Soho House secures $100m from US property investors to expand private members’ club empire: Soho House has secured $100m (£78m) of funding from US property investors to expand its private members’ clubs empire. The operator of 26 clubs has sold a circa 5% stake to a group led by New York-based entrepreneur Bippy Siegal’s Raycliff Capital, including a significant investment from malls landlord Simon Property Group. Founder Nick Jones, restaurateur Richard Caring and American billionaire Ron Burkle remain the majority owners of Soho House, which is now valued at $2bn. The new funds will aid growth, with plans to open sites in 2020 and 2021 including in London, Paris and Mykonos. Chief commercial officer Andrew Carnie, who joined this year from US retailer Anthropologie, will also lead Soho House’s push to launch more Soho Works venues, which feature office and events space for entrepreneurs and startups. Soho House recorded a statutory pre-tax loss of £65m million in 2018, widened from a £60m loss a year earlier. That was due to expansion costs. Underlying profits rose to £56.4m from £50.5m. Turnover leapt 20% to £432.5m and comparable sales increased 9%. Jones told the Evening Standard: “2018 was an extremely busy year for Soho House as we continued to expand our global membership across the world. New openings at White City, Dumbo in New York City and Amsterdam together with our first House in Asia with Soho House Mumbai, have helped to grow our member base as well as offering more options for existing members.”
Good Egg Restaurants to trade as normal following administration: London-based Good Egg Restaurants has told Propel it will continue to trade as normal following an administration process. The business’ management, staff, shareholders and assets have all been transferred to a new company. Both of The Good Egg sites, in Soho and Stoke Newington, remain profitable, with sales growing year-on-year since opening, the company said. The company added it would retain all staff and shareholders as it continued with the “ongoing development of The Good Egg brand”. Founders Alex Coppard, Joel Braham and Oded Mizrachi said: “The business is still trading and we continue to do so in a positive state. Both sites remain profitable and forecasts are very promising. In what has been a challenging time for the industry, the costs incurred during the opening of our second site proved difficult to manage as a small business. Since 2017, we have seen a vast improvement in performance and are confident in what the future holds for The Good Egg. We appreciate the continued support of landlords and creditors. This hasn’t been an easy decision but one we make with confidence that it’s the best outcome for our staff, shareholders and suppliers. We will retain every member of staff and keep all shareholders on board. As far as we’re concerned it’s business as usual and we look forward to the ongoing development of the brand.”
Byron completes senior leadership team with new brand director: Better burger brand Byron has appointed Richard Danks as brand director. Danks joins from Portas, the creative agency and retail consultancy founded by Mary Portas, where he was head of strategy and innovation for its London and Melbourne offices. He led a team of creative strategists working for clients including Prada Group, Sainsbury’s Argos, Westfield, Mercedes-Benz and Habitat. Danks regularly lectures on marketing and advises a number of startups on brand growth and development. Chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “The appointment completes my senior leadership team, which now has a fantastic mix of skillsets and backgrounds.” Danks added: “Byron was the original disruptor. It tore up the rulebook to create a new type of dining experience that, in many respects, paved the way for the vibrant, independent eating-out culture we have today. A chain that didn’t feel like a chain. In recent years the brand may have lost some of the creative energy that once set it apart but the customer appetite for what Byron was built on – proper food, unique experiences and a maverick spirit – is greater than ever. Despite an avalanche of new restaurant brands coming on the scene, I believe Byron has the brand power – and the new management team has the imagination, ideas and investment – to stage a remarkable comeback.”
Six By Nico secures debut London site: Six by Nico, the restaurant concept led by Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone, is set to make its London debut after securing a site in Fitzrovia. Propel understands the company, which will open its sixth eponymous site in Liverpool next month, has secured the Zizzi site in Charlotte Street for its debut location in the capital. The Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi site will close later this week. The launch in Liverpool, at the former La Vina site, will mark a fourth opening for the business this year, after launches in Belfast, Manchester and Glasgow. As with Simeone’s other Six by Nico sites, the restaurant will serve a six-course tasting menu priced at £29 per person that changes every six weeks and is themed around different places, memories and ideas. The disposal of the Charlotte Street site is part of Zizzi’s natural churn of its national estate, which recently saw it sell its Harborne restaurant to Giggling Squid. The brand has launched four sites this year, including a recent opening in the new Drake’s Circus development in Plymouth. AG&G is understood to have acted on the Charlotte Street deal.
