Abokado appoints new head of food as it looks to grow morning trade: Healthy eating chain Abokado has appointed a new head of food to further its growth in 2019, particularly during the morning daypart. The company, which recently opened its 24th store in Hammersmith, extending the brand outside its central London heartland, has welcomed Ellie Hopkins, who holds a professional chef’s diploma. She brings a wealth of expertise to the company having previously worked as a concept developer for Ferndale Foods, developing fresh products for brands such as Waitrose and Co-op. Prior to Ferndale, Hopkins worked for Greencore, helping to create new food lines for clients such as Sainsbury’s. Abokado chief executive Mark Lilley said: “We are starting the new year on a high by appointing Ellie as our new head of food. Over the past few years my team has done a great job in broadening our range to work in different dayparts and appeal to a broader demographic. Mornings are now a busy daypart across a majority of our estate, with plenty of room for growth. Ellie brings some new and exciting ideas to Abokado and I’m looking forward to seeing our menu develop further in 2019.” Hopkins added: “I am very excited to join Abokado at a time when there is so much growth planned for the company.” Abokado’s breakfast offer is set to expand in February, with ready-to-eat hot bagels introduced to the menu as well as a new porridge range, including vegan options.
US immersive coffee shop concept featuring bean-to-cup machine by former Starbucks executive makes UK debut: US coffee shop concept Roasting Plant Coffee has made its UK debut. The site in Borough, central London, is the brand’s first outside the US, where it has five sites, including New York and San Francisco. Located at Bridge House in Borough High Street, the site, which was secured by agents Shelley Sandzer, covers 1,480 square feet across the ground floor with space for 50 covers. The immersive concept allows customers to watch their drink’s journey from green bean to cup. Founded by former Starbucks executive Mike Cassell, the Willy Wonka-style Javabot is a fully automated machine that passes raw coffee beans through clear pneumatic tubes at precise temperatures before producing exact portions ready for brewing. Roasting Plant Coffee UK chief executive Jamie Robertson said: “Roasting Plant Coffee and Javabot have revolutionised the world of coffee, giving customers just-roasted coffee that supersedes existing chains. We are delighted to introduce this leading technology to the UK.”
Stem + Glory has ‘potential for UK roll-out’: Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory, has told Propel there is potential to roll out the concept across the UK. Palmer-Masterton has opened her third site and first in London, at the new St Barts development in Bartholomew Close. She believes there is scope for at least one more site in the capital and others elsewhere in the UK. Palmer-Masterton said: “That’s the plan. We’ve learnt a tremendous amount from this site and put a lot of effort into the look and design. It has been a massive learning curve but I think we’re in a much better position as a result. The success of Stem + Glory has taken us by surprise. The plan is to go again and I’m already looking at where the site is going to be. We aim to open at least one site a year. We would like to take it to airports, where I think there is a dearth of good vegan options. I think we have an offer that would really fit in there.” Having raised almost £100,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder to launch the concept in 2016, Palmer-Masterton raised more than £630,000 on Crowdcube last year to open the London restaurant and said a further round of funding was an option. She added: “We would certainly look at that and we’ve also received approaches, including from private equity firms.” The new London site has 56 covers and features an open plan kitchen. Palmer-Masterton said: “It is a fabulous location. We looked at about 25 different places in London and came across St Barts by chance. It’s a great spot. The restaurant is a fusion of the two Cambridge sites. We opened bookings on 2 January and they’ve been flooding in. We’re right in the City, next to London Wall, so hopefully we’ll draw people in from that area.” Palmer-Masterton opened the first restaurant in Cambridge in October 2016 before adding a second site in the city in November 2017.
Brunning & Price boosts estate with historic West Midlands house:Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by The Restaurant Group, has bolstered its portfolio with a new site in the West Midlands. The company has secured Lawnswood House in Wordsley, near Stourbridge. Regency-style Lawnswood House was commissioned by the Foley family and built between 1813 and 1816 during the reign of King George III. The pub will feature a new stone terrace to the front and a 14-cover private dining room on the first floor. About 40 jobs will be created. The company stated: “Brunning & Price has fallen in love with Lawnswood House and is set to turn it into the newest member of its family of pubs. When we reopen in the spring, late May if all goes to plan, we will call the pub the Roe Deer in honour of the family of roe deer we often see grazing within the walled garden.” Managing director Mary Willcock said: “You will find open fires, wooden floors, bookcases, decent old furniture and lots of rugs and plants. We also intend to build a new garden room at Lawnswood to make the most of views of the grounds.” Brunning & Price has 70 pub restaurants across the UK. Last year, it made its first foray into accommodation when it opened The Arrow Mill in Alcester, Warwickshire, while its second, The Highdown in Goring, West Sussex, will launch next month.
