Carluccio’s to transform 20 restaurants a year under £10m ‘Fresca’ programme, Chester first to reopen: Carluccio’s is planning to transform 20 restaurants a year under its £10m “Fresca” programme, which is aimed at revitalising the brand in the wake of its company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The first restaurant to reopen will be Chester, on Thursday, 27 September, followed by Newcastle. The company revealed the details in a LinkedIn post by chief executive Mark Jones, who said he was looking for more people to join the company. The post stated: “Carluccio’s has launched its ‘Fresca’ transformational plan. This will see the business invest £10,000,000, provided by shareholders, over the next three years in what we believe to be the largest investment of its kind in the UK aimed at upgrading restaurant environments. Carluccio’s Chester will reopen to the public formally on 27 September and Newcastle will follow shortly. Thereafter, 20 restaurants per year will be transformed. We are now looking for more great people to join our ‘famiglia’. We pride ourselves on our strong culture, focus on fresh food and great restaurant environments, which make our brand strong – aided, of course, by Antonio Carluccio’s enduring legacy. So while we are investing in our restaurants, we will also invest in our people. We want people to join us who we can train and develop to their utmost potential. I’m proud of how many of our team have become senior leaders in our company. We are now looking for the next generation of our ‘famiglia’, people who can help us on our ‘Fresca’ journey.” In May, the company’s creditors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the CVA, which has seen the group exit up to 30 loss-making sites from its 103-strong UK business.
Square Pie creditors to be left more than £2m out of pocket: Creditors of gourmet pie company Square Pie, which operated five restaurants before going into administration earlier this year, are set to be left more than £2m out of pocket, a new document has revealed. A progress report filed at Companies House by administrators Robert Croxen and William Wright, of KPMG, showed a total deficiency of £2,122,757. Unsecured creditors, made up of trade and expense claims of £2,074,968 and £34,652 from employees, will “not receive a dividend based on current estimates”, the report stated. The amount of preferential creditors claims, made up of employees’ wage arrears, is estimated to be £13,137 and, again, based on current estimates no dividend will be paid. As previously reported, HSBC and Santander hold fixed and floating charges over Square Pie’s assets but neither party were owed money on the administrator’s appointment. Following KPMG’s appointment, the grocery business was acquired in a pre-pack sale by new company Beat Foods, which Square Pie founder Martin Dewey had a 25% stake in, for £100,000. An initial offer for the leasehold of the restaurants was subsequently withdrawn and following the sale of the grocery business the five restaurants – four in London and one in Birmingham – were closed.
MasterChef winner Ping Coombes partners with Selfridges for debut restaurant: MasterChef winner Ping Coombes has launched her first restaurant venture, in partnership with Selfridges. Coombes, who has been consulting for various restaurant projects since winning the BBC show in 2014, has launched Ping Pan-Asian. Inspired by Malaysian-Chinese cuisine, the restaurant has opened on the fourth floor of Selfridges in Oxford Street, London, alongside a delicatessen that has launched in the store’s ground-floor food hall. A deli has also opened in the fourth-floor food hall at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre, Manchester. Ping Pan-Asian is an exclusive brand by PappaRich for Selfridges. PappaRich is a global brand synonymous with pan-Asian signature dishes and modern Malaysian street food. Ping Pan-Asian is PappaRich’s first UK launch. The restaurant menu includes nasi lemak – a Malay curry chicken served with coconut rice, peanuts and deep-fried anchovies. The delicatessen offer includes duck spring rolls, chicken satay and dim sum. Coombes said: “I am delighted to be collaborating with Selfridges on Ping Pan-Asian. We’ve worked closely to perfect the menu and it shares my passion for fresh ingredients and delicious flavours.” Selfridges director of restaurants Hannah Bass added: “It has been a pleasure to work with Ping on this project and we’re thrilled to be launching Ping Pan-Asian exclusively in Selfridges. Her passion and expertise in pan-Asian cuisine have led to a fantastic contemporary offer. I am sure visitors to our London and Manchester Trafford stores will enjoy discovering the new eatery and delicatessen offer.”
