Honest Burgers lines up Windsor opening, shareholders inject further funds into business: Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers will further add to its growing regional presence with an opening in Windsor, Propel has learned. The company has secured a site in the town’s Thames Street for an opening later this year. Earlier this week, Propel revealed the circa 40-strong business had taken on the former Carluccio’s site in St Albans’ Christopher Place shopping centre. Propel understands Honest Burgers will operate the site initially as a pop-up after taking a short-term lease on the unit. It comes as the group’s annual accounts showed its shareholders had injected £2.7m into the business at the end of last year. It said the funds were intended to aid the group in taking advantage of new opportunities and enable it to deliver its rollout plan. Last year, the company secured £3.5m via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and agreed a revised covenant position with its banks to July 2021. The accounts said the company anticipates a renegotiation of this over the spring. In the year to 26 January 2020, Honest Burgers saw a 32% uplift in turnover year-on-year, up £9.7m to £40.4m, while Ebitda before exceptional items climbed 34% to £5.9m (2019: £4.4m), on the back of six new openings. Marc Rogers, at MKR Property, acted on the Windsor deal.
SSP confirms it is considering debt and equity funding options: UK-based travel hub foodservice company SSP Group has said it is evaluating the merits of several funding options in both debt and equity that would further strengthen its balance sheet. The company was responding after the Financial Times reported SSP Group was planning to raise up to £500m through a rights issue from shareholders, according to two sources close to the company. SSP said as at 30 September 2020, it had cash and undrawn available facilities of about £520m. Included within this amount was £300m from the Bank of England Covid Corporate Financing Facility, which has been drawn down in full during the month of February. SSP said the recent draw down was solely due to the scheme closing for further drawings from March onwards. The company stated: “While SSP is confident in the medium-term recovery of the travel market, there remains significant uncertainty with regard to covid-19 and associated travel restrictions. In that context, the group continues to evaluate the merits of a range of funding options, both debt and equity, that would further strengthen its balance sheet.”
Tasty not aware of any reason for share price surge: Wildwood operator Tasty said on Wednesday (10 February) it was not aware of any reason for the surge in its share price and trading volumes. “There have been no material developments since the company’s most recent trading update on 15 January,” the company said. At lunchtime on Wednesday, the shares were up 30%, at 7.50p, but have since fallen back and finished the day at 6.99p.
Coconut Tree takes former Koh Thai site in Bath for seventh restaurant: Sri Lankan bar and restaurant group The Coconut Tree is to open its seventh site, in Bath. The company will open the restaurant in Broad Street in late spring after taking the premises previously occupied by Koh Thai. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “Though trading conditions have been incredibly tough over the past 12 months, we had a good August, September, and October last year despite the restrictions, and demand for what we do is still strong. We feel now is the right time for us to keep pushing The Coconut Tree forwards. We are delighted to announce our seventh restaurant will be located in Bath, a vibrant city we’ve had in our sights on for the past two years, but it’s such a sought-after location and rents for independents are high, understandably so. Luckily, the landlord for this site is Bristol based; he knew of our brand and history, and was keen to see us in Bath. He made us a commercial offer that would make this possible.” The Coconut Tree was founded in 2016 by five Sri Lankan friends living in Cheltenham – Praveen Thanginah, Dan Fernando and Shamil Fernando, who oversee the food, financial director Mithra Fernando, and operations director Rodrigo Rashinthe. The Coconut Tree operates two sites in Bristol and one in each of Bournemouth, Cardiff, Cheltenham and Oxford.