Thwaites takes over ownership of Blackpool’s Funny Girls, plans ‘significant investment’: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has become the new owner and operator of Blackpool’s Funny Girls venue, securing more than 80 jobs. Thwaites has been running the venue on a temporary basis since September after the business fell into financial difficulties and plans a “significant investment” in the site. Chief Executive Rick Bailey said: “Funny Girls is an iconic part of Blackpool nightlife with global recognition and we are pleased to be able to bring stability and a more certain long-term future to the business. We have had a long association with Funny Girls over the past 20 years and are very excited about the opportunities open to it. Since taking over on a temporary basis in September, we have made small improvements to the buildings and now plan a significant investment to make sure it remains a must-visit fixture as part of the Blackpool experience. In the short term, rehearsals are well under way for the spring show, which launches on Friday (25 January), which will be a celebration of stage and screen in Funny Girls’ own unique style. I would like to thank the team for all their patience and support during what has been an unsettling time. They can now rest assured Funny Girls has a great future.” Funny Girls first arrived on the Blackpool night scene in 1994 at a corner shop in Queen Street but soon had to move to larger premises. The club moved to its current location, a former Odeon cinema and grade II-listed building in Dickson Road, in 2002.
Amber Taverns acquires Newark pub: Amber Taverns, the wet-led community pub operator led by James Baer, has acquired the White Hart in Newark, Nottinghamshire. The pub in Market Place has been closed for some time but offers a spacious ground floor comprising a central bar with server and feature fireplace, tiled and wooden flooring, a beamed ceiling and access to two further trading areas at either end of the property. The pub also offers a paved courtyard to the front with potential to be developed into an outdoor drinking and dining area. Everard Cole director Jon Heald, who brokered the sale, said: “Despite not having traded for a few years, the White Hart is an attractive pub with enormous potential and we received terrific interest from a number of operators. Amber Taverns refurbishes its properties to a very high standard and offers a fantastic drinks selection. We’re confident it will make the pub a great success once it reopens.” Amber Taverns, which operates about 150 pubs across the UK, has targeted up to 14 openings in 2019. Baer told Propel: “This will be driven by finding good-quality opportunities rather than chasing numbers.”
Chandos Deli opens seventh site as it takes over Scavi & Ray’s debut prosecco bar: South west-based Chandos Deli has opened its seventh site as premium Italian prosecco brand Scavi & Ray closes its debut bar. Chandos Deli has taken over the unit at Cribbs Causeway shopping centre in Bristol. Scavi & Ray opened the venue in The Mall 18 months ago offering prosecco, sweet and savoury treats, cocktails and coffee. Now it has been replaced by Chandos Deli, which opened its first branch in Chandos Road, Bristol, in 1992, reports Bristol Live. As well as its five sites in the city, it also has outlets in Bath and Exeter.
Kettlebell Kitchen opens fifth site, in Newcastle: Manchester-based healthy eating concept Kettlebell Kitchen has opened its fifth site, in Newcastle. The venue at the Quorum Business Park in Benton Lane represents a homecoming for the brand’s Geordie owner, Carley Jones. Starting from its headquarters in Salford, it has opened another four sites in the area – Ancoats, First Street and a second venue in Salford. The Newcastle restaurant has seating for 80 and also offers takeaway options. The menu includes steak and eggs, avocado on toast, firecracker chicken, and wraps and burgers. It also offers a range of skinny shakes, cocktails, beer and cider. Jones told Chronicle Live: “I have always wanted to bring Kettlebell home to Newcastle so it’s really exciting that it’s finally happening and right on the doorstep of where I’m from.”
