Caring confirmed for new venture at former Porsche Garage in Mayfair: Serial sector investor Richard Caring is set to open a new restaurant venture in Mayfair, after it was confirmed he had secured the former Porsche Garage in North Audley Street. Propel revealed last year Caring was in talks to take the space, with rumours it could be a new location for his Le Caprice restaurant, which closed last year. However, it is thought Caring could be planning a new Greek-influenced restaurant for the space. It has also been confirmed Caring has secured a new lease on the former Le Pain Quotidien site at 201-203 Kings Road, Chelsea. Propel revealed earlier this month the site will be operated as an Ivy Asia, next door to Caring’s existing Ivy Chelsea Garden. Davis Coffer Lyons advised landlord Grosvenor on the former Porsche Garage site and Martins Properties on the Chelsea site. Propel reported earlier this month that Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, was believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. He currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester and is thought to be looking at further opportunities to expand the concept, either as standalone sites or adjacent to existing Ivy Collection restaurants. He is still working on plans to reopen the former Princess Garden of Mayfair site in North Audley Street, which he acquired in 2016. It had previously been earmarked for a Caprice Cafe concept but may now become another Ivy Asia.
Tortilla aids youth employment through Kickstart Scheme: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has offered 50 new placements as part of the government’s Kickstart Scheme. The Kickstart Scheme aims to support young people aged 16 to 24-years-old gain valuable work experience by funding the relevant national minimum wage for 25 hours a week. To facilitate the scheme, Tortilla has created a new role in all of its restaurants, designed to teach Kickstarters skills in team work, customer service and organisation. With 50 six-month placements available across the country, Kickstarters will receive the same training and development as all Tortilla employees, including health and food safety qualifications and training in interview and CV writing skills. Tortilla’s head of people Nicki Sahota said the scheme was a great way to support the many young people currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Sahota said: “Last year was unprecedented for everyone in the hospitality sector. We are fortunate our business was able to adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic, reopen our doors and now create new roles for those still struggling. Our hope is to offer permanent employment to those on the scheme following their placement, with many joining Tortilla’s apprenticeship programme.”
Elite Pubs to add former Whiting & Hammond site to estate: Kent-based Elite Pubs is to add an 11th site to its growing portfolio, after securing a former Whiting & Hammond-owned site in East Sussex. The company, which was founded in 2004 by Martial Chaussy, is understood to have secured a new lease on The Mark Cross Inn near Tunbridge Wells, which closed last year, after Whiting & Hammond, the gastro-pub operator led by Brian Whiting, was placed into administration following the impact of covid-19. Elite is set to reopen the pub under the new name, The Lazy Fox. Last month, Propel revealed Elite had added a tenth site to its pub estate after securing the former The Woodman site near Sevenoaks. The company will reopen the site on Ide Hill, Goathurst Common, as The Pheasant Plucker later this year after a refurbishment. Elite operates eight other pubs in Kent and another one in East Sussex. The company also operates two cocktail bars in Kent – The Cow Shed in West Malling and Junipers in Maidstone. Whiting acquired three of his seven sites back under the new name WH Pubs, saving 150 jobs. WH Pubs will look after The Little Brown Jug, near Penshurst; The Cricketers Inn, Meopham; and The Rose & Crown, Green Street Green – it also already operates The Chaser Inn, Shipbourne.
Nottingham-based operator targets affluent city suburbs in bid to open up to five sites for high-end intimate bar concept: Nottingham-based operator Johnny Moore has told Propel he is looking to open up to five sites for his high-end intimate bar concept French 75. Moore, who is also behind nightclub Box in Talbot Street, said he was targeting affluent suburbs in cities within Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire for the concept, which launched in 2019. French 75 is inspired by the intimate hotel bars of London and Monaco. Its existing home in Friar Lane, Nottingham, has an indoor capacity of 18 with room for a further 12 outdoors. Customers can enjoy classic cocktails, champagne, spirits, wine and selected beer all accompanied with table nibbles in an “affluent setting at affordable prices”. Moore said: “The set up and running costs convert very well to the bottom line and we are now looking to expand. We’re looking for small spaces – of between 1,000 and 1,500 square feet – with a bit of an outside area, in affluent city suburbs. It would be good if we could do up to five initially but I’m not putting a timescale on it. If we only did three and they were all delivering great profits then that would be amazing. We’re a private, self-funded company, so it’s got to be the right deal for us. Taking a bit of a risk at these times is good but you have to have a plan.” Moore has run the Box nightclub for nine years. It has been closed since the start of the pandemic and Moore said its landlord, IHG Hotels, had been “very understanding”. He also previously ran The Cabaret Club in the city in partnership with Leicester-based brewer and retailer Everards.
