Young’s secures Individual Restaurants site in Kent: London pub retailer Young’s is set to take its first foray into Kent for a while after securing a site in Tunbridge Wells, Propel has learned. The listed pub operator is understood to have completed the freehold investment purchase of Tunbridge Wells Bar & Grill and simultaneously bought out Individual Restaurants’ interest in in the site. The Patrick Dardis-led group will now undertake a comprehensive capital expenditure scheme on the site before reopening it as The White Bear, its name when it was a Whitbread-owned pub. Young’s stated: “Young’s is incredibly excited to be in Tunbridge Wells. After a stunning refurbishment, we hope to open by the end of August.” Earlier this year, Dardis told Propel the company had at least £70m available for acquisitions and could raise “more if required”. He said the company, which bought 15-strong Redcomb Pubs at the start of the year for £34m, was eyeing “various opportunities” ranging from companies with a “couple of sites” to “slightly larger” businesses.
UberEats halfway to UK virtual restaurants target: UberEats has said it is halfway to its target of launching 400 virtual restaurants in the UK. Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Rodrigo Arevalo, head of EMEA at UberEats, said the business was now operating 200 virtual restaurants in the UK with its partners. Last summer, the company said it expected to have 400 virtual restaurants in the UK before the end of 2018. The company sees it as a key part of its growth plans in the UK. Last year, UberEats UK manager Toussaint Wattinne said: “In the UK we are working with hundreds of restaurants across the country to help them identify ‘selection gaps’ in their city that present an opportunity to launch virtual restaurants from the same kitchen. We expect to have more than 400 virtual restaurants operating on the UberEats app by the end of the year.” At the start of this year, UberEats reaffirmed its commitment to growing in the UK, stating it was keen to secure more quality restaurants on its platform and increase its marketing expenditure. Its most high-profile partner in the UK is McDonald’s, which currently offers delivery from more than 700 of its sites.
Chicken & Blues appoints operations director as it looks to double estate and launch burger concept: Dorset-based Chicken & Blues has appointed Ashley Brown, formerly of Hache, the burger concept owned by Hush Brasserie, as operations director as the brand looks to expand from three to six sites in the next year. Brown’s experience at Hache will also help Chicken & Blues founders Joshua Simons and Steve Crawford launch their new burger concept, Brenda’s Burgers, in Bournemouth in September. Simons told Propel: “Ashley has a proven track record in operations. We’re excited to add his expertise to the mix as we implement robust systems and prepare ourselves for the next stage of growth.” Brenda’s Burgers will be a 1950s-style, “retro-American” eatery offering burgers, hotdogs, milkshakes, desserts and beer. In April, Simons described the concept as “friendly, colourful, casual and quick service avoiding greasy, dirty burgers that have become the trend”. Chicken & Blues launched in Boscombe in 2013 and has added branches in Ashley Cross and Winton.
Five Guys lines up three UK openings: Better burger brand Five Guys has lined up three regional openings as it strengthens its UK pipeline. The 94-strong group, which will open soon in London’s Portobello Road, has secured sites in Ashford Designer Outlet in Kent, Gloucester Quays and Worcester’s Cathedral Square. The latter opening will be at a site previously earmarked for Byron. Five Guys, which also has openings lined up in Bromley, Cambridge and Plymouth, is also thought to be in negotiations on two more central London sites and is well on the way to reaching its initial target of opening 12 restaurants this year. Propel has learned the dedicated click-and-collect site Five Guys recently opened next to its head office in Bard Road, Notting Hill, is being used to see whether the brand can translate to a dark kitchen. Earlier this month, Five Guys JV, the UK joint venture between Sir Charles Dunstone and Five Guys founders Janie and Jerry Murrell and their three sons, reported turnover rose 23% to £149.6m in the year to 28 December 2018.
