubs. Seed Consulting said the business was an omni-channel hospitality company turning over in excess of £16 million. Earlier this year, Pieminister, which opened its latest restaurant in Stroud, Gloucestershire, began the trial of a ‘planet payback’ supplement to highlight the climate impact of different ingredients.
Whistle Punks plans site in London’s West End: Axe-throwing operator Whistle Punks, which is backed by Edition Capital, is planning to open a site in London’s West End. Propel understands that the four-strong business, which operates a site in Vauxhall, is in talks to take space at 200 Piccadilly for a new flagship site. John Nimmons and Jools Whitehorn launched Whistle Punks in 2016, and it also operates sites Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester. At the start of 2020, Propel revealed Whistle Punks was in talks to take space at 1 Finsbury Avenue for what would have been its debut central London site. In 2019, it secured £1.5m of new investment from Edition Capital and appointed former Carluccio’s operations director Chris Poole as head of operations.
Stonegate Group launches free drinks campaign to encourage friends and family to visit pubs: Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company, has launched a National Pub Fortnight campaign to offer free drinks across more than 1,500 pubs in support of suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm). The campaign, which runs from 9 August until 22 August, will see Stonegate Group partner with Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, Diageo, Heineken, Molson Coors, Carlsberg and Coca-Cola as a buy-one-get-one-free offer that is designed to encourage customers to reach out to friends and family to join them for a drink at the pub. Stonegate Pub Partners managing director Nick Light said: “We are delighted to be running our free drinks campaign again. But this time, we want to focus on the importance of the social aspect of the pub. For the past 18 months, our social contact has been restricted, leaving some people with feelings of loneliness, that’s why we’re running this year’s National Pub Fortnight in support of Calm’s helpline services, and encouraging our customers to reach out to friends and family members for a drink. Our customers have always been fantastic in supporting their local pubs, and this is our way of giving something back to them. This offer is about allowing our customers to continue to enjoy their local pubs and the sociable environment that our publicans and teams deliver on a daily basis while having a drink on us.”
Flat Iron confirms opening of 90-cover site on Clink Street in September: Flat Iron, the eight-strong steak concept, backed by Piper Private Equity, has confirmed it will open a 90-cover site in London’s Bankside in September. Flat Iron Clink Street will be its ninth venue and is located close to iconic neighbours Borough Market, The Globe Theatre and Southwark Cathedral, on the narrow, cobbled street that was previously Clink Prison. Its short menu consists of the signature “Flat Iron” steak – taken from the featherblade and known for its flavour and tenderness when butchered with skill and care – and sides including beef dripping chips, creamed spinach and roast aubergine with tomato and basil. Head of beef Fred Smith and his team will also be debuting a new ex-dairy short rib chilli cheeseburger special, available exclusively at Clink Street during its opening month. Smith said: “After the well-publicised challenges of the past 18 months, it feels really exciting to be able to open a new Flat Iron restaurant again. Clink Street is an historic area of London and we’ve got a beautiful Victorian building to work with. We can’t wait to meet our new neighbours and continue to demonstrate Flat Iron’s commitment to quality, working with the very best suppliers and produce.”
New sandwich shop concept from Vagabond Wines founder confirms opening date: Stephen Finch, founder of Vagabond Wines; Kieran Sherlock, director of sector investor Imbiba; and chef Jay Morjaria have confirmed their pastrami-based sandwich shop – Mamma Pastrama –will open on 16 September. The site, as previously revealed by Propel, will open in Carnaby, London. The Ganton Street business said the secret to its take on the classic American sandwich is down to Morjaria’s process to cure meats, which involves combining a blend of spices and a “rub” technique. According to Hot Dinners, customers can expect sandwiches such as: Classic Pastrami – cured, spiced, hop-smoked and steamed house pastrami, with Mamma Pastrami’s own deli mustard, sauerkraut, rye bread and pickle on the side; Big Mamma Melt – smoked chicken, bacon, house pastrami, mustard and pickled onions sandwiched between toasted sourdough; and Beet Reuben – spiced and smoked beetroot, sauerkraut, Russian dressing on Mamma Pastrami’s own marbled rye. Also available will be Pastrami Popcorn, Smoked Pastrami Sausage with curry ketchup and Mamma’s Poutine with pastrami bits and pastrami burnt ends. Drinks will come from Bethnal Green’s Boxcar brewery, soft drinks from East London’s Square Root and coffee from Origin Coffee Roasters.
Purezza opens debut site in north west: Brighton-based vegan pizzeria Purezza has opened its first site in the north west and its fifth in total. The company, which operates sites in Brighton, London and Bristol, has taken a ten-year lease on the Kamani Property-owned venue at 75-77 High Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Purezza, which raised £2.4m from multiple investors, including MVK Group and Veg Capital last November, will take over the former Dough pizza restaurant and Apotheca bar, extending to more than 8,000 square foot. The sites had been previously been run by the same operator with the back-of-house area interconnected. The adjacent Apotheca, which leads onto Thomas Street, has been separated to create an independent bar that has been sublet to Lonocove on a co-terminus lease. Lonocove, a cocktail bar, which originated in Chester, is scheduled to open this month. Purezza was advised by Sixteen Real Estate.
