Casual Dining Group chief blames online booking services for no shows: Casual Dining Group chief operating officer James Spragg has blamed online booking services for a huge rise in restaurant no shows as the company backed the #StopNoShow campaign launched by restaurateur Damian Wawrzyniak. Spragg said no shows once made up only 5% of bookings per night but could now be as high as 15%, adding the issue was fuelled by online booking services that allowed diners to book via smartphone. Spragg told the Guardian: “It’s so much easier for people to book, they are booking two or three restaurants and only turning up at one.” He said the group was considering asking for a small deposit for parties of six or more with an option to cancel up to 48 hours before the reservation date. Casual Dining Group could trial the initiative in the next few months. Wawrzyniak launched the #StopNoShow campaign after missed bookings cost his Peterborough restaurant House of Feasts £3,000 in one weekend. Peter Sánchez-Iglesias, co-owner of Paco Tapas in Bristol, said the restaurant was losing up to 10% of bookings on a Saturday night, amounting to thousands of pounds in sales each week. He said: “For us, it’s crippling.”
SIBA to create marketing code of practice: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) is to create a marketing code of practice for its members. SIBA said there was “no place in the beer industry for sexist or offensive marketing”, with staff already screening all entries into its Independent Beer Awards for offensive labelling. SIBA added the project aimed to formalise that approach and give further guidance to breweries. SIBA members and a panel of experts will talk about the issues around offensive marketing and the best way to develop the code during an industry discussion entitled “marketing beer responsibly – sexism, discrimination and branding in the beer industry” at the BeerX conference on Thursday, 15 March. SIBA has said it would like to see an industry-wide approach, with everyone in the alcohol industry working together to tackle the problem. The association said it had been engaging fully with the Portman Group as part of its industry-wide discussions. SIBA non-executive director Carolyn Uphill said: “This discussion and the resulting marketing code of practice is an opportunity for SIBA and its members to lead the industry in moving away from any past discriminatory materials in branding and labelling. Members are strongly urged to attend the seminar discussion and contribute their thoughts and opinions on this important issue.
Signature Pub Group acquires seven-strong Speratus: Edinburgh-based Signature Pub Group has acquired seven-strong bar and restaurant operator Speratus Group for an undisclosed sum. The move follows a long-standing relationship between the companies during the past decade. The owners – Nic Wood (Signature) and Garreth Wood (Speratus) – are also brothers. Signature Pub Group will take over Speratus’ seven venues – The Auld Hundred in Edinburgh; Nox and Paramount, both in Aberdeen; and The Boozy Cow sites in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Stirling. Nic Wood founded Signature Pub Group in 2003 and its portfolio now consists of 21 pubs, hotels and restaurants across Scotland. The business has grown rapidly during the past three years, with sales for the year to 31 October 2017 approaching £18m. He said: “This is an exciting deal for both parties and the acquisition has been a very natural progression. Speratus Group consists of great units in great locations and offers an opportunity to further enhance efficiencies while minimising operational changes as the businesses are already so closely aligned. Signature will continue to deliver exceptional customer experiences in hospitality and drive for success with focus and determination as a new team.” He added Signature had two further large projects in the pipeline as well as planned refurbishments on the back of the deal.
Ei Group opens 200th Craft Union pub, plans further Greater London expansion: Craft Union Pub Company, part of Ei Group’s managed operations, is accelerating its nationwide expansion with a focus on Greater London following the opening of its 200th pub. The milestone has been reached with the opening of the Black Bull in Clayton, near Bradford, which has undergone a £132,000 refurbishment. Ei Publican Partnerships publicans Dougie and Cal Bell, who have run the community pub for seven years, have now joined the Craft Union family. A total of 49% of Craft Union operators have joined from Ei Publican Partnerships. While Craft Union has its roots in the north of England, debuting in May 2015, it recently added sites in Devon, Cornwall, East Anglia, Kent, Wales and the Isle of Wight. Craft Union has also identified a growing pipeline of sites across Greater London – in Hayes, Stratford and Sutton. Craft Union Pub Company operations director Frazer Grimbleby said: “It’s always been our intention to develop into a leading scale operator of community pubs and our recent expansion into Greater London as well as the opening of our 200th pub is an important milestone for us. The operator is the most important part of our business and making sure we have the right person for the pub is an essential part of our model.”