The Know Group has 12 companies wound up or liquidated: A total of 12 companies within Liverpool-based The Know Group have been hit with compulsory winding up orders or gone into voluntary liquidation over unpaid tax bills. The companies, controlled by husband and wife Steven Hesketh and Nicola Perry-Hesketh, were the subject of a case before the Insolvency and Companies Court in London for owing an undisclosed sum to HM Revenue & Customs. Insolvency judge Sally Barber confirmed the compulsory winding up of six of the group’s companies. The remaining firms went into creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL). The companies that were compulsorily wound up were Know Hotels Wirral; Know LTN; Richmond Apart-Hotel; LTN Hatton Garden; Know Health Club; and Know Eats. The businesses that went into CVL were Know Hotels Chester; Know Hotels Holdings; LTN Bold Street; Know Hotels Liverpool; Know Restaurants Liverpool; and Know Property Services. A spokesman for The Know Group told The Business Desk: “The Know Group previously operated a number of companies under management and lease agreements. The businesses underwent hugely challenging times in late 2018 due to financial decisions around borrowings and a complex group VAT infrastructure being in place, which resulted in problems for directors and unfortunately resulted in numerous CVLs. We worked as hard as we could to prevent CVLs. However, we couldn’t agree a resolution. It has been a stressful but educational experience. Independent hospitality businesses are sadly more vulnerable to situations such as these and we have learned a lot from the process.” Last week The Know Group announced it had relaunched as Savvy Hotels following the sale of its non-core assets. It said it would focus on 96-bed hostel Sleep Eat Love and 152-room aparthotel Richmond, both in Liverpool, and 30-bedroom Townhouse in Chester.
Cheese Truck founder to launch conveyor belt concept at Kerb’s new Seven Dials food market: The Cheese Truck founder Mathew Carver is to open a restaurant featuring the world’s first cheese conveyer belt at the Seven Dials Market being launched by street food business Kerb. Carver will launch 38-cover Pick & Cheese in September with plates of small producer cheese winding their way around the restaurant on a 40 metre electronic belt. Diners will be able to choose from more than 25 cheeses alongside British charcuterie. There will also be a few off-belt hot dishes, while natural wine has been selected to pair with the cheese. Carver, who also operates The Cheese Bar in Camden Market, said: “We want to showcase British cheese at its best while giving our customers the opportunity to hand-pick their cheese from our house list.” Carver launched The Cheese Truck in 2014 operating from a converted 1970s ice cream van. He raised £200,000 on Crowdcube last year for Pick & Cheese having launched The Cheese Bar in March 2017 after raising £126,000 on the crowdfunding platform. Seven Dials Market will open in St Thomas Neal’s Warehouse this summer. Mexican-inspired vegan street food restaurant Club Mexicana, bao concept Yum Bun and fried fish trader Ink were among the first wave of operators announced.
Gounder leaves TGI Friday’s UK for Subway: Al Gounder has stepped down as marketing director of TGI Friday’s UK after only a year to join Subway UK & Ireland in the same role, Propel has learned. Gounder joined the Karen Forrester-led restaurant chain last June. He previously spent more than eight and a half years at McDonald’s as regional marketing director for the Middle East and Africa. Subway has more than 2,500 stores in the UK and Ireland. Owned by Electra Private Equity, TGI Friday’s operates circa 85 venues in the UK.
Titanic Brewery acquires first pub with accommodation: Titanic Brewery has added a Derbyshire village pub to its portfolio – its first to offer accommodation. The company has acquired The Old Poets’ Corner in Ashover, near Chesterfield, from Kim and Jackie Beresford. Titanic’s eighth pub in total, The Old Poets’ Corner also features bed and breakfast rooms and a holiday cottage. Titanic director Dave Bott said: “It is a fantastic business opportunity and there’s a new challenge for Titanic Brewery as this is the first property in our pub estate to have bed and breakfast rooms and even a large cottage, sleeping up to eight guests. The doors will remain open and the only difference customers will see in the first few weeks is Titanic Brewery branding and our range of beers on the bar. There will be a lot going on behind the scenes as we plan to refresh the decor and outside areas over the coming month.” Originally a 17th century coaching inn, the pub became known as The Old Poets’ Corner when the Beresfords took over in 2004 as Ashover was the home of Leonard Wheatcroft, a 17th century poet whose wife was a brewer. Under the Beresfords the pub was named CAMRA’s cider pub of the year in 2006 and local pub of the year four times.
City Pub Group to open Reading site featuring food hall next month: City Pub Group will open its latest site, in Reading next month, featuring a food hall, rooftop bar and 24 bedrooms. The company will launch The Market House after transforming a former Lloyds Bank branch in Market Place. The site will feature a food hall with three food stations – one operated by City Pub Group and the others by street food traders. General manager Sam Jenkins told Get Reading: “We are going for a relaxed street food vibe and there’s going to be a cocktail bar in the old bank vault, which is an interesting feature in itself.” Reading Borough Council approved the plans in October. The bank closed in June 2016, with the building empty since. City Pub Group operates about 45 sites.