Frankie & Benny’s cuts menu options as it moves to attract more ‘grown-up’ audience: Managing director Ollie Humphries has kick-started plans to revamp Frankie & Benny’s and attract a “more grown-up” audience by launching a pared-down menu, broadening the brand’s appeal and returning to its Italian American roots. Frankie & Benny’s cut its menu items by 10% in May, while the new menu sees another 9% chopped after Humphries found the brand had almost double the number of main dishes compared with its rivals. The group has also returned to the nostalgic 1950s tunes it’s renowned for on its playlist, updated photography, ramped up social media efforts and increased menu focus on quality ingredients and dishes. Humphries told the PA news agency: “Frankie & Benny’s hasn’t been keeping pace with the market over the last few years. This is the start of fixing Frankie & Benny’s.” Regarding the new menu, brand and strategy director Elise Ash said: “We are excited about 2020 as we approach 25 years of bringing Italian American favourites to the UK. As we embed our new brand positioning, we hope to welcome back lots of old fans and make new ones for years to come.” Last month The Restaurant Group said Frankie & Benny’s increased focus on customer engagement during the past financial year had been driven by better use of social media and marketing to create a “buzz” around the brand. A key campaign was Bring It Back, where the brand used social media to find out what customers would like to see return to the menu.
Kings Park Capital acquires Devon holiday parks to create Lakeshore Leisure Group: Sector investor Kings Park Capital has acquired two independent holiday parks in Devon in a multi-million pound investment. The freehold sites – Otter Falls and Clawford Lakes – are the first assets in the newly formed Lakeshore Leisure Group. The company will look to deploy further development and bolt-on acquisition capital in support of Lakeshore chief executive Stephen Twiss. An experienced operator, Twiss has spent the majority of his career at Bourne Leisure, where he was head of sales for the caravan parks division, and more recently at park operator Luxury Lodge Estates, where he took the role of managing director in 2015. The 40-acre Otter Falls Holiday Park, near Honiton, comprises 16 holiday letting cottages and 13 Scandinavian-style lodges set around three lakes. Clawford Lakes in Holsworthy is set in 78 acres of countryside, with 17 fishing lakes, 24 self-catering units, eight bed and breakfast rooms, a six-bedroom farmhouse, and a large bar restaurant. The site has outline planning permission for more holiday accommodation. Artjom Dashko, of Kings Park Capital, said: “We believe the combination of sustained growth in UK staycations, our experience of investing in the domestic accommodation sector with Bridge Leisure, our partnership with a talented sector operator in Stephen, the asset-backed business model, and the opportunity for significant further investment in these sites and future acquisitions should drive attractive capital returns for KPC fund investors.”
200 Degrees launches loyalty app: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has launched its loyalty app. The free app allows customers to earn 5% on purchases and has a GPS function that allows users to locate 200 Degrees stores. The app will run alongside the brand’s current stamp card loyalty scheme. 200 Degrees co-founder Tom Vincent said: “This technology enables us to reward our customers with anything they purchase in-store, which allows them to embrace other products such as fresh food. It will also share all our exclusive offers, coffee-tasting events and shop openings.” Earlier this week 200 Degrees, which Vincent founded with Rob Darby in 2012, reported like-for-like sales at its coffee shops increased 11% for the year ending 31 March 2019. Shop Ebitda was up 174% to £1.1m, compared with £400,000 the previous year. The company said it had experienced a “stellar” financial year, with significant growth across all divisions. The company will launch its 11th site – and first out of town – at the East Midlands Designer Outlet on Thursday, 14 November. 200 Degrees said its pipeline remained “very strong” with a number of opportunities being reviewed and assessed to ensure the company continued its plans to open four to five stores per year.
Rare Restaurants to reveal new Gaucho look at Fitzrovia site in December: Rare Restaurants – the Investec and SC Lowy-backed parent company of Gaucho and M Restaurants – its to relaunch its Gaucho site in Fitzrovia in December featuring the brand’s new look. The venue in Charlotte Street will reopen on Monday, 9 Decemberwith Gaucho’s cowhide look replaced by earthy tones inspired by the Argentine landscape. The evolved Gaucho offering will include a beef bar with a chef creating dishes in front of diners, a cinema screen for the brand’s immersive drinking and dining experience Gaucho Film Club, and a private dining room. The venue will also offer a new menu with starters such as scallop ceviche alongside classic Argentine steaks and a range of seafood options. In total, 10% of the venue’s workforce will come from partnerships with social charities such as Clink and Only A Pavement Away. Last week Rare Restaurants appointed Rob Dawson, formerly of Azzurri Group, as chief financial officer to replace Jim Kottler, who stepped down from the role earlier this year. A deal was concluded in April that saw M Restaurants’ three venues and Gaucho’s 16 sites brought together under the Rare Restaurants banner.
