M&B launches dietary requirements app: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has launched an app across its circa 1,600-strong estate that consolidates all dietary requirements such as allergies into one place, Propel has learned. The free app, Glass Onion, is available across the company’s brands including Harvester, Premium Country Dining and All Bar One. It will provide guests with booking information and menus as well as allergen information for M&B’s pubs, restaurants and bars. The app is downloadable through Apple App Store and Google Play Store. A M&B spokesman told Propel: “We have seen a growth in consumers with specific dietary requirements, prompting the need for guests to be able to quickly and accurately source information about ingredients and dishes. Glass Onion consolidates food sensitivities and lifestyle choices into one place, making dining out and choosing where to dine easier for our guests.”
Turtle Bay trials brunch menu: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has started trialling a brunch offer at its two sites in Bristol. The Piper-backed business has launched its Caribbean brunch menu through the entire week at its Bristol Broad Quay restaurant and on Saturdays and Sundays at Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road. The offer starts at 10am on weekdays and at 9am on weekends. If successful it is thought the new menu and opening times will be rolled out to other restaurants in the group’s 43-strong UK estate. The brunch menu includes Turtle Bay Roti Rolls plus numerous takes on egg-led dishes including a Big Kingston Grill Down – Jerk bacon and sausage, curried chickpeas, roast tomato and a choice of scallion scrambled eggs or chilli fried eggs on sourdough toast. Last week, Propel revealed the company had appointed Jane O’Riordan as chairman.
Pret appoints Venning as chief technology officer: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, has appointed Sarah Venning, formerly of the John Lewis Partnership, as its new chief technology officer. Venning was director of group IT, strategy and architecture at the John Lewis Partnership for more than two years. She spent more than six years at the John Lewis Partnership in total, including a stint as head of IT relationships. Prior to that, she spent three years at BAA as its director of IT performance and planning. Last week, Pret said it would roll out full ingredient labelling across all its stores this summer. The company will label all freshly made products following a trial at its Victoria store as part of a pledge to provide better protection for people with allergies.
Paul Ainsworth partners with Sharp’s Brewery to take over Cornish pub following Outlaw departure: Restaurateur Paul Ainsworth has acquired the lease of The Mariners in Rock, Cornwall, following the departure of Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw. The Mariners lies the other side of the Camel Estuary from Padstow, which is home to Ainsworth and wife Emma’s four other businesses – Michelin-starred restaurant No.6, Rojano’s In The Square, boutique hotel Padstow Townhouse and Mahé cookery school and chef’s table, which will open in May. The Mariners is currently closed for its annual break and will reopen in early spring. Outlaw’s departure from The Mariners last month ended his five-year partnership with Cornwall-based Sharp’s, which is owned by Molson Coors. Outlaw will focus on his Cornish restaurants – two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and one-starred Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac – and The Goring, which is set to launch in London’s Belgravia. Ainsworth said: “Emma and I are thrilled to take over The Mariners in partnership with Sharp’s Brewery. When the opportunity arose, we knew straight away we had to take it. 2019 will be the ‘discovery phase’ – learning what works and what doesn’t – with a refurbishment planned for 2020. Nathan has done a fantastic job over the past five years and we certainly have big shoes to fill.” Sharp’s Brewery beer sommelier Ed Hughes added: “Paul and his team have been great supporters of Sharp’s Brewery over the years and we can’t wait to work together on this new joint venture. At Sharp’s we are committed to producing quality beer from our brewery in Rock, just a mile up the road from the iconic Mariners. We also happily acknowledge our skills and expertise lie in brewing beer so to have such an amazing team running the front of house and kitchen is a dream come true.”
Benihana launches at former Carluccio’s in Glasgow for debut Scottish restaurant, first UK opening for 20 years: Benihana, the worldwide Japanese teppanyaki restaurant chain that has three outlets in London, has opened its first UK site outside the capital, in Glasgow. The company has launched the 100-cover restaurant at a former Carluccio’s site in West Nile Street. It is the first new Benihana restaurant in the UK for more than 20 years. Benihana’s signature dishes include steak, chicken, shrimp, sushi and sashimi. There is also a bar offering small plates, sake and cocktails. Benihana managing director Richard Mackay told the Glasgowist: “As the first restaurant to open in more than 20 years in the UK, it is a milestone in our growth strategy for Benihana. This is an important period as the restaurant looks to evolve through new bricks and mortar as well as culinary experience. I would like to thank the Benihana board of directors and Minor International for their support in making the aspirations of expansion a reality.” Founder Hiroki Aoki opened the first Benihana in 1964. Benihana’s London restaurants are in Chelsea, Piccadilly and at The Grange hotel in St Paul’s.
