Shamel to step down as Las Iguanas managing director: Mos Shamel is to step down as managing director of Las Iguanas after 16 years of leading the Casual Dining Group (CDG)-owned restaurant bar brand, Propel has learned. Shamel is understood to be stepping down from the 55-strong brand to pursue a fresh challenge outside the group. CDG acquired the then 41-strong South American-themed restaurant group in July 2015 in a deal valued at circa £85m. Shamel oversaw the brand’s smooth transition to its new owner and its continued growth, which has played a key part in the sales performance of CDG during the past four years. CDG, which also operates Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, plans to announce a successor to Shamel in the “coming months”. James Spragg, who was promoted to chief executive of CDG earlier this year, said: “We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Mos for his immense contribution to Las Iguanas, which has grown into one of the UK’s leading restaurant bar businesses and one that’s consistently placed in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies To Work For list. He leaves Las Iguanas in great shape, with a really strong and motivated team and impressive like-for-like sales growth. We wish Mos the best for the future.” Shamel said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey with Las Iguanas and CDG. This was an incredibly difficult decision as this is a great business with fantastic people but, after 16 years, it’s time for me to embrace a fresh challenge.” Las Iguanas has just opened a site in Bracknell and is set launch in Watford later this summer. Las Iguanas also operates virtual delivery brand Blazing Bird across about 40 of its sites and launched a further virtual concept – Bang Bang Burritos – earlier this year out of a similar number of its restaurants.
Greene King launches experiential darts concept under Metropolitan Pub Company arm: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched an experiential darts concept under its Metropolitan Pub Company arm, Propel has learned. Metropolitan Pub Company has launched Darts Club London on the first floor of The Alexandra in Clapham, south London. It will be followed by a second opening in Aldgate, at The Old Tea Warehouse in early August. A largely unused function room and bar with its own street entrance at The Alexandra has been refurbished to create four hireable oches for groups of up to 16, a lounge bar and two projector screens for private hire or key sporting events. There are five darts games to choose from – Blockbuster, Killer, Shanghai, Halve It and Shoot It. Alongside darts, the new concept also works with local craft brewers such as Mondo and Gipsy Hill to offer a rotating range of guest keg beers, a cocktail list that celebrates the pub’s Irish roots and sourdough pizzas served across both floors. Metropolitan Pub Company has launched the darts concept as a way to utilise spare space in some of its sites and, while there may be further openings, Propel understands there are no plans for a major roll-out.
Darwin & Wallace secures Canary Wharf site: Darwin & Wallace, the independent neighbourhood bar group backed by Imbiba, will open its eighth site in London this November, after securing a unit in Canary Wharf. Propel has learned the Mel Marriott-led business will take over the former Cafe Rouge site set on the side of the dock by Mackenzie Walk. The new site will feature a bar, dining spaces, lounge seating and a south-facing terrace to seat 170 people. Darwin & Wallace said the new site will serve more than 40 hand-picked wines, along with a selection of craft, draught and bottled beer, house-made soft drinks and a collection of seasonal long and short serve cocktails. The bar will also feature a scratch-cooked, locally sourced and sustainably minded all-day food menu, curated by executive chef Simon Duff. Marriott, Darwin & Wallace managing director, said: “Our eighth site in a tremendous waterside location in the heart of Canary Wharf marks another exciting chapter for us as we move east continuing our aspiration to create uniquely designed bars with a home from home aesthetic that forms the perfect backdrop for socialising from morning coffee to nightcap and everything in between. We are proud to have been invited to become part of Canary Wharf life and look forward to opening in the autumn.” Nick Garston, of Bruce Gillingham Pollard, acted on the deal on behalf of Darwin & Wallace.
Monsieur le Duck founder plots expansion: Richard Humphreys is planning expansion of his duck restaurant concept Monsieur le Duck in the UK and abroad having opened its first permanent site. Humphreys, who operated a pop-up in London’s Spitalfields before opening in Clerkenwell last month, is on the hunt for at least one more site in the capital and could look to Berlin, Copenhagen and the Far East for further growth. The concept could even hop back across the channel, with Humphreys looking to bring it to the tables of Paris. He said: “The best part of Monsieur Le Duck so far has been seeing French people flocking to the restaurant. We have plans to open a few more sites in the future, starting with London and then looking further afield in Europe, Asia and the US. I would love to open one in Paris at some point, just for the cheek of it.” Humphreys said he would avoid the curse of over-expansion, which had recently caused problems for several chains. He added: “I know a lot of restaurant groups expand very quickly if you throw a lot of money at it, but we want to stay true to the concept.” Humphreys, who said he “packed the freezers” with 12 days’ worth of duck ahead of the original March Brexit deadline, added he wasn’t worried about leaving the European Union, despite the restaurant’s reliance on shipments of meat from France. He added: “Duck is a relatively unexplored meat in the UK but the health and sustainable benefits make it a great alternative to beef. The carbon footprint of duck is one-fifth that of beef and lamb and it contains more iron than beef.”
