Gaucho shows first signs of recovery since administration with 8% year-on-year covers rise in November, further strengthens leadership team:Steak brand Gaucho has shown its first signs of recovery since exiting administration with an 8% year-on-year rise in covers during November. It comes as the company said cover numbers had been minus 7% in the year to date on a like-for-like basis. Martin Williams, M Restaurants founder and a former managing director of Gaucho, was brought in to lead the brand as it exited administration in October after its acquisition by Lomo Bidco, an entity owned by Investec Bank and SC Lowy. He immediately brought in a new menu featuring “classic” and “nuevo” sections that offer a preview of how the management team plans to develop the business during 2019 as well as cut prices. It appears the moves are beginning to pay dividends. Williams said: “We are delighted to see nearly 80,000 diners returned to Gaucho last month to try the new, higher-quality, lower-priced menus. The feedback from guests has been amazing and we are welcoming back many regulars as well as seeing a new, younger demographic try Gaucho for the first time.” Williams has also strengthened Gaucho’s leadership team by appointing Gemma Meale as HR director and Max Castaldo as executive chef. Meale joins Gaucho from Splendid Hospitality Hotel Group while Castaldo, born in Argentina, was head chef at the Lanesborough Hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Since Williams took on his role he has appointed Ross Butler as managing director, Travis McKechnie as operations director and Jenna Bromage as brand and marketing director. Gaucho entered administration in July after sister brand CAU saw double-digit declines in like-for-like revenues, with “over-expansion, poor site selection and onerous lease arrangements”. However, the Gaucho brand was not immune from the problems. While revenue was up 2.2% in the first six months of 2018 compared with the previous year, wider cost pressures facing the restaurant sector, including an increase in business rates, rising food prices and the introduction of the National Living Wage, meant restaurant Ebitda margin reduced from 28.1% to 21.4%. All 22 branches of CAU were closed to allow the group to focus on selling the Gaucho chain.
Costa Coffee launches pre-order drinks service: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has launched a mobile pre-order drinks service for members of its Costa Coffee Club loyalty programme. Costa Collect will allow members to order their drink through the programme’s app before picking it up at their chosen store. Initially launching in 111 London stores, the company plans to roll the service out UK-wide in 2019. The app allows users to identify their nearest store and order any drinks from the barista-made menu including size, milk type and added extras. Payment is made through the app with digital VAT receipts sent via multiple channels. Costa Coffee global digital and loyalty director Arslan Sharif said: “Our insights tell us customers expect innovations that enhance their day-to-day busy lives by making it easy and convenient to buy their favourite drink. We’re delighted to be able to offer customers across London the chance to take back some precious time in their day with the launch of Costa Collect. We look forward to customers discovering new and faster ways to enjoy great coffee as we look to expand the Costa Collect service UK-wide in 2019.”
High Court rules Deliveroo riders are self-employed: The High Court has dismissed a judicial review launched by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) against decisions by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) and the High Court that found Deliveroo riders are self-employed. The Court held that riders were not in an “employment relationship” for the purposes of European law. Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne said: “We are pleased the judgement upholds earlier decisions of the High Court and the CAC that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, providing them with the flexibility they want. In addition to emphatically confirming this under UK national law, the court also carefully examined the question under European law and concluded riders are self-employed. This a victory for riders, who have consistently told us the flexibility to choose when and where they work, which comes with self-employment, is their number one reason for riding with Deliveroo.” The IWGB won the right to challenge Deliveroo riders’ self-employed status in the High Court in June.
The Stable reports new app helps boost sales by up to 9%: The Stable, the 17-strong pizza, pie and cider brand owned by Fuller’s, has reported its new app has helped boost sales by up to 9%. The company said the app had been downloaded 11,000 times since it went live six months ago. Developed by hospitality management solutions company Zonal, the app has helped The Stable improve queue management at the bar. The Stable operations director David Gough said: “The app’s popularity has exceeded expectations. Our regular customers know what they want and are keen to beat queues during busy periods. They love the app for its ease of use and speed of service. However, what has been surprising is the mixture of ages and types of people using the app, which ranges from young people to families and pensioners!” The app allows users to view menus, order and pay from the table, book a table, access tasting notes, rate ciders, select music and give guest experience feedback. Gough added: “Order and pay apps are fast becoming a consumer expectation when going out for food and drink.” Zonal said it had seen a 400% increase in enquiries over the past year from bar and restaurant groups looking to develop their own order and pay apps.