The Climbing Hangar to open fourth site and first in Wales: Indoor climbing company The Climbing Hangar is to open its fourth site – and first in Wales. The company has secured a unit at Swansea Enterprise Park. The venue, which will open in the spring, will feature a 6,500 square foot climbing surface with activities and classes for climbers of all abilities and ages. Founder and chief executive Ged MacDomhnaill told Insider Media: “We are excited to bring Swansea its first dedicated indoor bouldering facility. It’s such a vibrant city with an outdoor edge –The Climbing Hangar will fit right in. We can’t wait to get the doors open and everybody off the ground.” The Climbing Hangar currently operates sites in Liverpool, London and Portsmouth. The Swansea deal was brokered by joint agents JLL and Lambert Smith Hampton.
Good Food Society relocates Yosma to Soho: The Good Food Society, led by Levent Büyükuğur and Sanjay Nandi, is to relocate its Turkish meyhane, mangal and raki bar Yosma from Baker Street to Soho. The venue opened in Marylebone in September 2016 inspired by the streets of Istanbul. Yosma will close on Sunday, 27 January and reopen at an undisclosed site in Soho in the summer. Head chef Hus Vedat will continue to lead the kitchen and will travel across Turkey in the coming months to gather inspiration and seek new recipes to take to Soho. Vedat said: “Yosma’s home in Baker Street has had quite a journey, from opening one of London’s first modern meyhanes to serving more than 1,000 people every week. We’ve loved bringing Istanbul’s culture to this neighbourhood and are so grateful to our friends and regulars who have supported us over the past three years. We now look forward to the next chapter in Soho!” The Good Food Society also operates Aegean-inspired bar restaurant Hovarda in Soho and Ristorante Frescobaldi, a high-end Italian restaurant it launched in Mayfair in 2014 in partnership with the famed wine-making family.
India-based fine dining brand Farzi Café makes UK debut: Farzi Café, the fine dining brand that launched near New Delhi in 2014 and now operates nine restaurants in India and one in Dubai, has made its UK debut, in London’s Haymarket. The concept combines “traditional Indian and global dishes transformed by molecular techniques”. Farzi Café is overseen by award-winning chef Saurabh Udinia. His signature dishes include dal chawal arancini (Sicilian arancini balls made with dal and chawal served with aachar, papad and chutney), and tandoori wild mushrooms with truffle and walnut dust. Farzi Café London has joined forces with Dare Hospitality to offer a laboratory-style bar serving concoctions inspired by India’s Hindu past. Each cocktail is created using equipment such as centrifugal machines and a sonic homogeniser. The venue also offers wine from small producers, alongside beer from Indian craft brewer White Rhino.
Leeds-based operators to open New York-inspired restaurant and bar for second site: Leeds-based operators Nick Julian and Jordan Franz are to open a New York-inspired restaurant and bar in the city for their second site. The duo will launch Union Square next month at the Merrion Centre, which is owned and managed by Town Centre Securities. By day, the restaurant will seat 80 diners and offer a grab-and-go service with a menu that includes salad, wraps, burgers and giant pizza slices. At night the venue will become a Broadway-themed bar aimed at attracting First Direct Arena gig-goers. Julian told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The Merrion Centre has been heavily invested in, attracting a variety of successful daytime and evening venues including MyThai and Bengal Brasserie. This will give us direct access to a diverse mix of customers.” Town Centre Securities asset manager Hattie Ramsden added: “Nick and his team have a tremendous track record of delivering modern, popular dining concepts in Leeds and we are thrilled he has chosen Merrion for Union Square.” Julian and Franz also operate Simpatico Pizza in Queens Arcade.
Co-owner of Michelin-starred Harwood Arms to open restaurant and bar in Stratford-upon-Avon next month: Mike Robinson, restaurateur and co-owner of the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms in Fulham, is to open The Woodsman in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, next month. The restaurant and bar will launch at the 93-bedroom Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon on Monday, 25 February. The restaurant will have its own entrance off Church Street. Robinson will work with head chef Jon Coates to bring his “field to fork” philosophy to The Woodsman, with a focus on sustainability, seasonality and locally sourced produce. A large wood-fired oven and charcoal grill will form the focal point of the restaurant, where guests will be able to watch chefs at work. The Woodsman will also house an on-site butchery. Robinson and Coates will also oversee The Falcon, the hotel’s original tea room. Set to open in April, guests will be able to choose sweet and savoury treats paired with champagne. In the evening, The Falcon bar will offer a seasonally rotating cocktail list. The grade II-listed, 16th century building has been closed for a year.
