Company News:

McDonald’s UK opens second delivery kitchen site: McDonald’s has opened its second UK delivery kitchen site, in Portsmouth, Propel has learned. The fast-food giant has opened the delivery-only unit in Partnership Park in Fratton. It comes 17 months after the company opened its first UK delivery kitchen site in Hanworth, west London, which it launched to “meet a boom in demand for home deliveries”. A McDonald’s spokeswoman told Propel: “It’s important our offer reflects the needs of the people in the local area, and the Fratton delivery kitchen has opened to help nearby restaurants meet the demand from McDelivery orders. The opening has ensured restaurants in the surrounding area can continue to provide the service and convenience our customers expect, while ensuring McDelivery customers have a great experience. The Fratton delivery kitchen is not open to the public, but the kitchen looks and feels exactly the same as all of our other kitchens up and down the country and will deliver the same great-tasting food our customers expect, prepared by our people to exactly the same standards.” The opening in Hanworth in November 2019, was part of a wider trial by McDonald’s to test different restaurant formats. Earlier in 2019, the company had opened McDonald’s to Go, a small format restaurant, in Fleet Street, London.
Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken signs franchise deal for London: South west-based operator Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken has signed a franchise deal to expand into London, Propel has learned. The nine-strong company, which is led by Carl Traill and backed by HBM Investments, plans to open ten sites in the capital in the next five years under the new agreement. Propel understands sites in Walthamstow and Romford are in final stages of discussions with landlords. Earlier this year, Propel revealed Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken was to begin its national expansion after signing a franchise deal to open in Essex. The company will open the first site under the new agreement with franchisee Joe Bhangal in Billericay, on the site of the former Wimpy in the town’s High Street, later this summer. Propel understands the Billericay site will be the first of ten stores planned in the Essex area over the next three to five years for the brand, with openings lined up in Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend-on-Sea. The company is also believed to be in advanced talks with franchisees for the south Wales, Birmingham and Hertfordshire regions. Traill previously told Propel Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken was actively recruiting multiple site franchisees across the country and had mapped out 85 regions in which the brand could expand into.
Yard Sale Pizza lines up Crystal Palace opening: Yard Sale Pizza, the restaurant and delivery concept that includes sector investor Paul Campbell as non-executive director, has lined up its eighth opening in the capital, after securing a site in Crystal Palace, Propel has learned. The Johnnie Tate-led business has secured the former Fish Valley site in Westow Hill, for an opening later this summer. Earlier this year, the business secured the former The Crust Co site at 63 Bedford Hill, Balham, for its seventh site. The company opened its debut restaurant in Clapton in 2014. It also has branches in East Dulwich, Hackney Road, Leytonstone, Walthamstow and Finsbury Park.
Chik’n appoints new finance director: Chik’n, the fried chicken concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, has appointed Rob Cooper, formerly of Sage and Talk Talk, as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Cooper joins Chik’n after over two years as head of central finance at Associated British Foods. Previous to that he was director of finance at technology firm Sage and held the same role at Talk Talk. Propel revealed earlier this year that Dunstone, the backer of Five Guys UK, had become the majority backer of Chik’n, with plans to ramp up its rollout. Chik’n currently operates sites in Angel, Soho and Marylebone, and operates out of dark kitchens in Battersea, Park Royal and Wandsworth. Last month, Propel revealed John Nelson, formerly of MOD Pizza UK and Nando’s, had joined Chik’n as its new chief executive.
The Sea, The Sea to open second site in Hackney: The Sea, The Sea – the Chelsea fish shop, deli and seafood bar concept launched by Bonnie Gull co-founder Alex Hunter, is to open a second site in Hackney, east London, in late July. The new premises, which is set within a railway arch on Acton Mews, will serve as a processing centre for wholesale and product development and, from September, will also house an immersive dining counter, led by executive chef Leo Carreira. The business has established direct links with fishermen in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, meaning produce would be collected and delivered to the Hackney facility to be processed and sent out to restaurants that night. It also sources fish and live shellfish from Scotland and overseas produce too. The Hackney unit will house a walk-in dry-ageing room for wholesale. It will also produce stocks, sauces and garums for sale to the trade and consumers. Hunter, whose Chelsea site operates as a fishmonger by day and a seafood bar with a terrace by night, said: “When we lost our restaurant revenue in lockdown, we saw it as an opportunity to cross-train our team and grow our retail trade for which there has been a huge demand. With our Hackney facility, we can take this experience into product development, specialist wholesale and expand our online retail services to become a truly London-wide brand”. Opening details of the dine-in experience will be released in due course, with Carreira planning a menu that is an evolution of the direction set at Pavilion Road, but with greater resources to be “bold and progressive”. Hunter launched The Sea, The Sea in 2019, naming the Pavilion Road venue, in Chelsea, after the Iris Murdoch novel.
Michelin-starred Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt to open debut UK site: Michelin-starred Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt is heading to the UK as he opens his first restaurant outside of Stockholm. Ekstedt will launch Ekstedt at The Yard, part of the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London’s Westminster. Set within the historic five-star hotel that was once the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, the hotel’s new flagship restaurant will focus on Scandinavian cooking techniques using seasonal British ingredients, alongside a cocktail menu and natural wine list. The menu will include Ekstedt’s signature oyster flambadou with smoked apple and beurre blanc nasturtium, alongside other dishes such as reindeer, smoked celeriac, black pudding and salt baked roots to share. Ekstedt said: “I’m delighted to be working with Great Scotland Yard Hotel to realise my dream of opening a restaurant in London. It’s a huge moment for me, I have been in love with the UK for years, my family moved here when we were younger and London has always felt like a second home for me.” Great Scotland Yard Hotel general manager Sholto Smith added: “The restaurant will be an integral part of the hotel and we are confident Niklas will be warmly welcomed both by our regular guests and the London food scene.”
