Corbin & King to close Bellanger, secures Notting Hill Gate site: London-based restaurant group Corbin & King is to close its Bellanger site in Islington next month, after more than three years of trading. Co-founder Jeremy King said although the company had “loved being in Islington, we just couldn’t make it the success we aspired to”. He said: “Much as it had been a great critical success this wasn’t matched financially. And although we continued to trade for much longer than less patient operators might have persevered there came a point where we had to be pragmatic and move on to concentrate on new projects – the birth of Manzi’s in Soho, Notting Hill and indeed another rather interesting opportunity on the horizon.” King confirmed the company had acquired a new site in Notting Hill Gate but wouldn’t divulge any further information on where and what it would be. One possible location is the former RBS bank site at 78 Notting Hill Gate. Corbin & King’s new Soho seafood restaurant Manzi’s is set to open next year in the Bateman’s Buildings, just off Soho Square. The proposed Manzi’s takes its monikor from the previously popular, but long-time closed, Leicester Square restaurant of the same name.
 
Rare Restaurants seeks chief financial officer after Kottler steps down: Jim Kottler has stepped down as chief financial officer of Gaucho and M Restaurants operator Rare Restaurants, Propel has learned. Kottler joined Gaucho earlier this year from his position as chief financial officer at D&D London. A deal was concluded in April that saw M Restaurants’ three venues and Gaucho’s 16 brought together under the Rare Restaurants banner. Rare, which is led by Martin Williams, is due to announce a new chairman and non-executive directors this week. Williams told Propel: “With the announcement of a new chairman and non-executive directors due this week following the appointments of a number of key senior management positions earlier this year, the chief financial officer position for Gaucho and M is the last piece in the jigsaw and will complete our new dynamic team – all highly equipped and motivated to take the company to the next chapter. Jim Kottler has left his position to focus on working with businesses with different challenges and opportunities. We would like to thank Jim for his energy and help in advancing the whole company during the past six-month transitional period.”
D&D London eyes Bristol: Restaurant operator D&D London plans to add to its UK regional estate of sites with an opening in Bristol. Propel understands the Des Gunewardena-led group is in talks to open a site at the historic Quakers Friars building near Cabot Circus. D&D operates 42 restaurants, bars and one hotel based principally in London but with locations in Manchester, Leeds, Paris and New York. D&D launched a co-working initiative in five of its London venues last month. The Workroom is a partnership with entrepreneur Dominika Sadowska, which launched through an app at 100 Wardour St, Bluebird Chelsea and White City, Fiume and Radici. The app allows users to book a table to serve as their “office for the day”.
Farmer J lines up fourth site: London-based food market concept Farmer J has lined up its fourth opening in the capital, in Broadgate. Propel understands the Imbiba-backed concept has lined up a unit at 1 Finsbury Avenue for an opening later this year. Farmer J is led by Jonathan Recanati and secured £1.9m of investment capital in February towards its London expansion, which was supported by specialist investor Imbiba, existing shareholders and business angels. Its other sites are in Leadenhall, Monument and Canary Wharf. Recanati studied hospitality management before working as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank. He founded Farmer J in 2016 and is joined by creative chef Nick Sandler, former development chef at Pret A Manger; operations director Noel D’Arcy; marketing director Ali Recanati; and Kevin Todd, non-executive director and former group managing director of Mitchells & Butlers. Propel understands the business recently appointed Diane Wood, formerly of Le Pain Quotidien and Prescott & Conran, as interim finance director.
Cojean UK appoints MacDonald as chief executive: Cojean, the Parisian healthy fast food operation, has appointed Benedict MacDonald as UK chief executive, Propel has learned. MacDonald joins the three-strong UK business after almost ten years as managing director of Paris-based bakery Laduree UK. Before that he was head of operations at Baker & Spice. He takes over from Said Takhamt, who joined Cojean UK last June following 18 months as operations director of EAT. Cojean opened its third UK site in November in Chancery Lane. Its first UK site opened in Ludgate Hill in the City of London in 2015, with a second site following two years later in Mayfair. The company, which has 26 sites in Paris, gives 10% of its profits to its charity, the Nourrir Aimer Donner Foundation, which aims to fight poverty in some of the poorest communities in the world.