Simmons Bars to open largest venue to date, in Soho on Friday: London operator Simmons Bars is to open its largest venue to date, in Soho on Friday (12 July). The Wardour Street bar will be the 14th in the group’s portfolio and the first of three openings set for this summer. The 350-capacity bar will offer Simmons’ signature five-hour “happy hour”, old-school games consoles and cocktails and will feature a raised DJ booth and a dance floor surrounded by Waltzer-style booths and a fairground sign. The venue will open until 4am, Thursday to Saturday, and offer a 150-capacity private space for hire. Simmons will launch Simmons Piccadilly in early August followed by Simmons Monument later in the summer. Nick Campbell founded the company in 2013.
Hard Rock Cafe opens flagship Piccadilly Circus site featuring the London look:Hard Rock Cafe has opened its London flagship site, in Piccadilly Circus. The venue spans two floors and 1,900 square metres of the Criterion Building. The venue features a bespoke look that includes tube station-themed dining booths and a digital ceiling, which displays content that has been shot and edited solely for the cafe. The 320-cover restaurant features an open kitchen, stone pizza oven and milkshake station. The main dining room has a stage at its centre, while the venue also offers a 40-cover private events room. More than two-thirds (70%) of memorabilia displayed at the site has never been exhibited elsewhere and includes items that belonged to David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, George Michael and Ed Sheeran. The restaurant offers Hard Rock’s new menu, including one-kilo tomahawk steaks, barbecue chicken, New York cheesecake, alcoholic milkshakes, sliders and London-inspired cocktails. The Rock Shop is the brand’s largest in the world, spanning 7,500 square feet, while the opening has created 350 jobs and complements the debut Hard Rock Café, in Old Park Lane. David Pellow, senior vice-president of cafe operations at Hard Rock International, said: “Expanding our brand in the city where it all began is an exciting opportunity for Hard Rock as we debut our modern vision for the future. We have a deep commitment and love for London and, being from the UK, I’m grateful the brand continues to show its commitment to the community and visitors from around the world.” Hard Rock International operates venues in 73 countries including 185 cafes, 237 Rock Shops, 28 hotels and 11 casinos.
Bun House founders to turn original Soho site into late-night bar and restaurant:The founders of bao and pickle cafe concept Bun House are to transform their original site in Soho into a late-night bar and restaurant. Z He and Alex Peffly relocated the restaurant from Greek Street to a larger site in Chinatown London in April. Now He and Peffly will transform the original venue into Wun’s, a late-night bar and restaurant with a “1960s Hong Kong vibe”. The venue will open on Wednesday, 24 July set across two floors. It will feature a downstairs bar with neon lights and velvet seating, while upstairs will resemble a dai pai dong – a Hong Kong open-air street cafe. He has plundered her childhood for recipe ideas with mains including sour plum-braised duck, and wine-glazed quail with dry-fried asparagus. Drinks will include green bamboo and quince, and plum & “coke”. He told Hot Dinners: “1960s Hong Kong was an interesting time, when the city prospered and the nightlife took off, so Wun’s is a nod to that era and my own little slice of Hong Kong in London.”
EatsMeatsWest to introduce delivery and online ordering for WowYauChow sites:Independent Manchester operator EatsMeatsWest is introducing delivery and online ordering at its two WowYauChow restaurants, in Rochdale and Altrincham. The company will launch its first online and mobile ordering service, powered by ordering technology provider Preoday. The service will launch at the Altrincham branch on Wednesday (10 July) and extend to Rochdale later this month. The third WowYauChow site will follow suit when it opens in Stockport later this year. WowYauChow managing director Henry Yau said: “We are all about our followers and our new delivery service offers our food to our fans when and where it’s best for them. To ensure our delivery and collection service matches the quality of our in-house experience, we have spent a great amount of time researching and testing everything from the packaging to our heated delivery bags.” Preoday chief executive Nick Hucker added: “With the technology up and running, it will be interesting to see how the data it gathers can influence other areas of the business, marketing for example, and, with the option to add extra services such as table booking, we can’t wait to see how the technology evolves over the coming year.”
Bristol Walkabout freehold sells for circa £3.15m: The freehold of the Walkabout bar in Bristol’s Corn Street has been acquired by a private individual for circa £3.15m. Coffer Corporate Leisure advised a private client on the freehold disposal of the property. The venue totals circa 30,000 square feet and is let to Stonegate Pub Company with 27 years unexpired. The property was sold off-market, with the sales price reflecting a net initial yield of circa 5.4%. ADS Real Estate acted on behalf of the purchaser. Stonegate acquired the Walkabout brand, then part of Intertain, at the end of 2016 in a deal that gave the 30-strong business an enterprise value of £39.5m.
