YO! to trial franchise model for Panku concept: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, is to launch a trial of a franchise model for its pan-Asian street food concept Panku, Propel has learned. YO! currently acts as the master franchisee for the concept, which was founded by Neil Nugent and Andy Upton. It now plans to trial the franchise model across a select number of sites, before assessing whether to roll it out further. It currently operates 35 Panku concessions in Asda stores across the UK, with another two set to open soon. David Hampton, managing director of Retail at YO!, said: “We’ve been really pleased with the reaction to our Panku kiosks. With 35 sites up and running, and more in the pipeline, we are now looking at what the next phase of development might look like. Drawing from our experience with Snowfox and Bento, our highly successful kiosk brands in the USA and Canada, we will be trialling a franchise model across a handful of Panku sites in the UK.” Last month, the company began trialling a new Indian street food concept called Kulaba Kitchen with retailer Asda. The company launched the trial in the Asda in Worksop under a dual site launch with a Panku unit, and is currently rolling it out to supermarkets in Clapham, Halifax, Rotherham and Aintree.
Swingers to push on with US expansion, handful of leases signed or in progress:Competitive Socialising, the parent company of street food and crazy golf concept Swingers, is to push on with its US expansion plans despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Co-founder Matt Grech-Smith told Propel the company, which operates two sites in central London, had a handful of leases signed and in progress in the US, and is on-site on one location currently. With a vaccine hopefully in place, he is targeting opening the first two US Swingers sites in 2021, with more to follow. “We’ve made really good use of this period to prepare our plans,” Grech-Smith said. “In the US, we’ve been having productive conversations with landlords. We are seeing more favourable rental terms and landlords are engaging – it definitely now seems like a partnership rather than them dictating terms. We’re going to go at it humbly because we have a lot to learn about the US market but if we are successful, we want to make sure we have enough sites in the pipeline to allow us to grow at speed. Meanwhile, in the UK, we’ve overhauled the courses of our London venues and developed a bespoke CRM system. We’d like to do more sites in the UK in time, but the US is our focus for now.” Grech-Smith said trade had been going “really well, all things considered” since reopening its London sites – located in Regent Street and underneath the Gherkin in the City – in September until the latest lockdown was introduced. However, he believes there will once again be pent-up demand when the sector is allowed to reopen – hopefully in time for the festive season. He said: “We sold 85% of our available tickets leading up to the second lockdown. People weren’t booking as far ahead as they were pre-covid, but we were sold out much of the time, so we’re confident demand will return when we reopen. It won’t be a Christmas that matches previous ones – we’ve got minimal corporate trade but we believe, if allowed, many people will still want to go out and celebrate.” Grech-Smith said its backer, private investment firm Cain International, has been “very supportive”, while the business has also secured a “multimillion-pound” sum through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. He added: “By this time next year, hopefully we’ll be putting coronavirus behind us starting to see again some of those revenue figures in the UK that we used to take for granted.”
Azzurri Group to trial Coco di Mama delivery through Zizzi sites: Azzurri Group, the TowerBrook Capital-backed business, is to trial the delivery of its Coco di Mama concept through a number of its Zizzi sites, Propel has learned. The Italian food-to-go brand is to trial delivery in new locations prepared through its sister-brand’s kitchens, starting in London suburbs. Coco di Mama managing director Jim Attwood told Propel: “The initial trials in Bromley, Sutton and Kingston aim to bring Coco di Mama’s fast and fulfilling pasta closer to its core customer base of professional City workers as they continue to work from home during lockdown.” Azzurri began the reopening of its 30-strong, London-based Coco di Mama estate at the start of November. It relaunched five sites in Margaret Street, Holborn, More London, Cheapside and Fleet Street.
DHP Family injects £1.6m into business through share issue, restructures management teams: Live music venue operator DHP Family has injected £1.6m into the business via an issue of preference shares to help strengthen its balance sheet and restructured its management teams to help it deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which operates seven sites in London, Nottingham and Bristol, said the brand position of its venues, strength of its management team and cash position left it “well placed for the coming years”. It stated: “DHP and the wider group have, over the years, worked around a freehold basis on the venues we run and operate. Within the group of seven venues are two leasehold properties and five freehold. Careful investment decisions over the prior years as well as our strong financial results have enabled us to have low levels of debt-to-equity. At the start of the covid-19 pandemic, we injected £1.6m of cash into the business via an issue of preference shares to strengthen our balance sheet for the covid-19 period and beyond. We have restructured our management teams and head office functions to cope with the financial impact of the pandemic. We have also negotiated on extending one of the leases for our venues at better terms. [Prior to the latest lockdown] all but one of our venues were back trading on a new socially distanced format. The demand for these nights has been strong, an indication that once social distance measures are lifted, our customer base should return to pre-covid-19 numbers.” DHP Family provided the update as it reported turnover for the year ending 31 December 2019 fell to £44.6m, compared with £58.3m the year before, partly due its Thekla venue in Bristol being shut for an extended period for refurbishment. Pre-tax profit jumped to £1.9m from £469,000 the previous year.