Dirty Wild Wings founders launch UK’s first Japanese fried chicken concept: FB Holdings, which is behind the rapidly growing Dirty Wild Wings concept, has launched the UK’s first Japanese fried chicken concept, in the West Midlands. Karaage, which pays homage to an age-old Japanese fried chicken method, has opened in Woodbridge Road, Moseley. The restaurant is currently operating via a click and collect service only. Traditional Karaage dishes on the menu are offered in a variety of Japanese flavours including classic teriyaki, ponzu, tonkatsu, and Tokyo sauce. The menu also includes katsu curry, ramen dishes and Japanese-inspired burgers in bao buns. Plans to open a second Karaage site in Resorts World are being discussed; as well as a third in Birmingham city centre, by the end of 2021. Having launched Dirty Wild Wings across 50 virtual sites in the UK, the group is planning to open the first bricks-and-mortar site for the concept, at the Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull. FB Holdings is also rolling-out Dirty Wild Wings meal kits across retail and online stores. Other brands within the portfolio include Indian street food establishment Indico, which currently operates in The Mailbox in Birmingham and Shirley; JAQKS Chicken & Chips, with sites across the Midlands; Jamaya, a Caribbean/jerk chicken concept at the Touchwood Shopping Centre; and the most recent, Bulls Street Burgers, serving-up classic burgers and sides.
Burger King and McDonald’s test new loyalty programmes: Burger King and McDonald’s are testing new loyalty programmes. Burger King is piloting its new Royal Perks loyalty rewards programme in five US cities – Los Angeles, Long Island, Miami, New Jersey and New York City – as part its digital platform overhaul. Customers will earn ten “crowns” for each dollar spent, which can used to get free items across the menu. The platform also allows daily perks, the possibility of earning points for delivery through the website and smartphone app and double rewards in a user’s birthday month. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has expanded the US test of its MyMcDonald’s rewards programme, first announced last autumn, to the New England area from its initial locations in Arizona and Nevada. The company unveiled its plans for a domestic rewards programme during an “Accelerating the Arches” online investor conference in November. McDonald’s said MyMcDonald’s includes a suite of integrated digital tools and offers that give customers more personalisation, more convenience and more value. The company plans to roll out the rewards programme in the US later this year. “Our customers have been clear, they want even easier ways to order a Big Mac and world famous fries and to be rewarded for their loyalty,” said Alycia Mason, McDonald’s US vice-president for digital customer experience and media. The company said more than 85% of MyMcDonald’s Rewards members participating in the pilot tests were satisfied with the programme to date.
Watch House to open site in St Mary Axe: Edition Capital-backed coffee concept Watch House will open a site in St Mary Axe in April. The first multi-level Watch House location will be in the “Can of Ham” building in the City of London. The 3,700 square foot cafe will be arranged over three floors and feature state of the art brewing technology. The space will offer quiet and scenic working spots, a cantilevered bar to observe the baristas at work, as well as a mezzanine. Watch House was founded by Roland Horne in 2014 and operates five coffee houses and a roastery.
Papa John’s strengthens Milton Keynes presence with Stadium MK store: Papa John’s has opened a new store – in the East Stand at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes. As well as delivering to residents daily, Papa John’s will also be serving up freshy-cooked pizza to MK Dons supporters from a dedicated Papa John’s kiosk inside the stadium, once fans are permitted to attend football matches, concerts and other events once again. Franchisee Rav Singh, who also runs three other Papa John’s outlets in Milton Keynes, will manage the new store. Justin Gilbert, director of business development Papa John’s UK, said: “It’s a win-win situation, as everyone loves football and pizza so teaming-up makes perfect sense! Milton Keynes is where our headquarters and fresh dough manufacturing base is located, and we have always been keen to support local community activities in the area.” MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman added: “This partnership with Papa John’s will only add to the Stadium MK experience once our supporters are allowed to return home.”
Edinburgh-based Scran Bistro plans double opening: Edinburgh-based Scran Bistro has revealed plans to launch two further sites in the city centre. The company is set to open cafes in North Bridge and George IV Bridge. Scran Bistro, which launched in the North Bridge Arcade in 2018, offers sweet treats, tea, cakes and coffee, as well as loaded fries, burgers and filled wraps. In an Instagram post, the team said: “Every one of us at Scran has been working extremely hard behind the scenes and trying to keep the business running while trying to improve and move forward. We are so happy to let you guys know Scran will be opening another two branches this year.” Scran also hinted there were plans for a new menu at the sites, encouraging customers to get in touch with their own ideas of dishes and treats to be included.
