Byron unveils new dining experience ahead of UK-wide roll-out: Better burger brand Byron has unveiled its new look featuring a reimagined design and menu and first brunch offer. The company’s original High Street Kensington restaurant has been redesigned to feature large communal tables and “social spaces for brunchers” as well as sofas for laptop workers and working lunches. The site features the brand’s new-look logo and signage ahead of the “new dining experience” being rolled out across Byron’s 53-strong UK estate next year. The new breakfast and brunch menu, created by food and drink director Sophie Michell, takes inspiration from the US west coast including chicken and waffles (cornflake-coated, buttermilk-fried chicken breast with thick-cut bacon, butter and maple syrup), while for the main menu Michell has reinvented Byron’s signature burger as The New Byron. Other new burgers on the menu include a blue cheese version and one with barbecue bourbon sauce, while new desserts include American vanilla chess pie. Byron has partnered with Paddy & Scott’s for coffee. Michell said: “It is so exciting to witness a new era for Byron. As a long-term fan, to be able to breathe a new lease of life into the brand is thrilling. Beyond the food, which has had a serious revamp, the new spaces are somewhere guests can be excited about spending time. They’re bright, modern and in line with the creative new food offering.” Last month Byron, which was founded in 2007, appointed Richard Danks as brand director and promoted Gillian Clements to finance director to “complete” its leadership team. Chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “Despite an avalanche of new restaurant brands coming on the scene, I believe Byron has the brand power to stage a remarkable comeback.” Byron underwent a company voluntary arrangement last year.
John Lewis unveils new-concept store featuring ‘experience playgrounds’ and cookery school: John Lewis has unveiled a new-look department store that sees selling space replaced by “experience playgrounds”, where shoppers can hone barista or pasta-making skills or hang out in a rooftop orchard and farm shop. If successful, the revamped Southampton shop could provide a prototype for other John Lewis stores. The overhaul of the 310,000 square foot store cost £3m and involved reallocating selling space to seven “experience playgrounds” focused on areas such as cookery, fashion, home technology and interior design. The store is the first to incorporate one of sister company Waitrose’s cookery schools, where courses range from making Japanese street food to “ceviche and margaritas”. A farm shop and cafe experience courtesy of the John Lewis Partnership-owned Leckford Estate has been built on the roof. The 1,600 hectare farm near Stockbridge in Hampshire was the home of John Spedan Lewis, who signed away his ownership rights to create the partnership. John Lewis customer experience director Peter Cross said: “Our new-concept shop is an example of how we’re reinventing the department store to make us stand out from the competition. Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in a way that is uplifting and inspiring.” John Lewis has been steadily introducing more services and experiences since Paula Nickolds took over as managing director in 2016. She will become the group’s brand director next year under a new structure that sees its management team merge with Waitrose in a bid to cut costs and boost sales by getting both brands to collaborate more.
Jamie Oliver Group to launch all-day kitchen concept in Bali and Bangkok this month as division continues expansion: Jamie Oliver’s international restaurant business is to launch all-day dining concept Jamie Oliver Kitchen this month as the division continues it expansion. The concept will offer “accessible food from a diverse and exciting menu celebrating Jamie’s journey through food over the past 20 years”. The first venues to open under the concept will be conversions of Jamie’s Italian sites in Bali Kuta Beach and Bangkok Siam Discovery, both run by franchise partner HPL. Jamie Oliver Kitchen Bali will launch on Thursday (21 November) followed by the Bangkok restaurant on 28 November. The concept’s key features will include an open kitchen, cafe, flexible seating with “larger tables for sharing and soft areas to lounge in”, and bar dining. The company said menus could be “easily adapted to local flavours and food trends”, giving each restaurant “flexibility and the ability to evolve alongside changing consumer tastes”. The Bangkok menu will include soft shell crab burger with green papaya salad and sriracha mayo, while the Bali menu will feature summer rolls, Oliver’s insanity burger and beef cheek cooked in Indonesian spices. Oliver said: “Over the past 20 years I have travelled around the world to discover exciting flavour combinations, picking up incredible influences along the way. The new restaurants will bring those inspirations to life and serve some of my absolute all-time favourites. We have created a beautiful space for everyone to enjoy the food I truly love.” Jamie Oliver Group chief executive Paul Hunt added: “While diners around the world continue to enjoy our established brands, including Jamie’s Italian, we wanted to add to our portfolio and create a concept that allows us to showcase the best of Jamie Oliver while giving our franchise partners in each market the flexibility to adapt menus to local tastes and trends.” Jamie Oliver Kitchen will sit alongside the group’s other brands in its international portfolio – Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria, Jamie’s Deli and Jamie Oliver’s Diner. In total, Jamie Oliver Group operates 70 restaurants in 27 markets, collaborating with 20 franchise partners. A further 19 openings are planned before the end of 2020.