Drayton Manor forced to refinance business as losses treble: Staffordshire theme park Drayton Manor has revealed it was forced to refinance the business after “one of the most difficult financial years in the group’s history”, which saw losses almost treble. The park, near Tamworth, saw pre-tax losses increase to £4,246,446 for the year ending 28 February 2018, compared with a loss of £1,453,519 the previous year. The report accompanying the accounts filed at Companies House showed Drayton Manor suffered a fall in visitor numbers following the death of an 11-year-old girl, while armed police were stationed at the attraction in spring and early summer 2017 after the UK’s terror threat level rose to “critical”. The company said economic uncertainty also contributed to a 30% fall in visitors during the summer. Visitor numbers improved to “near historic levels” but the park was unable to recover the shortfall, it said. The park, which opened in 1949, saw turnover drop 8% to £22,944,218 during the period, compared with £24,916,796 the year before. As a result, the business underwent a refinancing exercise. A repayment holiday was granted by the company’s bank for a loan, while its overdraft facility was extended for the “six months of the year when cash is at its tightest”. The directors added they were “pleased to report the business was operating within these facilities and that all covenants were met at the year end and are forecast to be met at the next year end”.
Maxwell’s Restaurants Group to launch immersive disco concept at Café de Paris: Maxwell’s Restaurants Group is to launch immersive dining and late-night party concept Disco54 at its Café de Paris venue in London. Inspired by legendary New York nightclub Studio 54, Disco54 at Café de Paris will launch on 12 January and run every Friday and Saturday night. As well as a team of 40 performers, singers, actors, hosts and DJs, Maxwell’s will transform the Coventry Street venue to feature 54 disco mirror balls, themed karaoke rooms and a soundtrack of disco and party anthems. Guests will be able to book for dinner and enjoy non-stop entertainment and a new cocktail menu inspired by personalities from the 1970s. Café de Paris group operations director Jim Robertson said: “The demand for a more immersive experience is driving change for the late-night economy. It is now not enough for venues to offer just a great DJ and a standard drinks menu. Café de Paris has had many faces over the years and we’re one of London’s oldest venues but we’ve continued to innovate to ensure we are delivering that unforgettable experience.” The venue will continue to operate as Cafe de Paris from Sunday to Thursday for all corporate and private hire events.
Home House appoints former Hakkasan vice-president as sales and marketing director: Private members’ club Home House has appointed former Hakkasan Group vice-president of global brand marketing Claire Ashman to its senior leadership team. She has joined as sales and marketing director for Home House and the group’s new business-orientated club, Home Grown, which will open in Marylebone in the spring. Ashman’s appointment follows a three-month consultancy contract with Home House. She will oversee all branding, marketing and communications to drive awareness, secure market position and increase sales across both sites. Andrew Richardson, managing director of Home House and Home Grown, said: “Claire brings a wealth of experience and a fresh approach. She will be integral to the opening of our new club and the continued development of Home House.” Ashman added: “I have spent many years working with established, high-growth brands in a range of sectors and look forward to applying my experience to the launch of Home Grown.” Last week, applications opened for founding members of the new club – to “shape its ethos”.
Arc Inspirations secures alcohol licence to bring Banyan to Newcastle: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has secured an alcohol licence to open its first venue in Newcastle. The company had its application approved by the city council – despite initial objections from police – after pledging to change the style of its first floor so it essentially functions as a restaurant. It means customers upstairs will only be allowed to drink if they are also having a meal, a condition Northumbria Police said gave them “comfort and assurance”, reports Chronicle Live. The decision allows Arc Inspirations to open a Banyan Bar & Kitchen at a site currently housing Jamie’s Italian, which will shut on Friday, 4 January. Arc Inspirations will invest £1.4m in the 10,000 square foot venue. In October, the company also announced plans to open a site for its Manahatta brand in Newcastle, in Collingwood Street. The company said the move illustrated its strategy of rolling out its complementary portfolio of brands in clusters in key northern cities.
