India-based fine-dining restaurant Chokhi Dhani to make UK debut next month, in Battersea: India-based fine-dining restaurant Chokhi Dhani is to make its UK debut next month, in London. The restaurant in Riverside Walk, Battersea, is the brainchild of chef, hotelier and entrepreneur Kriti Vaswani who is following in the footsteps of her father, Gul Vaswani, who launched the first Chokhi Dhani venue in Jaipur, Rajasthan, in 1990. As well as highlighting dishes from the state, Chokhi Dhani London will feature dishes from across the subcontinent. Overseeing this menu will be Vishnu Natarajan, former executive head chef at Carom in Soho, who will work alongside Bhagwan Singh, an expert on Rajasthani cuisine, senior sous chef Mohammed Naseem Qureshi and pastry chef Rakesh Sharma. The venue will feature a street food concept on the ground floor with a luxury dining room upstairs. Among the handmade bespoke artwork will be a life-size bronze elephant.
Polpo closes Bristol site: London-based restaurant company Polpo has closed its Bristol site. The company has shut the venue in Whiteladies Road fewer than 18 months after it opened. Since the Bristol launch in August 2016 an Exeter site opened last year, although a planned Oxford opening has been delayed. Based on the back bars of Venice, Polpo was founded by Richard Beatty and Russell Norman. Managing director Scott Macdonald told the Bristol Post: “I will be making an announcement soon but it’s too premature for me to comment at this stage.” Beatty and Norman also operate Spuntino, which has a venue at Cargo 2 in Wapping Wharf in Bristol as well as in Soho.
Zing Zing extends £500,000 crowdfunding campaign as it passes 150% mark: Zing Zing, the London-based Chinese takeaway company that has Jamie Barber and Maurice Abboudi on the board, has extended its £500,000 campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The group, which has four stores in the capital and was founded by Josh Magidson, who sold his startup business to Just Eat in 2010, has already raised £778,010 from 621 investors in return for an equity stake of 11.54%. The extension means the campaign now has 16 days remaining. Zing Zing, which is valued at £5.85m, has now secured more than £2m following a £1.6m fund-raise last year. Magidson aims to have 28 takeaways operating by 2021 with a target of £33m in sales. He told investors on Crowdcube: “Since late December, I have received a large amount of requests from potential investors to extend the pitch deadline for a short amount of time. Many have found the festive period and holidays have disrupted their investment timetable. This includes a few large investors from our previous round. With this in mind we have decided to extend the round for at least another week and at a maximum two weeks after the deadline (although management will be looking to close the round as soon as possible).” Earlier this month, Magidson reported record trading on New Year’s Day, with 880 orders taking circa £18,000. Its Crowdcube pitch states: “Our revenue in 2016 was £1.23m with Ebitda of minus £300,000 (including a £93,000 spend from our last Crowdcube raise). We have seen sales grow by 75% to October and are profitable at a store level since October.”
100% of BrewDog staff achieve beer server cicerone qualification: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has said all 700 of its staff have achieved the Certified Beer Server (CBS) qualification after passing the first stage of the Cicerone Certification programme. The programme has become the industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service. #CBSTarget100 was developed by BrewDog last year and comprises a cicerone syllabus for all staff, a training schedule, staff incentives for passing each level of the programme’s exams, and a means of tracking the progress of every employee. Each BrewDog employee who passes CBS receives an increase in pay, which is further increased for every additional tier of the programme they pass. BrewDog is currently finalising a proposal to enrol thousands of its 65,000-plus Equity for Punks investors to the CBS exam in what it is calling #CBS1000. The company also plans to help up to 200 staff level up to the second tier of the Cicerone Certification programme – Certified Cicerone. Currently, 62% of all certified cicerones in the UK work at BrewDog. Co-founder James Watt was Europe’s first master cicerone, the highest attainable level in the programme. Only 13 individuals have passed the master cicerone exam to date, with two of them working at BrewDog – the other being product marketing manager Rob MacKay. Watt said: “Our goal has always been to make others as passionate about great beer as we are. To fulfil this, we’ve invested in developing the most knowledgeable staff ever assembled by a brewery or retail business in Europe. The Certified Beer Server qualification sets a very high baseline level of beer knowledge across the board, and we’re very proud to be the first to achieve 100% accreditation across the business.”