The Restaurant Group adds further virtual brand to Chiquito estate: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has added a further virtual delivery brand to its Chiquito estate, Propel has learned. Available through Just Eat and Deliveroo through selected Chiquito sites in the UK, Chicken Cartel offers chicken wings, burgers and glazed chicken dishes including a quarter chicken (£4.99), half chicken (£7.49) or a Chicken Cartel Combo (£11.99). It also offers salads and wraps. Chicken Cartel joins Cornstar Tacos and Kick Ass Burrito as virtual delivery brands available through Chiquito. TRG also offers virtual brands Stacks and Birdbox through its Frankie & Benny’s sites and a number of virtual brands out of the Foodstars unit in Battersea, including Daily Naan, Jumping Pans and Pyjama Hotel.
McDonald’s tests evolved paper straw following backlash: McDonald’s is testing an evolved paper straw following a backlash last year. The company said the new straw would be rolled out across Europe soon. The fix comes after UK customers complained the straws dissolved too quickly or were not fully recyclable. “Following feedback from customers and as the packaging industry has evolved the paper straws being rolled out are now stronger while still being made of fully recyclable materials,” the company said. The new paper straws are part of McDonald’s series of green packaging trials in Europe dubbed Scale For Good. As reported last week, the trials also include McFlurry desserts without lids and a toy recycling programme in the UK. In France, stores will roll out a new recyclable, fibre-based lid for all cold drinks, while in Germany a reusable cup pilot is under way. McDonald’s said once feedback was collected on all Scale For Good tests it would determine which options could be “scaled up or adapted” for broader use.
Greene King launches initiative to combat loneliness: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched an initiative to combat loneliness. No One Alone has launched on the back of research commissioned by the company in which more than three-fifths (63%) of those surveyed admitted they felt lonely, with almost two-fifths (39%) wishing someone would ask them to go out more often. The research also revealed almost half (48%) believe it’s harder to find people to spend time with as they grow older. The study also found the average age when Brits stop having people to visit the pub with regularly is only 32. Greene King has also partnered with MeetUpMondays, an initiative created to address loneliness and isolation, to deliver free, weekly get-togethers at Greene King pubs. Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “Our research shows loneliness can have an impact on a wide range of people all over the UK and it’s surprising to see how many adults wished they could spend more time socialising and interacting with others. Our pubs are in the heart of communities and can play a vital role in helping to tackle social isolation, becoming a hub for anyone struggling with loneliness or belonging. Many of them already host events and work with community groups to bring people together and our No One Alone initiative will provide more opportunities. We are keen to work with others as we develop this initiative.”
Taco Bell strengthens London presence after securing Harrow site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has strengthened its portfolio in London after securing a site in Harrow. Franchise partner Tbello Group is opening the site in the former Spice Shack premises in Station Road. Tbello Group has taken a new 20-year lease after agreeing a deal with landlord Emjee in a deal brokered by Davis Coffer Lyons. The property comprises 2,131 square feet over the ground and first floors. The site in Harrow brings Taco Bell’s tally of UK sites to more than 40. This is the second property deal Davis Coffer Lyons has completed for Taco Bell in the past 12 months after securing its return to London with a site in King Street, Hammersmith. Davis Coffer Lyons agent Louie Gazdar, who acted for the landlord, said: “This is a fine example of a corporate operator in the sector still going strong in this climate. Robust rents are still being set despite the notable headwinds the industry faces.” There are more than 425 Taco Bell restaurants across 27 markets outside the US, with the goal to expand the brand’s international presence to 9,000 restaurants by 2022.
