Burger & Lobster plans US openings, group Ebitda up 13%: Burger & Lobster is planning up to ten openings globally as the company reported an increase in group Ebitda and turnover. The 17-strong company saw group Ebitda climb 13% in the year to the end of 2018 to £7.16m, with total group turnover rising 28% to £53.6m. In the UK, full-year turnover fell 10% to £37.9m, with Ebitda down from £6.17m to £5.68m. In the US, where the group operates two sites in New York, turnover climbed 15% to £11.9m. The company told Propel the focus of its openings would be in Europe, Asia and the US. In the latter, it is looking at Dallas, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. Regarding its UK business, chief financial officer Dasha Ovchenkova told Propel: “Gross profit margin increased to 65% from 61%. The success is attributable to better labour and food and beverage cost controls. Group turnover decreased 10% due primarily to the sale of our Manchester site but our obligations relating to all closed property has come to an end. Overall Ebitda is £5.7m versus £6.2m in 2017 due to a challenging operational environment in London for casual dining.” Regarding the US business, Ovchenkova said: “Group turnover increased 15% and gross profit increased 16% due to the opening of our Bryant Park site. Overall Ebitda is £0.9m lower than in 2017 mainly due to a refurbishment and launch plan, including Bryant Park. A lot of research has been carried out in 2019 to ensure the group opens a successful site outside New York. We are pleased our results have levelled out given the past four years have seen significant change in the wider restaurant sector and in our business as we look to deliver expansion globally. Burger & Lobster and online sister restaurant Smack are performing as expected given investment in new sites and product development. Our recent launches in Asia have once again proven the resilience of our brand and mono-product philosophy and we are proud to still have queues at most of our sites across the globe.” The company recently launched its second Singapore site, in the newly reopened Raffles Arcade, which features shops and restaurants within the historic Raffles Hotel Singapore. The debut Burger & Lobster opened in Mayfair in 2011 and the brand currently operates nine sites in London, two in New York and one each in Bangkok, Dubai, Genting and Kuwait City, as well as the two Singapore sites.
Marylebone Leisure Group co-founder sells stake to business partner: Marylebone Leisure Group co-founder Ben Avigdori has sold his stake to long-time business partner Lawrence Santi. Avigdori, originally a lawyer, founded the multi-site bar and pub group with Santi in 2011 with the aim to create neighbourhood cocktail bars. Avigdori now plans to concentrate on a number of opportunities inside and outside the sector. He said: “It has been an incredible journey and we’ve been lucky to acquire the quality of sites we have in our estate. It was time to realise value and pursue other business interests. Lawrence is a great friend and I’m sure Marylebone Leisure Group will continue to go from strength to strength.” Marylebone Leisure Group operates eight sites in London along with The Portobello Star in Notting Hill and the Crown & Treaty in Uxbridge under its Marmalade Pub Company joint venture with Ei Group.
Adventure Bar to launch latest concept on Friday, in Leicester Square: Adventure Bar, the London cocktail group led by Tom Kidd, is to launch its latest concept, The Lost Alhambra, at a site in Leicester Square on Friday (11 October). The concept takes inspiration from The Alhambra Theatre Of Variety – a music hall that operated between 1854 and 1936 at the site currently occupied by Leicester Square Odeon. The Lost Alhambra will add to other concept bars in the capital managed by Adventure Bar, including The Escapologist, Tonight Josephine, and Bar Elba. The Lost Alhambra will be Adventure Bar’s ninth site in total. Kidd said: “Each of our bars is different. We work hard to ensure wherever possible we build a concept based on local history and the site at Leicester Square is a great example of where we have been able to do that. We look forward to The Lost Alhambra bringing debaucherous times back to this prime central London location!” Etai Page, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, which secured the site, added: “In an incredibly competitive market Adventure Bar Group manages to offer something unique with each new venture. The site we found at Leicester Square is drenched in history and The Lost Alhambra concept is a great nod to this. We are proud to have played a part in bringing something so fun and exciting to the market.”
