MeatLiquor to take on Forest Hill pub, could lead to more: Scott Collins-led concept MeatLiquor has secured its first pub, the Dartmouth Arms in London’s Forest Hill, which will open at the start of July, and the business may look to open more. Propel understands the 11-strong company has taken a new lease on the pub from Stonegate Pub Company, a deal that sees Collins return to the pub sector and the brand return to its roots. The first incarnation of MeatLiquor ran as a pop-up above a pub in New Cross in its early days in 2011. The residency was so successful it led to the opening of the first MeatLiquor restaurant on Welbeck Street in London’s West End that same year. Collins previously worked for and was shareholder in the Clive Watson-led Capital Pub Company. At Capital, his role was to source, buy, design and run pubs, including The Clarence in Balham, which won the Evening Standard Pub of the Year award in 2006. Collins said the Victorian public house, which has three bars and a 30-space car park, would be getting a “MeatLiquor makeover” and customers could expect the full MeatLiquor menu with the addition of fish and chips on Fridays and Sunday roasts. Collins told Propel: “When the opportunity came up, it seemed very serendipitous with it being ten years since the business started over a pub. Will we do more? It is definitely something we will look at, and perhaps have further conversations with Stonegate and other pub companies about. Our site in East Dulwich is around two miles away from this site, and although there is a lot of delivery competition in that area we are still doing circa £25,000 a week on average through UberEats. At Forest Hill, there will be less competition, more of a catchment area and we can take up the slack in terms of delivery from East Dulwich when needs be. There is also the possibility of having food trucks in the car park. But first and foremost this will be a pub, 75% a Victorian public house and 25% a MeatLiquor.”
Clive Watson – pandemic has provided the opportunity to reset the business and gear up for expansion: The pandemic has provided City Pub Group with the opportunity to reset the business and gear it up for expansion, executive chairman Clive Watson has told Propel. Speaking following City Pub Group’s full-year results, Watson said while there would be acquisition opportunities, he does not believe the market shake-up will be as severe as many expect because of government support schemes. He added while the priority was to “get some trading under our belts”, the company, which operates 45 pubs, would look to grow by targeting larger market towns – such as Guildford and St Albans – rather than bigger cities. “The business set-up was too complicated pre-covid,” said Watson. “Now we have one business and have it centralised. We have the right platform to grow and look to get to that 100-site mark. Coming out of covid, there is going to be caution but, as the fog lifts, we can start to slip through the gears. With Toby [Smith] coming on board, and he is a more experienced operator than me, we have someone who knows how to expand that side of the business. As we exit the pandemic, we will see what scars are left and have better visibility of where we are. There will a shake-out of the market but government support, which has been a life-saver to many businesses, means it won’t be of the level some people predict.” Watson said while consumer demand would “wear off a bit” over time once the furore of reopening lifts, he believes pubs would see less of an effect. He added: “With the popularity of box sets over lockdown and more on-demand services, cinemas and theatres may see an impact, but people are itching to get out again and see the pub as a safe haven. We’ve been trading pretty well since outdoor reopening started. We were making a profit when we came out of the first lockdown and I expect the business to be generating positive cash flow with indoor reopening.” However, Watson said further support would still be needed for the sector while the government would need to intervene on the rent issue. He did not rule out the company doing something around takeout and delivery, although he envisaged it being more along the click-and-collect route. “It’s something we are considering,” he said. “It’s clearly become a trend in the pandemic and we would be foolish not to think about it.”
Byron to open first new site in five years, at Wembley Designer Outlet: Better burger brand Byron is to open its first new site in five years at Wembley Designer Outlet, prior to the spring bank holiday at the end of May, Propel has learned. The Simon Wilkinson-led brand has secured the Handmade Burger Co site at the scheme. Propel understands the design of the new site will be based on the original Byron heritage/look with “a few modern innovations, focusing on draught craft beer, great burgers and great milkshakes”. It will also feature order and pay at table technology. At the same time, Propel understands sales at Byron were 80% of 2019 sales levels last week with every site open except Westfield in White City, and most have limited external spaces. The business, which currently operates 19 restaurants, reopened in Manchester on 12 April, and has also agreed a deal to reopen its site in London’s Covent Garden. The group is also understood to have three further former sites in central London under negotiation with landlords. The business opened its fifth dark kitchen site at the start of April, at the Deliveroo Editions unit in Nottingham. At the start of this month, Famously Proper, the Calveton UK-backed parent company of Byron, acquired Mother Clucker, the London-based, buttermilk-fried chicken concept. The business will retain key members of the Mother Clucker team, brand identity and will look to expand the brand nationwide.
