Pret to make Belgian debut: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, is to make its debut in Belgium. Pret has partnered with SNCB/NMBS, which is the national railway company of Belgium, and UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group to open sites in two Brussels railway stations. The outlets at Brussels Midi and Brussels Central will open this year offering Pret’s traditional menu. Michael Haley, partnerships managing director at Pret, said: “We are delighted our first shops in Belgium will open soon. Our partnership with SSP began in France several years ago and we’re looking forward to working with it to open our first shops in Brussels.” Gérard d’Onofrio, managing director of SSP France and Benelux, added: “We are thrilled to partner with SNCB/NMBS and Pret to introduce an innovative new food and drink concept to Brussels. We’re looking forward to working with Pret to provide passengers at busy train stations in the city with Pret’s organic coffee and freshly prepared baguettes, salads and hot food.” Last week, Pret agreed a deal to buy circa 90-strong rival EAT, which was placed on the market earlier this year. Pret said in response to growing consumer demand for more vegetarian and vegan options on the high street, it plans to convert as many of EAT’s stores as possible to Veggie Prets.
Boston Tea Party to ban single-plastic milk bottles under new initiative, reports eat-in sales growth and record staff retention: All-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party (BTP) is to launch National Making Things Better Day on Saturday (1 June). The event will correspond with the first anniversary since BTP banned single-use coffee cups across its estate, with the company reporting growth in eat-in sales and record staff retention. BTP will launch a new initiative on every Making Things Better Day, with the first being a pledge to remove all single-use plastic milk bottles. BTP said its 22 cafes use 190,000 single-use plastic milk bottles every year, with milk one of the company’s biggest annual costs at more than £220,000. Saturday is also National Milk Day! BTP is switching to pergals, with each bag in box saving 6.5 milk bottles. The company will then switch to a fully reusable, returnable solution by the end of the year in partnership with its dairy. Chief executive Sam Roberts said: “What a year it has been since we took the ground-breaking decision to remove single-use cups from our business. The reaction from our teams and customers has been amazing. 12 months on and the anti-plastic movement is gathering significant momentum. That said, nothing much has changed within the wider industry – lots of noise and sticky plaster fixes but very little concrete action. Businesses still seem happy to turn a blind eye to the waste product from their activities thereby outsourcing the cost and responsibility of the clean-up. Not cool. We can’t fix this on our own, so please get involved.” Last month, BTP admitted it had seen takeaway coffee sales fall by £250,000 since it banned single-use cups. However, brand director Anita Atkins said: “While BTP has lost 25% of takeaway customers, the business is in growth with eat-in increasing and team leavers at an all-time low – 32% better than before. They want to stay and work with us.”
McDonald’s unites marketing, food development and insight under new CMO:McDonald’s has restructured its marketing leadership team in the UK and Ireland to bring together marketing, food development and customer insights. The shake-up follows the appointment of senior vice-president and chief marketing officer Gareth Helm, who replaced former vice-president of marketing and food development Emily Somers earlier this month. Under the restructure, head of marketing Michelle Graham-Clare has been promoted to marketing director for food and beverages, working alongside Ben Fox in his role as marketing director for brand, experience and media. McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy told Marketing Week the restructure would bring together the “right expertise” from across the business to continue to align strategy with customer insights. Helm, who joined McDonald’s after four years as chief marketing officer at property site Zoopla, has returned to his food marketing roots following almost two decades working for companies such as Urban Fruit, Innocent Drinks, Kraft and Unilever. Pomroy added. “I am excited by what Gareth will bring to the business and our already strong marketing function, which has been led by our two marketing directors Ben and Michelle.”
BrewDog allows Equity Punks to pay what they want for beer: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is set to turn its venues into honesty bars by allowing its investors, “Equity Punks”, to pay whatever they want for beer. The Honest To Dog initiative will run in participating bars from Monday, 3 June to Sunday, 9 June and will only be available to BrewDog’s more than 106,000 Equity Punks. However, every bill paid below its full value must be accompanied by a feedback card explaining the reason, with all feedback published online once the initiative has finished. Any overpayments will be split evenly between the BrewDog Foundation and staff at the specific bar. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “With BrewDog being a community-owned business it’s important for us to know what customers think of our products. With the Honest To Dog initiative we want to show our commitment to Equity Punks by putting them in the driver’s seat so they can tell us what they think our products are worth and, most importantly, why. We want to take the risk no matter the financial profit as we think the results will be invaluable.” BrewDog operates 80 bars worldwide and two breweries.
