SSP set to open first Pret A Manger sites in Belgium: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, is set to open the first Pret A Manger sites in Belgium. The sites are due to launch in August, both at railway stations in Brussels. The first opening will be at the Eurostar terminal, where it will occupy a spot formerly occupied by Sam’s Club. The second restaurant will be underground at Brussels Central Station, according to Belgian newspaper L’Echo. SSP Group already operates 40 outlets in Belgium, including Panos, The Coffee Club and Deliway. Although the news has yet to be officially confirmed, a spokesman said SSP, which operates more than 2,600 restaurants worldwide, was eyeing development opportunities in Brussels. Pret A Manger operates 530 sites in nine countries – China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US. JAB Holding acquired Pret A Manger from Bridgepoint in May last year in a deal reported to be about £1.5bn.
Loungers launches Cosy Club in Norwich: Loungers, the operator of circa 140 neighbourhood cafe-bar-restaurants trading under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, has opened a site in Norwich. The company has launched a site for its Cosy Club brand in London Street at a former NatWest bank branch, which closed in 2017. The listed building now houses chandeliers, portraits and art deco touches. Cosy Club Norwich features a 180-cover restaurant on the ground floor and three private dining rooms. The room on the ground floor has space for 12 diners, while The Vault below can accommodate 20. Upstairs, the 30-capacity AW Russell room is named after a gun-carrying bank messenger of the National Provincial Bank, which occupied the site before NatWest. Cosy Club marketing manager Glenda Barber told the Norwich Evening News: “We love to tell a story with buildings. The bank has been closed for a long time and it’s wonderful to be able to bring an old building back to life and restore its beauty while being sympathetic to its original features.” Last month, Loungers reported like-for-like sales up 11% over the Christmas and New Year period. Last month, the company said it planned to open 25 sites per year, expanding into “new regions and trading locations”.
Koban Group takes portfolio to five sites with Leicester city centre restaurant deal: Independent operator Koban Group has added a Leicester city centre restaurant to take its portfolio to five sites. The company has acquired 1573 Bar & Grill in Freeschool Lane for an undisclosed sum. The restaurant opened in 2009 and is set in one of the oldest school buildings in England, The Old (Free) Grammar School built in 1573. Koban Group co-owner Raghu Kodakandala told Insider Media: “This is an exciting investment for us and, having established restaurants across Leicestershire for a number of years, it is an honour to obtain one of the city’s finest establishments, bringing our total number of restaurants to five. We’re looking forward to working with the team at the restaurant and building on their successes.” Last year, Koban Group bought the Lansdowne in Leicester and Fenways in Loughborough from The Orange Tree. It also operates the White Peacock in Leicester and Indian fine dining restaurant Aspects in Enderby.
Faucet Inn creditors face estimated total deficiency of almost £1.9m: Creditors of Faucet Inn, which was sold in a pre-pack agreement, are facing an estimated total deficiency of almost £1.9m, a new report has revealed. A statement of proposal by administrators Geoffrey Rowley and Jason Baker, of FRP Advisory, said the expected total deficiency would be £1,892,894. They said it was envisaged secured creditor Roundshield would “suffer a shortfall” on the £2,291,414 it was owed. Meanwhile it is estimated a dividend would be available to unsecured creditors, who are owed a total of £2,249,396, “in due course”. They include HM Revenue & Customs, which is owed £1,514,266. There are no preferential creditors. Extracts from Faucet Inn’s latest available accounts showed for the year ending 31 July 2016 the company turned over £9,721,000 with a net profit of £158,000. This compared with turnover of £10,334,000 with a net profit of £412,000 for the year ending 31 July 2015 and turnover of £8,988,000 with a net profit of 94,000 for the year ending 31 July 2014. No dividends were paid during any of the periods. Propel revealed last week the Faucet Inn business and assets had been sold in a pre-pack agreement to Golden Brick Pubs and Freshwater Pub Co, which both list Faucet Inn founder Steve Cox as sole director. Faucet Inn operated two sites in London – Neighbourhood in Stratford and The Northumberland Arms in Tottenham Court Road. The company had previously operated other leasehold sites, which had become unprofitable and were subsequently closed. These losses, together with contingent liabilities crystallising from the closed sites, meant continued trading was untenable and the directors sought professional advice, resulting in the appointment of administrators. The business and assets were sold on appointment, with the two sites continuing to trade. The appointment came five months after Faucet Inn took the decision to put its Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp into administration. Kupp suffered cash flow issues, with investors of its parent company refusing to inject money directly into the business. A statement of administrators proposal showed the company owed almost £5m in loans and had seen losses increase with the concept proving to be “not as popular as first envisaged”. The July 2018 balance sheet showed an intercompany loan of £4.1m due to Faucet Inn and £750,000 due to another related company, Kicking Horse Holdings.