28°-50° Wine Bar & Kitchen to open fourth site, in South Kensington: 28°-50° Wine Bar & Kitchen, the Richard Green and Emiliano Isufi-led concept, is to open its fourth site, in South Kensington. 28°-50° Wine Bar & Kitchen has secured 69 Draycott Avenue for its latest restaurant. The dining room on the ground floor will seat up to 60 along and also house a central dining bar. The first floor features a dining area and private room. The business operates sites in Marylebone and Covent Garden and, in February, secured the former Byron site in King’s Road, as part of plans for further expansion in the capital. In keeping with its sister locations, 28°-50° South Kensington will serve French and modern European cuisine, alongside a curated wine selection. Green said: “The mixture of international and residents fits our relaxed – but serious – take on food, wine and service. We can’t wait to open.” The name 28°-50° refers to the latitudes wine-producing grapes are grown between. David Rawlinson, of Restaurant Property, acted on the South Kensington deal.
Soho House to change name and offer shares to customers as part of $4bn US listing, Mexican-themed restaurant concept to open first permanent UK site: Soho House Group, the private members’ club operator, is to change its name and offer its shares to tens of thousands of customers as part of a plan to give it a flying start to life as a publicly listed company. The business is to rename its parent company Membership Collective Group (MCG) as part of an investor charm offensive to illustrate the range of services it now provides, reports Sky News. Banking sources said Soho House, which confidentially filed for a New York listing last month, was also working on a share offer enabling its 100,000 members around the world to subscribe for stock up to a specific threshold, likely to be several thousand pounds. The company is expected to trade under the ticker MCG on the New York Stock Exchange, and is targeting a valuation of as much as $4bn (£2.9bn). Reflecting its decision to change its parent company name is the fact it also operates The Ned, a members’ club near the Bank of England, and trades under the brand Scorpios, a club in Mykonos, Greece. Soho House raised another chunk of private funding last summer, but has decided the capital required for future growth is better accessed via public markets. Meanwhile, Soho House is bringing its Mexican restaurant, Maya, to London with its first permanent UK site at The Hoxton hotel in Shoreditch. Located on the rooftop of the seventh floor with a dedicated entrance off Willow Street, the 80-cover restaurant will open on Monday (17 May). After starting out in January 2019 as a pop-up at Soho House West Hollywood, where it now has a permanent site, Maya went on to hold residencies all over the world. Like the original location, the Shoreditch menu focuses on coastal Baja-Mexican food using locally sourced produce. Soho House, founded by Nick Jones, opened its first site in Greek Street in central London in 1995 and operates 27 private members’ clubs.
Le Bab to open late-night site in Shoreditch for third outlet: Modern kebab concept Le Bab, founded by Stephen Tozer, Manu Canales and Ed Brune, is to open a late-night kebab shop in Shoreditch for its third site. The site in Old Street, which launches on Monday (17 May), will open until 5am and is located in the former Turkish Delight kebab shop premises. The menu at the 20-cover restaurant will include the new late-night kebab special – the Pepperoni Pork Shawarma, combining its signature pork shawarma with the flavours of pepperoni pizza. There will also be a Le Bab Dirty Vegan Kebab made with Beyond Meat, house pickled cucumber, sweet chilli relish, crispy fries, vegan mayo, sumac, vegan fondue sauce and cress. Le Bab’s modern classic kebabs, cooked on a wood and charcoal-filled robata, and served with freshly made in-house flatbreads will also feature on the menu. Tozer said: “It’s going to be a special summer, with a lot of late, late nights. We’ve always wanted a night-time restaurant presence; it obviously makes sense for kebabs, but also London is a little short of small hours eating-out options. So this is genuinely a little dream come true. We can’t wait to be there for everyone feeding the post-lockdown renaissance.”
Gordon Ramsay confirms Street Burger to open in Kensington High Street: Chef Gordon Ramsay has confirmed he will open a further site under his fledgling Street Burger concept in Kensington High Street, London. As previously flagged by Propel, Ramsay has taken the former Byron site at 222 Kensington High Street for an opening next Monday (17 May). It will be the fourth site to open under the burger concept, following openings in St Paul’s, Charing Cross Road and Woking. It is thought the chef is also in talks to take the ex-Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, for another Street Burger site. Ramsay is also believed to have made the highest offer to take the former Giraffe site in The Oracle in Reading.