Red & Blue Restaurants to open fourth Liverpool site, plans Manchester expansion for Bacaro concept: Liverpool-based Red & Blue Restaurants is to open its fourth site in the city, with plans for expansion into Manchester. The company will launch Rocket & Ruby in the former Cheese & Co premises in Castle Street next month, joining its Bacaro, Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social venues. The 3,000 square foot restaurant will serve dishes ranging from breakfast to modern small plates. Owners Jonathan Poole and Paddy Smith also plan to expand their Bacaro concept into Manchester early next year. Poole said: “Rocket & Ruby completes our original business plan of opening four different, independently named restaurants in Liverpool. We remain extremely proud of the standards we maintain across our portfolio and we’re excited to expand our Bacaro concept into Manchester.” As part of its expansion, Red & Blue Restaurants has appointed a new non-executive director to oversee its next phase of development. Steve Stuart has more than 30 years’ experience in the north west and London of leading mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, corporate financing and business strategy. Poole added: “Steve’s background is hugely impressive and we’re delighted to welcome him to the business as we embark on this next phase of growth. His experience and knowledge is already proving an invaluable asset.” Red & Blue Restaurants opened Salt House Tapas, which specialises in Spanish small plates, in July 2010. The company launched Hanover Street Social in August 2011, which offers a modern brasserie-style menu, while Bacaro opened in 2014 focusing on Italian small plates.
Tonkotsu confirms Ealing site: London-based ramen specialist Tonkotsu has confirmed it has secured a site in Ealing. The company will open the 1,500 square foot venue in New Broadway, part of the Dicken’s Yard development, having agreed a deal through agents Shelley Sandzer. The agent has worked with Tonkotsu on other locations including Notting Hill, which opened in 2016, and more recently Stratford International, which launched at the end of July. The Ealing deal takes the brand’s total number of sites to 11, including two concessions in Selfridges – in Birmingham and Oxford Street, London. Tonkotsu managing director Stephen Evans said: “We look forward to sharing our love of real ramen with more customers across the capital.” Leo Feldman, partner at Shelley Sandzer, added: “Since starting in Soho in 2012, Tonkotsu has grown a fantastic business with great locations, each one with its own character. We are pleased to have been able to play a part in its growth.”
Cyclone Leisure to transform former JD Wetherspoon pub in Newcastle into pizza restaurant and sports bar: North east-based operator Cyclone Leisure has revealed plans to convert a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Newcastle into a pizza restaurant and sports bar. The Union Rooms in Westgate Road will undergo a multimillion-pound facelift after the company acquired the site last year. Dating to 1877, the venue began as a gentleman’s club called The Union Club. Under Cyclone’s proposals, the grade II-listed building’s original features will be retained and refreshed. The work will include a refurbishment of the main bar areas to create more space, alongside a stronger emphasis on food. A pizza area will take advantage of Cyclone Leisure’s experience of operating Italian restaurants, with work due to start soon while the bar remains open for business. The venue is then set to close for a few weeks in October, with completion due by mid-November. Cyclone Leisure director Stuart Young said: “We will transform the main bar area into somewhere customers can relax and enjoy fine food and drink and we believe our open pizza area will be a popular addition. Once we have completed the bar area, we plan to start on the next part of the refurbishment that we hope will include hotel accommodation and a few more top secret ideas.” Cyclone Leisure also operates San Lorenzo restaurants in Gosforth and Washington.
Ichibuns introduces London’s first scannable burger amid new tech innovations: Japanese burger concept Ichibuns has launched London’s first burger bun-branded QR code as part of new technology innovations. The partnership with mobile payment service Zapper will offer customers an easy way to make fast, safe payments via a smartphone, leave a tip and split the bill. Guests can download the app or order any of Ichibuns’ burgers and scan the QR code branded on the top of the bun. Meanwhile, Ichibuns will also launch its Ichipachinko app, offering a digital version of Japan’s pinball-esque game. Users can exchange their points for Zapper vouchers towards items on the Ichibuns menu. Ichibuns chief executive Benjamin Goldkorn said: “Our goal was to create a restaurant experience like no other. Our partnership with Zapper is a great way to achieve this, allowing us to be at the forefront of hospitality innovation by offering more than just a payment service. Combining it with our own app also allows us to give something back to our amazing, loyal customers, with discounts and prizes available to win.” The 130-cover restaurant opened in Soho in September last year.
 
Breddos Tacos team to launch ‘super’ site at Market Hall Fulham next week: Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney, who have grown Mexican concept Breddos Tacos in a joint venture with Gleneagles owner Ennismore, are to open a “super” site in Market Hall Fulham, south west London, next week. Tijuana-inspired Super Tacos will launch on Tuesday, 18 September offering a “more authentic and concise taco offering with charcoal cooking at its heart”. The venture will take over a space recently vacated by Calcutta Canteen. Super Tacos takes inspiration from Dudhia and Whitney’s trip to the Baja Culinary Festival in Tijuana, Mexico, where they discovered “tacos el carbon” in many hole-in-the-wall and roadside eateries. Dishes will include Tacos Abobada (spit-roasted pork with salsa verde and crispy pork skin), Carne Asada (barbecued steak) and Pollo Asado Al Carbon (whole, half or quartered charcoal chicken served with salsa). Super Tacos will also feature a DIY salsa bar, Hot Dinners reports. Dudhia and Whitney operate two Breddos Tacos sites, while they launched Californian street food concept Pocho at Street Feast’s Giant Robot in Canary Wharf in March and offer food at crazy golf venue Swingers West End. Dudhia and Whitney began Breddos Tacos as a “makeshift taco shack” in a Hackney car park in 2011. Try Market Halls launched “next-level” Market Hall Fulham in May featuring nine operators, a bar and a 180-capacity communal dining area.