Rustico Italiano operators open eighth site, in Hailsham: East Sussex-based Neapolitan Street Food Eatery, which operates seven restaurants under the Rustico Italiano concept, has opened a site in Hailsham. The family-owned company has launched the site in High Street. It is currently offering collection and delivery of its freshly cooked Neapolitan street food due to the nationwide lockdown. Co-founder Claudio Ganadu told the Eastbourne Herald: “During lockdown, we have worked really hard for survival and probably we have been lucky too. We moved all our focus on the collection and delivery side, creating and adjusting the menu offer. We believe our offer is good value for money, and thanks to technology ordering online is much easier than used to be.” The company, which was founded in 2015, has branches in Battle, Bexhill, Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings, Hove and Lewes.
All-day cafe Gastrono-me seeks new sites for expansion: Gastrono-me, the all-day cafe in Bury St Edmunds, is on the hunt for new sites as it eyes expansion. Founders Gemma and Mike Simmonite, together with hospitality acquisition company Stonebrook London, are concentrating on ABC1 sites and are in talks on a site in Cambridge. Future target locations for next three years include Brighton, Oxford, Cheltenham, Reading, Bath and Cardiff. Gastrono-me is targeting areas with an abundance of retail, plus good evening trade to suit its all-through neighbourhood restaurant style. The business has been trading from its 110-plus-cover restaurant for three years in Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmunds and serves bottomless brunches, lunches and “feel-good dinner menus”. Gastrono-me also houses an underground speakeasy style karaoke room. Gastrono-me is backed by private equity and is poised to support rapid expansion.
Bone Daddies opens sixth dark kitchen, in Chiswick: London-based Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies has opened a dark kitchen in Chiswick, Propel has learned. Bone Daddies is operating out of the Deliveroo Editions site and delivers to a large part of south west and west London, including Brentford, Ealing and Shepherd’s Bush. It marks the sixth dark kitchen opening for Bone Daddies, which also operates six restaurants across the capital. The group also operates two Flesh & Buns venues and fusion restaurant Shack-Fuyu in the capital.
Cineworld shareholders approve bosses ‘excessive’ £208m bonus scheme:Bosses at Cineworld have persuaded enough shareholders to vote in favour of a new bonus scheme that could see its chief executive net £65m as part of a bonus pot worth up to £208m. Investors holding just over 70% of shares voted for the new long-term incentive plan, despite Cineworld receiving taxpayer support through furlough and tapping up shareholders for cash to avoid collapse during the pandemic. Chairman Alicja Kornasiewicz said: “We acknowledge there were a significant number of votes cast against the plan and the board will continue to engage with shareholders on remuneration matters in the coming months in light of the feedback received during our consultation.” The company had expected a backlash although in the end 69.25% and 70.15% voted in favour of the remuneration and long-term incentive plans respectively. Prior to the vote, proxy advisers for shareholders Glass Lewis and ISS had described the plans for the bonus as “excessive”. They also questioned whether Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger required further incentives considering his family already have a 20% stake in the business. To get a £33m payout Cineworld’s share price must hit 190p within three years – back to levels it was at prior to the pandemic. To unlock £65m it must hit 380p. Shares were down 3.18% at 64p by Monday lunchtime (25 January). More than 5,000 staff have been furloughed while its 127 UK cinemas, including its Picturehouse brand, are shut. In November bosses secured a £336m debt lifeline to help guide it through the coronavirus pandemic. The group, which has also been forced to close its US sites, said at the time it had also secured access to another £233m in liquidity to boost its finances. At the time it also extended an £83m revolving credit facility, which was due to expire next month, to May 2024, and pulled forward an expected tax refund of more than £150m to early 2021.