Polish quick service restaurant operator North Fish seeks first UK sites: Polish quick service restaurant operator North Fish, which has 40 sites in the country, has hired agent Savills to find properties for its first UK venues. The chain of restaurants specialises in healthy fish and seafood dishes as well as burgers, wraps, sandwiches, soups and smoothies. Following its success in shopping centre and high street locations in Poland, the brand is seeking similar high footfall sites in the UK of between 600 and 1,500 square feet, including in transport hubs. David Bell, head of UK leisure at Savills, said: “North Fish has seen a clear gap in the UK grab-and-go market for high quality fish dishes. The brand has undergone impressive growth in Poland and we look forward to supporting its UK expansion, initially with sites in major shopping centres followed by a wider roll-out.”
Purity Brewing Company reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Warwickshire-based Purity Brewing Company has reported turnover increased to £8,886,038 for the year ending 31 August 2017, compared with £7,817,696 the previous year. The company saw Ebit rise to £776,123 compared with £674,580 the year before, which provided a “sound platform to continue to grow during the coming financial year”. Pre-tax profit was up to £710,573 compared with £601,996 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In the report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The business has had another promising year of growth, continuing to substantially increase turnover and Ebitda. Growth has been driven by increasing volume of sales while maintaining sales margins, reflected in the 14% growth in Ebitda this financial year. This growth has been achieved in a highly competitive craft sector. The customer base continues to expand with a step up in sales volume across all channels but most significantly across our off-trade customers. In addition, we have established a number of export channels that will begin to yield results in 2018. The business continues to invest in new equipment and technology, most notably in a management reporting system and an in-house canning line.” Purity Brewing Company, whose beers include Pure Gold, Mad Goose, Pure UBU, Longhorn IPA, Lawless Lager and Saddle Black, was founded at Upper Spernal Farm in 2005 by owners Paul Halsey and James Minkin.
Frankie Goes To Bollywood reveals plans for five-strong estate as it launches £100,000 crowdfunding campaign: Indian meets Britain fast food restaurant Frankie Goes To Bollywood has revealed plans for a five-strong estate in the next three years as it launched a £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its second venue. The company, founded by Monty Bhurjee, who has run street food concept Popdogs for about four years, is offering a 16.67% equity stake in the business in return for the investment. Frankie Goes To Bollywood, which opened its first site in Deptford, south east London, in 2016, also plans to develop its spin-off concept, naan-focused Naania. The company stated: “By the end of spring we plan to have our second fixed premises open. Using this outlet as our flagship, we plan to implement and tighten our Frankie Goes To Bollywood business model, which will ensure our expansion plans are successful. We aim to open our third site in Oxford by winter 2018/19, with a fourth and fifth site in the Greater London area within the next three years. We also plan to develop our spin-off concept Naania, which we are showcasing at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival this summer. We plan to open hatches around the City of London within the next two years.” Items on Frankie Goes To Bollywood’s menu include the Bacon Naanwich, Bhangras and Mash, and Poppadom Preach.
Brunning & Price eyes Wadworth-owned pub near Malvern: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub division of The Restaurant Group, is eyeing a site near Malvern, Worcestershire, that is owned by Wiltshire-based brewer and retailer Wadworth. Brunning & Price wants to add The Plough & Harrow in the village of Guarlford to its portfolio. It plans to hold a meeting with residents next Thursday (8 March) to share its plans for the empty pub. Brunning & Price spokeswoman Nicola Stuart told Propel the deal was subject to the company receiving licensing and planning permission from Malvern Hills District Council. She added: “We have drawn up our initial thoughts on what we believe The Plough & Harrow might look like and are sharing our ideas ahead of applying for planning permission.” The company, which operates 62 sites, has already added a former Greene King-operated Loch Fyne restaurant in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, and Arrow Mill in Alcester, Warwickshire, to its estate, with both sites reopening this summer. Brunning & Price has also lodged plans to turn the listed 17th century farmhouse Tidbury Green Farm in Earlswood, near Solihull, into a pub restaurant.