Pizza Hut US to acquire online ordering provider QuikOrder: Pizza Hut, which is owned by Yum! Brands, has announced its US business is to acquire QuikOrder, an online ordering software and service provider for the restaurant industry. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but it marks one of Pizza Hut’s largest acquisitions to date. By acquiring QuikOrder’s online ordering capabilities, Pizza Hut US said it would “improve its ability to deliver an easy and personalised online ordering experience and accelerate digital innovation across its base of more than 6,000 restaurants in the US”. In 2018 so far, about half of Pizza Hut’s US sales were processed through QuikOrder’s platform. The acquisition will include Pizza Hut’s current digital ordering platforms, systems and services and QuikOrder’s in-restaurant technology and ancillary services, as well as its future generation products and programming. Yum! Brands chief executive Greg Creed said: “The acquisition strengthens the Pizza Hut US digital roadmap and innovation and aligns with the strategy we put in place to drive its growth. We’re excited by the opportunity this acquisition presents and the future potential to scale QuikOrder’s technology across the Yum! family.”
Aiden Byrne to relaunch Manchester House as MCR on Friday: Michelin-starred chef Aiden Byrne will reopen Manchester House as MCR on Friday (7 December). Byrne has taken over the venue, which closed in October after being put into administration by Living Ventures. Byrne has made a return to the venue having left in January to head the kitchen at D&D London’s rooftop restaurant and bar 20 Stories. Byrne and his team will offer six or 12-course tasting menus that showcase the reinvented classic dishes he has become synonymous with. His menu will draw on his career, seeing traditional flavour combinations crafted into “something new and surprising”. Byrne told The Business Desk: “The key ingredient for the new restaurant is putting the guest at the heart of everything we’re doing. If our guests want something other than that which is on the menu, if we have the ingredients we can make it work for them.”
Bachus converts Belfast Chinawhite into pizzeria: Northern Ireland-based hospitality group Bachus has converted its Chinawhite nightclub in Belfast into a pizzeria following a £250,000 investment. The company operates 12 venues in Northern Ireland including beer and cocktail club Rita’s, Sweet Afton Bar & Kitchen and rooftop bar The Perch, all in Belfast. Tutti Frutti will replace the nightclub in Franklin Street, which The Bachus Group brought to Belfast in 2014. General manager Michael Johnston told the Belfast Telegraph: “We are delighted to invest once again in the Northern Ireland hospitality sector and create opportunities for those who wish to carve out a career within the industry. Our level of investment clearly outlines ongoing commitment and our vision for Tutti Frutti ensures we are continually looking to bring something new and fresh to the market.” Last month, renowned Soho nightclub Chinawhite opened a site in Manchester.
Former Vinoteca executive chef and Marco Pierre White protégé opens debut restaurant: Kieren Steinborn-Busse, former executive chef at wine bar, restaurant and wine shop Vinoteca and a protégé of Marco Pierre White, has opened his first solo venture. Steinborn-Busse and wife Natasha have launched The Falcon in Buntingford, Hertfordshire. The Falcon offers dishes that reflect Steinborn-Busse’s love of British comfort food and rustic recipes based on seasonal, local produce. Housed in a grade II-listed building in High Street, the main dining room offers 28 covers while there are two private dining rooms upstairs. The decor features original wooden beams and brickwork alongside bespoke furniture. Steinborn-Busse said: “We strongly believe the greatest pleasure in life is great food and that happiness can be found in a homemade, delicious meal served with love.” Steinborn-Busse trained under Pierre White at Quo Vadis and Alain Ducasse at The Sanderson. He was part of the original team to open St Martin’s Lane Hotel and Asia de Cuba under Richard Phillips. He was head chef at Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells when the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2002 before working as executive chef at the Swan bar and restaurant at Shakespeare’s Globe and more recently at Vinoteca, overseeing six London sites.