Megan’s looks to recruit further 100 staff including two board-level roles: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s is looking to recruit a further 100 staff, including two senior board positions as it continues its growth plans. Pre-pandemic, the company had seven sites and an almost 200-strong team. The independent business has come out of the latest lockdown with 12 outlets open and 500 staff. It is now 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 Sarah Hills, formerly managing director of Bill’s and Wagamama, and Gill Clements, ex-finance director of Byron, both joining last year. Hills said: “We are one of the fastest-growing businesses in the sector. We opened our second location at the end of 2017 and will open our 13th site in July in Wandsworth. The support we have had from both our communities and our landlords has been incredible and has enabled us to continue to grow, creating jobs in our communities and opportunities for our wonderful teams as they develop their careers.”
Team behind Bon Pan Asian brand to open new grocery and restaurant concept in Manchester: The team behind the Bon Pan Asian buffet restaurant brand is to open a new grocery and restaurant concept in Manchester. Blue Whale Oriental supermarket will open at the city’s St James’s Tower building. It will comprise a circa 5,500 square foot high-end oriental grocery experience offering fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, plus a 60-cover sushi restaurant counter under a new brand, Aka Sushi. The company’s first Bon Pan Asian site in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, opened in 2015. The concept has since expanded with further sites in Liverpool and Brierley Hill. Sam May at May & Company acted on the Manchester deal.
Flight Club announces July opening for Bristol site: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, has announced it will open a site in Bristol on 30 July. Located on Corn Street, the venue will be home to seven oches, a total guest capacity of 200 and a bar with bookable tables for drinks. Flight Club said it “blends the nostalgia and warmth of a British pub with the energy and excitement of a fairground in its atmosphere and decor”. Each oche is a semi-private area so guests have their own space but are still part of the atmosphere, therefore adhering to current social distancing rules. The food offer includes sharing platters, pizzas and sides with cocktails to drink. Flight Club Bristol has a brunch offer as well. It includes bottomless pizza, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options plus a bottle of prosecco each, on Thursday to Sunday. Chief executive Steve Moore said: “It’s a city we’ve always envisioned ourselves in and we’re over the moon to be finally bringing some unexpected, ridiculous joy to as many people as possible – and Bristol really is the perfect place for this. The area is unique and is already buzzing with a great local scene, filled with fantastic bars, restaurants and live venues. We can’t wait to welcome in the wonderful people of Bristol through our doors.” Bookings can be made now. The brand is set to open sites in Dublin, and Perth in Australia, along with a third US site, in Las Vegas, with its licensed partner State of Play Hospitality.
Innis & Gunn reports ‘strong’ second quarter with Brewery Taproom sites fully booked since reopening: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has reported a “strong” second quarter. Tables at the four Brewery Taproom sites across Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, have been fully booked since reopening. Following significant investment in 2019, a further £32,000 was invested in the back-of-house systems ahead of reopening. A new ordering app has been created that allows users to collect loyalty points, redeemable in-bar against future purchases. The company said this has proved popular, with an uptake of more than 50% from customers since reopening, as has its new food menu. Since the reopening of the Scottish on-trade, demand for Innis & Gunn beer has been high, with the brewer already tracking 42% ahead of budget. Innis & Gunn is investing £80,000 in new equipment at its Perth brewery to support the production of increased volumes. Innis & Gunn founder Dougal Gunn Sharp said: “The demand and momentum for Innis & Gunn and our beer continues to grow, right across the on and off-trade, from both customers and consumers. We have continued to innovate and invest in the business over the past year and it is really paying off.”
Punch provides licensees with additional support ahead of Euros: Punch Pubs & Co is providing its licensees with additional support to help them “stay ahead of the game” for the Euros. The company has created a new sports operating manual, The Dugout, which provides advice on creating a vibrant atmosphere and delivering a consistent guest experience for every game. Publicans are also benefiting from sports point-of-sale kits, sports food menus, a guest-driven email marketing plan and a social media schedule. Punch has also added new indoor and outdoor TVs to more than 50 of its pubs, as well as 197 additional tables across 31 pubs. Marketing and strategy director Russell Danks said: “This year’s Euros will provide a vital boost for many businesses, and we are providing our publicans with support to allow them to maximise every opportunity. This support package will, undoubtedly, kick off a bumper month of sport.”
Camden Town Brewery hunts for chief freshness officer as it pushes never-pasteurised beer message: Camden Town Brewery is on the hunt for a chief freshness officer whose sole responsibility will be ensuring its beer is fresh, never pasteurised. No experience is required for the position, which involves “fresh-testing” the latest batch of Camden beer each month. The individual must be aged at least 25 and will also receive a one-off payment of £5,000 in return for their time. Zoe Wulfsohn-Dunkley, head of brand marketing at Camden Town Brewery, said: “The aim of our first ever nationwide TV campaign was to grow awareness and drive trial of our great tasting, never-pasteurised beer. As a second phase of the campaign, we’re now looking for a chief freshness officer to continue to highlight our never-pasteurised message. We hope the campaign educates beer drinkers on why drinking unpasteurised is the best thing you can do if you’re passionate about delicious-tasting beer.”