Michelin-starred chef Mark Kempson to open restaurant at Hampton Court hotel:Michelin-starred chef Mark Kempson is to open a restaurant at the Kings Arms Hotel in Hampton Court, Surrey. Kempson will launch The Six Restaurant next month with a menu that champions local produce. Dishes will include Palace Garden Salad featuring herbs and vegetables picked from neighbouring Hampton Court Palace’s kitchen garden, as well as whole native lobster with tarragon butter. Kempson will continue as head chef at Kitchen W8 in Kensington but will be at The Six Restaurant when time permits with the kitchen led by head chef Jack Scoines. Kempson’s more than 20-year career including working at two Michelin-starred The Vineyard in Berkshire before becoming head chef at Kitchen W8, where he secured a Michelin star. The Kings Arms Hotel also features a lounge, bar and 14 bedrooms.
Team behind Mayfair pub opens Roman-style pasta restaurant: The team behind a pub in London’s Mayfair have opened a Roman-style pasta restaurant. It has launched Stampa in the former Mayfair Pasta & Sandwich premises in Davies Street. The site has been transformed into a retro Italian diner inspired by informal workers’ bars in Rome’s Trastevere district, reports Hot Dinners. Stampa also offers coffee and pastries for breakfast and has banquette seating for 20 people. The team runs pub and wine bar The Running Horse in the same street.
Chiquito launches vegan menu: The Restaurant Group has launched a new vegan menu for Mexican brand Chiquito. The company said Mexican food “naturally lends itself to vegan cuisine” and the menu features new ingredients such as jackfruit, banana blossom, palm hearts and soya protein Oumph! The menu consists of four starters, five main courses with sides, three desserts and a vegan drinks list including beer, cocktails and wine. Chiquito managing director Angelo Gabrilatsou said: “We are fortunate Mexican food lends itself very well to vegan and our new additions bring amazing tastes and textures that will appeal not only to vegans but to all our guests.” Chiquito operates 80 restaurants across the UK.
Mowgli to open Leicester site next month: Indian street food concept Mowgli, which is backed by Foresight Group, will open a site in Leicester next month. Founder Nisha Katona will launch the restaurant on Monday, 12 August in St Martin’s Square. Katona told Leicestershire Live: “Leicester was the place we travelled to on a family day out to buy bright plastic mugs, mad floral melamine plates, spices, incense and Indian vegetables. It was the bright lights, big city in terms of Indian food. We will open in the most perfectly ‘Mowgli-esque’ St Martin’s Square amid the pretty Leicester lanes. It is exactly what we look for in a city – quirky, cool, Bohemian and full of foodie thrill-seekers.” Mowgli operates two sites in its home city of Liverpool and two in Manchester, alongside restaurants in Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield. Katona is set to open two more venues this year, in Cardiff and Bristol, while an outlet in Preston is also in the pipeline.
S4Labour partners with Hastee Pay: S4Labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, has partnered with Hastee Pay on an integration that will allow users to access a portion of their earned wages without having to wait for pay day. Hastee Pay chief executive James Herbert said: “It is a partnership that made sense. Hastee Pay and S4Labour have both been dedicated innovators, creating solutions that improve productivity, engagement, recruitment and retention.” S4Labour chief product officer Richard Hartley added: “By working with more of the software companies our clients are using, we are able to offer operators more tools that make life better for their teams, improving job satisfaction and retention.”
Manorview opts for Yapster: Scottish-based boutique hotel and leisure group Manorview has selected hospitality-focused messaging platform Yapster for staff communications. Yapster’s mobile app will help Manorview stay connected with its growing team of more than 500 staff across a portfolio that incudes eight boutique hotels. The app allows staff to send secure instant messages one-to-one or in groups. Yapster also provides an all-company social newsfeed for sharing team updates, successes and best practices. David Tracey, managing director of The Manorview Group, said: “Yapster will allow us to have company-wide conversations in a safe, secure way that doesn’t intrude on our colleagues’ personal lives.” Yapster co-founder and chief executive Rob Liddiard added: “We are always excited by the chance to work with companies that are redefining the front-line employee experience. We are excited to see what we can achieve together.” Tracey was promoted to Manorview managing director in May after joining the company in 2016 as head of group operations before spending two years as operations director.