North east-based operator acquires Durham pub restaurant for third site: Tom Park, who operates Rustique Restaurant in Richmond and The Waggon Inn in Gateshead, has acquired bar restaurant The Fox Hole Pub & Kitchen in the village of Piercebridge, near Darlington, for his third venue in the region. The Fox Hole offers a variety of spaces including The Wellie Bar and adjoining restaurant, while there is two-bedroom accommodation on the first floor that could be converted into letting accommodation or a private dining space. The pub was purchased as a derelict building by Tim Wilks five years ago but he has decided to sell it to concentrate on other business interests. Park said: “My family and I are local to Piercebridge and were regular customers at The Fox Hole. I own two other hospitality businesses and when the opportunity arose to purchase another, one I knew very well, it seemed sensible to explore the opportunity.” David Cash, senior business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, added: “The Fox Hole is a fantastic business and the former owners built and upheld an outstanding reputation for quality. It’s great to see operators like Tom continuing to expand.”
Morso secures second site: Pasta and grappa concept Morso has secured its second London site, Propel understands. The company is believed to have taken on the Rullo’s restaurant in Chamberlayne Road in Kensal Rise and paid a “significant premium” for the lease, fixtures and fittings. Morso, which opened its debut site in St John’s Wood in June 2018 following a series of pop-ups, is expected to launch the Kensal Rise venue before Christmas. In May, Morso commercial director Barak Peled told Propel he was working with a number of private investors to support the company’s expansion plans after it was unsuccessful in its bid to raise £250,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. He said: “We have a lot of faith in our concept, as do our existing investors, so we intend to push on. We have learned a lot from the crowdfunding campaign, especially when it comes to going through the due diligence process, and we’ve also been able to raise our profile.” Propel understands Morso is looking to grow to ten sites in the next few years before reassessing its expansion plans. The company is believed to be aiming to build clusters of sites in outlying areas of each corner of London. Morso is the brainchild of former Jamie’s Italian and Carluccio’s chef Paolo Vernetti who, along with Vanessa Vaz, Peled and Barry McCaughley, has created a concept that combines fresh pasta and small Italian bites with grappa-based cocktails. Rullo’s was founded by Salvatore Rullo, who also operated the now closed Rullo’s Pizzeria in Camden. Stonebrook London is understood to have acted for Rullo’s on the deal.
EAT launches final Christmas menu as stores transition to Pret: Fresh food-to-go retailer EAT has unveiled its final Christmas menu as the stores transition to new owner Pret A Manger. The range, which will be available in all stores from Wednesday, 6 November, includes a Christmas dinner hot pot consisting of turkey, parsnip, carrot and leek in a white wine sauce served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage. Other additions this year are smoked salmon, beetroot and radish on dark rye bloomer, vegan spiced cauliflower, houmous and harissa grains and a peppermint brownie. Among items making a return for the festive season are pigs in blanket pots and roast in a Yorkshire pudding wrap. EAT managing director Mike Rainer said: “Although EAT has gradually been transitioning stores to Pret over the past few months, Christmas is such a special time and we want to take the opportunity to savour this last festive season and say a very merry thank you to our customers, inviting them to celebrate more than 20 years of Real Food with us.” Pret bought the 90-strong EAT in June and plans to convert “as many sites as possible” to Veggie Pret.
Oodles Chinese opens Blackburn restaurant: Indo-Chinese concept Oodles Chinese has opened a site in Blackburn. The company has opened the 40-cover restaurant in Victoria Street, creating 20 jobs. Oodles serves dishes such as Malaysian chicken, chilli chicken, Chinese lamb curry, chilli prawns, teriyaki chicken, Schezuan beef stir fry and crispy prawns. Side options include vegetable spring rolls, Chinese fried wings and prawn crackers. The brand is certificated halal and also offers vegetarian options. Director Mohammed Umar told the Lancashire Telegraph: “We chose Victoria Street due to high footfall in the area and we already have a large fan base in Blackburn who travel to our other stores.” Oodles opened its first site in 2010 and earlier this year said it aimed to open another ten sites by 2020.