Puttshack secures Intu Watford site: Puttshack, the Social Entertainment Ventures-operated mini-golf concept, has secured a site at the Intu shopping centre in Watford. Puttshack will invest more than £5m in the 21,600 square foot venue, which is set to open in summer 2020. The Watford site will follow the launch of Puttshack’s Intu Lakeside site in Essex on Monday, 19 August, forming part of the brand’s ambitious expansion plans to open a site every 12 weeks from 2020. Watford is the latest opening announced by Puttshack, which was launched at Westfield London White City in July 2018 by the brains behind Bounce and Topgolf. The Watford and Lakeside sites will both feature Puttshack technology that combines automatic tracking with game scoring via the golf ball and a menu featuring a vegan offering and cocktails. Puttshack chief executive Joe Vrankin said: “We are excited to announce these regional openings, which form the first of many in our national expansion plan. Puttshack is changing the competitive socialising landscape by combining mini-golf with cutting-edge technology and a first-class food and drink offering to deliver a high-quality immersive experience that appeals to a broad customer demographic.” Rebecca Ryman, regional managing director at Intu, added: “Puttshack is a genuinely exciting concept that embraces the competitive socialising trend.” Puttshack’s rapid expansion follows an equity raise of £27m last month with lead investor Promethean Investment. The two Intu launches come as Puttshack prepares for an opening at No 1 Poultry in the City of London this autumn. Vrankin previously told Propel there was potential for 50 Puttshack sites in the UK and 300 in the US.
Ghost Group to launch first site in new wave of London-based casual dining concepts: London-based hospitality operator Ghost Group is to launch a number of casual dining concepts in September. The first to open will be Terra Terra, an all-day restaurant and cafe with open bakery that will launch in Finchley Road, north London, on Monday, 2 September. The venue will seat 40 diners on each of its two floors, while at night Terra Terra will turn into an intimate cocktail spot offering Italian-inspired dishes. Ghost Group creative director Piers Walker said: “We are creating a lively and buzzing atmosphere but diners will also experience those sought-after relaxing vibes.” Ghost Group focuses on developing and operating restaurants, bars, hotels and members’ clubs in the UK, Europe and the US.
Peel Hunt – nothing ‘changes just yet’ for Just Eat investors, Takeaway.com bid might not be ‘end of story’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst James Lockyer has said “nothing changes just yet” for investors of Just Eat, the market place for online food delivery, ahead of a potential merger with Dutch counterpart Takeaway.com – and believes it might not be the “end of the story”. Issuing a ‘Sell’ note on the shares with a target price of 520p, Lockyer said: “The potential acquisition of Just Eat was inevitable in the longer run as the market faces tough competition from the delivery-first players. Moreover, they often do much better acquiring than organically expanding outside their home territory. The proposed offer is only a 15% premium to last week’s close and sets a price Just Eat has hovered around for the past two years. This may not be the end of the story. With Naspers holding interests in the space, we could see a break up of the business (or potentially another bid for Just Eat itself from Naspers, Delivery Hero, Uber or Softbank). While the initially larger group will have a much greater position and ability to invest, its strategic rationale doesn’t change the structural case in our minds just yet. It all depends on who eventually acquires it, where the strategy does in fact go, and whether the regulators even allow it to happen at all. Takeaway.com and Just Eat have circa 40 million customers and £1bn revenues, with little overlap. The only country they both operate in is Switzerland (from 23 in total). Any combination will see cost savings such as central costs and best practices shared. However, two of the biggest costs (marketing and delivery) may have limited synergies. Campaigns will need to be done in each country (albeit potentially under a single brand) and delivery will still be limited by scale. Just Eat was a pure-play, high-margin takeaway platform, focusing on restaurants that do their own delivery, but it is now investing in its own delivery as competition takes its toll. Uber will dominate the smartphone real estate as its taxi app will accelerate the distribution of its UberEats app. It can also take advantage of a fast-growing, captive audience inside the taxis themselves by making timely suggestions. Moreover, as Uber opens its platforms to restaurants that do their own delivery its margins will improve, while Just Eat’s will diminish as it does the opposite.”