Anglian Country Inns secures new debt facility for Hertfordshire farmhouse hotel and restaurant: Anglian Country Inns, the award-winning operator of gastro-pubs and restaurants led by James Nye, has secured a new debt facility with Cynergy Bank for its The Farmhouse At Redcoats site in north Hertfordshire. The business acquired the 500-year-old farmhouse and neighbouring barns near Hitchin in 2017 with the help of Downing. It was the first time Anglian Country Inns, which operates nine sites, had brought in outside investment. The support from Downing allowed Anglian Country Inns to buy the freehold of the farmhouse and turn the barns into a wedding and events venue with 15 extra bedrooms. Since the refurbishment there has been a good period of trading, while the venue is almost fully booked for weddings throughout 2020. The funding deal has allowed Anglian Country Inns to replace the short-term Downing funding that was due for renewal in December 2019 with a long-term facility from Cynergy. Nye said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Downing for all its support and help with this project. It has helped turn this dream into a reality. It is really down to the hard work of my brother Howard and the team at The Farmhouse At Redcoats for realising its potential and driving the success of the site over the past two years.” Steve Crosswell, commercial banking director for hospitality and leisure at Cynergy Bank, added: “Cynergy Bank is delighted to have been able to support Anglian Country Inns with this refinance. What it has created at The Farmhouse is testament to its vision and operational strength.”
Hollinshead swaps Soho House joint venture for Caravan: London-based restaurant and coffee-roasting concept Caravan has appointed Graham Hollinshead, former managing director of Soho House joint venture Quentin Restaurants, as operations director, Propel has learned. Hollinshead joins six-strong Caravan after more than a year and a half with Quentin Restaurants, which oversaw Cafe Monico, Chicken Shop, Dirty Burger, Farm Shop and Pizza East, among other concepts. He also worked on the Mollie’s Motel & Diner concept. Hollinshead also spent more than five years at Wagamama and less than a year at All Bar One. Propel understands Quentin Restaurants’ operations are being merged into the Soho House team along with all its support functions. Last month Caravan launched new concept Vardo in Chelsea for its first west London site. The restaurant is housed in a new three-storey stone and glass pavilion in Duke of York Square, beside the Saatchi Gallery. Active Partners-backed Caravan operates five further London sites – in King’s Cross, the City, Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia. Earlier this summer the company appointed former Nando’s group strategy director Jane O’Riordan as chairman. She has also chaired Turtle Bay and Flight Club.
Time Out Group raises £17.1m through shares placement: Time Out Group has raised £17.1m through the placement of 13,468,939 shares at 127p each. The company stated: “The directors believe the placing will provide capital for Time Out’s next stage of development. The company expects to raise gross proceeds of about £17.1m from the placing, which will provide additional financing for continued investment in the roll-out of Time Out Market and allow the group to reduce its indebtedness.”
Revolución de Cuba creates role to lead training revamp and drive-drink innovation: Revolución de Cuba, the 19-strong rum bar and cantina brand operated by Revolution Bars Group, has created a role as it looks to enhance team training and drinks innovation. Rob Litchfield, previously a general manager for the group, will take up the post of master cantinero at the start of December. Operations director Clinton Ghent said: “Creating fun, memorable experiences starts with a highly talented and engaged team and this investment in the training of our teams will only enhance the guest experience and help us attract and retain incredible team members.” The appointment comes as Revolución de Cuba celebrated “Cuban Day Of The Cantinero” on Monday (7 October). For the first time, Revolución de Cuba management took the opportunity this year to celebrate its teams by running the sites while staff held team-building days with fun training sessions and parties.
North west-based multiple operator eyes two new sites in 2020 as it prepares for latest Star Pubs & Bars project: North west-based multiple operator Ross Robinson is eyeing two more sites in 2020 as he plans to undertake his second refurbishment with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars in six months. The Ship in Freckleton, Lancashire, is to undergo a £330,000 upgrade that will create 18 jobs. Robinson aims to repeat the success of The Eagle in Weeton, which saw a 500% increase in post-refurbishment trade. The team has run The Ship for the past 18 months but the pub will now close before reopening at the end of November. Seating capacity will increase from 90 to 120 with a new kitchen installed. There will be a “captain’s deck” on the first floor with seating for 29, which will lead to a new 12-cover outside viewing platform. There will also be a private dining room – The Captain’s Cabin – for 16 guests. Downstairs, the toilets will be moved to create a 30-capacity bar, while the beer garden, which seats 80, will be landscaped. Robinson said: “We have been delighted with the two refurbishments we’ve done with Star Pubs & Bars and are on the lookout for more well-located sites. Our plan is to take on another pub in April and one at the end of 2020, bringing our estate to five.” David Pritchard, regional operations director at Star Pubs & Bars, added: “This will be the second investment we’ve done with Ross in six months and I’m confident it will be a great success like The Eagle.”
