CG Restaurants & Bars forecasts 31% rise in site-level Ebitda driven by Dirty Martini brand: CG Restaurants & Bars has forecast a £5.1m (31%) increase in site-level Ebitda in 2018 compared with the previous year, driven by its Dirty Martini brand. The company, which also operates Covent Garden restaurant Tuttons, is also predicting like-for-like site-level Ebitda will grow 5% during the period. It added total sales for 2018 are expected to increase 27% on last year, with like-for-like sales anticipated to be up 3% on 2017. CG Restaurants & Bars chief executive Scott Matthews said: “We’re delighted with how the expansion of Dirty Martini is progressing and extremely encouraged by the strong regional performance of the brand, while our London venues continue to deliver well in a tough trading environment. Manchester in particular has been outstanding and is up 19% against budget in its first 19 weeks of trading.” The next Dirty Martini site will open in Birmingham on Saturday, 21 April and is “already fully booked for its opening weekend”, Matthews said. He added: “We are also evaluating sites in Liverpool and Newcastle as well as an additional site in Manchester.” Dirty Martini operates seven sites in London, with others in Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester.

Electric Star eyes pubs with accommodation as like-for-likes rise 13.7%: The founder of east London-based pub company Electric Star has told Propel he plans to open sites with accommodation where possible as part of expansion plans. Rob Star revealed the five-strong company had been granted permission to add bedrooms to The Heathcote And Star in Leytonstone and The Star Of Kings in King’s Cross. He said: “I think that will become the model for us as we expand. With increases in rents and business rates we have to maximise our assets in the best way possible and adding bedrooms will allow us to do that.” The company saw like-for-like sales grow 13.7% in February as it continued to trade well. Star said: “It’s been a good year so far. We were up in January, albeit slightly, and we’re also up in March. Like everyone else we are seeing cost pressures but we’re not thinking of putting the brakes on. We’ll see what happens over the next year or so but we haven’t got any debt really and we’ve got decent sites with reasonable rent levels.” Star said the company still planned to open a site towards the end of the year and revealed it had missed out on a property in south London as he looked to expand to other parts of the capital. He is still targeting a ten to 12-strong estate in the next five years. The company will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year and Star said the biggest change he had seen in the past decade was probably the way businesses were now funded. He added: “When I started out you got money from the bank to get up and running. Nowadays, it’s more difficult to do that. You’re also seeing a lot of companies turn to crowdfunding.”

Fever Bars acquires Weston-super-Mare site: Fever Bars, led by Mark Shorting and Nigel Blair, has acquired a site in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. The company, which operates under the Fever, Boutique, Beach, Kukui and Moomoo brand names, has added Club Vision in Richmond Street through agents Charles Darrow. Club Vision will continue to trade but will most likely see a full rebrand in the future. Charles Darrow associate director James Sanders said: “Having been instructed by the client to assign the interest in the club, contact was made with Fever Bars as we were aware of the group’s aggressive expansion plans and terms were then agreed. Weston-super-Mare has been a target location for Fever for some years.” Fever Bars, which reported a rise in turnover and profit in December, said at the time it aimed to have 36 sites by the end of 2018.

Alex Proud to open UK’s biggest cabaret club next month: Brighton-born entrepreneur Alex Proud will open the UK’s biggest cabaret club next month, by Waterloo Bridge. The Proud Camden founder will open the cabaret and dining experience on Victoria Embankment. Proud Embankment is billed as “Baz Luhrmann meets Cirque du Soleil”, with diners experiencing shows including contortionists, cabaret, acrobats, fire-breathing, can-can dancing and burlesque. Proud Embankment will have a dining capacity of 450 and a nightclub for 750. Its menu will be pan-Asian while there will also be a cocktail lounge. After dinner, the tables will be cleared and the venue will turn into a nightclub. The two-storey Proud Embankment is at the former Buddha Bar restaurant, which now has an art deco interior designed by Proud’s wife. Proud told the Evening Standard: “Expect twenties grandeur. It will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a more glamorous, polite London. I want you to have so much fun you want to share a real experience – you won’t want Instagram or Facebook.” Proud was forced to close Proud Camden gallery and nightclub last month after the landlords decided they wanted a change. He added: “There was a temptation to mourn but I picked myself up and dusted myself off. Now I’ve got something better. The London I grew up in was nineties Cool Britannia, where doormen let you in on how you were dressed. I want that London – full of joy and excitement.” As well as Proud Embankment, Proud is also planning a venue in Camden High Street.

Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory passes £500,000 mark in crowdfunding campaign to open third site, in London: Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory has passed the £500,000 mark in its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its third site, in London. Founder Louise Palmer-Masterton hit her initial £350,000 target within five hours of the campaign launching, offering a 15% stake in return for the investment. So far, 570 investors have pledged £502,480 with six days remaining as the company aims to hit its stretch target of £600,000. Stem + Glory opened its first site in Cambridge in October 2016 after raising more than £97,000 in a campaign on Crowdfunder. The restaurant has experienced an 84% increase in turnover year-on-year and Stem + Glory opened a second site, in Cambridge city centre, in November 2017. It now plans to open a site in Old Street, London, in July before preparing the brand for roll-out. Palmer-Masterton also founded yoga brand Camyoga, while fellow director Jim Masters was part of nightclub Ministry of Sound and was instrumental in setting up its record label, now the biggest compilation label in the world. The pitch states: “Demand for plant-based food is seeing huge growth in the UK. Last year, Ocado saw a 1,500% increase in plant-based food sales and Just Eat a 987% increase in demand for meat-free meals. Despite this growth, vegan restaurants are hugely under-represented. Of 18,302 restaurants in London, only 0.1% are fully vegan.”

Rosa’s Thai Cafe signs deal at Liverpool’s Albert Dock for debut regional site, Escape Hunt also opening: Thai restaurant group Rosa’s Thai Cafe will open its debut regional site this summer, at Liverpool’s Albert Dock. The company, which operates 12 venues in London, has agreed a deal with Aberdeen Standard Investments for a 2,436 square foot site. Rosa’s Thai Cafe has signed a 15-year lease with a ten-year break for a unit in the grade I-listed Britannia Pavilion. The company will be joined in the property by Lunya Lita – a second site for family-owned Catalunyan restaurant bar and deli Lunya. As previously reported, Lunya Lita will open a 2,767 square foot site after signing a 20-year lease with a ten-year break. Meanwhile global entertainment network Escape Hunt, which offers “escape the room” adventures, will move into former offices of about 2,800 square feet on the mezzanine level of Atlantic Pavilion on a ten-year lease. The deals represent phase one of the repositioning of Albert Dock, with an “eclectic offering of retail, restaurants and leisure”. Chris Wright, portfolio manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments, told The Business Desk: “We are working hard for 2018 to be the first realisation of our plans to reinvent the offer at Albert Dock. We are proud to welcome all these operators to kick-start this and breathe new life into the scheme.” Mason Owen and Bruce Gillingham Pollard are joint agents for Albert Dock.

Wagamama to open in Gloucester: Wagamama is to open a site in Gloucester. The company, which launched a restaurant in nearby Cheltenham in August, will launch its new site at the Gloucester Quays leisure complex. The company has launched a Gloucester page on its jobs website offering full and part-time positions including a full-time chef, So Glos reports. Earlier this month, Wagamama launched the world’s first walk-away payment app in partnership with Mastercard. The company also reported 8.2% UK like-for-like sales growth in its third quarter for the 12 weeks ending 28 January 2018, increasing from 7.1% in the second quarter. Group turnover increased 12.5% to £72.1m in the period.