Great British Bake Off winner buys debut pub: Candice Brown, who won television show The Great British Bake Off in 2016, is moving into the pub business. She has bought The Green Man in Eversholt, Bedfordshire, with her family. The former teacher plans to reopen the venue in mid-February as a gastro-pub serving the best of British food. Brown told Bang Showbiz: “I want to do the best Sunday lunches and comforting, warming and hearty food. I’m an ambassador for Love British Food so I work with farmers to promote seasonal and local produce when food is at its best. I was brought up in pubs with my brother and I want this to be a real family affair.”
Red Mist Leisure unveils 25 bedrooms at Hampshire village pub: Pub operator Red Mist Leisure, founded by Mark Robson and Mark Williams, has unveiled 25 bedrooms at The Wellington Arms in the village of Stratfield Turgis, Hampshire. It follows the opening of the pub, which is on The Duke Of Wellington’s estate, in late November following a £2.5m refurbishment – the company’s biggest investment to date. The bedrooms feature king-size or twin beds with luxury bedding and state-of-the art bathrooms. One of the rooms is a suite and features a freestanding bath in the bedroom. The pub offers local craft beer and ale, wine and spirits including a range of local artisan gin. The food menu focuses on traditional classics such as fish and chips and seasonal pies, while the 160-cover function room has its own entrance, lobby, cloakroom, AV equipment and bar. In a nod to the Duke Of Wellington, all rooms have been named after his famous battles. Earlier this month, Red Mist Leisure acquired the lease of a former Brasserie Blanc restaurant in its home town of Farnham for its tenth site.
Camden Market launches rotisserie concept Kuku Riku: Rotisserie restaurant Kuku Riku has opened at Camden Market. The move is part of the revitalisation of North Yard, which is being led by the market’s new F&B team headed by commercial director Maggie Milosavljevic and executive chef Alistair Dibbs, both formerly of Harrods. Dibbs has overseen the development of Kuku Riku, which offers 70 covers and a Josper charcoal oven as a centrepiece. Kuku Riku offers chicken by the half or quarter to eat in or take away, including buttermilk chicken burger in a brioche bap and buttermilk-marinated chicken wings glazed with sriracha, honey and soy. Sides include smoked sea salt and thyme-roasted potatoes and ultimate mac ‘n’ cheese made with stilton, parmesan and cheddar. Dibbs said: “We are rejuvenating the market’s offering, establishing North Yard as a fine-food destination, and I’m enjoying the challenge of drawing on my previous expertise to make restaurant-quality dishes accessible in a market-style setting.” North Yard recently saw the launch of luxury delicatessen and cafe The Camden Grocer and independent butcher and grill Camden Town Roadkill. LabTech, the property investment and technology company that owns Camden Market, is also developing Hawley Wharf Camden, a scheme that will include 150 stores and more than 60 restaurants and bars when it opens in the summer.
Plans to convert Nottingham church into food market get go-ahead: Plans to turn a vacant Nottingham church into a food market have been approved. Castle Gates Group has been granted permission by the city council to convert the Congregational Church in Castle Gate into the venue, which could house up to eight independent street food vendors with a bar on both the ground and upper floors. The food market will create 44 jobs and open from 11am to 11pm six days a week and from 11am until midnight on Saturdays. The plans include retaining the church organ as a centrepiece and reusing pews as outdoor seating. The market will also feature a coffee shop, reports The Business Desk.
Plans lodged for East Yorkshire holiday park: Plans have been lodged for a new holiday park in East Yorkshire. FCC Environment has submitted an application to East Riding of Yorkshire Council for Catwick Grange in Beverley. The holiday park would cover 12.1 acres and comprise vacant northern and eastern land next to a former landfill site, for which no development is proposed. Planning consent is sought to develop 55 holiday lodges with a mix of four and eight-person units and an amenities building with a reception, restaurant, bar, indoor games room, shop and cycle hire. The proposal also includes internal access tracks, parking, recreational areas, and paths and landscaping, reports Insider Media. A planning statement submitted with the application said: “The holiday park development would secure a viable and attractive use of a vacant site offering little value in terms of landscape. The application site is surrounded by well-established holiday parks and is within a sustainable location close to local services in Brandesburton and Leven. The proposal will result in economic gains that will directly benefit rural businesses and nearby villages.”