BrewDog builds openings pipeline in India: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is building an openings pipeline for its international bars estate in India. The company’s first bar in the country is under construction and opening soon in Kamala Mills, Mumbai. The company has now secured locations for a further five BrewDog bars in Pune, Gurgaon (two sites), Bengaluru and another in Mumbai. The company opened its entire estate of bars in England on Saturday (4 July) and external areas in its Scottish bars on Monday (6 July). To ensure a covid-secure reopening in line with government guidance, the company said it had implemented its own ten-point safety plan, including contactless ordering and cashless payments via its order to table app, sanitiser stations and social distancing signs. All staff will be required to wear masks and gloves, while they will also monitor site capacity continually and carry out surface cleaning every 15 minutes. The sites will also feature single-use menus, while table screens will be available on request.
Oakman Inns considers options for equity raise: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is considering options including attracting a strategic investor and holding a retail fund-raising to deliver equity funding and strengthen its balance sheet. Peter Borg-Neal, founder of the 28-strong business, said: “We are focusing on strengthening our balance sheet to ensure we can not only withstand any further shock wave but also be ready to organically grow the business through M&A and commercial property partnerships. To deliver this equity funding, we’re considering a number of options including attracting a strategic investor and holding a retail fund-raising. We’re therefore asking the chancellor to urgently consider for the Autumn Budget the provision of investor tax breaks and the lifting of all restrictions on the Enterprise Investment Scheme for the rest of the financial year 2020/21.” All 28 of the company’s pubs opened on 4 July with early trading “positive”. Oakman said it achieved “satisfactory sales”, with the weekend’s like-for-like sales at 82% of last year but at 104% over Monday and Tuesday. The company said it was experiencing higher operating costs because of the cost of covid-safe compliance, rising food prices and additional labour costs driven by operational complexities. However, it said it was confident the VAT cut announced by the chancellor would provide “significant margin mitigation” and, together with the Eat Out To Help Out scheme would boost demand in August and get people “back into the swing of enjoying eating out again”. Borg-Neal said: “Our decision to press on with our reopening programme three weeks ahead of 4 July and our success in retraining and motivating our people means we have been able to reopen in considerable style. Concerning organic growth, Oakman has an excellent pipeline of ‘shovel-ready’ sites in Buckingham, Wokingham, Epsom and Hatfield. The first three are expected to open in 2021 and Hatfield in early 2022. However, while timings will be extended due to the closure and rebuild periods, we see no reason why the previous forecast can’t be achieved. Indeed, we believe the crisis will create significant opportunities for growth, which should allow a business of our calibre to outperform the previous forecasts once the economy recovers.”
JD Wetherspoon to launch latest Dublin pub and hotel in October: JD Wetherspoon has announced it will open its latest pub and hotel in Dublin on Tuesday, 20 October. The company is investing more than €21m (£19m) to develop the pub and 89-bedroom hotel, which will be named Keavan’s Port. The opening will create 200 full and part-time jobs. Wetherspoon is also investing more than £12m to open two pubs in England and refurbish eight others in the coming months. The new pubs will be in Cross Gates in Leeds and Kingswinford in the West Midlands. Major refurbishments will take place at its pubs including those in Peterborough, Salisbury, South Shields and Stafford. Last week, Wetherspoon reported it had forged deals with landlords to pay zero rent now and defer payments until next year or switch to monthly payments. The company, which operates 875 pubs in the UK, reopened circa 750 sites in England on Saturday (4 July) with a raft of social distancing measures in place including separate entrances and exits where possible.
Bistrot Pierre begins phased reopening of estate: Bistrot Pierre, the Livingbridge-backed group that filed a notice of intent last week to appoint administrators, has begun a gradual phased reopening of its 25-strong estate. The company has reopened its sites in Stratford-upon-Avon and Derby, with its venues in Eastbourne, Plymouth and Torquay to follow on Thursday (9 July). The company had been working with adviser KPMG on its options, with a sales process generating interest from serial sector investor Luke Johnson and London-based investment firm Inspirit Capital. Propel understands TriSpan and RCapital also ran the rule over the Nick White-led business. It’s thought an administration process could see current backer Livingbridge agree a deal on the group’s debt pile and continue to back the business through a pre-pack administration. Robert Beacham and John Whitehead founded the business in 1994.
