Immersive bingo experience to launch in east London next month: An immersive bingo experience is to launch in east London next month. Dabbers Social Bingo will aim to reinvigorate the experience, replacing cups of tea with cocktails, bingo callers with comedians and “dreary prizes” with “incredible experiences”. Entrepreneur Ed Wethered will team up with the brains behind Musical Bingo, Gospeloke, and Comedy House Party, with backing from the founder of Picturehouse Cinemas, to launch the venture in Houndsditch. Dabbers will “repurpose and modernise” bingo via interactive game show elements and a new food and drink offering. The menu will feature a contemporary take on all things round, including melon balls wrapped in ham, and round waffles with crumble and cinnamon sugar. Drinks will include craft beer, cocktails and wine. Guests will be able to tuck into treats as they play bingo, with drinks and dishes served at table. The experience will include classic bingo on Tuesday nights hosted by veteran callers “coaxed out of retirement”. Bingo Voyage on Fridays will offer an exclusive weekend away as the main prize. Disco Bingo on Saturday nights will feature UV lights, while comedians will host Family Brunch bingo on Sundays. A spokeswoman said: “Bingo has been about for 500 years because it offers an opportunity to socialise. It creates community and is exciting, fun, accessible and, of course, there are chances to win.”
Vibration Group to launch multimillion-pound venue and events space at Greenwich Peninsula: Venue Lab, the Vibration Group company behind Printworks London and Landing Forty Two, is to open a multimillion-pound events space in the capital. The company will launch Magazine London next summer at the Greenwich Peninsula development, near North Greenwich tube station. The venue will offer a flexible 5,394 square metre space across two main rooms and two large mezzanine areas ideal for seminars. Magazine London will also feature an adjoining “showground” – a 13,985 square metre, 7,000-capacity landscaped area on the banks of the Thames that will take the venue’s total capacity to 10,000 people. Vibration Group has partnered with international property and investment company Knight Dragon on the project. Vibration Group chief executive Simon Tracey said: “London is still at the forefront of the global conferencing and exhibition market and Magazine, with it’s incredible flexibility indoor and out, will be ground-breaking.” Knight Dragon chief executive Richard Margree added: “Magazine London fits superbly with what we’re doing on Greenwich Peninsula – creating a new London underpinned by creativity and a community with culture and entertainment at its heart.”
Flight Club lands in Manchester, first UK site outside London: Social darts concept Flight Club has launched its first UK site outside the capital, in Manchester. The venue has opened in King Street offering bookings for groups of up to 120 people, tournaments for up to 200 and team-building experiences. The former Burger & Lobster site includes Flight Club’s feature bar and 14 oches – each with its own seating area and table service. The menu includes sliders, pizza, fries, bar snacks and sharing plates, while the drinks list includes craft beer, wine, shots, spirits and house cocktails. Flight Club’s London sites are in Bloomsbury and Shoreditch, while a third venue will open at the Nova development in Victoria on Friday, 30 November. In September, the company lodged plans for a venue in Birmingham and said it was investigating three further UK venues after securing £15m of growth funding. The company, which also has a venue in Chicago, is looking to launch shuffleboard concept Electric Shuffle in London next year.
M&S lowering price on hundreds of food items: Marks & Spencer (M&S) is shaping its business by lowering prices on hundreds of food items. Chief executive Steve Rowe revealed the move to the BBC with food “trading behind our expectations”. M&S has reported falling clothing and food sales and warned it sees little improvement in sales this year. Like-for-like sales were down 2.2% for the six months to the end of September. Food sales were down 2.9%, while clothing and home sales slid 1.1%. M&S warned trading conditions for the remainder of the financial year would remain “challenging”, while the company expected “little improvement in sales trajectory”. Rowe said: “What we are doing is making sure we protect the magic of M&S.” Revenue fell 3.1% to £4.96bn but underlying pre-tax profits were up 2% to £223.5m.
Whitbread appoints new non-executive director: Whitbread has appointed Frank Fiskers as a non-executive director. He will join the company on 1 February and become a member of the audit committee. Fiskers is former chief executive of Scandic Hotels and is currently a non-executive director of both Scandic and Shurgard Self Storage, although he will step down from his position at Scandic. He is also an industrial advisor to EQT Partners. Fiskers has more than 35 years’ experience in the hospitality industry in Europe and Africa, including positions with Radisson SAS, Hilton Worldwide, Azure Properties and First Hotels. Whitbread chairman Adam Crozier said: “Through his wealth of experience in the hotel industry, Frank’s expertise will be of great value to the Whitbread board as we continue to expand Premier Inn in the UK and internationally.”
Team behind Brixton restaurant Salon launch Peckham sister site: The team behind Brixton restaurant Salon has launched a sister site in Peckham. Nicholas Balfe, Mark Gurney and Matt Bushnell have opened Levan in Blenheim Grove focusing on contemporary European dishes inspired by “new-wave bistronomy”. Levan is housed in a converted warehouse and consists of two main spaces – a large dining area and a bar with high tables for walk-ins. The restaurant offers pastries and croque monsieur in the morning, while the lunch menu reflects European bistro classics. The evening menu consists of smaller sharing plates and heartier dishes such as smoked pollack with spinach, while the drinks list includes French wine and bespoke cocktails.