ITV to open immersive leisure attraction at MediaCity UK: Lifestyle Outlets, part of Peel L&P, has struck a partnership with ITV that will see the broadcaster open an immersive leisure attraction at its MediaCity shopping centre in Manchester. ITV has signed a multi-year deal at the Lowry Outlet, which will see it become an anchor tenant. Details on the project, which will open next year and add to ITV’s portfolio of live events that includes Coronation Street The Tour, the Emmerdale Studio Experience and This Morning Live – are being kept under wraps. The partnership between the two companies is part of the £26m regeneration of the Lowry Outlet into a leisure and retail destination that will also see a waterside dining concept open in 2020. Work has started on The Watergardens, which will be a 30,000 square foot restaurant terrace. Rufus Radcliffe, chief marketing officer for ITV, said: “We are delighted to confirm the Lowry’s new Watergardens development in Manchester will become home to an exciting new leisure attraction, which is set to open next summer with an ITV big brand experience at its heart.” Jason Pullen, managing director of Lifestyle Outlets, added: “This exciting partnership with ITV will reinforce our position of delivering leading retail and leisure destinations with immersive leisure attractions.” Lifestyle Outlets currently has two operational centres – Gloucester Quays and Lowry Outlet.
London restaurant operator Wiltons to open first site for 74 years, at St James’s Street development: London restaurant operator Wiltons is to open its first site for 70 years, at the Smithson Plaza development in St James’s Street. Wiltons has been operating an eponymous site since 1742 and launched its other restaurant, Franco’s, in Jermyn Street in 1945. The group will now launch cafe and wine bar Locket’s this autumn. Smithson Plaza has replaced The Economist’s headquarters and Locket’s will operate as a cafe offering breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea before turning into a wine bar in the evening. The venue will also offer a large space on the plaza. Wiltons Holdings chairman Jamie Hambro told Hot Dinners: “This new cafe and wine bar will bring impeccable service and hospitality to the area while introducing a new destination for younger people at this London landmark.” Wiltons, said to be the second-oldest restaurant in London, became the first UK eatery to join the Chefs Against Plastic Waste campaign last year. Chefs’ jackets are made from recycled plastic bottles, while plastic straws and drinks bottles are banned.
Yolk and Nyokee sign for Broadgate scheme: Eggs-centred concept Yolk and Italian gnocchi restaurant Nyokee are among nine brands that have signed to open sites at British Land’s 100 Liverpool Street development in London’s Broadgate. Yolk and Nyokee will both open second sites and join operators such as Italian restaurant and food market chain Eataly and coffee and cocktail bar brand Grind at the Everyman cinema-anchored scheme. Portuguese food and wine concept Bar Douro will also open a second site at the development, which will total 520,000 square feet with a focus on “technology, sustainability and well-being”. Yolk founder Nick Philpott said: “Following the huge success of our year-long pop-up in Finsbury Avenue Square at Broadgate, we’re excited to open a permanent site in 1FA. We’ll serve an expanded menu but with Dark Arts coffee, Clarence Court egg pots and freshly made sandwiches still at its heart.” British Land head of Broadgate David Lockyer said: “These new customers, upcoming developments and our plans for a park at Exchange Square will help us to evolve Broadgate into a world-class mixed-use destination.” Yolk opened its debut permanent site in Holborn late last year, while Nyokee operates a site in the City of London. Davis Coffer Lyons, CBRE, CWM and Nash Bond advised British Land on the latest lettings.