Filipino ice cream parlour brand Mamasons opens bakery: Filipino ice cream parlour brand Mamasons has opened a bakery in Kentish Town. The company has launched Panadera in Kentish Town Road – a few doors away from its ice cream parlour. Panadera sells a variety of Filipino baked goods, including pandesal (Filipino bread rolls) and the Panadera loaf as well as Filipino croissants and a Clamansi meringue tart. The drinks menu features coffee, matcha latte, ube lattes and a range of iced tea and coffee, reports Hot Dinners. Mamasons also operates an ice cream parlour in London’s Chinatown.
Restaurant boss gets five-year ban for hiding takings to avoid tax: A restaurateur from Warwickshire has been handed a five-year ban for hiding his company’s true takings to avoid paying the correct taxes. Sadikur Rahman Chowdhury, of Kenilworth, was the director of Simla Restaurant, incorporated in December 2002. The company traded as a restaurant called Simla Tandoori from premises in West Street in Blandford Forum, Dorset. Simla Restaurant entered into liquidation in August 2019 and this triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service into Chowdhury’s conduct. Investigators uncovered the business traded without issue until June 2008 when it was discovered Chowdhury had caused Simla Restaurant to submit inaccurate returns to the tax authorities. Enquiries established Chowdhury owed more than £48,000 in VAT and almost £113,000 in corporation tax from 2009 to 2017. It was found Chowdhury had underdeclared sales to avoid paying the correct taxes and, at liquidation, owed the tax authorities more than £266,000. An additional penalty of in excess of £104,000 was levied by the tax authorities for the under declaration of corporation tax. Chowdhury has been given a five year ban that stops him from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Indoor entertainment plans to complement two-screen cinema at Skelmersdale shopping centre: Concourse Shopping Centre has announced plans to open an indoor entertainment centre called WonderWorld. The move comes after US franchise brand UltraStar Cinema said it was adding a two-screen cinema to the shopping centre in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. If planning is approved by West Lancashire Council, WonderWorld will be located on the second floor, above the main shopping level and will include jungle-themed adventure golf, ten-pin bowling, ninja-style inflatables, a soft play area for toddlers, a virtual reality room, amusements with dodgems, electronic darts, cocktail bar with performance stage, American diner and an artisan-style street food court and coffee bar, which will create 50 to 60 jobs. Meanwhile, UltraStar Cinema is putting the finishing touches to its cinema, which will be the first new movie theatre in the town for 38 years. David Halliwell, director of Lancashire-based Moorgate Developments, said: “This is a long awaited development by many, which is why we took our research to a higher level, looking at the most popular entertainment centres from as far away as Australia and America.”
New Hull restaurant takes site that was home to popular Italian Operetta for 28 years: Restaurant operator Jason Ioakeim is set to launch a site in Hull at the venue that was home to popular Italian food specialist Operetta for 28 years. Bond Street Restaurant & Bar will initially operate as a takeaway and will showcase some of the dishes that he intends to serve once covid-19 restrictions have eased. The restaurant will open in mid-February with a team of up to ten staff, which Ioakeim expects to double once diners are allowed to eat at the site. He said: “We will focus on British food, which is so multicultural that there will be a lot of other influences, especially with the many plant-based options that we will introduce. With social distancing, we have room for about 60 people and another 20 or more when restrictions permit. We also have a lot of space outside and we’re in discussions with Hull City Council about making use of that. With the takeaway service, we want people to have a nice dining experience at home without breaking the bank. For every meat option on the menu, we will aim to offer a plant-based option.”
North Yorkshire Water Park makes multimillion-pound investment in expansion:North Yorkshire Water Park is making a multimillion-pound investment in its facility as it aims to expand. The venue, in Scarborough, has revealed plans to invest “significantly” throughout 2021 to expand its current water sports offering and encourage growth. The investment will see a new wakeboarding line added to the park’s current offering, along with kickers and rails, allowing visitors to expand their skills with experienced instructors. The park will also add new lakeside buildings, including a cafe, and a decking viewing area by the lake. The work is set to be completed in May. David Steel, chief executive of Dawnay Estates, which owns North Yorkshire Water Park, said: “It’s an exciting time for the water park as we expand our facilities and what we have to offer ready for the summer season. Ultimately, this new development is a huge opportunity for us to cement our new and improved offering and contribute to the leisure and tourist offer in North Yorkshire.”