Edinburgh-based hotel company to launch boutique brand including rock ‘n’ roll bar restaurant, plans five sites by 2022: Hotel company BXTR, founded by brothers Mike and Ross Baxter, has secured a £1.1m loan from OakNorth Bank to launch a boutique hotel brand, House of Gods, starting with a 22-bedroom hotel with a 40-cover cocktail bar in Edinburgh. The new finance will also use be used to develop Cowgate Market, a 70-cover bar restaurant next to the hotel that will focus on the “hedonism of rock ‘n’ roll” and offer cocktails, late-night food, live music and DJs. The Baxters hope to launch four more House of Gods hotels by 2022, with 20 to 50 rooms per hotel. The brothers launched BXTR in August 2014 with a 46-bedroom hostel in Edinburgh followed by the 105-bedroom Kip Hotel in east London. The Baxters said: “We are extremely excited to launch our new hotel, restaurant and bar concept and feel this area of Edinburgh will be the ideal location for both sites to thrive.” Mohith Sondhi, senior debt finance director at OakNorth Bank, added: “Since the launch of their first project the Baxter brothers have proved they can operate hotels and hostels with their two sites experiencing above-market occupancy rates year-round. Edinburgh is a city they know well and the central location of the site will make it popular. They have ambitious plans for the future so we look forward to supporting them as they continue to expand the brand across the UK.”
Camile Thai Kitchen opens Boxpark Croydon site: Dublin-based healthy food delivery company Camile Thai has increased its presence in London by opening a site at Boxpark Croydon. The opening takes its portfolio in the capital to six following its arrival in Islington this summer, when a delivery-only outlet launched in Roman Way in partnership with Deliveroo. A Camile Thai Kitchen spokeswoman said: “We are delighted to have snuggled into our miniature-sized Camile location in Croydon Boxpark, where we are serving healthy lunches and moreish Thai bar bites to the masses.” Camile Thai Kitchen has circa 25 sites in the UK and Ireland, including its other London restaurants in Battersea, Clapham, Tooting Bec and Bermondsey.
Comptoir Libanais relaunches new-look central London site: Comptoir Group, the owner and/or operator of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has relaunched its Comptoir Libanais site in Wigmore Street, central London. The restaurant’s interiors and terrace have undergone a major refurbishment. The new mix of colours and patterns are based on founder Tony Kitous’ childhood memories, with diners “taken on a journey to a souk somewhere in Beirut, Marrakesh, Istanbul or Cairo”. The revamped menu includes a large selection of hot and cold mezze and warm Lebanese wraps. Last week Kitous told Propel high rents in the UK had led Comptoir Group to turn its focus on overseas franchising in the Middle East. Speaking during an interview for the latest Propel Quarterly magazine, which will be published in early December, he said: “Comptoir Libanais is all about the experience and you can feel it’s different to other restaurants over there. The Middle East is a great opportunity for us.” Last month Comptoir Group said it remained focused on investing in “carefully selected sites”, while selective refurbishments would continue into the second half of the year.
Ancoats Coffee to double up in Manchester: Manchester-based independent roastery and cafe Ancoats Coffee is to double up in the city. The company has secured a site in 111 Piccadilly, a venue operated by workspace firm Bruntwood Works. The building in Piccadilly Approach will unveil its new look in the spring following a major refurbishment, with Ancoats Coffee on the ground floor. The company, founded in 2013 as a small-batch independent roaster, has been operating from a single dedicated cafe in Royal Mills, Ancoats, since 2015. Owner Jamie Boland said: “We are thrilled to start the next phase of growth and at the opportunity to work alongside Bruntwood Works in this exciting project.” Andrea George, director of retail and leisure at Bruntwood Works, added: “Ancoats Coffee will enable us to open the building’s doors to the public and create a vibrant and welcoming space for people to enjoy. We love what they’ve created in Ancoats. It’s definitely more than a coffee shop – it has built a community around a love of real coffee and wholesome food.”
Cocktails delivery service The Bottled Bartender launches crowdfunding campaign: Cocktails delivery service The Bottled Bartender has launched a campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company, founded by cocktails consultant Nick Lewis, is seeking £60,000 to fund expansion and is offering 9.09% equity in return for investment, which gives The Bottled Bartender a pre-money valuation of £600,000. The pitch states: “The Bottled Bartender seeks to specialise in the manufacture, marketing and distribution of single-serve premium cocktails to the trade, events and home markets. For online orders it anticipates using a 24-hour courier service. Our cocktails are designed to deliver the real thing. We adhere to the same recipes as a high-end bar, using only branded spirits, fresh ingredients and experienced staff to make our drinks. We want events and trade to benefit from speed of service, logistical ease (not transporting glassware, ice and inventory) and not having to hire specialist staff, while home customers will have access to bar-quality cocktails without needing to know how to mix a drink. The market is growing at an estimated 9.5% per annum (total UK value £587m) as cocktail culture moves from bar to home driven by affordability and convenience.”