Secured creditor of Chicago Rib Shack receives full payment: The secured creditor of American barbecue restaurant chain Chicago Rib Shack, which was acquired in a pre-pack administration last year, has now been paid in full, a new document has revealed. A progress report filed at Companies House by joint administrators Andrew Hosking and Simon Bonney, of Quantuma, showed director Christian Arden, who was owed £74,850.54 on appointment, had been paid in two instalments – of £14,508 and £60,342.54 respectively. There have been 36 claims from unsecured creditors to date totalling £1,022,023.72 – almost twice the estimated £527,807. The administrators said depending on the final costs and level of agreed claims it was expected the dividend would likely be “2p to 3p in the pound” – the same as in the previous progress report. It is thought there will be no claims for unpaid holiday or wage arrears as all 72 staff transferred to new owner Rib Shack Holdings, which is owned by Roger Payne, the entrepreneur behind Camden Dining Group. However, preferential claims relating to pension contributions have now been received totalling £1,735.68. The administrators said funds had been set aside for this to be paid in full. As previously reported, Payne paid a consideration of £210,500 plus 50% of the rent deposits for the company’s five premises.
Steve Ridealgh to operate new venue opening at former Marco Pierre White site in Leeds: Leeds-based restaurateur Steve Ridealgh is to operate a new venue in the city that will open at a site formerly occupied by Marco Pierre White New York Italian. Ridealgh will run Arnold’s, which will open at the Merrion Centre in early autumn. Ridealgh, who oversaw Brasserie 44 in The Calls for three decades, has a history of serving traditional food to Yorkshire diners. Arnold’s main menu will feature dishes such as pork tenderloin wrapped in Parma ham; vegetable and goat’s cheese envelope in pastry; and venison haunch with blackberries and red wine sauce. The 70-cover restaurant will also feature a private dining room with luxurious seating, feature lighting and audio-visual equipment. The restaurant is named after Arnold Ziff, founder of listed property and car parking firm Town Centre Securities, which is developing the venue. Town Centre Securities chairman and chief executive Edward Ziff told The Business Desk: “Arnold’s is going to be more than just a restaurant, it will be a celebration of my father’s legacy and the inspirational work ethic he bestowed on myself, my family and the people of Leeds and beyond. We’re confident Steve and his team can deliver a first-class dining experience that perfectly blends old and new.” Marco Pierre White New York Italian shut last month following “contractual renegotiations”.
Cru Holdings opens cocktail bar in Falkirk for first site outside Highlands, fifth in total: Scotland-based operator Cru Holdings has opened a cocktail bar in Falkirk for its first site outside its Highlands heartland and fifth in total. The company has launched High Spirits in Vicar Street, which is modelled on its Bar One site in Inverness, which was the company’s first venue to open in 2009. Managing director Scott Murray said: “Having been growing our portfolio of bars and restaurants in the Highlands for a number of years, I’m delighted High Spirits is our first venue outside the region. High Spirits will have a great selection of cocktails, including some more unusual ones developed by our award-winning mixologists. I look forward to hearing what customers in Falkirk think of them.” Cru Holdings’ other sites are Scotch & Rye, Prime, Dow’s Bar & Bistro and The Keg. It also operates travel company Inverness Travel.
Opso team to launch Pittabun concept in Carnaby this month: The team behind Marylebone eatery Opso and two Michelin-starred Athens restaurant Funky Gourmet is to launch a pitta bread concept in Carnaby this month. Pittabun will open in Newburgh Street on Monday, 24 September at a site previously occupied by Carnaby Burger Co. The concept promises a “new take on the kebab”, featuring sweet and savoury-filled pitta bread. The seasonally changing menu will feature fillings such as slow-cooked pork neck, and panko-crusted fried cod fillet. Meat will be finished on a robata grill or custom-made rotisserie. Dessert versions will include a chocolate and sour cherry version and another with vanilla ice cream and baked apples. Drinks-wise, the restaurant will offer draught beer from select micro-breweries alongside Pittabun’s own-label Greek wine, Hot Dinners reports.