Vegan curry house concept SpiceBox hits £275,000 crowdfunding target for second site in six hours: SpiceBox, the vegan curry house concept, has hit its £275,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs within six hours of the campaign launching as it looks to open a second site. The concept, which opened its first site at the end of January in Walthamstow, is offering 8.4% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of almost £3m. The business has already hit its target, with 71 investors pledging £278,086, and the campaign is now “overfunding”. Chief executive Grace Regan, who founded SpiceBox after turning her home into an Indian takeaway, said: “Feeding and nurturing communities is an integral part of SpiceBox so it makes sense to open this investment round-up to our guests and followers. We can’t wait to involve everyone in the opening of our second curry house!” Despite a couple of years of turbulence in the casual dining sector, Regan believes there has never been a better time to be a young restaurateur. She said: “After years of generic brands dominating high streets across the UK we’re finally seeing a market adjustment. Diners are demanding tastier food, warmer service and local dining options with soul. That’s where SpiceBox comes in. The recent closure of some brands has opened up a huge opportunity for younger, more dynamic challengers. There’s never been a better time to be a small restaurant brand!” Regan’s strategy is to focus on market towns outside the M25, offering a curry house that puts a modern spin on classics they’re used to. “London is a very crowded market and the rents are ridiculously expensive”, said Regan. “We see more opportunity on high streets in towns outside London and we’re passionate about breathing life back into the provincial UK high street.”
Shake Shack to open 12th UK site, at Brent Cross shopping centre: US better burger brand Shake Shack is to open its 12th site, at Brent Cross shopping centre in north west London. The restaurant will open at Unit S4 in late 2019. A custom illustration by typographer and illustrator Adam Hayes has already gone up at the site. Shake Shack’s offer includes 100% Aberdeen Angus burgers, griddled flat-top hotdogs, frozen custard, crispy crinkle-cut fries, beer and wine. In August, Shake Shack’s UK operation reported turnover increased 27% to £27,106,021 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £21,367,650 the year before. Operating losses reduced to £6,249,235 compared with £8,315,457 the previous year, while pre-tax losses fell to £6,633,288 compared with £7,748,120 the year before.
YO! boosts David Lloyd partnership with new brand GLO!: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, has boosted its partnership with health and leisure business David Lloyd Clubs by launching a bespoke grab-and-go product range called GLO!, Propel has learned. Earlier this year Propel revealed the company had extended the concessions side of its operations by launching a trial in five David Lloyd sites in the UK – Beckenham, Cheadle, Hatfield, Milton Keynes and Leeds. The trial was part of the company’s focus on developing opportunities with retailers and health clubs. GLO! has been “created and tailored to meet the needs of David Lloyd’s broad membership base”. The company has now rolled out a second phase of the trial to 17 clubs. At the same time the company is believed to be working on a range called Sushi Box by YO! The company recently launched its new format, full-service restaurant in White City Westfield without its trademark kaizen conveyer belt. A second YO! Kitchen will open in Dublin.
Elizabeth Haigh reveals more details of Mei Mei concept: Michelin-starred chef Elizabeth Haigh has revealed more details of her Singaporean concept Mei Mei, which will launch at the new communal dining space in Borough Market next month. Mei Mei will specialise in Hainanese chicken rice and Singaporean nanyang kopi alongside Haigh signature dishes such as nasi lemak, a Malaysian breakfast staple consisting of coconut rice, fried egg, peanuts, cucumber and chilli sauce. Catering for the lunchtime rush, the full menu will be available to take away, while chicken rice bowls will be customisable. Mei Mei will be styled on kopi tiams, dining spaces popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia that combine an all-day coffee shop and food vendors. The counter will seat 14 and hug the open-plan kitchen, while kitsch tableware will add to the colourful atmosphere. Haigh said: “I am really excited to be part of the new Borough Market Kitchen. As a new business, to get this kind of support to open a venture that’s close to my heart is so important. With a market place at its core it will be a lovely environment and community to be part of.” Haigh’s company, Kaizen House, also operates pop-ups and residencies, most recently at Mortimer House. Haigh was founding head chef at London restaurant Pidgin, which was awarded a Michelin star within a year of opening. Other operators at the new Borough Market Kitchen will include pasta concept La Tua Pasta and a new pintxos bar from Mimo London. The space will be filled with long tables to encourage communal eating.