Tony Conigliaro reveals plans for joint venture with Rob Roy Cameron in Mayfair: London-based mixologist and bar owner Tony Conigliaro and chef Rob Roy Cameron have secured a location for a joint venture, which is set to open in Mayfair this May. Gazelle, in Albemarle Street, will operate as an all-day dining venue across two floors. Like Conigliaro’s Hackney bar Untitled, which opened last year, Gazelle will be a restaurant as much as it is a bar. The new venture will be Conigliaro’s seventh venue. He told Eater London: “This will be a bit of a new direction for me. I always wanted to open a place where the food stood equal with the drinks and would be a complete destination in its own right. With Rob, I’ve been lucky enough to discover someone who works and thinks like me and just gets it. We spent months looking at various sites but knew as soon as we walked into this one it would afford us the space and scope to really make it into something special for both of us.” Conigliaro is the founder and owner of Drink Factory, a group that includes his original bar, 69 Colebroke Row, as well as Bar Termini Centrale, Untitled and Luciole. He is also involved in Jim’s Cafe in Clapton.
Soho-based Italian restaurant La Pastaia starts expansion with Fitzrovia opening: Soho-based Italian restaurant La Pastaia has started expansion by opening a second London site, in Fitzrovia. The venue has launched in Great Portland Street at a site formerly occupied by Mediterranean restaurant Zena. The 3,100 square foot unit has been secured on a 25-year lease. Salvatore Di Natale, of CDG Leisure, which brokered the deal, said: “We are delighted that even more clientele can now enjoy La Pastaia’s offering of fresh pasta with authentic regional Italian sauces and pizzas made from stone-ground flour. The high-footfall area, packed with busy offices and passing trade, is a perfect location for this expanding restaurant.” La Pastaia, which launched in Old Compton Street in 2011, said it was looking to expand its concept further throughout central London.
Farringdon-based restaurant Quality Chop House launches cafe for team’s fourth London site: Farringdon-based restaurant, bar and deli Quality Chop House has launched a cafe for the team’s fourth London site. The company has taken over the wine shop next to The Quality Chop House in Farringdon Road to launch the sit-down cafe, which offers sandwiches, charcuterie, pastries, stew, soup and a range of wine to take away. The venue also sells second-hand cookbooks. The Quality Chop House team also operates the Portland and Clipstone restaurants, both in Fitzrovia.
Which Wich makes UK debut: Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, the US sandwich brand, has launched in London for its UK debut. The venue has opened in St Giles Plaza, near New Oxford Street, featuring a “hip new look” and bespoke London menu. The launch was overseen by former Mitchells & Butlers managing director Kevin Todd, while Which Wich Superior Sandwiches UK is led by Rami Awada, of AAA Investment House, an entrepreneur with a strong track record of investments in the UK and Canada. He said: “Innovation is essential to enter the London market. We have looked at every aspect of the guest journey and taken each element apart and built it back again with ‘quality, speed and fun’ in mind. The brand is famous for its ordering system, which we have enhanced, and our menu innovation from breakfast through to lunch and even dinner is very exciting.” Which Wich Superior Sandwiches was founded in Dallas, Texas, in 2003 by entrepreneur Jeff Sinelli and has grown to more than 500 locations open or in development in ten countries.
JKS Restaurants to launch Brigadiers concept at Bloomberg in May: JKS Restaurants is to launch Indian barbecue restaurant and drinking tavern concept Brigadiers at Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London in May. Inspired by Indian army mess bars, Brigadiers will accommodate 140 covers with 34 on an outdoor terrace. Live sports will be shown in select rooms, while pool and classic card games will be offered for those who wish to play while they eat and drink. Designed by Brady Williams Studio, Brigadiers will feature seven rooms, each with their own identity. The reception will feature a shoe-shine attendant and act as a gateway between Blighters, a restaurant and bar with booth seating flanking a central bar and sports screens, and the more intimate Dining Room, which leads into The Tap Room and The Pot Luck Room. The Pool Room will be the heart of the “club”, with a pool table, whisky vending machine and self-serve beer taps. The Kukri Room and The Bidi Room will offer private dining. The menus will focus on Indian barbecue methods such as tandoors, charcoal grills, rotisseries, wood-fired ovens and smokers. Drinks will include a monthly changing list of ten beers including collaborations with British brewers, while on-tap cocktails will include a Nitro Espresso Martini. Brigadiers will also showcase a global whisky list split into four tasting sections – smoky, delicate, light and rich. JKS Restaurants’ portfolio includes Michelin-starred Trishna and Gymkhana, Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers, and home delivery brand Motu. JKS has also partnered with independents such as Xu, Sabor and Bubbledogs.