Wingstop secures ex-Byron restaurant for fourth site, teams up with Foodstars to make regional debut: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has secured its fourth bricks and mortar site, after acquiring a former Byron in South Kensington, Propel has learned. The company plans to open its latest site in Gloucester Road in the middle of next month. Earlier this summer, it opened its third UK site at Bluewater in Kent, in the shopping centre’s Winter Garden area. Lemon Pepper Holdings opened Wingstop’s debut UK site in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End in 2018, it also operates a site in Dalston, plus delivery units in Battersea and Kentish Town. At the same time, Propel has learned that the brand has opened two new delivery kitchen sites with Foodstars in Wandsworth and Birmingham, the latter marking the group’s regional debut. Wingstop, which has more than 1,000 restaurants globally, entered its agreement with Lemon Pepper Holdings in 2017. CDG Leisure acted on the Gloucester Road deal.
Eataly announces early 2021 opening of first UK site: Eataly, the Italian food emporium, will open its first UK site in early 2021 at Broadgate, London. The site will be the group’s 43rd while becoming the 16th country it will operate in – and will also create 300 jobs. Eataly London will host a market with a range of more than 5,000 products, three restaurants, London’s biggest Italian winery, a food-to-go area, a bakery, a zero-waste produce refill store, live demonstrations, tastings and a cookery school, spread across two floors and totalling more than 40,000 square foot. One of the restaurants, Terra, which is described as a “finer dining concept” will open in summer next year. Eataly chief executive Nicola Farinetti said: “London has been a key target in our global expansion plans for some time now and we’re happy to bring our vision and a love of high-quality food to the UK. Eataly is all about taking the Italian gastronomic culture abroad, making it accessible to all in a celebration of the craft, taste and traditions of Italian food and drink. Bringing people together is at the heart of what we do and this is even more important in the current climate.” Eataly London store manager Matteo Ferrio added: “We are, of course, considering the safety and comfort of visitors and employees and we will be sure to comply with the relevant guidelines, so everyone can have the proper Eataly experience with peace of mind.” Oscar Farinetti launched the first Eataly in January 2007 in Torino. Eataly, which has the mantra “Eat, Shop, Learn”, employs more than 8,400 people across 15 countries, welcoming 39 million visitors every year.
All-day dining concept Homestead opens at London City Island: Homestead, an all-day dining concept from Sven-Hanson Britt, Tris Hillier and Scott Ward of Unlocked opened on Tuesday (17 November) as the main food and beverage offering for London City Island, on Leamouth Peninsula. For the initial opening period, Homestead will open as a takeaway kitchen, deli and store for collection, with an offering that will reflect the dine-in menu once the restaurant is able to open. Once restrictions have lifted, Homestead will offer dining in and drinking options. The three founders have vast restaurant experience with Ward (JKS, Maze) as director of operations, Britt (Oxeye and MasterChef Professionals: Rematch Champion) as creative director and Hillier (Kanvass Projects) as brand and communications director. Britt said: “The east London food scene has completely changed over the past few months, meaning everything we knew before about eating out is now different. My family and I have moved to City Island, it’s a hub of creativity and artists in need of a great food offering.” Hillier added: “Despite the current lockdown measures we actually feel it is a great time to launch Homestead as everyone is at home.” Ward said: “The team we have put together is amazing. We feel very privileged to be able to hire people during this difficult time for UK hospitality, and buy direct from farmers, fishermen and growers who need our support more than ever.”