Moody Burgers closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £150,000 to expand across UK: Burger restaurant and delivery concept Moody Burgers has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand across the UK. The company, which currently operates two sites – in Swindon and Worcester – was offering a 25% equity stake in return for the investment. In total, 227 investors pledged £170,170 and the campaign has now closed. The largest investment was £20,000. Moody Burgers launched last year delivering Californian-inspired burgers. The funds will be used to build sites and invest in marketing activity to help grow its brand and sales a “lot quicker”. The company opened its first site in Swindon in September 2016, followed by the Worcester outlet in March last year. It quickly outgrew its Swindon site and moved to a new 80-cover venue in the Wiltshire town in September that also offers 50 cocktails and craft beers. Moody Burgers said that since relocating, deliveries had risen 20%. Moody Burgers has generated sales to date through its website of £200,000 and delivered more than 25,000 burgers. Operations manager Rich Leftwich said: “Our new, larger site in Swindon has added even more income streams and profitability to this business. The growth potential to add new stores is significant and we have a pipeline of potential properties and are ready to go.” Moody Burgers’ menu features 13 burgers as well as loaded fries, sides, wings and shakes.
New health food cafe concept Koox to launch in Bloomsbury: New health food cafe concept Koox is to launch in Bloomsbury, west London. Director and owner Nabil Duval has signed a 15-year lease with landlord The Bedford Estates for a 1,700 square foot site set over two levels in Store Street. Koox will offer freshly made, seasonal, health-conscious dishes to eat in or take away. Store Street is adjacent to Tottenham Court Road, whose enlarged tube station will include the Elizabeth Line, or Crossrail, from late 2018. Duval said: “Store Street and Bloomsbury provide an ideal location for our new cafe. The close proximity to the hustle and bustle of the West End and the commercial vibrancy of the City makes it an exciting place to be. We’ll attract local residents and students from the nearby universities as well as those who work in and visit the street. We want customers to enjoy our new health food concept for takeaway or eat-in and expect to trade really well.”
Mosaic Pub & Dining sees plans rejected for temporary ice rink at Birmingham site: Mosaic Pub & Dining, the former City Pub EIS fund, has had its plans to erect a temporary outdoor ice skating rink in the beer garden of a Birmingham pub rejected by the city council. The company proposed to create a plastic ice rink spanning almost 1,500 square feet, which would have operated from 10am to 10pm daily, at The Distillery in Sheepcote Street. Skate hire and changing facilities were to be located within one of the arches of the grade II-listed Roundhouse. However, the city council said the noise associated with the development could have an impact on nearby occupiers and refused the application, reports Insider Media.
New Ascot Brewing Company owners increase equity offer as £200,000 crowdfunding campaign passes 50% mark: The new owners of Ascot Brewing Company have increased the equity stake in their £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to ramp up brewing capacity and sales. The Surrey-based micro-brewer was acquired by local businessmen Chris Davies and Mike Neame earlier this year. They are now offering a 33.33% equity stake instead of the initial 25.54%. The campaign has passed the 50% mark and so far 276 investors have raised £108,250 with 18 days remaining. The pitch states: “Ascot Brewing Company was founded in 2007 focusing on cask ale and local pub trade. Seeing an unlocked potential in the brand, we acquired the brewery in early 2017 and have already taken steps to grow its sales to existing customers such as JD Wetherspoon, Co-op, Budgens and Waitrose as well as to new pubs, hotels and national retailers. We have relaunched with new branding and expanded the team, including the recruitment of award-winning head brewer John Willatts. We have focused on key accounts such as Co-op leading to an extended range and listings, as well as new relationships with wholesalers to expand reach across the country. We believe this is just the beginning. We plan to increase brewing capacity to meet demand; build the team focusing on UK sales and export; roll out contactless NFC ‘smart pump clip’ technology; expand sales channels with an on-site shop and online sales; increase attendance at trade and consumer events with our horsebox taproom; and develop new products and formats including lager, keg, cans and new bottles. Ascot Brewing Company has ambitious goals to increase sales from the current £102,000 per annum (Ebitda minus £20,000 to year-end June 2017).”