Indian restaurant concept Takaa Tak opens third site as it forms Staycity partnership: Chef Bhupinder Singh has opened a third site for his Indian restaurant concept Takaa Tak. Singh has launched the venue at aparthotel operator Staycity Group’s London Heathrow property. Singh has taken a ten-year lease on the 192 square foot restaurant space at the 270-bedroom property. The 80-cover restaurant also has a separate entrance at street level. Takaa Tak’s menu includes Indian curries alongside Indo-Chinese fusion dishes such as Goan fish coconut curry and pan-seared king prawns with khada masala and bell peppers. The aparthotel also features Dublin-based Staycity’s first Starbucks concession as well as its own Staycafé concept selling all-day hot and cold snacks. Ujjwal Chaudhary, Staycity cluster general manager for London Heathrow, Deptford and Greenwich, said: “I was familiar with Takaa Tak and was keen to work with Bhupinder Singh. The concept is a great fit with Staycity and we like its fresh, modern approach to Indian food and focus on healthy dishes, many of which are steamed or oven-baked.” Staycity, which has 7,000 apartments operational and in the pipeline across Europe, aims to reach 15,000 by the end of 2023.
Carter and Leach take pasta restaurant concept from pop-up to permanent under evolved format: David Carter, chef and founder of Smokestak, and Chris Leach, who has worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries and Kitty Fisher’s, are to take their pasta restaurant concept from pop-up to permanent under an evolved format. The duo had been running a residency at 10 Heddon Street in Mayfair since the summer. Now they will launch Manteca in Great Marlborough Street, Soho, on Friday (22 November). Manteca’s menu will revolve around nose-to-tail cooking, hand-rolled pasta and fire-cooked cuts to share. As well as the Italian dining culture, Manteca will take its cues from the up-tempo metropolitan food scenes Leach experienced in Los Angeles and New York. Larger dishes from the wood-fired grill such as pork chop, apple rosemary mostarda and mustard greens have been designed for sharing. Manteca’s wine list will feature bottles from Italy, Europe and North America alongside cocktails that will focus on amaro, the Italian herbal liqueur much loved by Leach. He said: “David and I were really happy with the response to our 10 Heddon Street residency and I’m looking forward to bringing that same spirit to Soho. Manteca is an accumulation of what I’ve learned in various kitchens over the years, from the live fire cooking of Pitt Cue Co to the seasonality of Petersham Nurseries. It’s all about a love of sharing really good food with friends.”
SFG Club confirms launch of crazy golf, street food and bar concept in Battersea: SFG Club, which operates competitive socialising venue Roof East in Stratford, east London, has confirmed it will launch a crazy golf experience, street food eatery and cocktail bar called Birdies. As revealed by Propel last week, the nine-hole concept will launch under the arches at Battersea Power Station on Thursday, 28 November. The course will feature obstacles such as pressure pads, rapid lighting, an immersive black tunnel, and overhead ramps. Birdies will also have an exclusive food offering – Taco-Yaki. Pan-Asia chef Ian Pengelley and head chef Andrew Weatherley are curating a street food menu fusing culinary influences from Asia and Latin America. The main focus will be yakitori and a selection of filled tacos. As well as a cocktail bar, there will be a 1980s-inspired Sweet Spot bar in the centre of the course selling wine, spirits and beer. SFG, which is the brainchild of Gerry Cottle Junior, launched in east London in 2014 offering crazy golf, batting cages, lawn bowls, curling, shuffleboard and virtual-reality foosball. Cottle Junior said: “Birdies was born in the tunnels in Vauxhall so we’re bringing it to its natural habitat, under the arches in Battersea. From SFG Club to Rooftop Film Club, providing exciting experiences teamed with unbridled fun is something we are proud to excel at.” It’s thought the launch of Birdies will be the first of a number of concepts the company looks to open in the next 12 months, including a standalone batting cages format.