United Chip eyes Soho site for return: United Chip, the gourmet fish and chip concept led by the team behind All Star Lanes, hopes to return to central London after closing its debut site last year. Propel understands the concept, which is the brainchild of All Star Lanes founder Mark von Westenholz and his brother Nick, is in talks to take a site at the Trocadero in Rupert Street, Soho. The concept launched last year on the corner of Clerkenwell Road and Goswell Road. However, it closed later that summer following odour complaints from local residents. The company said it was addressing the problem and hoped to reopen the site. At the time, it set out ambitions to build to ten sites by the end of 2021.
Coyote Ugly to open fifth UK site, in Birmingham next month: Coyote Ugly will open its fifth UK site, in Birmingham next month. Steve Lewis, who holds the franchise rights for Coyote Ugly in the UK, will launch the venue on Thursday, 15 August in Broad Street in premises currently occupied by Mooch Bar. Lewis told Birmingham Live: “Customers have been travelling to our locations from all over the UK, Ireland and throughout Europe. Many patrons have been disappointed at being unable to book tables or booths as many key dates sell out weeks or months in advance. The perfect answer to this problem is to expand and open other venues throughout the UK. Birmingham is such a vibrant city, with an amazing nightlife and we can’t wait to add to it.” The original bar in New York City founded by Liliana Lovell inspired the blockbuster 2000 film, starring Tyra Banks and John Goodman. Coyote Ugly now operates in 26 locations in seven countries. Lewis opened the debut UK site in Cardiff in 2016 and has since added venues in Liverpool, Manchester and Swansea.
Alfs Super Naturals closes debut site: Grab-and go concept Alfs Super Naturals, which made its debut in London last summer, has closed. The concept was backed by Harvey Smyth, chairman of Azzurri Group and East Coast Concepts, who founded the business with chef Angie Steele, who spent eight years working with Gordon Ramsay and owns Angie’s Little Food Shop in Chiswick. Alfs made its debut on the ground floor of No1 Poultry in the City. It’s thought although the concept built a loyal following, it failed to attract the numbers to justify keeping the site open. However, it’s understood a return for the concept in the long term has yet to be ruled out. Alfs placed “healthy and delicious food” at its core, with everything produced daily on-site.
Essex-based operators open sixth site: Essex-based operators Sharif Uddin and Shakil Islam have opened a Mediterranean and Asian fusion restaurant and shisha lounge in Brentwood for their sixth venture. They have invested almost £1m in Dusk, which offers shisha flavours from around the world. The restaurant in Ongar Road has space for 140 diners in the main restaurant, which offers a fusion of Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. The main menu has been designed by Dusk executive head chef and television personality Stephen Gomes. There are a further 150 seats in an alfresco dining area, where people can smoke flavoured shisha and eat from a street food menu. The outside dining area overlooks Bentley golf course. Uddin and Islam’s other sites are Aladdin’s shisha lounge in Ilford, Empire shisha lounge in Romford plus three Kushi Indian restaurants, in Lakeside, Canvey Island and Gidea Park.
Italian restaurant group Salvi’s to open fourth Manchester site: Manchester-based Italian restaurant group Salvi’s is to open its fourth site in the city. The family-run independent company operates a mozzarella bar and deli at the Corn Exchange as well as Cucina and Pizzeria Napolitana restaurants in John Dalton Street. Now it is opening in the Northern Quarter in the same building as cafe concept Federal. The restaurant will offer the full Salvi’s experience with a menu spanning pizza, pasta, seafood and meat dishes, and is due to open at the end of August. Owner Maurizio Cecco said he had been searching for a site in the area for a long time. He told Manchester Evening News: “It is near to the Corn Exchange but a completely different type of customer. I think it’s a good addition to the Northern Quarter.”
Ivy Collection to launch Glasgow city centre site this month: The Ivy Collection will open a brasserie in Glasgow city centre this month. The company will launch the site on Monday, 29 July at a former Nationwide Building Society branch in Buchanan Street. The building is being converted to include a bar and restaurant on the ground floor with another restaurant on the floor above. The Ivy Collection operates circa 35 restaurants in London and cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Leeds and has been steadily expanding its cafe and brasserie concepts.
Epic Hospitality Group makes restaurant debut: Epic Hospitality Group, led by Simon Beer, has launched its first restaurant. The company has opened Mason’s Kitchen & Bar in Liverpool’s Seel Street. The 120-cover restaurant is the group’s first dedicated restaurant operation, serving a varied menu alongside cocktails in the drinks lounge. Head chef Ian Stott, who has previously worked at London’s Connaught and Ritz hotels, has developed a menu focusing on European-inspired cuisine including sharing platters, classic cuts and stone-baked pizza, reports The Business Desk. Established in 2012, Epic operates a portfolio of properties offering a mix of apartments, aparthotels and its most recent offering, Seel Street Hotel by Epic, which opened in December in partnership with Elliot Group.