Unique Hospitality Management launches vegan menu across pub portfolio: Pub company Unique Hospitality Management has launched a vegan menu across its portfolio of gastro-pubs. The company has introduced the menu, featuring nine plant-based dishes, in response to an “ever-evolving dining culture and growing demand from vegans and vegetarians”. Managing director Andrew Coath said: “We pride ourselves on being a ‘pub for everyone’ so introducing a vegan menu made perfect sense and we’re looking forward to offering new healthy options to our guests, particularly following the festive period where many of us have possibly overindulged. We’ve put a positive spin on what is usually Dry January for most as we launch our vegan menu in Veganuary.” Unique Hospitality Management operates nine pubs within Epic Pubs, Heroic Pubs and Aspley Pubs. They are The Golden Ball in Maidenhead, Berkshire; 185 Watling Street in Towcester, Northamptonshire; The Imperial Arms in London; The Fox Inn in Boars Hill, Oxfordshire; Mill Street Pub & Kitchen in Oakham, Rutland; the Knife & Cleaver in Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire; The Anchor in Aspley Guise, Bedfordshire; The Wheatsheaf Pub & Kitchen in Bow Brickhill, Buckinghamshire; and The Three Locks in Stoke Hammond, Buckinghamshire.
JD Wetherspoon closes Canterbury pub to add 13-bedroom hotel: JD Wetherspoon has closed The Thomas Ingoldsby pub in Canterbury, Kent, to add a 13-bedroom hotel as part of a £1.5m investment. The Burgate pub, which will be closed for almost five months, will also have a new bar built. Staff areas will also be improved. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told Kent Live: “The Thomas Ingoldsby is an extremely busy and popular pub. We believe the addition of a 13-bedroom hotel will prove to be a great addition to the pub as well as an asset to Canterbury itself. It highlights our commitment to the pub and the town and hopefully the development scheme will act as a catalyst for further business investment in Canterbury. During the development work the pub’s staff will be relocated to other Wetherspoon pubs.” The pub is set to reopen on Tuesday, 29 May.
Nottinghamshire-based Dessert Haven starts expansion with second site: Nottinghamshire-based Dessert Haven has started expansion by opening a second site in Beeston only months after the brand made its debut in Long Eaton. While the Long Eaton branch will remain a takeaway-only site, the new restaurant has space for 25 people to eat in and offers additional items that “don’t travel well” such as crepes and coffee. Other items on the menu include gelato, fudge cake, cheesecake, sundaes, and old-school puddings such as jam roly poly and apple crumble. Co-founders Shafiq Rahman and Moreen Shafiqs chose Beeston because of its large student population and the volume of orders they were receiving from the town. Rahman told the Nottingham Post: “The business took off really well, everybody loves desserts. We got a lot of calls for delivery to Beeston so we came here to look for a base. I think it will be great for the area.”
Owner of Leicestershire hotel in administration plans to reopen this week under new management company: The owner of a Leicestershire hotel that has gone into administration has said he wants to reopen the hotel this week under a new management company. The Scalford Hall Hotel, near Melton Mowbray, was closed last week when administrators from Portland Business & Financial Solutions were called in. Owner Colin Warburg took over the 81-bedroom hotel in 2014 when he bought it out of administration, saving 50 jobs in the process. He told the Melton Times he plans to reopen the hotel this week under a new management company and re-employ all 35 staff