Smoke & Salt founders launch £140,000 crowdfunding campaign for permanent home: Chefs Aaron Webster and Remi Williams, founders of London restaurant Smoke & Salt, have launched a £140,000 crowdfunding campaign for a permanent home. Smoke & Salt launched in 2017 and currently works out of a shipping container at Pop Brixton. Now Webster and Williams are aiming to raise funds on crowdfunding platform Seedrs for a permanent home. They are offering 15.98% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £736,000. Smoke & Salt offers seasonal cuisine using techniques such as brining, curing, fermenting and smoking. Webster and Williams said: “We are looking to capitalise on our success by starting our own journey towards making Smoke & Salt Hospitality Group the edgiest and best in London. We want to share this journey with you and invite you on a journey that brings with it the kind of rewards money can’t buy.”
Ei Group launches scheme to cut energy costs for publicans: Ei Group has launched a scheme to cut energy costs for its publicans. Pub Energy aims to help licensees reduce their utility costs at the end of their current agreements through selected providers. The scheme will constantly review contract costs available in the market to ensure it offers the most competitive rates. It will also provide a single point of contact to help publicans manage their utility bills, protecting them from the complications of communicating with several brokers and providers. Paul Harbottle, group commercial director at Ei Group, said: “Energy costs are consistently one of the largest overheads for publicans together with business rates and staffing. We are constantly seeking ways to help our publicans drive greater profitability, which involves us leading on new initiatives that will reduce costs and save time. We’ve built the Pub Energy scheme to ensure we get it right for our publicans.” Licensees can register their interest via the Publican Channel and can also sign up via their regional managers. Ei Group will launch a digital platform next year where publicans can complete the entire registration process online.
West Midlands-based Indian restaurant operator launches Nepalese fusion concept in Bedford: Badrul Islam, who operates The Royal Oak Indian Restaurant, Bar & Lounge in Walsall, West Midlands, has launched a Nepalese fusion concept in Bedford for his second site. Blue Monk has opened in High Street in one of Bedford’s oldest buildings offering 58 covers and a menu by award-winning chef Sudha Saha. Signature dishes include Esa Jhol (tiger prawns with spinach, black pepper, green chilli and tama sauce), and Seafood Moilee (prawns, halibut and scallops with dosa potato and spinach gateaux). Islam said: “Securing Sudha Saha as head chef is such a coup. He is so well respected in the industry and we’re delighted to have him and his vision on board.”
Lundenwic pair launch permanent site for scotch egg brand as it joins Borough Market Kitchen line-up: Scotch egg brand Scotchtails has launched its first permanent site. The concept, founded by Oliver Hiam and Dominic Hamdy, who also own all-day restaurant and wine bar Crispin in Spitalfields and speciality coffee shop Lundenwic in Aldwych, have opened the venue at the new Borough Market Kitchen development. The new site serves an extended menu of Scotchtails’ signature scotch eggs alongside a collection of new egg-based dishes including ham, fried egg and crispy confit chips, and a Berkswell cheese and egg toastie. Scotchtails, which has been popping up at Borough Market since 2013, joins more than 20 other traders at the new communal dining space.
Espalier Ventures secures £3.5m funding to develop Oval aparthotel: Espalier Ventures has partnered with housebuilder Melt Homes to develop a 175-unit aparthotel in the Oval, London, after securing a £3.54m loan from OakNorth Bank. The funds will be used to acquire a mixed-use property in Clapham Road, close to Oval tube station. Espalier Ventures is a private family investment office with a “growing portfolio of businesses and investments in leisure and higher education”, among other sectors. Rick Gibbs, of Espalier Ventures, said: “It is our fifth deal in the past six months as we look to increase investment with a particular focus on aparthotel and co-living sectors in central London.” OakNorth property finance director Hemesh Patel added: “Given the importance of tourism to London’s economy, the supply of serviced rooms and aparthotels is tight and the cost of accommodation expensive. With England winning the Cricket World Cup this year, Lord’s and the Kia Oval expect to see a boom in tourism. The team has a wealth of experience and, combining resources, will be able to bring much-needed rooms to the Oval area.”