Dishoom to open long-awaited Birmingham restaurant next week: Indian restaurant concept Dishoom is to finally launch its venue in Birmingham, next week. The cafe was due to open on 1 April but was hit by lock-down restrictions just before launch. The soft launch will now take place on Saturday, 18 July ahead of an official opening on Thursday, 6 August. The venue is in One Chamberlain Square, part of the Paradise Birmingham development. The venue will open daily for breakfast and mid-morning chai, lunch, evening feasts and late-night snacks served in the cafe, Permit Room bar and on a large terrace. Dishoom is led by founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar and pays homage to the Irani cafes once prevalent in Bombay. Each Dishoom has a “founding myth”, with the Birmingham site inspired by the “city of a thousand trades”. Alongside signature Dishoom dishes, the Birmingham site will offer a bespoke chef’s special, a mutton chaap korma. Dishoom will implement a phased reopening of its established cafes, starting on Friday (10 July) in Manchester, Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Carnaby, followed by Edinburgh a week later and Kensington on Friday, 24 July. The Covent Garden venue is still undergoing its redesign. All cafes will operate with fewer tables and added screens. Dishoom’s Permit Room bars will offer table service only, while new systems for reservations and contactless pay-at-table options will be introduced. Additional cleaning processes will be in place, along with “industry-leading air filtration systems”.
Social Entertainment Ventures plans phased reopening of all UK and US venues from August: Social Entertainment Ventures (SEV), the UK and US experiential leisure operator, is planning to reopen its portfolio on a phased basis from the beginning of August, Propel has learned. It is also aiming to launch its new bingo concept, Hijingo, in London in the autumn having originally been due to launch it in March. Bounce Old Street will open on Wednesday, 5 August followed by Bounce Farringdon on Wednesday, 9 September. Hijingo‘s launch in Worship Street, Shoreditch, is provisionally set for October. Reopening of SEV’s US venues will also begin in early August, starting with Flight Clubs in Chicago and Boston, which SEV operates under licence, followed by AceBounce in Chicago. SEV said it was investing significant resources to ensure all its venues would be covid compliant on reopening, with strict application of government and state health guidelines. SEV chief executive Toby Harris said: “We are very excited to be reopening although we’re more than aware of the myriad challenges that lie ahead. The size and layouts of our concepts, along with new operating procedures, should give assurance to our guests and staff when they return. But, equally importantly, we’re all determined to create the same energy and atmosphere in our venues as ever.”
Shake Shack sees sales hit by pandemic and protests: Shake Shack, which recently opened four new restaurants, said second-quarter like-for-like sales dropped 49% driven by volatility tied to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests in June. The company said sales for the quarter ended 24 June were negatively impacted by about $3.2m in June as stores were forced to temporarily close or operate with reduced hours because of curfews enacted to curb civil unrest in key markets. Overall, the company experienced a 60.1% drop in visits for the quarter. New York City, where the company operates its highest volume of stores, is expected to have a longer recovery time, the company said. For the week ended 1 July, like-for-like sales at New York City locations were down 58%. In the previous quarter the region accounted for 20% of like-for-like sales. System-wide like-for-like sales declined 39% for the week ended 1 July. Shake Shack has reclosed some stores after health officials reported a spike in coronavirus cases in certain areas. At the end of the second quarter, 60% of its restaurants were operating dine-in with limited capacity. Despite the challenges, the company said it had extended a 10% premium pay rise to all hourly employees. The wage increase is expected to continue until at least 22 July. The four new openings were in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Charlotte and St Louis. Each had opened with “encouraging levels of sales,” the company said.
Coffi Co founder launches gin and bakery concept in Cardiff: Justin Carty, who is behind Cardiff-based cafe bar concept Coffi Co, has launched a new venture in the city. Carty has opened Gin & Bake at the Mermaid Quay development on Cardiff Bay’s waterfront. The venue has opened for takeaway while a seated area in the live bakery and in the secret gin garden will follow as soon as government restrictions allow. Coffi Co has been trading from all its outlets during lock-down via its app, with a home delivery service available from four of them. On that basis, Coffi Co was also able to open its sixth outlet in Penarth in April despite coronavirus restrictions. Carty told Insider Media: “We are focused on building a business that combines the key ingredients of a great leisure-driven location, welcoming atmosphere and the very best coffee, freshly baked cakes and, of course, gin. We’re keen to continue with our growth strategy by focusing on continually improving and expanding our offer in new and exciting leisure-driven locations across South Wales.”
Cereal Killer Cafe closes London sites because of coronavirus impact: Belfast-born identical twins Alan and Gary Keery have announced their two Cereal Killer Cafes in London won’t reopen because of the impact of coronavirus on the hospitality industry. The Keerys opened the UK’s first cereal-themed cafe in Brick Lane in late 2014. However, they issued a statement on social media confirming the outlet and a second venue in Camden won’t reopen. The business will continue as an online entity, with the brothers refusing to rule out a return to the high street in the future. In a video accompanying the statement, Alan Keery said the company had sold more than one million bowls of cereal since opening but added: “Coronavirus has been pretty tough on the hospitality industry and unfortunately Cereal Killer Cafe is going to be one of the casualties.” He said the online side of the business, however, had performed well during lock-down. “This is not cheerio forever,” the brothers said in the video. “We have goals of seeing our cafe open again but due to the current climate it won’t be financially viable for us to run them. Fast forward a year or two and we hope to reopen but until then we’ll be putting our efforts into growing our online store, creating our own line of products and delivering awesome cereal.”