Tom Sellers relocates Restaurant Story to the seaside for six-week residency:Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers is to relocate his Restaurant Story concept to Cornwall next month. Sellers will shut up shop in London at the start of August for a six-week residency in Carbis Bay entitled Story By The Sea. Set on a privately owned, blue flag beach on the Carbis Bay Estate, diners will be offered a five or six-course menu. Dishes will include crab tart, and lobster and leek alongside cocktails and Restaurant Story signature drinks. Sellers said: “I have the fondest memories of the seaside and a loving relationship with our oceans. The ocean is a magical gift we’ve been given along with everything found within it and I feel extremely lucky to have this opportunity to cook in Carbis Bay. The ocean and all that surrounds it will shape our vision for the menu’s creative process and cooking style.” The residency will run from Friday, 2 August to Saturday, 14 September.
Isle of Wight hotel owners to open restaurant for second site: Isle of Wight hotel owners and father-and-son team William and Greg Bailey are to open a restaurant in Yarmouth for their second site. The Baileys have taken over the lease of restaurant Yarmouth Spice, which closed in Quay Street early this year. The new venue, which sits above the Wightlink office, will be called The Terrace. Greg Bailey told the County Press: “We are aiming to launch The Terrace next March but there’s still a lot of work to do. It will have a relaxed, family-friendly dining atmosphere with a refurbished New England-style theme. We have decided on the name The Terrace as it will have sunset views over Yarmouth harbour and the Solent.” The Baileys also own The Royal Hotel in Ventnor.
Plans revealed to turn Southport Market into food and drink space: Proposals are being developed to transform Southport Market in Merseyside into a food and drink space that would host events. Sefton Council is talking to stallholders about its proposals for the King Street market. The council said the operating model needed to adapt to meet “changing consumer and business demands”. The proposal includes an enhanced hot food and drink offer and self-contained food retail units. Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and housing, said: “We value Southport Market but many factors are making trading conditions extremely difficult and occupancy levels continue to fall. Building on our former investment at the market, plans are being developed to transform the building into a unique offer that would benefit the town and wider borough. Nothing is set in stone and we’ll ensure traders are kept up to date and consulted on any final plans.”
Domino’s Pizza to open in derelict Worcester pub: Domino’s Pizza is set to open a site in a Worcester pub that was gutted by fire more than a decade ago. The company is set to move into The Smoke Stack in St John’s, which has been boarded up since the blaze in 2007. An application has been lodged with the city council to install a ventilation and extraction system to prepare for Domino’s Pizza to take over. The proposed opening hours are 11am to 11.30pm, Sunday to Thursday, and 11am to 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays, reports the Worcester News.
Hollywood Bowl invests £300,000 in Bury site rebrand: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator, has completed its latest investment project with the £300,000 rebrand and redevelopment of the former AMF Bowling in The Rock, Bury. The 24-lane centre has been redesigned to feature new furnishings, contemporary American decor and upgraded music and lighting technology. The Hollywood Diner serves gourmet burgers, hotdogs, freshly made thick shakes served in retro milk bottles and desserts as well as speciality house cocktails. In addition, the centre’s amusement area has been revamped. Nick Hughes, centre manager at Hollywood Bowl Bury, said: “It is brilliant to be able to give the centre a makeover and continue to provide our customers with the best family entertainment experience as we rebrand to a new-generation Hollywood Bowl.” Hollywood Bowl Group operates circa 60 venues under the Hollywood Bowl and AMF Bowling brands.
Coffee Lab lines up Bournemouth site as it makes Dorset push: Independent coffee shop and bar operator Coffee Lab is lining up a site in Bournemouth as it pushes into Dorset. The company is looking to open an outlet in Exeter Road in the former Cafe European premises. It has submitted a licensing application to Bournemouth Borough Council to be allowed to sell alcohol between 8am and 11pm, reports the Daily Echo. Coffee Lab opened its debut site in Winchester in 2016 and has six sites across Hampshire and West Sussex.
Latin American healthy grab-and-go concept opens in the City: A Latin American healthy grab-and-go concept has launched in London’s Square Mile. Mas has opened in Fenchurch Street, next to the Sky Garden. Breakfast dishes include porridge topped with stewed red fruit, and freshly baked pastries such as handmade churros served with Peruvian chocolate. The menu also includes pre-made salad bowls such as the Nikkei (chicken and avocado) and Corn (crayfish and onion). A spokesman for Mas said: “With a personable, refreshing atmosphere, our menu is a relaxed mix of dishes – much like you would find around the table at home. We are looking forward to welcoming guests and hope our offering delivers something special for the City.”
Chelmsford-based coffee shop opens second site, in Billericay: Chelmsford-based coffee shop Queenies has opened a second site in Essex, in Billericay. Ruby Mitchell has launched the outlet in High Street. As well as its own blend of coffee, Queenies serves food such as smashed avocado and salt beef sandwiches. Mitchell told Essex Live: “We use all independent bakeries and greengrocers. We basically want to serve the best fresh food and coffee around. You’re only as good as your last dish.” Mitchell opened her debut site in Chelmsford almost five years ago