Dalata strengthens UK presence by acquiring Cambridge hotel: Irish hotel group Dalata has acquired the operating and leasehold interest in the four-star Tamburlaine Hotel in Cambridge. The hotel will be rebranded as Clayton Hotel Cambridge in the coming months. Dalata will operate the hotel under a new full repairing and insuring lease for a 30-year term with index-linked five-year rent reviews. The landlord is The Ability Group, which has acquired the property. The Tamburlaine Hotel, built in 2017, has 155 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar, and conference and meeting facilities. A reconfiguration of the internal layout of the hotel, which is next to Cambridge train station, will create five additional bedrooms. Dermot Crowley, Dalata deputy chief executive business development and finance, said: “Cambridge has been a priority target city for our Clayton brand and I’m delighted we have secured such a high-quality, modern hotel in the centre of the city. The acquisition of the leasehold interest of this hotel is another important step in our stated strategy of expanding our Maldron and Clayton brands in key cities across the UK.”
Durham Distillery secures new home: Durham Distillery, which produces Durham Gin and Durham Vodka, has secured a new home in the city centre. The company will open the distillery next summer. It will be based in a former Royal Bank of Scotland branch in High Street after a ten-year lease was agreed with Prince Bishops shopping centre. Measuring 5,000 square feet, the site will produce gin, vodka and whiskey. Durham Distillery is currently based on the city’s Riverside Industrial Estate. Durham Distillery owner Jon Chadwick told Insider Media: “The new setting not only benefits from a central location it’s larger and means we can be really imaginative when it comes to things like visitor experience and scope for expansion in the future.” The new premises will be open to the public for tours and tastings as well as offering a shop and functions space.
Department Of Coffee and Social Affairs retains UK and Ireland coffee business award: Department Of Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA), part of Coffeesmiths Collective, has been voted best coffee chain in UK and Ireland for the second year in a row. After picking up the award in Milan in 2018, DoCaSA retained the accolade at a ceremony in Dubai. Hosted by Allegra, the awards celebrate the best in coffee from across Europe and the Middle East. Companies are shortlisted based on research from Allegra Strategies and feedback from more than 100 industry experts. Coffeesmiths Collective chief executive Toby Smith said: “This is fabulous recognition for the whole DoCaSA team. To win for a second year in a row is a brilliant achievement.”
Bounce introduces mobile order and pay: Bounce, the ping pong bar concept, has launched an order and pay service. The company has partnered with mobile order and pay solution Wi5 to allow customers to get their food and drink delivered directly to their ping pong table without having to queue at the bar. The service is available at Bounce’s Farringdon and Old Street sites. Adam Breeden, founder of Bounce and Social Entertainment Ventures (SEV), said: “The philosophy of SEV has always been to exceed expectations in everything we do, and we’re excited to be able to offer our guests a seamless way to order from our menu in just seconds, straight from their phone. Providing this type of convenience means everyone can spend more time doing what they came here to do – party around a ping pong table”. Wi5 chief executive Prask Sutton added: “Bounce’s dedication and focus on customer experience makes the addition of mobile order and pay a must have and we’re excited to embark on this journey with Adam and the team.”
Boxpark scoops best F&B concept accolade for Wembley site: Boxpark has scooped the best food and beverage concept at the MAPIC Awards 2019 for its Wembley site. The MAPIC Awards recognise the retail real estate industry’s best and brightest retailers and projects. Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade said: “At Boxpark Wembley we tried to build the most beautiful shed ever built. We’re constantly trying to redefine the fanzone experience for Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena visitors and this award recognises all the hard work from the development team at BDP and Stace and the Boxpark operational team.” The Wembley site opened in December 2018 and features food traders covering a range of cuisine, including Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese and Thai.
Multimillion-pound restoration of Falkirk’s Rosebank distillery begins: The multimillion-pound restoration of Rosebank distillery in Scotland has started under new owners Ian Macleod Distillers (IMD). Production at the scotch distillery in Falkirk on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal stopped in 1993 when former owner UDV converted its maltings into a restaurant. IMD acquired the Rosebank brand and remaining stock in October 2017. Plans for the 1,000 square metre distillery include a visitors’ centre, tasting room, shop and warehouse. The iconic 108ft chimney stack will be retained. Once open in 2021, Rosebank distillery is expected to create 25 jobs and attract 50,000 visitors a year. IMD finance director Mike Younger said: “Our vision is to bring this quintessential lowland single malt back to life and ensure it can live on for generations to come.”