Hertfordshire-based operators open second pub as they take on Ei Group site: Hertfordshire-based operators Adrian Bell and James McLaughlin, who have a background in managing bands, have opened their first site with Ei Publican Partnerships, the leased and tenanted business of Ei Group, following a joint investment of about £300,000. The Horn At The Half Moon in Bishop’s Stortford follows the same format as Bell and McLaughlin’s other pub, The Horn in St Albans, which offers live music six nights a week. Part of the renovation has focused on a custom-built room for live music with a new PA, bespoke stage and lighting rig. The pub also features a custom-made bar and a new kitchen that has seen food back on the menu including burgers. Bell said: “We’re passionate about music and wanted to create a place that gave the local community something a bit different. As a country we have produced the biggest and best acts consistently over the past 50 years and without grass-roots venues such as the Horn At The Half Moon there won’t be anywhere for bands to develop their craft.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Richard Smyth added: “Adrian and James’ live music offer has been a success at their other pub so it was an easy decision for us to make when they showed interest in the site.”

Oxford-based pizzeria comes to London for third site: Oxford-based, Roman-style pizzeria Buongiorno e Buonasera has opened its third site, this time in London. Founded by Marco Montuori the brand offers “lighter pizzas” and, after opening two sites in Oxford, he has launched his latest venue in London’s Baker Street. The breakfast menu offers dishes such as porcini mushrooms with eggs and truffle alongside Italian pastries, while its oval-shaped pizzas include a vegan option with artichoke cream, Italian spinach, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. The restaurant also features an Italian Quality Corner, which sells a range of Italian groceries including pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, coffee and salami, Hot Dinners reports. The company’s website states: “We have always remained faithful to the flavours and traditions of people who love eating together and regard food as one of the main pleasures in life.”

PG Taverns opens gin and craft beer bar in Falkirk after taking on Hawthorn Leisure site: Scottish multi-site operator PG Taverns has opened a gin and craft beer bar in Falkirk. The company has launched The Jolly Gin And Craft in Wooer Street after taking on a Hawthorn Leisure site. Formerly The Artisan Tap, the bar has undergone a £300,000 refurbishment and acts as the sister site of The Jolly Botanist in Edinburgh. The new venue offers almost 80 varieties of gin as well as a range of ales. It also features an indoor gin garden. PG Taverns owner Iain Pert told The Falkirk Herald: “We’re proud of the new site and excited to welcome the people of Falkirk through its doors.” Hawthorn Leisure operations director Andrew Parker added: “When we spoke with Iain we instantly knew he was the right person to take on this site as he has extensive knowledge of running very successful pubs and bars across Scotland. With the variety of gin and craft beer on offer, together with The Jolly Gin And Craft’s unique interior, we feel this site will be a great addition to Falkirk.”

Kricket reveals more details of Brixton launch: Indian small plates concept Kricket has revealed more details of its second site, which will open in Brixton in May. The 40-cover restaurant will launch under the railway arches in Atlantic Road, with a standalone bar in one of the arches. The opening will be a return to their roots for Rik Campbell and Chef Will Bowlby, who launched Kricket at Pop Brixton in 2015. They said: “It has always been our intention to return to the neighbourhood where our journey first began and we couldn’t be more excited. Brixton has remained such a huge part of Kricket’s identity and we’ve been searching for a permanent site ever since we moved out of Pop Brixton. The Brixton community were our first customers and embraced our approach to Indian cooking from the start. We look forward to serving them our evolved menu of Indian street food and drinks in our new and permanent home.” Kricket’s first permanent restaurant opened in Soho in January 2017, while a third site for the concept will open at Television Centre, the former home of the BBC, in White City in the summer. The 3,600 square foot site will feature a 140-cover restaurant, cocktail bar and terrace and join other brands such as pizza company Homeslice, better burger brand Patty & Bun, D&D London’s Bluebird, a Soho House members’ club, a 47-bedroom hotel and an Electric cinema.