KFC rapped over advert featuring woman dancing on roof: KFC has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a television advert featuring a woman dancing on the edge of a roof. A woman is shown dancing and twirling on a wall while another woman dances in front of her on the roof. After complaints, the ASA deemed the advert could encourage “unsafe practice”. In defence, KFC said the intention was to capture the carefree spirit associated with the product and depict its philosophy of “living bonelessly”. It also said it seemed reasonable to assume the choreography shown in the advert couldn’t be easily emulated by viewers, while the dancer was on a plinth in the centre of the roof that was visible in the advert’s first scene. However, the ASA said the camera angles, shots, rooftop location and choreography could be something young people would like to emulate as an “act of dexterity and daring”. KFC has been told the advert must not appear again in its current form and its advertising must not condone or encourage unsafe practices, reports Marketing Week.
Chapel Down Group to open Kent brewery, bar and restaurant in March:Chapel Down Group is to open its new brewery, bar and restaurant in March. The company has marked the topping-out ceremony for the Curious Brewery development in Ashford, Kent. The 1.6-acre site includes a custom-built, five-vessel brewhouse capable of producing more than four-and-a-half million pints a year. Beer will be kegged and bottled on-site at a rate of more than 4,000 bottles an hour. The ground floor will consist of a 1,000 square foot shop, bar and hosting area for tours. The first floor will feature a 4,000 square foot bar and two dining rooms, where an open kitchen will serve modern British cuisine with ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Curious Brewery managing director Gareth Bath said: “The brewery is really beginning to take shape and we’ve been delighted with the progress we’ve made so far.”
Irish duo to launch Islington bar: Irish duo Aaron Wall and Ciarán Smith are to open their first bar, in Islington, north London, this month. The pair, who have collectively held senior roles at venues such as Callooh Callay, London Cocktail Club, The Dorchester and Waldorf Astoria NYC, will launch Ireland-inspired Homeboy in Essex Road. The venue will feel “like a living room” with a mix of exposed brick, painted features and tiles. The cocktail menu will be split into three themes – Irish whiskey, contemporary and classics – while Irish beer and draught Guinness will also be served. Homeboy’s simple food offering will include snacks such as loaded fries and comfort food created using family recipes.
Plans lodged to transform former Bradford cinema into live entertainment and events venue: Plans have been lodged to transform the former Odeon cinema in Bradford into a multimillion-pound live entertainment and events venue. Developer Bradford Live, a not-for-profit social enterprise, wants to convert the 5,400 square metre site into a 4,000-capacity multi-use venue. A former restaurant and ballroom will be available for events such as weddings, banquets and conferences. Live events company NEC Group will operate the venue. Chairman Phil Mead told Insider Media: “As well as staging amazing live entertainment that puts Bradford back on the national live music touring circuit, we are determined other parts of the building will be equally cherished and equally well used.” Bradford Live has received funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal. The LEP also helped secure £4m for the project from the government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.
Bermondsey-based brewer passes halfway mark in £400,000 crowdfunding campaign to triple production: Bermondsey-based brewer Anspach & Hobday has passed the halfway mark in its £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to triple production and expand taproom space. The company is offering 11.76% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £3m. So far, 242 investors have pledged £206,340 with 11 days remaining. Anspach & Hobday exports its beers to 11 countries and plans to increase production to meet 50% year-on-year wholesale growth and expand the range of brews at its Bermondsey taproom. The pitch states: “We aim to brew and curate a better beer experience through a mix of classic styles and modern beers. The UK craft beer sector is growing 7.3% annually (May 2018) and so are we, with 50% year-on-year wholesale growth (from £195,000 in 2017 to £294,000 in 2018; overall Ebitda minus £50,900). Rapidly approaching capacity, we are fund-raising to triple production and expand our retail presence. Founded in 2012 by Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday, we produce keg, cask and bottle and are moving on to cans. This year we’ve brewed 55 distinctive styles, from traditional brews for Oktoberfest to specials. UK accounts include Oddbins and Fuller’s, with orders lined up from Majestic Wine and JD Wetherspoon. We export to Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the US.”