Star Pubs & Bars invests £6.73m in outside areas: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is pumping £6.73m into revamping the outside of its pubs and creating outdoor spaces in 2019, with 230 outlets set to benefit. More than 120 pubs are receiving external makeovers to improve their appeal and attract passing trade. At an average cost of £26,000, these projects include redecoration, lighting and new signs. The schemes also reposition and enhance entrances. The upgraded areas are designed to increase covers and trading space for licensees and prolong the pub garden season to at least nine months a year. The outdoor improvements are part of the company’s £50m investment programme for 2019. Star Pubs & Bars property director Chris Moore said: “Pub-goers increasingly want to eat and drink outside. It’s something many people enjoy when they’re travelling abroad and they love getting that same holiday feel at their local. With research suggesting 50% of people are planning a staycation this year for their main summer break, we’ve been working flat out to complete as many gardens as possible in time for the school holidays. Pub gardens have changed beyond all recognition in the past decade. A lawn and picnic benches no longer cut it. Customers expect the same attention to design and comfort they get inside the pub when they’re outdoors.”
Maitre Choux to open fifth London site, in Canary Wharf next week: Maitre Choux, the patisserie specialising in choux pastry, is to open its fifth site in London, in Canary Wharf next week. The venue will launch in Jubilee Walk on Wednesday, 7 Augustoffering the brand’s signature eclairs, choux and chouquettes (empty choux pastry balls topped with pearl sugar). The venue will also cater to commuters by offering Monmouth Coffee from 7am, The Handbook reports. Chef Joakim Prat and business partner Jeremie Vaislic launched Maitre Choux in 2015. Its other London sites are in Chelsea, Soho, South Kensington and inside Fortnum & Mason. The brand also operates a site in Bicester Village shopping centre in Oxfordshire. Prat has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants including Mayfair’s The Greenhouse, where he was head pastry chef, and as executive pastry chef at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Covent Garden.
Former Maison Bab chef to launch ‘restaurant-quality fast food joint’ in Highbury:Former Maison Bab chef Krishna Anil Bhagat is to launch a “restaurant-quality fast food joint” in Highbury, north London. The Sauce will open in Highbury Park on Thursday (1 August) offering four burgers alongside dishes such as grilled or fried buttermilk chicken thigh with homemade guacamole, tempura-fried soft shell crab, and house-spiced portobello mushroom with vegan cheese. It will also offer boxes with a base of vegetable-fried or whole-grain rice and quinoa that diners can add ingredients to such as meat and seafood, Hot Dinners reports. Desserts will include vegan churro bites, while the alcohol-free drinks list will feature Jungle Cold Brew, shakes and Dutch drink Chocomel. The Sauce, which takes its name from the 14 savoury and 14 sweet sauces on offer, will mainly focus on takeaway but offer 17 seats for diners to eat in.
Ed’s Easy Diner rolls out new menu with custom-build options: Ed’s Easy Diner, the Boparan Restaurant Group-owned brand, has rolled out its new menu with added vegan and gluten-free dishes and “custom-build” options. Following the success of the brand’s vegan activity between January and March, Ed’s Easy Diner is offering its first permanent vegan burger – the Beet-Root 66. There are two new vegan desserts – peanut butter and banana sundae and The Big Apple – while its shakes are now available as vegan options. Gluten-free dishes continue to be a mainstay and the range has been enhanced with new items such as the Nashville Burger (fried chicken burger tossed in Frank’s hot sauce with American cheese, cheese sauce and an onion ring). Hotdogs have been upgraded to include foot-long options. The breakfast offer is now available all day, including the new Big Ed’s Breakfast with extra bacon, sausage, toast and hash browns. The children’s menu includes expanded breakfast options as well as mac ‘n’ cheese and rainbow salad. Head of operations Martyn Davies said: “While we’ve kept many of Ed’s original classics we’re delighted to offer new switched-up options, an enhanced gluten-free range and new vegan dishes. Changes to the main menu, non-dish related, include the move to our new “menu build”, with guests having the flexibility to go solo or add sides, classic or premium.”