Trampoline park company AirHop undergoes management buyout: The management team at trampoline park company AirHop has acquired the business from its founder investors. The buyout at Bristol-headquartered AirHop was backed by private investment firm Rcapital. As well as its Bristol site the company, which employs 310 staff, has a venue in Guildford along with others in Moers, Dusseldorf and Munich in Germany. Rcapital will work with the management team of the business to facilitate future growth and has provided a significant funding package to support expansion of the estate and investment in existing parks. AirHop chief executive Darren Hedges told Insider Media: “We have been looking for an investor to support the management team in growing the business for some time and are pleased to have found an investor that shares our ambitious expansion plans.” Chris Campbell, investment director at Rcapital, added: “The European trampoline park sector is at an interesting crossroads against a backdrop of issues that make the fragmented sector ripe for consolidation. We see AirHop as the ideal platform to pursue a buy-and-build strategy and we will actively look at acquisition opportunities across the UK. We would welcome any operators looking for an exit to get in touch.” Osborne Clarke and PHD Property Advisory advised Rcapital on the transaction, while FRP Advisory, Eversheds Sutherland and Harrison Clark Rickerbys advised management and lenders.
City Pub Group reveals restoration plans for historic former Prezzo site in Exeter: City Pub Group, led by Clive Watson, has revealed more details of its restoration plans for The Turks Head in Exeter following its acquisition of the historic site. A pub has been on the spot in High Street since the 1200s, with many assuming the grade II-listed pub was gone for good when Prezzo turned it into a restaurant in 2005. The Turks Head will be the company’s second pub in Devon following its purchase of the Old Firehouse in Exeter 18 months ago. It has promised a pub with a “unique identity” and is offering Exeter residents a chance to put forward their own suggestions of what they would like to see inside the pub. A City Pub Group spokesman told Devon Live: “We are bringing back The Turks Head, a much-loved pub. We want to bring back to it as much of the original features of the pub as possible, a move back to what made it popular. All our sites are very individual and remain individual. We have been exploring a lot of the history of the pub and digging out original blueprints. We’ve already unearthed original features including stonework, fireplaces and wooden beams. We’re aiming to open in late spring or early summer.” Last month, Watson told Propel the company would continue to expand through “measured growth”. City Pub Group is on target to hit 75 sites by June 2021.
Merlin Entertainments takes Peppa Pig World of Play to US: Merlin Entertainments has opened its first Peppa Pig World of Play attraction in the US, in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The roll-out of the indoor play centre concept into the US market follows the launch of the inaugural Peppa Pig World of Play in Shanghai last October. A second US site will be opened, in Michigan, before the end of 2019. Merlin has an exclusive multi-territory licensing agreement with Entertainment One, owner of the Peppa Pig brand. It is building and operating the Peppa Pig World of Play attractions, which target the pre-school market, as part of its broader strategy to engage in intellectual property partnerships with some of the world’s most popular brands. The new 14,000 square foot standalone indoor play centre is located in the Grapevine Mills mall. Merlin group chief development officer Mark Fisher said: “We take great pride in producing themed entertainment attractions that are fully immersive and engaging for visitors of all ages. A meticulous level of detail has gone into creating each of the play areas and, together with our partners at Entertainment One, we are excited to use the latest in visual and sensory effects technology to guarantee a memorable day out for families.” Andrew Carley, Entertainment One executive vice-president global licensing, family and brands, added: “The successful launch of the first Peppa Pig World of Play in Shanghai has created a strong blueprint for the opening of future sites around the world and we’re extremely excited to be bringing the attraction to the US. The partnership with Merlin underlines our own long-term strategy of building enduring success for Peppa Pig in the US.” Merlin also operates a Legoland Discovery Centre and SeaLife Aquarium in Grapevine Mills. Peppa Pig World of Play brings the company’s total attractions in the Americas to 29.
Gordon Ramsay to launch Street Lounge dining space at Bread Street Kitchen: Chef Gordon Ramsay is to launch a new dining space, Street Lounge, at his City of London restaurant Bread Street Kitchen. The space at the venue will offer Bacardi cocktails and signature Bread Street Kitchen dishes such as snow crab California rolls, tuna tartar, lollipop tamarind chicken wings and truffle fries. Bookable from Thursday (14 February), spaces will be available seven days a week for two to eight people or the whole area for 30 guests. Earlier this month, Ramsay closed his Maze restaurant in Mayfair. He will replace it with an Asian-inspired concept, Lucky Cat, an “authentic Asian eating house” and late-night lounge inspired by the drinking dens of 1930s Tokyo and the Far East.