Michelin-starred restaurant Wilks brought to market: The lease of Michelin-starred, modern European restaurant Wilks in Bristol has been brought to market under a guide premium of £175,000 and an annual rent of £27,500 per annum. The venue in Chandos Road has been trading for seven years under the ownership of James Wilkins and Christine Vayssade, while the site previously housed restaurants Culinaria and Red Snapper. Wilkins said: “It has been a difficult decision for Christine and I to make. It was always our dream to set up a fine dining restaurant together. We have been approached for an exciting and challenging new project outside the UK we couldn’t turn down. Christine and I travelled with our jobs for years before settling in Bristol and the idea of discovering a new country is enticing. 1-3 Chandos Road has been a successful restaurant for over 25 years and we look forward to handing over the reins to someone who can take it in their own direction. In the meantime, Wilks is open as usual.” Fleurets’ Kevin Conibear, who is handling the sale, added: “James and Christine have invested significantly in creating Wilks and its position in Chandos Road is highly desirable”. The apartment at 1-3 Chandos Road is available under a separate agreement.
Tonkotsu opens in Shoreditch for 12th site: Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen restaurant group, has opened in Shoreditch, east London, for its 12th site. The move follows the brand’s latest launch, at Market Peckham in September. The 50-cover Shoreditch site is in a new building in New Inn Yard and features patterned tiles, polished concrete, wood accents and a light installation made from 1,600 recycled Tonkotsu chopsticks. Alongside Tonkotsu’s signature homemade noodle ramen, gyoza and Japanese appetisers, the drinks list includes saké specially made for the restaurant and a custom pale ale by Magic Rock Brewing. Yamada and Reynolds launched Tonkotsu in Soho in 2012. Apart from its ten restaurants in the capital it operates two Selfridges concessions, in Birmingham and London’s Oxford Street. In June, Tonkotsu secured new investment from YFM Equity Partners, which also backs healthy eating brand Friska. YFM invested £5m for a minority stake in Tonkotsu.
Manchester-based cheese restaurant doubles up: Manchester-based cheese restaurant concept Northern Soul has doubled up in the city. Founder Dan Place has launched the venue in a vacant unit in Tib Street in the Northern Quarter. As well as the grilled cheese sandwiches on offer at its original Church Street site, the menu has been expanded to include a selection of breakfasts and larger plates as well as milkshakes and cocktails. The restaurant, which has about 50 more seats than its sister site, features the concept’s traditional cheese-grater lampshades, reports the Manchester Evening News.
Safestay acquires Athens hostel: London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay has agreed a deal to buy boutique hostel AthenStyle in Athens, Greece, for €1.5m (£1.3m). The 150-bedroom hostel opened in 2008 and features a rooftop bar offering views across to the Acropolis. For the 12 months to December 2018, AthenStyle generated sales of €0.7m and Ebitda of €0.2m. The property is being acquired on an 18-year lease with Safestay’s existing cash resources financing the deal. Following the acquisition, the group’s portfolio consists of five UK sites and 12 in Europe. Safestay chairman Larry Lipman said: “AthenStyle is a strong addition to our portfolio. It will be a straightforward process to rebrand the site and integrate with our cloud-based booking systems and it should be earnings-enhancing immediately.” The deal is expected to complete in January.
Hammerson submits plans for 205-bedroom hotel in Leeds as part of City Quarters concept: Hammerson has submitted plans for a 205-bedroom hotel next to its Victoria Gate leisure complex in Leeds. The site, which is currently a car park, would be turned into the Victoria Gate Hotel as part of Hammerson’s City Quarters concept, which looks to create mixed-use neighbourhoods around its UK destinations. The company recently submitted mixed-use planning applications for Martineau Galleries in Birmingham, Goodsyard in Shoreditch and Dundrum in Dublin. If approved, the ground-floor hotel would also feature a bar and restaurant alongside a gym and conference facilities. Robin Dobson, UK director of development and project management at Hammerson, said: “This is an important next step in our City Quarters concept, which will see us develop the area into a thriving cultural quarter adjacent to Victoria Leeds.”