Denbies developing UK’s first vineyard hotel: Surrey-based wine estate Denbies is developing the UK’s first vineyard hotel as part of a £4m investment in its estate near Dorking. The company is transforming its Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast into a 17-bedroom hotel, which will open in the spring after HSBC UK provided a £1.7m funding package. The hotel will be in the centre of the vineyard and offer a bar and restaurant championing local produce. A major part of Denbies’ investment will go into modernising and expanding the winery next year. Chief executive Christopher White said: “In addition to introducing the UK’s first vineyard hotel, we will quadruple our sparkling wine production capacity by the end of 2019. Moreover, our sustained programme of new plantings and planned winery investments will enable us to expand while continuing to drive the quality of our sparkling wine. We will also make sure we support growing demand for our full range of still wine.” Nick Hicks, area director for HSBC UK in Sussex and Surrey, added: “This is a hugely exciting investment that will see Denbies Wine Estate transformed into a unique attraction. The funding package provided by HSBC is enabling Denbies to incorporate environmentally friendly solutions, ensuring the UK’s first vineyard hotel will operate sustainably and ethically.”
Stonegate to launch Slug and Lettuce winter walk-in menu: Stonegate Pub Company is to launch a winter walk-in menu for its Slug and Lettuce brand. The menu will launch nationwide on Tuesday, 13 November featuring a festive burger, sub and sharer board. The festive beef burger will come topped with turkey, stuffing, bacon, cheese and a “pig in blankets”, while the new sub will be filled with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, lettuce and a pig in blankets! The Festive Sharer will feature mini-burgers and a whole baked camembert, with garlic bread fingers for dipping. There will also be two and three-course set menus, with vegan and vegetarian versions of festive classics. Christmas cocktails will include a Snowball Martini and gin and prosecco-based Sloe-Secco.
SA Brain lodges plans for Coffee#1 site in Christchurch: Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain has lodged plans for a Coffee#1 site in Christchurch, Dorset. The company has applied to Christchurch Borough Council to convert a former Shoe Zone shop in High Street. Coffee#1, which has branches in nearby Winton and Southbourne, has proposed opening hours of 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and 8am to 6pm on Sundays, reports the Bournemouth Echo. A statement accompanying the application said the change of use had numerous benefits. It added: “These include improving footfall in the shopping area, adding to the vitality and viability of the town centre, encouraging consumers to remain longer in the shopping area, providing a venue for social interaction, creating jobs and long-term investment in Christchurch.” Coffee#1 opened its first store in Cardiff in 2001, with SA Brain acquiring the business in 2011. It currently has 92 sites.
TGI Friday’s crowns UK bartending champion: Gary Burdekin has been crowned TGI Friday’s UK Bartender Champion 2018. Burdekin, who works at the company’s venue in Derby, will now represent the UK and challenge the world’s best bartenders in TGI Friday’s World Bartender Championships, which will take place in the US early next year. In total, 8,000 bartenders from 60 countries entered the competition. Russ Ward, who had won the UK competition for five years running, did not enter this year’s event and was its technical judge instead.
Festival food brand opens permanent site: Shwings, which has served chicken wings at a variety of festivals across the UK, has launched a permanent site in Chelmsford. The venue has opened in New London Road in a premises that formerly housed fairtrade cafe A Canteen. The Shwings menu will feature seven flavours of chicken wings served with a variety of sides. The restaurant also cooks Portuguese-style spatchcock chicken over a special oven with hot coals and real fire, reports Essex Live. According to its Twitter feed, Shwings will also be on Deliveroo, allowing diners to sample its “gourmet chicken wings” from their own home.
Nottingham-based independent pizza restaurant closes Leicester site: Nottingham-based independent pizza restaurant Oscar & Rosie’s has closed its site in Leicester. The company has shut the venue in Market Place, which opened in April last year, reports Leicestershire Live. A message from the restaurant read: “Sad to announce our Leicester branch will not be reopening. Thank you to everyone who supported us over the past 18 months in Leicester, we’ve had a great time and made lots of new friends. We hope you’ll still come to visit us in Nottingham.” Oscar & Rosie’s was founded in Nottingham in 2013 and initially operated pop-ups in The Picnic Basket and then Das Kino. It opened its first permanent restaurant in Thurland Street in 2015 before moving to larger premises in Stoney Street in August last year.
Westons reveals Stowford Press Mixed Berries most successful on-trade launch as it sells millionth pint: Cider-maker Westons has sold its one-millionth pint of Stowford Press Mixed Berries in the on-trade, six months after the product’s launch, making it the most successful on-trade launch in the company’s history. Westons previously predicted fruit variants would make up almost half of all cider sold in the UK within five years. Head of marketing Sally McKinnon said: “We were confident introducing a fruit offering for Stowford Press would bring even more consumers into the growing fruit cider category, but the success of Mixed Berries has smashed even our own ambitious target.” The fruit cider category is booming, with 195 million fruit pints now drunk in the on-trade. Sales of fruit cider across the on and off-trade are up 13.1% year-on-year.