Evuna to open fourth site, in Altrincham this week featuring company’s first tapas bar: Evuna, the Manchester-based Spanish wine bar and restaurant, will open its fourth site, in Altrincham on Wednesday (13 February). Founded by mother and daughter Frances and Jane Dowler, the company has transformed a former EAT:kaizen site in Stamford New Road. The site is Evuna’s first to feature a tapas bar, which will seat 24 diners, along with an open kitchen. The restaurant itself has an additional formal dining area with 45 covers. Jane Dowler told Altrincham Today: “We are excited to introduce more informal dining in the form of tapas bars in the windows of this beautiful building.” Evuna started as a fine wine house importing Spanish wine from boutique vineyards before opening its debut restaurant in Deansgate, Manchester, in November 2003. A second restaurant followed in the city’s Northern Quarter in 2013 and the Dowlers added a site in Knutsford, Cheshire, in October 2017. They hope to open their latest venue in November.
Beckford Bottle Shop operator to launch wine bar concept in Frome:Beckford Bottle Shop operator Kent Barker is to launch a wine bar and shop in Frome, Somerset. Barker will open Stony Street House on Saturday (16 February) on the corner of Palmer Street and Catherine Hill. While wine remains the focus, the venue will offer coffee, pastries, small and large plates, and pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. The upstairs area will feature a lounge with sofas and an all-day dining area, while downstairs will offer more casual seating and a glass-fronted bar offering ten wines on tap. The wine will have a strong focus on the Mediterranean, in particular sustainable, organic and biodynamic varieties from France, Italy and Spain. The shop will offer more than 350 bottles of wine for sale. Having launched Beckford Bottle Shop, which has sites in Bath and Tisbury, Barker wanted to start a new venture. He said: “Currently there is no sole wine shop or wine bar in Frome. Therefore, a large proportion of the population is not catered to. We want to bring knowledge and breadth of wine with an independent business in keeping with the town and what locals and visitors love about Frome. I have been in the business for many years, from having my own place in the mid-1980s in Cambridge via a long career in the wine industry to finding the best concept in the right building in the perfect location. This feels a personal project – and one that’s exciting.”
McGinty Group tables pub, restaurant and pizzeria plans for former Jamie’s Italian in Aberdeen: A historic department store in the heart of Aberdeen could soon reopen as a pub, restaurant and traditional pizzeria as part of £500,000 plans. Esslemont and Macintosh opened in 1873 and occupied a space in Union Street from the 1920s until it closed in 2007. The ground floor was most recently occupied by Jamie’s Italian but has lain empty since the restaurant closed two years ago. Now plans to give the venue a new lease of life have been lodged. The McGinty Group, which already runs several pubs and restaurants in Aberdeen, hopes to open a bar and restaurant on the lower floor and a pizzeria on the floor above in a move expected to create 70 jobs and entice more people into the struggling city centre. McGinty Group director Allan Henderson told The Press & Journal: “The Esslemont and Macintosh building is an Aberdeen institution and a landmark calling out for love. We have a passion for regenerating iconic venues and transforming them into thriving outlets – so this project fits perfectly with our company objectives. We have been impressed by the transformation of this part of the city centre and we’re keen to bring a high-quality local offering to the area.”
Bradford-based pub operator opens third site: Bradford-based pub operator William Wagstaff has opened his third site, in nearby Shipley. Wagstaff has relaunched The Shipley Pride in Saltaire Road under its original name of the Beehive. He has restored the Victorian pub to its former glory with a focus on craft beer and real ale. The refurbishment has included expanding the pub into its basement and creating an outdoor area that will open in the spring. Wagstaff told the Telegraph & Argus: “It cost a lot more than I expected. We went over budget by 50% but we wanted it to be as good we could get it.” Wagstaff also runs the Beehive and Jacob’s Well in Bradford city centre.
Reigning MasterChef champion to launch debut restaurant, in Sussex:Reigning MasterChef champion Kenny Tutt is to launch his debut restaurant, in Worthing, West Sussex. The venture – Pitch – will open in Tutt’s home town at the end of May and feature a workshop in which herbs and botanical ingredients will be grown. For the Pitch menu, Tutt will draw on inspiration from the Sussex countryside and childhood memories while using local suppliers. Dishes in the creation stage include doughnuts with whipped goats’ cheese, toasted hazelnut and thyme jam; Sussex ham hock with eggs, chips and gooseberry chutney; and cereal panna cotta with peanut butter, chocolate pretzel crackle and chocolate yogurt sorbet. The restaurant will span two floors and include a private dining room. The top floor will house a cookery school, which will open later in the year. Tutt said: “My favourite thing about food and cooking is the way it brings people together so opening my own restaurant is a dream come true. The fact I’m doing so in my home town is the cherry on the top. I can’t wait to share the dishes I’m creating. I’m working hard on the menus at the moment and am enjoying getting out into the countryside and meeting my wonderful producers.” Tutt appeared in episode one of the new MasterChef series on Monday (11 February) as a judge.