Ta Ta Eatery team to launch London’s first katsu sando shop: Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng, the former Viajante chefs behind street food concept Ta Ta Eatery, are set to launch “London’s first katsu sando shop”. Project Tou is due to open at an undisclosed site in central London this summer offering katsu sando, a Japanese snack that is usually a breaded pork cutlet with coleslaw on white bread. Project Tou will open from midday to midnight and offer new flavours “created with the intent of changing people’s perspective on what they can expect between two slices of bread”, Hot Dinners reports. The concept will also offer rice bowls. Meng and Gonçalves, who also both worked at Chiltern Firehouse, launched a debut bricks and mortar site for Ta Ta Eatery – the “Chinese family-style rice fix with a Portuguese twist” – in Haggerston, east London, in June 2016. The site has since closed but Ta Ta Eatery will supply the food offering at Tayer and Elementary, an all-day cafe that will launch in Old Street on Saturday (1 June).
The Alchemist secures former Strada site in Portsmouth: The Alchemist, the Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, has further strengthened its regional pipeline by securing a former Strada site at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. The group was granted permission by Portsmouth Council to open until 12.30am, Sunday to Wednesday, and until 1.30am, Thursday to Saturday, after Manchester commercial law firm Kuits secured the licence. Earlier this month Propel learned the 15-strong business, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, is set to further strengthen its presence in London after lining up a flagship site in Canary Wharf for an opening towards the end of the year. In August, The Alchemist will open its second site in Birmingham, while a further site in London will open next year in Embassy Gardens.
Nathan Outlaw to open seafood-focused restaurant at The Goring next month:Two Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw is to open a seafood-focused restaurant at The Goring hotel in London’s Belgravia next month. Outlaw will launch Siren, which will have a heavy tilt towards seafood from his native Cornwall, on Wednesday, 12 June. Siren, which will be the first new restaurant at the hotel for almost 110 years, will be housed in an orangery overlooking the hotel garden. Alongside daily specials, the menu will include turbot herbed and battered with warm tartar sauce, and red mullet with devilled shrimp butter and chicory. Meanwhile, on the same day the hotel’s bar will relaunch as a destination in its own right serving classic cocktails and British spirits. Outlaw owns two Michelin-starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and one-starred Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, both in Port Isaac.
Wolf opens Nottingham site for seventh venue: Italian street food restaurant Wolf has opened a site in Nottingham for its seventh venue. The company, which is led by Tim Entwistle, has opened a 55-seat restaurant in the former Graham Hill menswear shop in Market Street having previously agreed a deal through agent FHP. Wolf occupies 1,927 square feet over the ground floor and basement having signed a ten-year lease at £37,500 per annum. Entwistle told Insider Media: “Our new central location is ideal, with its high ceilings and large open spaces, and we aim to recreate a chilled space for our customers.” Wolf also operates two sites in Reading along with venues at Boxpark Wembley, Chiswick and Leeds. It also has a site in Manchester where it is doubling up having secured the former Wahu unit in The Avenue for an opening this year. Wolf offers an Italian-based street food menu including salad, pasta, piada and focaccia.
Liverpool-based Spitroast to transform former pub in Ormskirk for third site on Merseyside: Liverpool-based chicken restaurant Spitroast is set to transform the Buck I’ Th’ Vine pub in Ormskirk town centre for its third site on Merseyside. The pub in Burscough Street has been empty since 2014 but now Spitroast founder Adam Lunt has started to transform it into a sister site to the brand’s restaurants in Liverpool and Crosby. The 40-cover restaurant will have space for a further 20 seats in the courtyard, the Liverpool Echo reports. Spitroast specialises in freshly made chicken and vegetarian dishes, including Sunday roast. A licensing application has been submitted stating the new venue wants to open from midday to 11pm daily, with the licence requested to begin from Monday, 24 June.
High Street Hospitality reveals £2m plans to launch Hotel 52 brand in Newcastle:High Street Hospitality, a subsidiary of Newcastle-based The High Street Group, plans to convert a prominent building in the city into its Hotel 52 brand. The company has acquired 19-21 Collingwood Street and plans to transform it into The Metropolitan House Hotel. Proposals include four floors of hotel accommodation with 13 individually themed boutique rooms, some aimed at corporate travellers and those on the upper floors catering for larger groups. Plans also include The Boardwalk Brasserie – an 80-cover, 1920s-themed restaurant, while the top floor would become The Terrace At Metropolitan House Hotel with a semi-retractable roof. The Studios in the basement would be an entertainment venue with karaoke booths and a sing star booth allowing people to record their own DVD or vinyl. High Street Hospitality managing director Phill Brumwell told Chronicle Live: “We have a vision to create high-quality hotel, restaurant and family friendly facilities, with a fully rounded experience for all generations.” High Street Hospitality is also investing £4.5m in a site at Thinford, County Durham, where it will build a 42-bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar. It will be the third Hotel 52, joining sister sites in Whitley Bay and Stanley. Last month, High Street Hospitality lodged plans to open a Hotel 52 in Sunderland. The company has also acquired The Sea Hotel in South Shields, carrying out a £1.4m refurbishment, The Parkmore Hotel in Eaglescliffe, which is undergoing a £1m facelift, and The Three Horse Shoes in Washington, where there are plans to build 58 bedrooms in the grounds. All three will operate outside the Hotel 52 brand. High Street Hospitality also operates 15 food, beverage and leisure venues. Gary Forrest founded The High Street Group in 2006.