Telford-based Rowton Brewery acquires third pub: Telford-based Rowton Brewery has acquired a Wellington pub for its third site. The company has bought the Wrekin Inn in Wrekin Road, which is being revived as a live music pub with craft ale. Co-owner Steve Preston said in a Facebook post: “The pub, which has been closed for two years, will be fully refurbished by ourselves and will be ready to open by Easter, lockdown permitting, creating local jobs.” Preston added the Wrekin had long been associated with live music and he would continue this tradition. Rowton Brewery also owns The Pheasant in Wellington and the Old Fighting Cocks in Oakengates.
Pizza Hut Restaurants permanently shuts Sittingbourne site, not earmarked for closure under CVA: Pizza Hut Restaurants has permanently closed its restaurant in Sittingbourne, Kent. The branch at Sittingbourne Retail Park in Mill Way has been shut since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But it was not one of the 29 sites earmarked for closure as part of Pizza Hut’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which was approved in September. A spokesman told Kent Online: “Unfortunately the Sittingbourne closure has been beyond our control and we are doing everything we can to redeploy our team members to other Pizza Hut restaurants in order to minimise the impact to our workforce.” The CVA saw Pizza Hut’s estate reduced to 215 restaurants but saved 5,000 jobs. It will also see the company pay reduced rent levels across much of the estate. Pizza Hut Restaurants is a separate company to the Pizza Hut UK business, which is focused on food delivery from a further 380 sites.
Premium golf simulation concept to open debut site, in Liverpool: Premium golf simulation concept On The Green is to open its debut site, in Liverpool. Founded in the city with local business and family roots, On The Green has agreed a deal with Liverpool ONE owner Grosvenor for a 4,700 square foot space on The Terrace. Set to launch once lockdown restrictions are lifted, the immersive golf experience allows customers to play a full 18-hole round of golf with a real club and golf ball, providing active analysis on spin rate, projection and club swings while PGA professionals are available to offer lessons. The external space will be equipped with a bar for “clubhouse” drinks. The multi-faceted golf concept will enable users to play a number of the world’s top courses. On The Green will provide top brand golfing equipment for use while in the simulators. Matt Hatchard, director at On The Green, said: “We were selective when searching for the perfect location at which to launch On The Green, and Liverpool ONE, with its outstanding mix of leisure names, open-air environment and attractive terrace, really stood out to us.” Alison Clegg, director, asset management, Grosvenor, added: “Securing the debut for On The Green’s new experiential concept is a great way for Liverpool ONE to herald in the new year. The new venue will sit comfortably alongside our strong existing leisure brands.” CBRE and Metis acted for Liverpool ONE while On The Green dealt directly.
Entrepreneur prepares to launch national franchise for home cinema venture:Entrepreneur Chris Tinson is preparing to launch a national franchise for his home cinema venture. Tinson, who has run Veritas Recruitment Solutions in Yorkshire for more than 11 years, came up with the idea to launch Home Cinema Hire entirely by chance when looking for ideas to entertain his two young boys. He told The Business Desk: “The idea was to set-up a giant cinema screen at home whereby I could stage a movie night with my family or when the restrictions eased invite people in my bubble to watch the football or a boxing match in the cinema-style setting.” He added from there he realised “there must be a demand for families like my own that are unable to go out and don’t have the space or luxury of having a cinema room but want to experience their own ‘Everyman’ at home”. After seeing this gap in the market the businessman invested in several large indoor, and outdoor screens with a top of the range sound system and high definition HD projectors. And from a standing start and some social media promotion the business grew to have 70 bookings per month. Interest has continued to grow with the business seeing another surge in bookings. After receiving requests from across the country for the service, the idea is on its way to becoming a full-time business. Tinson added he’s currently developing a national franchise scheme for Home Cinema Hire with a view to having it in place later this year.