Ghia Holdings reveals more details of UK debut site as it brings Abd El Wahab to Belgravia: Middle East restaurant group Ghia Holdings has revealed further details of its debut UK site and first international outlet. The company is bringing its Lebanese brand, Abd El Wahab, which has 18 locations across the Middle East, to Belgravia in west London. The two-storey, 120-cover restaurant, which will feature an outside terrace, will open in Pont Street on Friday (2 March). The restaurant is naturally divided into dining areas by the architecture. The front of the restaurant and the dining terrace will provide 36 covers arranged in small tables. The central restaurant area will feature an original fireplace and an oval dining table for larger groups. The perimeter of the main dining area will be fitted with banquette seating and modular wooden tables and chairs. The menu will offer a wide selection of mezze as well as cold and hot starters. Vegetarian, fish and meat-based main courses will be offered as individual servings or sharing platters. There will be a variety of Lebanese red, white and rose wine available, as well as wine from Europe and North America. Prosecco, served by glass or bottle, and champagne will also be available. Ghia Holdings, which has 45 restaurants in its portfolio, identified London as its first international location because of its reputation as “one of the world’s most influential cities for commerce, culture and international cuisine”. Mark Dickinson, Abd El Wahab’s UK director, said: “London is one of the most exciting cities in the world but is surprisingly under-represented by restaurants offering authentic and exciting Lebanese food.”
Suffolk-based brewer Calvors acquires second pub: Suffolk-based brewer Calvors has acquired The Swan in the village of Holbrook, near Ipswich, for its second pub. In 2012, the company bought its first pub, The Rampant Horse in Needham Market, which was awarded best turnaround pub in East Anglia. Calvors founder Alec Williamson said: “We have been on the lookout for another pub for a while and we’re delighted to have completed the purchase of The Swan. Following a refurbishment, we expect to reopen next month. The Swan will showcase our lager and ale, which are brewed using traditional methods, as well as offering a good range of wine and a quality food offer.” Everard Cole associate director Chris Rogers, who brokered the deal, added: “This is a fantastic site for Calvors to continue its expansion and we’re sure it will be a great success.”
Ollie Dabbous reveals more details of Hide concept launching in Mayfair in April: Chef Ollie Dabbous has revealed more details of his new concept, Hide, which will launch in Mayfair in April. The restaurant will open in 85 Piccadilly offering about 250 covers, impressive views and a team that will include national chef of the year Lucas Selby and Josh Angus, formerly of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Dabbous opened his eponymous restaurant in Fitzrovia in 2012 but closed it last year. Since then, he has been running the menu at Henrietta in Covent Garden. Hide, his follow-up to Dabbous, will feature three sections on separate floors connected by a spiral staircase. Ground will offer an a la carte menu and bakery, while Above – on a mezzanine level – promises a main tasting menu and set lunches alongside great views of Green Park. Finally, Below will be a bar featuring a collaboration with Hedonism Wines, which stocks 6,800 wines, and cocktails from mixologist Oskar Kinberg. Dabbous is recruiting up to 15 sommeliers for Hide in what is being hailed as “London’s biggest restaurant wine offering”. Dabbous told Hot Dinners: “People were surprised I closed Dabbous but I hope once we open Hide they will understand why that decision was taken.”
Multi-site operators sign for launch of Feed It Back’s new Social Reviews service: A host of multi-site operators have signed up for Feed It Back’s new Social Reviews service ahead of its release this month. Feed It Back’s EPOS-linked guest feedback platform presents guests with personalised questions based on their menu choices and dining experience in the restaurant. Now for the first time operators will be able to manage and respond to social reviews from TripAdvisor, Google and Facebook alongside their EPOS-linked feedback, complaints and enquiries from any device, with no need to download an app. Numerous operators are using Feed It Back to manage their social reputation, including cocktail bar specialist Be At One; The Stable, the 17-strong pizza, pie and cider brand; Thai Leisure Group; private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre; pub operator and brewer Brakspear; and Dorset brewer Hall & Woodhouse. Thai Leisure Group managing director Ian Leigh said: “By adding Social Reviews, we can see common causes for positive and negative experiences by branch, area and brand across all types of guest opinion, including feedback, social reviews, emails, phone calls and other messages. We can communicate with staff and guests, resolve complaints and pass on praise, all through the system. This fully supports our social strategy and objectives.” Bistrot Pierre head of marketing Arpita Anstey added: “Being able to capture, manage and respond to social reviews from the same dashboard makes complete sense. It will save us time and ensure a seamless guest experience is delivered every time.” Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “We have worked with a number of our clients to ensure the addition of Social Reviews fully supports their business objectives and we were privileged to have support and commitment from so many market-leading operators prior to releasing the new service.”