New York-based LDV Hospitality to open first site outside US, in Knightsbridge Green on Saturday: New York-based LDV Hospitality, which owns modern Italian concept Scarpetta Restaurants, will open its first site outside the US, in Knightsbridge Green, London, on Saturday (1 June). Sette will be housed on the ground floor of Bulgari Hotel London but operate independently, offering authentic Italian food. Sette, which translates as “lucky” number seven in Italian, will bake bread and make pasta on-site. The menu will feature renowned Scarpetta dishes and additions such as veal tenderloin with gnocchi alla romana and glazed sweetbread. The drinks list will focus on a “robust and eclectic” mix of Italian wine. Below Sette, “underground” bar Nolita Social, named after New York neighbourhood North of Little Italy, will offer cocktails, live music and DJs playing 60s rock, 70s soul and 90s hip-hop. LDV Hospitality founder John Meadow said: “Our Scarpetta approach has always been comfortable yet aspirational and modern yet grounded with a love for old-world hospitality. Sette will follow this core ethos of our Scarpetta identity, capturing a quintessential New York balance of high energy and effortless elegance. We are delighted to bring our passion to guests in London.” Meadow founded LDV Hospitality in 2008 by opening his flagship Scarpetta restaurant, followed by signature brands American Cut and Dolce Italian. The company operates restaurants in nine US cities.
Former Claridge’s chef buys Cheshire hotel: Former Claridge’s chef Andrew Bourne has purchased and refurbished the Alexandra Court Hotel in Congleton, Cheshire, with the support of a six-figure funding package from HSBC UK. Bourne’s redevelopment of the venue has involved opening a veranda with seating for the summer season and a complete redecoration of all 14 rooms in the Victorian building. Bourne plans to raise the profile of the hotel as a site that can host bespoke events. He told Insider Media: “It is a beautiful property set against a stunning landscaped garden and we look forward to welcoming guests for the next chapter of the hotel’s story.”
Brighton-based chicken restaurant lines up second site, in Eastbourne: Brighton-based fried chicken and vegan “chicken” concept The Bok Shop is to open its second site, along the coast in Eastbourne. The company has applied to Eastbourne Borough Council for an alcohol licence for a unit at The Beacon shopping centre. The opening hours of the premises would be daily from 11am to 12.30am, reports the Eastbourne Herald. The Bok Shop’s debut venue is in East Street, Brighton.
Former musicians to launch motel-inspired craft bar and kitchen in Bethnal Green next week: David Burgess and Liam Tolan, former musicians in indie bands The Brights and The Light Assembly, are to launch a motel-inspired craft bar and kitchen in Bethnal Green, east London. Fugitive Motel will open on Friday, 7 June overlooking Bethnal Green Gardens as a cafe and co-working space offering coffee from local roaster Climpson & Sons. In the evening the bar will offer 14 craft beer lines, including low and no-alcohol brews, kombucha on tap, and sourdough pizza in a motel-style pizza lounge complete with shuffleboard. Influenced by US motels from the 1950s and 1960s, the 140-cover space will seat another 25 on a terrace. The pizza lounge will feature sharing booths that feature a motel-style “vacancy” light that can be turned on or off depending on whether occupants would like others to join them.
London Shell Co to launch second barge at Paddington Central next month:Following the success of its cruising restaurant aboard the Prince Regent barge, independent seafood restaurant London Shell Co will increase its presence at Paddington by launching a second barge – the Grand Duchess – which will be moored next door. The Grand Duchess will launch on Monday, 10 June. It will be static, providing an all-day food offer, bar and outside area, while the Prince Regent will continue to host cruising lunches and suppers along Regents Canal. London Shell Co founders Harry and Leah Lobek said: “We are excited to open our second boat at Paddington. The Grand Duchess will remain permanently docked on the Grand Union Canal and specialise in British fish with a drinks list that focuses on sparkling wine. The restaurant will also offer a relaxed setting to enjoy a glass of wine with bar snacks and there will be additional seating outside to enjoy the summer.”
Two Cumbrian country pubs come to market: Two Cumbrian country pubs have been put up for sale through agent Savills. The Cross Keys in the village of Carleton and The Highland Drove Inn in the village of Great Salkeld are being marketed at £550,000 and £350,000 respectively. The Cross Keys features a fully fitted kitchen and holds a late licence. The 5,277 square foot, grade II-listed building also features a first-floor dining area and decked balcony, alongside a bar, restaurant and office. The Highland Drove Inn provides 6,149 square feet of space with a kitchen, dining room, pool and darts area, and five double en-suite bedrooms on the first floor. Tom Cunningham, director at Savills Manchester, said: “We are delighted to have brought these two well-respected country pubs to the market for our clients. Both benefit from a strong residential catchment and loyal customer base and we look forward to welcoming new owners to build on this.”