KerbEdge evolves offer as it opens first site outside Yorkshire: Hull-based burger company KerbEdge has evolved its offer with the opening of its third site, in Darlington. KerbEdge, which has sites in Hull and Sheffield, has expanded into County Durham with a 100-seater restaurant at the Feethams leisure development, creating 25 jobs. The new £100,000 restaurant, KerbEdge Ballroom, offers the company’s range of food and craft beer alongside new additions pool, beer-pong and retro games. Founder Adam Bryson told Insider Media: “After our successes launching in Hull last year and in Sheffield last month, Darlington was top of the list for our next venture. KerbEdge Ballroom offers something a bit different to our first two restaurants, with group activities on offer.” Bryson founded KerbEdge in 2014 after a trip to the famous Burger Joint in New York. He launched KerbEdge by operating from a restored 1979 Citroen HY van and began serving burgers at markets, weddings and festivals.

Manchester-based cafe and bakery Trove to open second site: Manchester-based cafe and bakery Trove is to open a second site in the city, in Ancoats. Trove, known for “simple and seasonal cooking”, launched its first site in Levenshulme. The new bakery and cafe will open in the summer at the Sawmill Court development and bake sourdough loaves and pastries on-site. All food will be hand-made on-site alongside craft beer, natural wine and Allpress coffee, plus a larger selection of takeaway items than in Levenshulme. A Trove spokesman said: “Since opening our Levenshulme site in 2011 we have taken our time to mature as a team. That effort resulted in winning Best Coffee Shop 2017 at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival and we feel we are now ready for this next challenge.” Marty Edelman, executive chairman of Manchester Life Development Company, which owns Sawmill Court, added: “Trove is an amazing business that has grown from a market stall to become one of Manchester’s most-loved bakeries.”

Pop Brixton founder to start expansion of Tapas Room concept next month with Deptford launch: Pop Brixton founder Paul Belcher is to start expansion of his Tapas Room concept by opening a second London site, in Deptford Market Yard. Belcher, who is also behind the Donostia Social Club concept, launched the first Tapas Room at Tooting’s Broadway Market in May last year. The new Basque-inspired wine shop, tapas bar and delicatessen will be larger than the Tooting space. It will open on Thursday, 12 April offering a mixture of counter dining and banquette seating alongside a central tasting table. The menu will feature charcuterie and cheese alongside dishes such as confit pork belly with morcilla and pear, and octopus with pepper sauce and samphire, Hot Dinners reports. The venue will also showcase drinks from sister company DSC Imports, which specialises in the distribution of Basque and Spanish wine and beer to the London bar and restaurant industry. The 70-strong bottle list will cover wine, sherry, vermouth and cava, while other produce will include fresh bread, preserves, honey, olive oil and sherry vinegar.

Anatolian concept Rüya to open Mayfair restaurant for first UK site: Turkey-based Doğuş Restaurant Entertainment And Management, led by Umut Özkanca, is to open its first UK venue when it launches a site for Anatolian concept Rüya in Mayfair. The restaurant will open in Upper Grosvenor Street in June offering “sophisticated, contemporary dishes from the various Anatolian regions”. The 136-cover restaurant will also feature a private dining room and lounge. Colin Clague, who has worked at Knightsbridge restaurant Zuma, will head the kitchen at the venue, which will be a second site for the Rüya brand. Dishes will include 24-hour slow-cooked short rib with Turkish chilli barbecue glaze, and two-cheese Black Sea pide with slow-cooked egg. The drinks list will include cocktails and raki. Özkanca said: “We have taken authentic traditions I retain a deep personal connection to and interpreted modern details for the sophisticated London audience.”

Hakkasan Group launches alcohol-free drinks menu across London venues: UK-based nightclub and restaurant company Hakkasan has launched an alcohol-free drinks menu across its London venues. The Orchard List, which is the result of “two years of worldwide research and development”, has been crafted to offer “innovative drinks that go above and beyond the usual soft drink offering” including a new drinks category, Mai-Shin, inspired by the brewing process of sake. It also features tea-based, salted juice, tree water, craft soda as well as drinking vinegars diluted with sparkling water. The 29 drinks across nine categories are available in London restaurants Hakkasan Hanway Place, Hakkasan Mayfair, Yauatcha Soho, Yauatcha City and Sake no Hana in St James’s. There are also plans to introduce the drinks across Hakkasan Group’s international restaurants later this year. Hakkasan Group head of wine Christine Parkinson said: “The Orchard List project has been an opportunity to break down the notion premium is only tied to alcoholic drinks. This should be extended to other drink options for guests to enjoy while dining.”