Former Barrafina chef to head kitchen at new wellness space launching in London: Fran Winberg, previously of Barrafina Soho and Stem + Glory, is to head the kitchen at a new wellness space, Linnaean, launching at Nine Elms in London’s Embassy Gardens in September. Sustainable Kitchen founder Julie Cleijne has developed a menu that is largely free-from allergens and also is predominantly vegetable-led. Dishes will include sweet potato toast as an alternative to bread and a vegan cheeseboard. Brunch and lunch will be available in a cafe atmosphere, switching to a candlelit space for an a la carte dinner menu. The restaurant will be one part of Linnaean, which will also offer a hair salon, treatment rooms, manicure/pedicure stations and a retail area stocking beauty and wellness brands. Embassy Gardens is a riverside location overlooking Chelsea and Pimlico. It will be the future home of the Sky Pool and a development featuring bars, restaurants, retail space and landscaped gardens.
Nomadic Beers acquires first pub: Leeds-based Nomadic Beers has acquired its first pub. The company has taken on the Rose & Crown in Bradford. The pub reopened after extensive renovation in 2017 as part of the grade II-listed Sunbridge Wells complex. The free-of-tie pub had been managed by the team behind Sunbridge Wells but, as of Monday, 12 August, it will be operated by Nomadic Beers under its new Nomadic Tap Rooms vehicle. Owner Katie Marriott said: “We contacted Sunbridge Wells about having our beer in some of the bars when Paul Gallagher, who looks after the complex, asked if we’d like to fully manage the Rose & Crown instead!” Nomadic Tap Rooms director Mike Hampshire added: “It is fantastic to take on such a historic venue in the heart of Bradford. It’s a chance to help Bradford drive its potential of a great city centre destination and we can showcase Nomadic Beers in a market we haven’t had much exposure in yet.” Gallagher said: “We have been looking for field experts to take on each of our venues in Sunbridge Wells. I like the Nomadic brand and think it will work really well with the Rose & Crown.”
Heineken reports decline in UK first-half volume as it feels World Cup impact:Heineken has reported volumes in the UK were down “low single digits” in its first half as it felt the impact of comparison with last year’s Fifa World Cup, although beer volume increased slightly. Overall, consolidated beer volume was up 3.1% organically. Heineken volume was up 6.9%. Jean-François van Boxmeer, chairman of the executive board and chief executive, said: “Top-line performance was again strong in the first half of 2019, with organic net revenue growth across all regions and double-digit growth in Asia Pacific as well as Africa, Middle East and eastern Europe. Revenue per hectolitre increased 3%, while volume growth in the second quarter was negatively impacted by weather in Europe and World Cup comparables from last year. For the full year, we continue to anticipate our operating profit will grow by mid-single digits on an organic basis.”
Oakman Inns’ flagship site shortlisted for architect award: Oakman Inns and Restaurants’ flagship venue, The Royal Foresters in Ascot, which reopened last year following a multimillion-pound redesign, has been nominated for The Architects’ Journal Retrofit 2019 awards in the hospitality, retail and leisure sector. The nomination was submitted by Gollifer Langston Architects, whose design featured a 160-cover restaurant with an open theatre-style kitchen and wood-fired pizza oven alongside a traditional bar with open fires. There is also a flexible function room, a hotel wing with 24 bedrooms and parking for more than 90 cars with electric charging points. The winner will be announced during a ceremony at The Brewery London on Wednesday, 11 September. Oakman property director Malcolm Schooling said: “The Royal Foresters is our largest investment to date and locals have certainly embraced their revitalised pub and restaurant.” Oakman Inns and Restaurants operates 23 venues in total.
Dirty Bones chooses Curtice Brothers: US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones has started serving Curtice Brothers’ organic ketchup in its five restaurants. Dirty Bones co-founder and chief executive Cokey J Sulkin said: “At Dirty Bones we use only the best ingredients and never cut corners on quality, making Curtice Brothers and its own brand values a great fit.” Mario C Bauer, Curtice Brothers co-founder and chief executive, added: “We are delighted to work with Cokey and the Dirty Bones team. We have been big fans of their food and the great vibe and hospitality in their restaurants.” Simeon and Edgar Curtice founded Curtice Brothers in 1868 in Rochester, New York, but the name was abandoned in the 1940s. Bauer and a group of restaurant executives revived the brand in early 2014 and it has also launched an organic mayonnaise.