Edin Basic to launch new pizza concept, Pizza Madre: Edin Basic, founder of Firezza, the gourmet pizza delivery company that was acquired by PizzaExpress, is launching a new pizza “al metro” concept called Pizza Madre. The new concept is to be launched at The Red Lion in Ealing, which has been home to the Santa Maria pizza offering for the past two years. Basic told Propel: “This is just one of many sites we are going to open. We will donate £1 from each of our three best-selling pizzas to support local struggling musicians during the covid-19 restrictions. We have many friends in the music industry and most are struggling at the moment. The Pizza Madre name means mother’s pizza and is chosen having in mind what we stand for: community, support, sharing our metre-long pizzas with the family and friends, care and love. In British pub context, we felt this is what people want – we rarely have individual people coming to eat alone. However, if they do we will do individual pizzas. I have put all 25 years of my experience of creating Neapolitan pizza concepts here in UK and abroad (Pizza Mano in Norway) into this concept, pulling my best suppliers and the best possible produce and people together in order to create the best pizza in London – and then, hopefully, the wider UK.” Basic is still a partner in Hackney pizza bar concept A Slice Of Blue. Pizza Madre is opening on Thursday (29 October).
Franco Manca to replace Le Pain Quotidien near Borough Market: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned brand, is to add to its London estate with an opening near Borough Market, Propel has learned. The David Page-chaired brand has secured the former Le Pain Quotidien site in Blows Yard, in Winchester Walk. The company, which operates circa 50 sites under the Franco Manca brand, will start on-site this week with an opening planned before the end of next month. Earlier this month, Fulham Shore said its sales were up 7% to £68.6m before the full impact of the coronavirus as it revealed its results for the year to March 2020. It opened seven Franco Manca pizzerias and two Real Greek restaurants during the period, and currently has 68 of its 70 restaurants open. Page said: “The tribulations of distressed UK businesses and their landlords has resulted in the group being offered more new sites than we can possibly view. These are ex-retail shops, ex-ground floor offices, ex-chain restaurants, plus new-build sites that were some years in the planning, but now have no tenants. We feel the longer we wait for even the best of these sites, the lower the rents we can achieve. We believe this situation may last at least five years.”
Coca-Cola takes over Briggo robotic coffee kiosks, rebrands machines as Costa Coffee: Coca-Cola is thought to have acquired Texas-based coffee automation company Briggo and rebranded its machines with its subsidiary company label Costa Coffee. Briggo’s automated coffee vending machines that operate mainly in the Austin area of the US state under the name of Coffee Haus have been rebranded as Costa Coffee BaristaBot. Briggo had raised $19m for its new wave of automated kiosks and was aiming to combine robotics with a higher-end consumable product, according to The Spoon. Briggo was also known for being a business that sourced and roasted its own beans. Having tied up a deal with SSP America last year, Briggo announced – before covid-19 struck – it was set to unveil new kiosks in 25 airports during this year and 2021, to join its two at Austin-Bergstrom Airport and one at San Francisco International Airport. Coca-Cola acquired Costa Coffee from Whitbread in 2019.
McDonald’s pledges funding for one million free meals for children: McDonald’s is offering funding to provide one million free meals for UK families during the half-term break. The restaurant chain has signed a deal with food charity FareShare to help those “in greatest need” and to help the campaign started by Manchester United football star Marcus Rashford, who has been passionate about ending child food poverty in the UK. McDonald’s UK & Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said: “We are committed to supporting and serving the communities in which we operate. When we temporarily closed our restaurants in March, our people, franchisees and suppliers rallied to provide surplus food and support to food banks and charities. We were pleased we were able to donate surplus food through FareShare and other organisations earlier this year. I am pleased to support the distribution of one million meals to the families most in need this autumn.” The government voted down a motion to offer free meals during school holidays this week although low-income families can gain access to free meals for their schoolchildren during term time.
Asda opens first sit-in Greggs cafe: Asda has officially opened its first sit-in Greggs cafe, at its new £21m store in the East Midlands. The cafe will offer vegan sausage rolls and other Greggs foods such as breakfast rolls, sandwiches and wraps, pasta salads, sweet treats, cold drinks and Fairtrade coffee. Greggs will also trial shop-in-shops in five Asda stores in Boldon, Corby, Huyton, Eastlands and Wigan. Asda already works with McDonald’s, Sushi Daily, YO! Sushi (Panku and Kulaba Kitchen) and Just Eat in a number of stores across the UK. “We’re delighted to officially open our Worksop superstore and to have been selected to launch a number of ‘firsts’ for Asda including a brilliant range of food for now options,” Asda Worksop store manager Craig Loveday said.
Bloomsbury Leisure builds Tap pipeline: Bloomsbury Leisure, the pub, bar and leisure venue operator led by Jonathan Dalton, is planning to open a further four sites under its Tap concept over the next 12 months. Propel understands the company has two new Tap sites lined up for London, and one each for Manchester and Birmingham. The first scheduled to open will be the Hackney Tap, which is set to open next month in Mare Street and include a gyoza kitchen. The group plans to make its debut in Birmingham, with the opening of a Tap site early next year. The new site, which is thought will replace Pint Shop in Bennetts Hill, will feature 27 taps and a gyoza kitchen. The company plans to open a second Tap site in Manchester next summer, in the city’s Victoria area, after the Railway Heritage Trust awarded the company a £46,000 grant towards restoring a disused space by Soldiers’ Gate. It already operates the Piccadilly Tap in Manchester. Finally, the group plans to open a tap on Eastcheap, in the City, next summer. Bloomsbury Leisure currently operates four sites under its Tap concept, including sites in Farringdon, Euston and Waterloo, has applied to open a bar and gyoza dumpling bar at 41 Farringdon Street. It also plans to open an indoor cricket-based competitive socialising venture called Batting Stars at the 100 Bishopsgate development.