Bob & Berts to open two Belfast sites as part of expansion plans: Northern Ireland coffee company Bob & Berts, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, is to open two more Belfast sites with further expansion earmarked for this year. The company’s first Belfast outlet is set to be in the vacant ground floor of the six-storey Lesley Buildings in Fountain Street. Meanwhile, the company is also planning a venue in Lisburn Road, reports the Irish News. Bob & Berts has also outlined plans for stores in Portadown and Cookstown, which are due to open this year, while three outlets in Scotland, which have previously been announced, are expected to open before 2018 is out. Bob & Berts has sites throughout Northern Ireland, including one in Belfast in Stranmillis Road. In August last year, Bob & Berts announced it was to open 30 stores across the north, Republic of Ireland and Scotland in the next four years having secured £2m from the Business Growth Fund.
Birmingham-based Indian Brewery to open second site, in Solihull: Birmingham-based street food bar and restaurant Indian Brewery is to open its second site, in Solihull. The company will open the new venue in Station Road in August. The 50-cover site will feature an open kitchen and have more of a “family-friendly feel”, according to co-owner Jaspal Purewal. He told Birmingham Live: “We had been looking for a new site for a year. I studied in Solihull so I know the area well and thought it would be a great place to open the second restaurant – somewhere that feels relaxed and informal. The Solihull eatery will have more of a family-friendly feel but the menu and interior will be very much the same. Of course, we will also offer our craft beer.” Indian Brewery recently refurbished its Birmingham site, which opened in January last year in the Jewellery Quarter, and expanded it to accommodate 100 people.
JD Wetherspoon gets go-ahead for £1.5m Scunthorpe pub extension: JD Wetherspoon has got approval to extend The Blue Bell Inn in Scunthorpe (population: 65,163) into three adjoining premises to create the Lincolnshire town’s biggest pub. The £1.5m investment will see the town centre pub in Oswald Road receive a new bar, kitchen and staff changing rooms, with the cellar and toilets enlarged. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Scunthorpe Telegraph the work would almost double the pub’s area from 2,890 to 5,069 square feet. At the same time, the beer garden running across the rear of the four combined premises would be enlarged from 948 to 2,066 square feet. The expansion plans include the Buccaneer restaurant, which closed in 2007, with the work set to be completed in time for the pub’s 20th anniversary in 2019. Wetherspoon completed negotiations in August last year to purchase two empty properties next to the Blue Bell, with the Buccaneer added at the 11th hour. Earlier this month, Wetherspoon was given planning permission to open a £1.5m pub in Bourne (population: 11,933) in Lincolnshire by transforming two shops in North Street.
Aberdeen-based cafe operator lodges plans for second site: Aberdeen-based cafe operator Angela Hart has lodged plans for her second site. Hart, who runs Angie’s Cafe, has applied to Aberdeenshire Council to convert the former Kuttin’ Edge hairdressers in The Square into a coffee shop and cafe. Hart hopes the cafe can “create a unique place where customers can socialise with each other in a comfortable and relaxing environment”, reports the Evening Express.
Westons appoints Richmond & Towers for trade and consumer PR as it looks to grow business 40%: Cider-maker Westons has appointed Richmond & Towers to handle its trade and consumer PR as it looks to grow the business by 40%. Richmond & Towers will be in charge of the account from Sunday, 1 April. Westons commercial director Geoff Bradman said: “During the course of the next five years our objective is to grow the Westons business by 40%. Our agencies will be key to supporting us in this objective as we seek to continue to drive strong levels of consumer and trade engagement.” Richmond & Towers food and drink director Simon Mowbray added: “We are delighted to be working with Westons at such an exciting time as the cider category continues to redefine itself through new, innovative and craft offerings and the Westons Cider business gears up to capitalise on another year of strong growth.”