Japanese restaurant Roketsu secures debut site: Roketsu, the premium Japanese restaurant concept, which earlier this year held a pop-up event at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, will open its debut site next year, after securing a site in London’s Marylebone, Propel has learned. The restaurant, which is fronted by head chef Daisuke Hayashi, has taken a new lease from the Portman Estate on 12 New Quebec Street. Hayashi came to London after training at the Kikunoi Ryotei restaurant in Kyoto and has been executive head chef at Tokimeitē in Mayfair. Roketsu, which also held a series of dinner events at Louis Vuitton in Bond Street this year, will be all about Japanese Kaiseki (multi-course) dining. Split across two floors, the restaurant will also include a dedicated area where customers can witness and engage in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The interior has been designed by the late Sotoji Nakamura’s family business, known for authentic Japanese tearooms and the Edi Koji shopping alley at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. Roketsu said it “aims to inspire and teach its diners about Japanese culture, providing them with the most authentic Kaiseki experience”. Adam Bowers, of Stonebrook London, acted on behalf of Roketsu, while Shelley Sandzer acted for the Portman Estate.
Poké The Bear adds two more sites, brings in Michelin-starred chef: Poké The Bear, the delivery-only poké concept from TV celebrity Calum Best and Fraser Carruthers, one of the team behind private members’ club Albert’s, has added two sites to its portfolio. Michelin starred Richard Galli is also joining the team, with The Goring Hotel executive chef bringing his experience and Brazilian influence to create a new take on the traditional Hawaiian dishes. Poké the Bear continues to grow and has opened its second site, in Clapham, south London. The delivery-only restaurant has also secured premises in Manchester, opening on Tuesday, 1 December. Poké The Bear, which opened its first site in the Chelsea in August, is embarking on an aggressive expansion plan to open further kitchen across major UK cities including Liverpool, Dublin and Bristol. Carruthers said: “I’ve known Richard for many years and have always admired his cooking. His skills go far beyond the kitchen, from sourcing the finest ingredients to implementing a team of chefs that work together like a well-oiled machine. We can’t wait to see the business continue to grow across the UK and show people poké as they’ve never seen before.”
Coppa Club to open new Cobham site in December: Various Eateries-owned Coppa Club has announced it will open its new site – in Cobham, Surrey – on Wednesday, 9 December. Founder Hugh Osmond said: “The venue continues Coppa’s central premise to create a space for locals to make their own. When we first opened Coppa five years ago, we wanted to create a space that combined all the best elements of a cafe, bar, restaurant and lounge into one offering that provided something for everyone – a private members’ club experience, without the membership fees, with an informal, relaxed feel – that ethos has never left us.” The site spans two floors with an open-plan ground floor and upstairs is a rooftop terrace garden with five of igloos complete with heated flooring, individual sound systems, blankets and foliage. An all-day menu offers breakfast and dinner while brunch is on the menu at weekends.
Zuaya founders to launch Italian restaurant: Alberto and Arian Zandi, who are behind London restaurant Zuaya, are to launch a new concept in the capital. The identical Spanish twins will open Como Garden, which will be located next door to its older sibling in Kensington, next month. The brothers set their sights on opening an Italian restaurant having fallen in love with Lake Como from an early age. Como Garden will celebrate dishes from across all of Italy’s regions, with the menu designed to be shared. Centered around handmade pasta, the menu will feature a myriad of meat, fish and vegetarian options with a strong focus on seasonal flavours.  This will sit alongside a curated Italian wine list and cocktails that can also be enjoyed in the bar area. The Zandis launched Zuaya, which serves fusion cuisine from Latin American with a Mediterranean influence, in 2018.
Honey-based culinary restaurant concept with on-site beehives to open in London’s Selfridges: A honey-based culinary restaurant concept is to open at London department store Selfridges. The Hive, which will come complete with on-site beehives and keepers, will open on the third floor when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. The menu will feature a range of fresh dishes, all incorporating natural honey, while diners will be able to experience an immersive honey-inspired environment. Additionally, Hive will also offer a range of honey and cheese pairings to be enjoyed throughout the day. Khalid Samata, founder and owner of Hive, said: “I discovered buckwheat honey and that tasting experience marked the beginning of my evolving journey. For a year, I spent almost every weekend back home in the French Pyrenees, where I am originally from, to discover this buzzing ecosystem, to meet the local experts, to learn about bees, about flowers, about honeys, about the use of honey and its benefits to our health and well-being. I wanted to bring my findings to the UK market.” The rooftop bees are looked after by experienced beekeeper and conservationist Mark Patterson, who will be using his expertise and knowledge to hold monthly talks in the restaurant about the critical importance of bees in the ecosystem.