Lock joins Morgan at GLH Hotels as chief operating officer: Gareth Lock, who stepped down from Casual Dining Group (CDG) earlier this summer, has joined GLH Hotels as chief operating officer, Propel has learned. Lock spent more than three years at CDG and was chief operating officer across its Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo brands. He had previously been chief operating officer at Las Iguanas. Lock was also national operations director at Spirit Group and he joins fellow Spirit alumni Alan Morgan as GLH Hotels. Morgan joined the hotel operator as chief executive in the summer from The Rank Group, where he was retail managing director having held roles including chief operating officer and commercial director of Spirit Pub Company and regional operations director at Whitbread. Founded in 2003 as Guoman Hotels, the company was rebranded as GLH Hotels in 2013. It has 17 hotels in London across its Guoman, Amba, Thistle, Hard Rock and Thistle Express brands. The group, a subsidiary of Singapore-based GuocoLeisure, relaunched the Cumberland Hotel in London as the UK’s first Hard Rock Hotel in April and is currently rebranding its Grosvenor Hotel as Amba Victoria.
28-50 Marylebone owners confirm second site, in Covent Garden: The owners of the remaining 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen site in Marylebone have confirmed they are to open a second site, in Covent Garden. As revealed by Propel last week, Richard Mitchell and Emilliano Isufi, who took on the 28-50 site in Marylebone Lane in November last year, have secured the former Cantina Laredo site in Upper St Martin’s Lane for their second 28-50 restaurant in a deal brokered by agent Restaurant Property. The 7,200 square foot unit, which has 280 covers, is expected to reopen towards the end of next month, with a lease that runs until 2035 and a rent of £500,000 per annum. The Covent Garden concept will be a more modern and premium spin-off than its Marylebone Lane sister branch, which has a daily-changing menu of modern European food, seafood and charcuterie together with more than 30 wines. Restaurant Property surveyor Danielle Leslie said: “The expansion of 28-50 is testament to a resilient leisure market for independent operators and those who focus on the quality of each site rather than quantity. While casual dining has faced a downturn, this has opened a window of opportunity for new and exciting operators to thrive.”
Loui Blake passes halfway mark in £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to take Erpingham House to Brighton: Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant, has passed the halfway mark in its £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to support an opening in Brighton. Founder Loui Blake launched the concept in Norwich last year within grade II-listed Erpingham House. Now Blake has set his sights on a launch in Brighton and is aiming to raise funds on Crowdcube to support the project. Blake aims to raise £250,000 and is offering 15% equity for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.4m. The funds will also be used to improve the Norwich site. So far, 87 investors have pledged £134,450 with 26 days of the campaign remaining. The new Erpingham House, while still specialising in vegan food, will have a refined offer to appeal to a more general audience. Like its debut site, the new venue will be free from single-use plastic and be almost 100% carbon neutral. Building work on Erpingham House Brighton will begin once funds have been raised, with an aim to open in early 2020. Blake also operates all-day vegan cafe concept Kalifornia Kitchen.