Zip World to submit plans for first South Wales site: Adventure tourism operator Zip World is to submit plans to open its first site in South Wales. The business, which has 11 adventures spread over three Snowdonia sites, is looking to develop a location in Rhigos. Zip World will lodge an application with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. Founder and chief executive Sean Taylor told Insider Media: “This marks a huge milestone for Zip World and we’re excited about submitting phase one of our brand of adventure to another beautiful Welsh landscape. A new and inspiring location for Zip World, we hope to build a world-class destination providing local jobs and significant economic benefits for the region, just as we’ve done in North Wales since opening in 2013. With our sites in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bethesda, we have become synonymous with Welsh slate. Now we hope to do the same in the home of Welsh coal and revitalise the area.” Last month, Zip World sold a minority shareholding to private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital that values the business at £45m. The business turns over more than £14m annually, with 400,000 customer visits a year to its sites.
Frankie & Benny’s to screen rom-coms at select sites on Valentine’s Day: Frankie & Benny’s, owned by The Restaurant Group, is to screen a series of rom-coms at select sites on Valentine’s Day. To launch the initiative, Frankie & Benny’s has released a series of photos recreating some of the food-inspired romantic moments from When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook, Lady & The Tramp and Good Will Hunting. Frankie & Benny’s will screen the films on Thursday (14 February) at The Gyle in Edinburgh, Birmingham Plaza, Manchester St Anns and Wembley. A limited-edition Valentine’s set menu is available in all Frankie & Benny’s restaurants from Thursday until Sunday, while on the main day itself couples will get a free box of chocolates. A Frankie & Benny’s spokesman said: “We wanted to take a bit of the stress out of Valentine’s Day this year and hosting exclusive screenings at selected restaurants gives customers the best of both worlds – great food and the movie experience. Some of the most iconic romantic movie moments in history have featured food and we hope our recreations leave Brits feeling warm, fuzzy – and full – ahead of the most romantic day of the year.”
Former M&B and Camerons food consultant to launch bar restaurant in Sheffield next month: Former Mitchells & Butlers and Camerons Brewery food consultant Alan McGilveray is to launch a restaurant and bar in Sheffield next month. McGilveray, who is also former executive chef of the Marriott hotel chain, where he was awarded two AA rosettes, and wife Wendy, who is a commercial kitchen designer, will launch McGilveray’s at Fox Valley leisure complex. The 60-cover, 2,147 square foot site will offer outdoor seating and focus on “good food, done well”, with classic British dishes such as steak, fish and chips, charcuterie and specials such as scallops and black pudding. Alan McGilveray said: “We are passionate about good food and quality produce and that will definitely be on the menu at McGilveray’s. This is a family business and we want that to come through and share our love of good food with our customers. Fox Valley is a great location. This part of north Sheffield is becoming an increasingly popular choice for eating out and we’re excited to open our first venture there.” James Shepherd, estates director at Dransfield Properties, which owns and manages Fox Valley, added: “Wendy and Alan’s passion for what they do is clear to see and we’re delighted they have chosen Fox Valley as the location for their new restaurant and bar. The design of the restaurant and menu look fantastic and will bring something different to the centre.”
BrewDog reveals more details of first US bar outside Ohio: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed more details of the bar it will open in Indianapolis, which will be its first US site outside its Ohio brewing heartland. The 4,000 square foot bar is due to launch in the Forte Building in Fountain Square in September offering 24 taps, patio seating and an “upscale food menu”. BrewDog is focusing US expansion efforts on cities where it received financial support from more than 500 people in its Equity for Punks USA fund-raise. Indianapolis is one of 14 US cities on the brewer’s “hit list” for new sites. BrewDog USA chief executive Tanisha Robinson told the Indianapolis Business Journal: “BrewDog’s first US bar outside Ohio is coming to Indianapolis in fall 2019 and we can’t wait to open the doors.” BrewDog operates two bars in Columbus, Ohio, as well as a 42-acre development that houses a beer museum, brewery, taproom and restaurant. The company operates 67 bars worldwide with at least 19 more set to open this year, including one in Cincinnati.
Former Bob Bob Ricard executive chef to launch debut restaurant, in Chelsea next month: Former Bob Bob Ricard executive chef Anna Haugh is to launch her debut restaurant, in Chelsea next month. Myrtle will be a modern European restaurant using the best of Irish produce. Haugh, who has also worked in London with Philip Howard, Shane Osborne and Gordon Ramsay, has created a menu that will include Clonakilty black pudding rolls with apple chutney; slow confit trout with cauliflower and capers; and buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb jelly and cinnamon doughnuts. The name is a homage to Myrtle Allen, former head chef at Ireland’s Ballymaloe House hotel and restaurant, who is Haugh’s culinary hero, Hot Dinners reports.