Kitchen space provider Foodstars to up London presence: Foodstars, which provides kitchen space for food companies and is backed by former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, is to increase its presence in London with two new openings, Propel has learned. The company, which currently operates nine kitchens in London, will open a site in Mitcham Lane, Streatham, next month. It will follow this with an opening in Greenock Road, Chiswick Park, in January, which will take its kitchen estate to 15 sites. Propel revealed last month, the company was to increase its regional presence with openings in Leeds and Manchester. The business, which was founded by William Beresford, Daniel Abrahams and Roy Shaby in Bethnal Green in 2015, will launch a site in the Burley area of Leeds this month. It will follow this with an opening in Manchester’s Dark Lane. Both new kitchens will be based close to busy student districts. Earlier this year, the company made its regional debut with the opening of a kitchen in Manchester Street, Birmingham. In September, the group opened a site in Croydon’s Beddington Lane. The company leases kitchen space to restaurants that sell food through delivery apps. City Storage Systems, which trades as Cloud Kitchens in the US, quietly invested in Foodstars last year, according to documents filed at Companies House. The investment marked Kalanick’s first expansion outside the US.
Greene King to shift leased pub to Chef & Brewer estate: Brewer and retailer Greene King is to move a pub it has leased for ten years to its Chef & Brewer estate when the lease expires. The Crown Inn at Hallow, near Worcester, has been run by Will and Sacha Donaldson for more than ten years but their lease, which expires on 15 February 2021, will not be renewed, the Worcester News reports. Despite the couple fighting this decision with their solicitor, Greene King has decided not to renew the couple’s lease as the company plans to revert the pub back to a managed house under the Chef & Brewer brand.
Japes offers nationwide delivery of Chicago-style pizza kits: London pizza stalwart Japes has launched deep dish pizza kits for nationwide delivery. The kits are for its popular pepperoni and veggie pizzas. Each kit comes with at least two pizzas and includes the tin foils and Japes’ “secret tomato sauce”, plus all the cheese and toppings too. Customers can assemble the pizzas quickly and cook them in 15 minutes. The Chicago pizza kit comes with dough, mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, parmesan, polenta and tin foil – and can be purchased volumes of two, three or four pizzas. The Veggie option – available as two or three pizzas – substitutes pepperoni and parmesan for spinach and halloumi. Jovana Kostadinovic and Aleksandar Aleksic opened Japes in December 2018 and claim it was the first Chicago-style pizza restaurant to open in the UK. Each kit comes with detailed instructions and links to videos. Shipping of the kits is free.
Tim Hortons lines up fifth Northern Ireland opening: Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain, has lined up its fifth opening in Northern Ireland – a drive-thru restaurant at Riverside Park, Coleraine. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer at Tim Hortons UK & Ireland, said: “This will be our fifth restaurant in Northern Ireland, bringing us closer to more of our fans across the country after a brilliant reception in and around the Belfast area. We’re very much looking forward to becoming part of the local community and serving its needs.” Last month, Tim Hortons announced another new restaurant, opening in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, to join the existing three restaurants already operating in the Belfast area – in Fountain Street, at Connswater Retail Park, and Glengormley.
Libertine launches DIY kit: Warwickshire-based independent restaurant group Libertine has launched a DIY kit. It means its American-style burgers can now be made at home and are available for nationwide delivery. The offer is launching with Libertine’s signature Burger No.4 box featuring 150g beef patties, Libertine house spice blend, house pickles and home-cured streaky bacon, American cheese and bottles of ketchup and Frenchie’s mustard. The kit comes with step-by-step instructions. Founder Charles Harris said: “While we might be a little late to the party, we’ve taken the time to perfect our process and make sure this DIY kit is as good as we want it to be, and nothing less. It’s crazy to think that Libertine, which started as my little passion project, has grown into something that we are now sharing with people across the country, and in a relatively short time.” Libertine started as a decked-out street food van in 2017 before establishing itself touring street food markets and events across the Midlands. Harris then set up a flagship restaurant in Leamington Spa and then added a site in Rugby.
Bottles N Jars wine shop opens next to car dealership: Wine expert Bert Blaize has teamed up with specialist car showroom Hexagon Classics to launch wine and deli shop, Bottles N Jars. The name comes from Cockney rhyming slang for “cars” to pay homage to the 57-year-old car dealership, which is based in Highgate and East Finchley, north London. Blaize, who is also the author of “Which Wine When”, said the store will act as a place to learn, buy and try new and familiar wines under his guidance. There are hundreds of wines available from funky new labels by emerging wine makers, to bottles as classic as the cars. Local cheese, bread and specialist deli goods are also available. Blaize said: “Opening a bottle shop has long been an ambition of mine, which was amplified following the success of the book. I’m really looking forward to chatting people though their choices, getting to know our locals and creating a fun and interactive space for wine lovers.”