TGI Friday’s launches ‘together table’ for Valentine’s Day: TGI Friday’s has launched a “together table” aimed at bringing couples together this Valentine’s Day. The “world’s first electric-powered table” allows each diner to move their side of the table in and out at the touch of a button. The prototype starts the experience by offering four feet of space between the diners. However if things are going well, each diner can choose to close the gap as much or as little as they want by pressing a button at the end of the table. When fully closed, the table contracts to two feet. The table has been installed in TGI Friday’s Leicester Square restaurant and will remain in place for a week. Chief marketing officer Steve Flanagan said: “For Valentine’s Day this year we wanted to mark it with something never seen before in dating – the world’s first table that allows the guests to choose how close to each other they want to be and signal to their date how they feel it’s going. Importantly, both diners can control their side of the table – so couples can only get close when they both choose to.”
Prezzo appoints Fourth Angel for consumer PR and social media duties to support brand refresh: Prezzo has handed consumer PR and social media duties to Fourth Angel as the restaurant company refocuses its brand following last year’s restructuring. Last spring, Prezzo shut 94 of its 300 restaurants across the UK as part of a restructure under a company voluntary arrangement. Fourth Angel, which was founded by Angie Moxham last year, will support Prezzo through its brand refresh this year. The agency won the account in a non-competitive pitch after being approached by Prezzo, which previously worked with Porter Novelli. The team will report into Prezzo’s interim head of marketing communications Anna Murashka. Moxham told the Holmes Report: “As with all high-street food chains and retailers, it is a challenging time. Prezzo is refocusing the brand and we’ll be supporting with PR, social media and brand marketing work. It’s a great brand, we have great ideas and we’re looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Manchester-based coffee company Grindsmiths opens third site: Manchester-based coffee company Grindsmiths has opened its third site. The company has added an outlet in Bridge Street to its portfolio after securing a cash injection arranged by Sedulo Funding Solutions. Grindsmiths operates outlets in Media City and Deansgate as well as a roastery that opened in May last year. Grindsmiths co-founder Luke Tomlinson told Insider Media: “The Grindsmiths brand has gone from strength to strength in the past couple of years with significant growth culminating in the move to our fantastic new site in Bridge Street.”
Whitbread opens third London site for Bar + Block brand, in Wimbledon:Whitbread has launched a third London site for its Bar + Block steakhouse brand, in Wimbledon. The venue is the eighth Bar + Block in total following openings in Nottingham, Aldgate and Leamington Spa last year. The 302 square metre, 156-cover steakhouse features a large bar with copper detailing and an open kitchen. Decorative finishing touches include the brand’s signature neon cow and wall calligraphy detailing the brand story, alongside contemporary artwork. Whitbread Restaurants chief marketing officer Nathalie Pomroy said: “Following the ongoing success of our King’s Cross site and the opening of our Aldgate venue towards the end of last year, we’re confident our third London restaurant will be a welcome addition to the capital’s ever-growing food and drink scene.” A Bar + Block opening is scheduled for Reading this year, while Whitbread secured planning permission for a Premier Inn and Bar + Block in Finsbury Park last October. The concept features steaks hand-cut to order as well as a “butcher’s block”, rotating specials and an extensive drinks list.
Former Papa John’s pizza delivery driver turned franchisee opens second site, plans further outlets: Former Papa John’s pizza delivery driver turned franchisee Abassin Badshah has opened his second site, with plans for further stores. Badshah has opened the outlet in East Street in Bromley, south east London, to add to his venue in Catford, which he launched six years ago. Badshah, who joined Papa John’s in 2002, employs 30 people across the two sites. He said: “I worked for Papa John’s when I was a student in business. By day I would attend lectures, then in the evenings and at weekends I would deliver pizza. I was successful at my studies but also within Papa John’s and gradually worked my way up to supervisor. The experience gave me the grounding to understand how the business really worked. I have further plans to open more stores locally in the near future.” Papa John’s has more than 400 sites across the UK and more than 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.