Taiwanese dim sum brand Din Tai Fung makes UK debut, in Covent Garden: Taiwanese dim sum restaurant chain Din Tai Fung has made its UK debut with an opening in Covent Garden. The Taipei-based chain signed a 25-year lease with Aberdeen Standard Investments to open a 250-cover restaurant at 5-6 Henrietta Street. The company agreed a rent of £1.2m a year for a 9,000 square foot unit arranged over ground floor and basement. The brand’s signature dish consists of steamed pork dumplings passed through six stations, each manned by a team of dim sum chefs. Other dishes include steamed chicken soup, while a bar offers Taiwanese-inspired cocktails and traditional Chinese tea. The venue also sells Taiwanese sauces and souvenirs. Din Tai Fung has more than 150 restaurants worldwide and will open a second London site next year, at Centre Point.
Wolverhampton-based operator acquires Worcestershire hotel for second site: Wolverhampton-based hotel operator Khurshid Anwar has acquired a site in Worcestershire for his second venue. Anwar has bought St Andrews Town Hotel in Droitwich for an undisclosed sum. Built in the 1820s and once home to the town clerk, the hotel has 31 bedrooms, a restaurant, three meeting rooms, a civil ceremony licence and a 150-cover orangery that can cater for weddings and banquets. Anwar told Insider Media: “St Andrews Town Hotel has huge capacity for growth. The building has tremendous presence and is well located for business and leisure. I aim to use my knowledge gained over the past 15 years in the hotel trade and work closely with the St Andrews team to put it firmly back on the map. Longer term, there is scope to improve and extend our bedroom, dining and banqueting facilities to maximise the true potential of this lovely property.” The deal was backed by Allied Irish Bank (GB). Anwar also owns Ely House Hotel in Wolverhampton and the bank has also agreed to refinance his previous loan arrangements at that property.
MasterChef: The Professionals contestant creates menu for pub with rooms opening in Kensal Green next week: MasterChef: The Professionals contestant Sebastien Lambot has created the menu for the William IV, a pub with rooms that will reopen in Kensal Green, north west London, on Saturday 15 December. The pub in Harrow Road has been taken over by Jean-Marin Bolot, who has worked in property and hospitality in the UK and France. The kitchen will be led by head chef Marek Rudnik and offer British pub favourites such as slow-roasted shoulder of lamb and Sunday dinners alongside draught beer, spirits, wine and a bar food menu. Built in 1837, the pub has undergone an extensive refurbishment but retains features such as open fireplaces, stained-glass windows and the original white marble bar, which stretches across several rooms. The 112-cover, ground-floor space consists of a main bar and dining room, a private bar, and a small bar at the rear for events and parties. The garden and summer house will open in the spring, while 15 guest rooms on the upper floors will open in January.
Navitas partners with Brother UK to raise food-labelling standards: Food safety business Navitas has partnered with technology solutions provider Brother UK in a bid to raise the standard of food labelling. Navitas launched its food safety management technology in 2014. The system is based around a smart probe for hot and cold food, and pods and hubs in fridges, freezers and chillers that monitor food temperature and save readings to the cloud. Navitas has further developed its digital food safety management system to also address “laborious, unhygienic and potentially unsafe” food-labelling processes by integrating Brother UK’s TD-2120N compact label printer. All key information relating to food products is stored within the system including ingredients, allergens and use-by dates. The printer produces bespoke labels with tailored information for each product, including date and time of preparation. Personalised log-ins can be set up for each member of staff to ensure accountability. Navitas chief executive Ben Gardner said: “The legislation that applies to labelling food made on-site is less stringent than that which applies to pre-packed goods. By using Navitas Food Safety with Brother’s TD-2120N label printer, foodservice providers can confidently meet and exceed the standards set out in labelling regulations.”
Hyatt to make Scottish debut with Edinburgh marina hotel: Hotel company Hyatt is to operate the new Spa & Conference hotel at Edinburgh marina. The hotel – the company’s first in Scotland – will comprise 187 en-suite rooms together with 98 one, two and three-bedroom Hyatt Regency Residences serviced apartments. The property, which will overlook the new 340-berth Edinburgh marina, will feature bars and restaurants, a health spa and fitness centre, and a conference centre. Guido Fredrich, Hyatt’s regional vice-president development, Europe, said: “I am thrilled we will be opening our first hotel in Edinburgh as part of the exciting Edinburgh marina development. Edinburgh marina is the perfect springboard for us to launch our brand in Scotland, opening a new era for the company and creating a great new tourism opportunity for Edinburgh