Diageo buys gin and vodka producer Chase Distillery: Diageo has agreed a deal to buy Chase Distillery – which makes seven gins, four vodkas and an elderflower liqueur – for an undisclosed sum. Among the Herefordshire-based company’s well-known brands are Chase GB Gin and Chase Original Potato Vodka. Diageo Great Britain managing director Dayalan Nayager said: “We are thrilled to be bringing such a quintessentially British portfolio of high-quality, crafted brands into our family. We are excited about the growth opportunity within the premium-plus segment and are very much looking forward to working with the Chase team to build on the portfolio’s considerable potential.” Chase Distillery founder and chairman William Chase added: “It’s inspiring to have Diageo invest in Chase Distillery’s future. They believe in the potential of our field-to-bottle spirits and will build on our mission to develop our sustainable distillery in Herefordshire.” The acquisition is expected to close in early 2021 subject to regulatory checks.
The Burger Shop Co to double up: The Burger Shop Co, the West Sussex-based concept, is to open its second site, after securing a unit in Horsham. The company, which was founded in 2015 by father and son, Ian and Oliver Fricker, is understood to have lined up a site in the town’s Piries Place scheme. The Burger Shop Co launched its first site in Arundel in November 2016. The concept specialises in burgers, craft beers and cocktails.
Ex-Goodlife Projects director launches virtual restaurant group: Jonny Boud, co-founder of what was Goodlife Projects, the brand, marketing and consultancy business which helped launch Rum Kitchen, Passo, Foley’s and Island Poké, has launched a new virtual restaurant group called Kitchen Ventures. The new venture is on a “mission to make fresh, delicious, chef-cooked food accessible to every neighbourhood via our network of cloud kitchens”. Virtual brands the business is currently working on and with are thought to include farm-to-bowls salads concept – Local Greens; Giz ’n’ Green, the pizza collaboration between chef Gizzi Erskine and rapper Professor Green; and chicken concept, Farmbird. The latter is currently available on Deliveroo. Goodlife Projects went into liquidation last year.
Henry Harris steps down as chef-director of Harcourt Inns: Henry Harris has announced he has stepped down as chef-director of London-based pub group Harcourt Inns. Harris partnered with Harcourt Inns, which is backed by investment firm Ducalian Capital, in 2017, to oversee the relaunch of The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale. He then went on to oversee the food offer across the company’s other subsequent openings The Three Cranes in the City of London; the Coach & Horses in Clerkenwell; and The Crown in Chiswick. Harcourt Inns currently operates six pubs in total, with its most recent site, The KPH in Notting Hill, opening last year. Harris said: “This week, I stepped away from the London pubs that I have been running as chef-director for the past three years and I no longer have any involvement in them. I am very proud of what we have achieved. A truly great team that has cooked and served great food and poured good drinks and I know will continue to do so. I am working on a new project that I hope to be able to announce before too long.”
Arome, backed by Ellen Chew, takes first bricks and mortar site: Longmartin Properties, a joint venture between Shaftesbury and the Mercers’ Company, has announced artisan bakery, Arome, has selected The Yards, Covent Garden, for its first permanent bricks and mortar site following its successful pop-up in Soho earlier this year. Created by patissier Alix Andre and backed by restaurauteur Ellen Chew’s ‘Chew on This’ group, Arome has signed for a 2,000 square foot store at 9 Mercer street and will bring its traditional French baking techniques to Covent Garden in November. Ellen Chew, co-founder of Arome, added: “This latest deal marks a huge milestone for Arome. Following our pop-up store in Soho, we have put a lot of consideration into finding the perfect location for our first ever bricks and mortar bakery. Being based in central London, The Yards Covent Garden is such a desirable area of the West End for foodies. We have tried and tested our brand meticulously and there is no doubt Arome will be a huge hit in Covent Garden.”
Iconic Peterborough nightclub calls time: An iconic 1,550-capacity Cambridgeshire venue has announced it is closing its doors. The Solstice, one of Peterborough’s few remaining nightclubs, has announced its closure after 23 years in the business. The venue has been trying to operate the bar side of the business since lock-down was eased. General manager Peter Bell said: “We were running at a reduced capacity but realised that we can put more people outside so we also applied for a planning application to extend the time we can open up outside the back. There was a really good vibe about the building and what we were going to do in the future. Then the 10pm curfew came. It became a real challenge and it decimated one of our nights.”
@pizza raises 150% of target on Crowdcube: @pizza has now raised 150% of its target on crowdfunding website Crowdcube. Founder Rupert Lyle said: “We would like to thank everyone who has invested so far, taking us to 150% of our target with more than £1.2m raised. This investment enables us to seize an opportunity to expand and excel. With investment from more than 1,400 investors, a new high-footfall location under construction, and the UK’s first drive-thru pizza unit on its way, we’re excited about what the future holds. In the coming months, we will increase our footprint and make delicious, hand-crafted pizzas more accessible, offering a five-star dining experience that is ideally suited to the new normal.”