Diageo submits plans for Johnnie Walker visitors’ centre in Edinburgh as part of £150m whisky tourism investment: Diageo has submitted plans for a seven-storey Johnnie Walker visitors’ centre in Edinburgh. The company plans to create the experience in a former Frasers department store in Princes Street as part of a £150m investment in whisky tourism. The centre would feature rooftop bars, an events space and a bartender academy. Diageo and building owner Parabola have submitted a formal planning application to Edinburgh City Council that pledges to preserve and restore the property’s historical features. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, told the Press Association: “The location is one of Edinburgh’s most exceptional landmark buildings and we plan to restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city and a thriving part of its cultural and social life. We have the most passionate and skilled whisky-makers in the world in Scotland and want to celebrate their craft and everything that’s great about Scotland and whisky.” Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo global Scotch whisky director, added the company hoped to create a “flagship attraction that will bring people to Scotland from the four corners of the world”.
Ei Group sells Tonbridge pub to town publican for his second site: Ei Group has sold Ivy House in Tonbridge, Kent, to a publican in the town for his second site. Jamie Brady, who owns the Carpenters Arms in Three Elm Lane, has acquired the grade II-listed Ivy House, which is next to Tonbridge School and the castle and is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in the town as it historically served as a tollhouse. The transaction was brokered by Simon Bland, of agent Fleurets, who added: “I think it is tremendous news for Tonbridge that Jamie has acquired Ivy House. I know he has exciting plans to refurbish and reopen as soon as possible.” Ei Group estate manager Richard Phillips added: “We are pleased to have sold this prominent site to such a well-known and experienced publican. We have no doubt he will continue to ensure the Ivy House remains at the very heart of the community and the pub will thrive.”
Former St John executive chef heads kitchen at new Hackney multi-arts space: Former St John executive chef Chris Gillard is heading the kitchen at EartH, a new multi-arts space in Hackney, east London. Auro Foxcroft, who founded Village Underground, the creative hub housed in former tube carriages, shipping containers and a warehouse in Shoreditch, has transformed the former Hackney Arts Centre in Stoke Newington Road into EartH. Foxcroft has teamed up with Gillard to open 150-cover EartH Kitchen in the centre’s former cinema foyer on the first floor. Dishes include lentils with roasted root vegetables and grilled ox heart with chips, alongside smaller plates such as smoked sprats with cucumber, kohlrabi and chervil. Gillard said: “I have cooked everywhere from St John to muddy festival fields. EartH Kitchen draws on all those elements, emphasising traditional hospitality with all food made in-house and a willingness to experiment. We’re looking forward to welcoming apprentices from Hackney City College. EartH Kitchen will be a place for training, with the promise of a role in the team at the end of it.” The restaurant also offers jazz nights and low-key DJ sets, while the bar is run by Toni Castillo, also formerly of St John, who has created a European-focused wine list and cocktails.
Carlsberg UK unveils enhanced Danish pilsner: Carlsberg has unveiled its enhanced Danish pilsner as part of a strategy to revitalise its flagship beer in the UK. The pilsner will be available in-trade from Friday, 1 March supported by a new visual identity. The trade launch will be supported by an integrated consumer marketing campaign incorporating television, digital and out of home, which will launch in April and run throughout 2019. Carlsberg Danish Pilsner remains at 3.8% ABV, while the brewer will focus on “elevating the consumer drinking experience” including a new stemmed glass, fount, 360-degree branding and guidance on the perfect serve for bar staff. Sustainable packaging innovations for the brew will include the “snap pack”, which incorporates glue rather than plastic, and greener labels and packaging. Carlsberg UK vice-president marketing Liam Newton said: “In recent years we have reinvigorated our premium Carlsberg Export and we’re now committed to enhancing every aspect of the Carlsberg Danish Pilsner drinking experience, ultimately encouraging the trade and beer drinkers to reappraise our brand.”
Marston’s reopens historic Horwich pub: Marston’s has reopened Ye Jolly Crofters in Horwich, Greater Manchester, one of 15 former Milton Pubs and Taverns community pubs the company acquired from Aprirose in October. The venue in Chorley Old Road has undergone a £250,000 refurbishment to feature expanded bar and dining areas, new decor and furniture, and photographic displays of historical interest. Outside there is a new decking area and beer gardens at the front and rear. The pub now offers four rotating cask ales and a new menu of pub classics, while it will host entertainment ranging from quizzes and a children’s club to live music and rock ‘n’ roll bingo. Manager Jonathan Toft told The Bolton News: “We are really happy with how the refurb has gone and the reception has been incredible. Ye Jolly Crofter is a place for people to meet up, relax and make friends. It’s all about great food, great drinks and a great community atmosphere.” Following the 15-pub acquisition, Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay told Propel: “They fit our model really well and we’re confident that, with the right investment, we can grow them even further.” The company plans to open ten pubs and five lodges in 2019. A pub called Ye Jolly Crofters has been at the site since the 17th century