Finish food delivery platform Wolt raises $530m of new funding: Wolt, the Finland-based food delivery platform, has announced it has closed a $530m (£387m) round of financing. The round, which brought the total amount raised by the business to $856m, was led by Iconiq Growth with participation from new investors Tiger Global, DST, KKR, Prosus, EQT Growth and Coatue and existing investors 83North, Highland Europe, Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, EQT Ventures and Vintage Investment Partners. The company intends to use the funds to expand its reach across key global markets and its offering beyond the restaurant. Co-founded in 2014 by Miki Kuusi, Wolt allows users to discover and get restaurants, grocery stores and other local shops delivered to home or office and currently works with 30,000-plus restaurant and retail partners, 1,500-plus stores across different markets, 60,000-plus courier partners and 2,200 employees. The company recently expanded into Japan and Germany, so now operates in 23 countries and 129 cities.
House Cafe Company returns Riding House Cafe to delivery scene with Caribbean-influenced spin-off: House Cafe Company has returned its Riding House Cafe in London’s Fitzrovia to the delivery scene – by launching Soul Ride, a Caribbean-influenced spin-off. It’s headed by chef-patron Henry Omereye and chef Martin Kanu, and it’s taken over the entire Riding House menu, for local deliveries and meal kits that are available nationwide. Dishes for delivery include smoked Cajun pepper stew with coconut, avocado, christophine and okra crisps and fried egg; and salt cod fritters with Bajan pepper sauce. Meanwhile, the meat kits come in three boxes – a brunch box, a roast box and a “Weekender feast” box. In addition, the Riding House Local Store, which became a staple for the Fitzrovia community in the spring, has reopened in partnership with London butcher O’Shea’s, with a variety of hand-picked produce as well as handmade hot sauces and rubs now available.
Wine brand Hun launches crowdfunding campaign for global expansion, backed by ex-F1 driver: Wine brand Hun, led by entrepreneur Mark Woollard and backed by ex-Formula One driver David Coulthard and the chief executive of Waitrose James Bailey, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise £400,000. Woollard has attracted £350,000 in private funding ahead of its public launch to finance global expansion for Hun – which has a listing at Tesco. Lincolnshire-born Woollard is offering a 13% equity stake in the London-based business, which is valued at £4m. Along with its listing at Tesco, Hun became the first canned wine to be invited into the Amazon Vendor Seller programme. Funds will also be used to develop new products with plans to add a red and an alcohol-free wine to its current portfolio of a pale rosé, sauvignon blanc and a low-calorie sparkling rosé.
North Yorkshire-based operators to sell village pub to concentrate on remaining business: North Yorkshire-based operators Karl and Amanda Mainey are to sell The Wild Swan in the village of Minskip to concentrate on their other business – The Tickled Trout in Bilton-in-Ainsty. The Wild Swan, which the Maineys have owned since 2017, is being marketed by Christie & Co with a guide price of £550,000 for the freehold or nil premium lease with a commencing rent of £45,000 per annum for the leasehold. There is planning permission in place to create four letting rooms in a disused outbuilding to the rear of the pub. Karl Mainey said: “It has always been our intention to grow The Wild Swan to a sustainable level and move on to hopefully replicate our success at other venues. In 2019 we bought what is now The Tickled Trout and having grown that business as well. We can’t devote as much time as we’d like to either venue. Until we do sell, it’ll be business as usual when we’re allowed to reopen.”
RedKangaroo Trampoline Park to reopen in spring two years after fire destroyed business: RedKangaroo Trampoline Park is set to reopen in April after it signed a 15-year lease on a unit at the same site as its previous home that was destroyed in a fire in 2018. The park will open in Exhall, on the border of Coventry and Warwickshire, in a 32,500 square foot unit, which has been designed and built by The Wigley Group, which acquired the site in 2016. The new building includes a 9,000 square foot mezzanine floor that will act as a viewing gallery, a glass-fronted atrium at the entrance, ribbon windows, and an air conditioning system. Paul Wrightman, owner of the RedKangaroo brand, said: “To see the site destroyed by fire just eight months after we opened in 2018 was devastating, but, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and it gave us an opportunity to help design a building to meet our requirements rather than us having to fit into a space already there.”