North Yorkshire-based pub operator opens Italian restaurant for second site: North Yorkshire-based pub operator Alex Cook has opened an Italian restaurant for his second site. Cook, who owns The Mill in Stokesley, has launched Il Mulino in College Square in the town. He has refurbished the former Howards restaurant, which shut in January after owner Graham Howard retired. Il Mulino, which means The Mill in Italian, serves pizza, pasta, salad and mains such as chicken Milanese and steak. There is also a choice of antipasti dishes such as doughballs, bruschetta, calamari and sharing boards alongside a children’s menu, breakfast and sandwiches. Cook told Gazette Live: “I’ve had The Mill for three years and it’s reaching full capacity. It was either extend The Mill or find new premises so when Howards came up, I jumped at the chance. The two places complement and support each other.”

Comptoir Libanais makes West Midlands debut with Birmingham opening: Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes owned by Comptoir Group, has opened its first site in the West Midlands, in Birmingham. The 3,047 square foot restaurant has launched in the Grand Central shopping centre next to Indian street food specialist Mowgli. The 100-cover site also features a small souk market offering authentic ingredients, gifts and branded cookbooks. Comptoir Libanais founder Tony Kitous said: “Grand Central’s position above the busy New Street station and adjacent to the Bullring makes it the perfect location for our first restaurant in the West Midlands.” Comptoir Libanais operates more than 20 sites in the UK with the next opening scheduled for London Bridge later this year.

Restaurateur Luke Garnsworthy to move fine dining venue to larger site, in Tring: Restaurateur Luke Garnsworthy is to move his fine dining venue Crockers Chef’s Table to a larger site, in Tring, Hertfordshire. Garnsworthy launched the concept in nearby Potten End in 2016. Now he will open the new site in High Street, Tring, on Tuesday, 24 April. The new restaurant will seat up to 15 people for each service, with all diners able to watch head chef Scott Barnard, who was a MasterChef: The Professionals finalist in 2015, complete each dish in front of them. As well as a new restaurant and kitchen, Crockers will have its own bar seating 28 people and showcase fine wine, premium spirits, cocktails and bottled beer. There will also be a bar snacks menu. Garnsworthy said: “The site came up at a great time for us. Tring is a beautiful town with great community vibes and I think our dining concept will thrive. We have an even larger chef’s table and space to open a separate bar.”

Halewood to sell Romanian wine business: Halewood Wines and Spirits is set to sell its Romanian wine business. The company has accepted an offer for Halewood Romania, subject to Romanian Competition Council approval, from The Alexandrion Holdings Group (AHL). Following completion of the transaction, which is likely to occur in the next three months, AHL has agreed to invest in the business in a bid to develop its personnel and brands. Halewood said it would take the opportunity to further focus on its artisan spirits and craft beer portfolio. Chief executive Stewart Hainsworth told Insider Media: “Our Romanian business has been operational since 1987 and has developed a high-quality portfolio of award-winning wines. Romanian wine sales are modest in the UK and we received an acceptable offer from AHL, which is ideally placed to further develop the business. The move also enables us to continue focusing on developing our craft breweries and distilleries.”

Roadchef opens extended Strensham South site following £5m refurbishment: Roadchef has opened its refurbished and extended Strensham South site at Junction 8 of the M5 following a £5m investment. The extended motorway services area now includes a Spar store that features a Dolcetti ice cream counter and a premium doughnut offer from Dots Original Donuts. The site also features natural fast food brand Leon and a fully refurbished McDonald’s and Costa Coffee. Strensham South also features the first Boots store in a UK motorway service area. Roadchef chief executive Simon Turl said: “We are delighted to continue offering our customers the best brands on the motorway, including the introduction of our first Boots site. Not only does this strengthen our position as one of the leading motorway service area operators in the country, it also gives our customers even more options.” Roadchef employs more than 3,600 people in the UK across its 30 locations