Odeon reports turnover and profit drop as refurbishment programme leads to closures: Cinema operator Odeon has reported turnover fell 2% to £230.5m for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £235.7m the previous year. Operating profit before exceptional items was down to £8.6m, compared with £19.2m the year before. The company incurred exceptional costs of £7.1m, compared with £1.8m the previous year. As a result, pre-tax profit fell to £1.8m, compared with £15.9m the year before. The company invested £62.4m in its sites, other revenue-generating projects and in capital maintenance of the estate. Attendance figures increased 4% to 177.3 million from 170.6 million the previous year. At the year end, the company operated 120 cinemas with 950 screens. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “One cinema was added to the company’s portfolio in the year, in Stafford, expanding our customer proposition and brand profile in key local markets. A number of cinema refurbishments were completed in the year and capital investment in retail facilities continued as an integral part of the strategy to maximise retail profitability. Further estate development activity has taken place in 2019 and will continue, including the introduction of recliner seating in select cinemas. Nine cinemas were refurbished to our Luxe format in 2018, taking the total Luxe estate to 16 cinemas. Screen closures were required at each site as refurbishment projects were completed. Our flagship cinema, Odeon Luxe Leicester Square, was closed for a multimillion-pound refurbishment for 11 months in 2018.” Odeon was bought by US company AMC Entertainment, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, in 2016 in a deal worth £921m. It was previously owned by private equity firm Terra Firma, which bought Odeon and UCI in 2004 before merging them.
Monterey Jack’s to open ninth site, in Falkirk: Scotland-based, American-style restaurant Monterey Jack’s is to open its ninth site, in Falkirk. The company will launch the venue at the end of the month in Vicar Street at the former Bukharah Indian restaurant, reports the Falkirk Herald. Monterey Jack’s offers burgers, pizza and cocktails. The company has sites in Airdrie, Dunblane, Dunfermline, Glasgow, Hamilton, Paisley, Perth and Stirling.
JD Wetherspoon puts meat-free on the menu: JD Wetherspoon has launched a plant-based burger across its UK estate. Produced by Leeds-based The Meatless Farm Co, the burger is now available in 877 pubs following a trial. Wetherspoon food development manager Oliver Addis said: “We were looking for a plant-based burger that could deliver on taste and texture, and we found that. We’re confident customers are going to enjoy this new offering.” The Meatless Farm Co founder Morten Toft Bech added: “To partner with a pub giant such as JD Wetherspoon is testament to the fact plant-based food has become well and truly mainstream. We’re looking forward to taking plant-based to new levels, together.”
Healthy bowl concept Atis opens in Shoreditch: Healthy bowl concept Atis has opened in Shoreditch, east London. The concept has opened at The Atlas Building in City Road offering made-to-order salad and warm bowls, breakfast, coffee and health drinks. Bowls include the Asian-inspired Emperor and the Indian-inspired Dahl-ing. Drinks include kombucha on tap, alcohol-free beer and cold-pressed juice. Atis is the brainchild of husband and wife Eleanor Warder and Phil Honer. Warder said: “We have strived to create a modern and stylish space where people can come for a break outside their working day and know they can get a bowl of food that will be full of flavour, healthy and nutritious. The idea came from wanting to fill a need for a grab and go in London where the food, space and experience were all in line with each other – premium, modern and refreshing”.
Travelodge to open six hotels before Christmas: Travelodge is to open six hotels in the run up to Christmas. The hotels, which represent a £45m investment for third-party investors, will create 135 jobs and boost the company’s portfolio to 595 sites in the UK, Ireland and Spain. The openings include one “budget chic” Travelodge Plus and two hotels featuring the brand’s “premium economy” SuperRooms. Three of the six hotels are in new locations for the company, while four will feature an on-site restaurant called the Bar Cafe. The hotels are opening in Beckton, Chippenham, Dagenham Edinburgh, Rochester and Sittingbourne. A Travelodge spokeswoman said: “The long-term prospects for low-cost hotels remains strong.”
Curtice Brothers to launch organic mustard: Curtice Brothers, led by AmRest brand ambassador and WhiteSpace partner Mario C Bauer and Andreas Karlsson, who is heading up Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, is launching an organic mustard to accompany its ketchup and mayonnaise. Curtice Brothers Organic Mustard will be available from next month in 70g glass bottles. Bauer said: “We buy our organic produce from local farmers we know and trust, reducing time from field to kitchen and preserving the natural goodness. Our hotel partners urged us to complete the tricolore so they could provide their guests with all the condiments needed to enjoy great food.” Simeon and Edgar Curtice founded Curtice Brothers in 1868 in Rochester, New York, but the name was abandoned in the 1940s. Bauer revived the brand in early 2014