Whittard of Chelsea to open relocated Glasgow site this week featuring company’s first Scottish tea bar: Hot drinks retailer Whittard of Chelsea is to open its relocated Glasgow site this week featuring its first tea bar in Scotland. The company will move to its new home at the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre on Wednesday (13 February). Customers will be able to select from a range of loose tea and tea bags, coffee beans, flavoured coffee, and hot chocolate flavours such as salted caramel and rocky road. Whittard of Chelsea chief executive Mark Dunhill told the Evening Times: “Whittard is delighted to join the Buchanan Galleries scheme and have the opportunity to make its fully revitalised brand experience available to Glasgow customers. This will include the first Whittard Tea Bar to open in Scotland. We’re also creating a larger and more immersive experience for our coffee customers, showcasing our selection of premium freshly roasted coffee from around the world, ground to customers’ requirements.” Whittard of Chelsea’s Glasgow branch was previously in Buchanan Street.
White City food court opens led by former Kricket manager: Rory Graham, formerly part of the management team at Indian small plates concept Kricket, is leading a food court that has launched at the White City redevelopment in west London. W12 Studios is a partnership with street food caterer Feast-it and offers a series of rotating kitchens and a large bar. There are two kitchens in the space with the debut brands being Cue Point, a barbecue concept from former Pitt Cue head chef Joshua Moroney; Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, the West African concept by best-selling author Zoe Adjonyoh; and The Piadana Project, which offers Italian flatbread with fillings such as pancetta, Italian soft cheese and pesto mayonnaise. There is also a 450-capacity events space, Hot Dinners reports. Kricket already operates a restaurant at the £8bn redevelopment of the former BBC headquarters, alongside Soho House, better pizza brand Homeslice, D&D London’s Bluebird and better burger brand Patty & Bun.
Harris+Hoole launches six Peruvian single farm-origin filter coffees: Caffe Nero-owned coffee shop brand Harris+Hoole has launched six single farm-origin filter coffees. Each coffee comes from a separate farm in Peru, with a new loyalty programme to support the launch. Harris+Hoole head of coffee Josh Brown said: “Each coffee has a distinct flavour and we’ve worked closely with all six farms to bring these coffees to UK customers.” The coffees will rotate through all 40 Harris+Hoole coffee shops until the end of March.
Bath-based tapas restaurant Pintxo shuts Bristol site: Bath-based tapas restaurant Pintxo has shut its Bristol site les than a year after opening. Owner Mark Mentzel launched the venue in Whiteladies Road in April last year in premises previously occupied by London-based restaurant company Polpo. However, Mentzel has shut the site, leaving the Bath branch and a smaller outlet in Fowey, Cornwall, as the brand’s remaining sites. He told Bristol Live: “It has been a difficult time for the restaurant business. Although our other two restaurants continue to thrive, Whiteladies proved to be a poor choice of location for us. Our team worked hard to make the restaurant a success so we are very sad we had to make this decision.” Mentzel’s wife, Teresa, is from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain, regarded by many as the home of sherry, while the main inspiration for Pintxo is San Sebastian’s bustling tapas bars.
Cutter & Squidge starts expansion with City of London launch: Cutter & Squidge, the sister-owned Soho bakery, has started expansion by opening a second site, in the City of London. The boutique has launched at The Royal Exchange in Threadneedle Street offering the brand’s freshly baked cakes, “biskies”, brownies, macarons, cake truffles, cookies and afternoon tea. All items are made from natural ingredients with a “less is best” approach to fat and sugar. The drinks list focuses on coffee and the brand’s signature rainbow tea lattes. Cutter & Squidge has already catered to a number of City-based customers through its online and delivery services, while the new site allows the company to extend its click-and-collect service. Cutter & Squidge co-owner Annabel Lui said: “I started my career working in the City but always dreamt of following my true childhood passion of owning a bakery with my sister, Emily. We made that happen and now, on the fifth anniversary of our first market stall, to return to the City as a baker not a banker feels like a huge milestone.”
Ascot Brewing Company closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £270,680 to upgrade equipment and relocate: Ascot Brewing Company has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to move to larger premises and buy equipment to meet demand. The brewer, which was acquired by local businessmen Chris Davies and Mike Neame last year and is based in Camberley, Surrey, raised more than £270,000 on Crowdcube in early 2018 to ramp up brewing capacity. For its latest £250,000 funding round, the company raised its equity offer to 20% in return for investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1m. In total, 537 investors pledged £270,680 and the campaign has now closed. The pitch stated: “To accelerate the next phase of growth we are raising further capital to move premises and equip the brewery appropriately. We aim to increase brewing capacity and our sales team, meeting demand for kegs and cans in the UK and for export; increase revenue by maximising value from our brewery, web and brewery shop, and micro-pub; roll out contactless ‘smart pump clips’ to pubs that will instantly answer consumer questions about a beer’s style, hops and process; and test-market Ascot House Amarillo handcrafted gin using our knowledge of hops, flavours and aromas.”