Whitbread to open equivalent of one new hotel per a week until August:Whitbread will grow its network of Premier Inn and Hub by Premier Inn hotels by 2,142 bedrooms this summer as it aims to continue expanding its market share and capitalise on the recovery opportunity. In the four months between the beginning of May and the end of August, the business will open 17 new and extended hotels – equivalent to opening a new hotel a week – and creating an estimated 450 jobs. The openings include Premier Inn sites in central Edinburgh, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Plymouth – and a 246-bedroom hub by Premier Inn hotel in London’s Shoreditch in June. In coastal locations, the business is opening new Premier Inn hotels in Blackpool (North Pier), Bournemouth and Thurso in the Scottish Highlands as well as extending its Scarborough (South Bay) Premier Inn by 90 bedrooms. The first of two hotels acquired from Travelodge in November 2020 is also scheduled to open in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in late May. Five of the new openings include Whitbread’s restaurant brands Bar + Block Steakhouse, Beefeater and Cookhouse & Pub. The 249-bedroom Premier Inn in Glasgow’s St Enoch Square will bring the first Bar + Block Steakhouse restaurant to Scotland when it opens in early June. Whitbread reported at its full-year results last month it is intending to open between 2,000 and 3,000 pipeline bedrooms in the UK during the 2021-22 financial year and 2,000 rooms in Germany. It also committed to the rollout of Premier Plus rooms across its existing estate and new-build hotels.
Team behind Notting Hill’s Globe nightclub to launch Japanese-inspired sandwich shop concept: The team behind the Globe nightclub in London’s Notting Hill is to launch a Japanese-inspired sandwich shop concept. The Secret Sandwich will open next Thursday (20 May) in Talbot Road. The sandwiches are based on the Japanese “Wanpaku sando” with varieties such as the NYC classic pastrami and the Egg Salad Sando, all tucked into Japanese Shokupan bread. The Secret Sandwich Shop will also offer a selection of Japanese snacks and drinks alongside the sandos, which will also be available for delivery.
Chipotle increases average wages to $15 an hour, announces six-figure general manager salaries: Chipotle has said the company would be raising its hourly wages to an average of $15 an hour by the end of June, ranging from $11 to $18 per hour for store-level employees. The company is also adding a path for its general managers to receive an average salary of $100,000 in as little as three and a half years. Marissa Andrada, chief diversity, inclusion and people officer, said: “Chipotle is committed to providing industry-leading benefits and accelerated growth opportunities, and we hope to attract even more talent by showcasing the potential income that can be achieved in a few short years.” In addition to these wage increases, Chipotle is also introducing a $200 referral bonus for store-level employees and $750 referral bonus for general managers. In April, Chipotle announced it would begin offering debt-free college degrees for US employees in related fields including agriculture, culinary, supply chain and hospitality.
Delivery-only business The Neighbourhood Kitchen secures new investment:The Neighbourhood Kitchen (TKN), which operates delivery-only kitchens and brands, has secured new funding from investment firm Jenson Funding Partners. Launched in 2020 by Adam Bridle and Penny Capper, TNK said it transforms defunct commercial kitchens into “highly profitable, delivery-focused restaurants giving the UK local takeaway choices that they want”. The business rents local kitchens and reconfigures them to serve neighbourhoods with up to 20 new takeaway brands – including Laguna Poké, Island Fried Chicken and The Thai Guys. Bridle, who previously worked for Itsu and Kitopi, one of the world’s biggest delivery-only kitchen operators, said: “We are obsessed with takeaways and have been since Deliveroo launched. We have worked with some of the best delivery chefs in the country to create specialist menus that are perfect for delivery, ensuring the customer gets the best possible experience at home. We want to be able to give all areas of the country the choice that you can get in London, and we can do that almost overnight, and the most important thing is our food tastes great. Jeffrey Faustin, chief investment officer at Jenson Funding Partners, said: “We are really excited to be working with Adam, Penny and the team, this is a fantastic opportunity and we look forward to helping the business grow.”
Artisan Food Hall venture lines up second former department store conversion: Artisan Food Hall has lined up its second former department store for conversion into a food hall, in Worcester. The company, which is led by Eann Ramsey-Smith, is set to convert the former Debenhams. It is also currently converting the former House of Fraser store in Hull, with a third project lined up in Cheshire. All the stalls and units inside the hall will be curated by restaurateur and ex-head chef at The Ivy, Des McDonald. Ramsey-Smith told Hull Live: “The high street is undergoing major changes with the covid-19 pandemic accelerating huge shifts in the way people shop. The food hall platform offers local producers the ability to plug and play, creating a diverse offer at each location, where our focus is on the local supply chain, local labour, zero waste, local partnerships and the ability to create a vibrant community in our buildings. Combining food retail, hospitality and culture, all of our food halls will be independent and completely unique – we don’t have a cookie-cutter approach.”