Gym operator Train Urban takes debut site: Gym operator Train Urban has taken its first site in the basement of Hilton House in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The gym has kitted out the entire floor with equipment that comprises 4,100 square foot. Train Urban co-owner and personal trainer Andrew Ball told The Business Desk: “We have been looking for the ideal location within Manchester for some time and considered a number of options, however, our wider vision, combined with practical needs, recognised Hilton House as the perfect fit. The building has been brilliantly reimagined, yet retains much of its original, striking aesthetic and design. The location is ideal and the basement has direct public access with the ability to develop our own layout and create individual areas for specific needs.” Howard Lord, managing director of Hilton House owner Cert Property, added: “Train Urban is undoubtedly a great addition to the building and there is a strong shared ethos and positive synergy with our wider tenants, including health and wellbeing cafe and bar operator Feel Good Club.”
Noodle cafe Koya to open third site in September: Tokyo-style noodle cafe Koya is to open its third restaurant at Hackney’s Broadway Market. Koya Ko is the brainchild of chef Shuko Oda and restaurateur John Devitt that specialises in udon noodles and will be launched during the first fortnight of September. It is a follow-up to the original Koya Bar in Soho and Koya City inside the Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London. The site has been “inspired by the fast-paced dining of the train station noodle bars found in Japan”. The owners said Koya Ko will offer a “fun, revamped take on Koya’s favourite udon and donburi dishes,” which have been created exclusively for the new restaurant. It will offer standing dining and have a focus on eating outside and its takeaway customers. The standing counter will offer space for eight guests, with 15 covers for seated indoor dining and a further 25 covers outdoors, and all dishes are available to take away.
Miller Howe Hotel sells off £2.85m guide price: Miller Howe Hotel, in Windermere, launched and made famous by one of the original celebrity chefs, John Tovey, has been sold to a local businessman for an undisclosed sum, off a guide price of £2.85m. The AA three-star hotel on Rayrigg Road sits in substantial landscaped grounds overlooking Lake Windermere with 15 en-suite bedrooms, a characterful restaurant, residents’ bar and conservatory, parking for 30 cars and Miller Howe Cottage – a detached former cottage converted into additional letting accommodation with shoreline lake views. Julian Troup, head of UK hotels agency at Colliers, said: “Miller Howe is arguably the most high profile and prestigious small country house hotel in the Lake District National Park, offering unrivalled views over Lake Windermere.”
Mexican restaurant Santo Remedio to go ‘back to its roots’ for second site: Santo Remedio, the Mexican restaurant brand founded by Edson and Natalie Diaz-Fuentes, is “going back to its roots” by opening a second site in Shoreditch where its original venue was. Santo Remedio Taqueria is set to open in September. The couple’s first restaurant was also in Shoreditch but was forced to close five years ago after issues with its landlord. Santo Remedio said, via Instagram, the new site would be “an ode to the bustling taquerias of Mexico”. It added: “We can’t wait to share our corner of Great Eastern Street with you, complete with all your favourites from London Bridge, plus a few new specials, and that unmistakable Mexican hospitality.” The couple, who recently released a cookbook, operate a restaurant in Bermondsey.
Neapolitan pizza concept Santa Maria opens in Islington: Neapolitan pizza concept Santa Maria has opened in Islington, north London. The business, which was founded by Pasquale Chionchio and Angelo Ambrosio in Ealing in 2010, has launched in the former BabaBoom site in Upper Street. Santa Maria also operates sites in Chelsea, Fitzrovia and at the Duke of London pub in Brentford. It is to launch a new vegan spin-off called Vergine Maria at its original site in Ealing’s St Mary’s Street. The disposal of the Islington site leaves kebab restaurant concept BabaBoom, which has been backed by several leading entrepreneurs including Gumtree founder Mike Pennington and Entrepreneur First founder Matt Clifford, alongside industry veterans such as ex-Nando’s chief executive David Niven and the founders of Las Iguanas, Wahaca, Be At One and Flat Iron, with a remaining site in Battersea. Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Islington deal.
New egg-based concept EggoLand to launch in London’s Fitzrovia this month:EggoLand, a new egg-based concept, will launch just off Tottenham Court Road in London’s Fitzrovia this month. As previously revealed by Propel, the concept, which is the brainchild of Sohail Khan, a former professional boxer, has secured the former Pod site in Tottenham Street for its debut location. With the strap line of “BuildYourEggos”, the concept will feature a fully customisable menu featuring, among other things, egg pots and buns. It will open on Thursday (12 August), for grab-and-go breakfast and lunch. Adam Bowers at Stonebrook London is understood to be working with EggoLand on its expansion plans.
Caribbean restaurant owner to bring fusion food site to fruition this month: Brian Danclair, the man behind Brixton Village’s Caribbean restaurant Fish, Wings & Tings, will launch a new site in the same area called Danclair’s in August. He has been inspired by his grandmother, Valentina, for his new site in Granville Arcade, and said he plans to serve a fusion of French, Latin America and Caribbean food. A mural of Valentina’s face will greet diners on entry. Dishes include barbecue pork ribs, empanadas with raisins and olives and marinated grilled king prawns with tamarind sauce. Danclair told Soca News: “Fish, Wings & Tings is a reflection of the way I grew up and the essence is a family-orientated restaurant with home-cooked meals. My new project brings together my culinary journeys of cooking in Washington DC, cooking here and specialising in Provençal cuisine and other types of cuisine like Latin American and Caribbean. The plan is to fuse all of these together to create some small plate dishes with really good drinks – a kind of fusion tapas. Fish, Wings & Tings is very relaxed, but Danclair’s will be a more upmarket type of restaurant, where I aim to let people know that I am more than just a Caribbean chef.” Danclair added he hopes to begin franchising Fish, Wings & Tings in the future.