Pontefract-based operator takes on Punch pub for second site: Pontefract-based pub operator Maggie Senior has taken on her second site in the West Yorkshire town. Senior is now running the Hope & Anchor Inn in North Baileygate, which owner Punch put up for sale last year but has now undergone a major refurbishment. She also operates The Railway Inn in Mill Dam Lane, which also looked to be closing down last year before it was secured as an asset of community value. Senior told the Pontefract and Castleford Express: “The Hope & Anchor was going to be our plan B if we were forced to shut The Railway but, when it was saved, it was a difficult decision what we should do. We didn’t want any other pub going down, although I’m sure someone would have taken it on anyway. It’s very different clientele compared with The Railway but there are a lot faces we have not seen before, which is good.”
St Peter’s Brewery chief executive to step down: St Peter’s Brewery chief executive Steve Magnall, who has led the Suffolk-based company for more than three years, is to step down from his position on Friday, 28 September. Magnall has been instrumental in the success of St Peter’s alcohol-free drinks brand Without, which launched in July 2016, and helped to drive new business at home and abroad. Magnall will join wife Rebecca as director of the family’s bakery business, The Two Magpies in Southwold. Last month, Magnall credited Without for “turning the company around” amid plans to quadruple production to cope with demand. The company has acquired land and added a bottling line funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Malhotra Group to transform Newcastle city centre bar following lottery grant: Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group is to restore a grade II-listed building in the city centre that houses its Pumphrey’s Bar And Cellar. Business Improvement District company NE1 received a £1.6m Heritage Lottery Fund grant to work with businesses operating sites in the Bigg Market and Cloth Market areas of the city. The grant is part of a £3.2m regeneration programme NE1 is managing. Having leased the building until recently, Malhotra now operates the bar itself. Operations director Atul Malhotra said: “The anticipated cost of the project will be £100,000 and involve new signage, cleaning up the exterior of the building, new window frames and generally restoring the building to its former glory. Pumphrey’s started as a coffee shop and was one of the first premises in the area to be granted a licence to sell alcohol.” Alex Slack, NE1’s Bigg Market project manager, added: “Malhotra Group has been extremely supportive of the NE1-led plans for the area and it is hugely encouraging such an established and successful property group has recognised and grasped this opportunity. It is an exciting time for the area as Newcastle regains its historic heart.” Bigg Market dates to the Middle Ages. Now famous for its drinking and party culture, the regeneration will transform it into an area suitable for alfresco dining and market stalls.
Edwardian Hotels to launch shared dining concept at Manchester hotel:Edwardian Hotels is to launch a restaurant concept at its Manchester site that embraces the “art of shared dining”. The company will open Peter Street Kitchen on Thursday, 11 October to spearhead the food and beverage offering at the revitalised Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel. Guests will be able to choose small plates from two cuisines – contemporary Japanese and Mexican. The menu will include shredded crab with spicy ginger mayo tostadas; and yellowtail sashimi with spicy yuzu soy. The Bar And Rikyu Lounge will complement the restaurant, offering yuzu-flavoured sake and cocktails. Edwardian Hotels London service excellence director Amir Jati has overseen the project. He said: “This concept has proved enormously popular in London, with Leicester Square Kitchen in the top five of both Peruvian and Mexican restaurants. We know Peter Street Kitchen will be a similar game-changer within Manchester’s booming restaurant scene.”
TGI Friday’s chooses cocktail contest winner: Emily Wakerley, who works at TGI Friday’s in Hagley Road, Birmingham, has been crowned winner of the company’s national mixology competition. Her creation, Candy Cloud, beat entries from more than 100 bartenders across the country and has been permanently added to TGI Friday’s cocktail list. This year’s competition was based on creations featuring Jack Daniel’s bourbon. Candy Cloud is made with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Absolut Vanilla vodka, blended with a sweet bubblegum shake and served with a popping candy rim and a floating candyfloss cloud.
Bidfood boosts output with new south coast depot: Foodservice provider Bidfood has relocated its depot in Worthing, West Sussex, to a 64,000 square foot, purpose-built site along the coast in Lancing. The company will start trading from the site, which is 60% larger than its previous home, on Monday (17 September). The depot includes a 25,000 square foot ambient storage space, 13,000 square foot freezer, and a 1,800 square foot chilled store. A customer experience centre is in the planning stage, which would allow Bidfood to partner with food and drink suppliers to test new products and support menu development. It would comprise a bar, deli, industrial kitchen and catering suite. Bidfood chief operating officer Norman Wemyss said: “The new site has an array of features designed to better support the needs of customers, which will in turn aid the team in its mission to continue to grow Bidfood’s business.”