YFM in advanced talks to back Tonkotsu: Leeds-based investment firm YFM Equity Partners is in talks to back Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen concept, Propel has learned. It is understood YFM, which also backs Friska, Bagel Nash and leisure brand Go Outdoors, is in advanced talks to take a stake in ten-strong Tonkotsu and back its ongoing expansion. Tonkotsu, which is led by Stephen Evans, former development director of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, appointed advisers in October as it looked to secure new investment to fund its next stage of growth. The group appointed Grant Thornton and Dow Schofield Watts to oversee the funding process. London-based Tonkotsu, which was founded by Reynolds and Yamada in Soho in 2012, is believed to have generated full-year turnover close to £7m. The business opened its latest site, at Dicken’s Yard, Ealing, in November. Tonkotsu also operates two concessions at Selfridges in Birmingham and London’s Oxford Street. It is thought to be close to opening a further site in Peckham, while a further opening for this year has been mooted for Shoreditch. YFM acquired a minority stake in healthy eating brand Friska for £3m in summer 2017 to support its expansion plans.
Greene King to offer surplus carveries at discount price as it becomes first pub company to partner with Too Good To Go: Greene King has become the first pub company to partner with food waste solution app Too Good To Go. All Greene King Pub and Carveries and Farmhouse Inns sites will partner with the app from next month to coincide with the launch of the company’s spring and summer menus. The move follows a trial in 19 Greene King pubs last year in which venues offered surplus carveries at a discount at the end of the day. The free app allows users to view a map showing how many unsold meals are available at sites near them. They can choose their meal and pay for it through the app before collecting it. Greene King said more than 1,000 carveries were saved from going to waste during the trial. Each meal is served as a takeaway and contains a serving of meat, roast potatoes and vegetables in a recyclable container along with a pot of gravy. Greene King supply chain director Vance Fairman-Smith said: “I am pleased to see how successful our trial has been with Too Good To Go. It’s a win-win as it offers customers a great-value meal while reducing food waste.” Too Good To Go co-founder Jamie Crummie added: “With more than 500 new customers visiting Greene King pubs during the trial, our partnership has demonstrated fighting food waste makes not only environmental sense but good business sense too.” Greene King is the first pub company to pledge zero waste to landfill by 2020. It currently diverts 98.6% of its waste from landfill.
Delivery-only kitchen concept founded by former Deliveroo executive begins UK roll-out: Delivery-only kitchen concept Taster, which was founded by one of Deliveroo’s early executives Anton Soulier, has started its UK roll-out following a three-month trial in Hackney, east London. Operating out of delivery-only kitchens, Taster works with third-party online food distribution channels such as Deliveroo. Taster offers its own restaurant brands and works with chef consultants such as two Michelin-starred Korean chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre. Taster offers three pan-Asian brands – Mission Saigon (Vietnamese), O Ke Kai (Hawaiian poke bowls) and Out-Fry (Korean fried chicken). Following its launch in Paris in June 2017, Taster has opened eight kitchens across three countries – France, Spain and now the UK. Soulier said he planned a rapid expansion for Taster in the next few years. He said: “Restaurants often don’t have the infrastructure for delivery – customers are disappointed with how long it takes to prepare, the packaging or how fresh the meal is. We can challenge all these points head on and deliver authentic Asian food within 20 minutes. We were overwhelmed by the initial response to Taster from our Hackney customers and can’t wait to bring Mission Saigon, O Ke Kai and Out-Fry to a wider London audience.” Taster has secured more than $4m in funding from European investors including Local Globe and Heartcore Capital, with Soulier focusing on expanding the concept throughout Europe, starting with London.
Boxpark expands into experiential sector with debut leisure concept: Boxpark has launched its debut leisure concept as it expands into the experiential sector by opening Playbox at its Wembley site. The recreational zone is on the site’s upper level and features a competitive leisure theme bar and two large units. Visitors have the use of a selection of entertainment and games, including a Miami-style shuffleboard unit, day-glo ping pong, and pool and foosball tables. The Wembley site has also added further street food operators to its line-up. Graham Hornigold, ex-executive pastry chef at Hakkasan Group, and Heather Kaniuk, former executive pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental, have chosen the venue to launch their gourmet doughnut concept Longboys. Islington-based independent ice-cream creators Udderlicious and Japanese ramen restaurant Yamagoya will open their third London sites at Wembley, while New York-style subs concept Gabagools will build on its Boxpark Croydon site when it comes to Wembley at the beginning of April.
Merlin chief executive sees remuneration rise after receiving bonus payment for first time in four years: Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney saw his remuneration increase for the year ending 31 December 2018 after receiving a bonus payment for the first time in four years, the company’s annual report has revealed. Varney received a total of £1,493,000, compared with £913,000 the previous year. His remuneration for 2018 consisted of £607,000 salary and fees, £22,000 in benefits, £322,000 annual bonus, £408,000 in long-term incentive payments and £134,000 pension. Varney received 35.4% of the maximum entitlement of his bonus as a result of operating profit exceeding the threshold target and a “high level of achievement” against the individual targets set to support delivery of the group’s strategy. Varney will receive a 2% pay increase on Monday, 1 April taking his salary to £621,620. Meanwhile, chief financial officer Anne-Francoise Nesmes received total remuneration of £934,000 compared with £489,000 the previous year, which was her first full year in office. The 2018 payment was made up of £398,000 salary and fees, £18,000 in benefits, £194,000 annual bonus, £231,000 in long-term incentive payments £4,000 in other payments and £89,000 pension. Nesmes will also receive a 2% salary increase at the start of next month taking her pay to £407,558. The average salary increase for Merlin UK’s workforce will also be 2%.
Elmesthorpe Brewery Company acquires JD Wetherspoon pub in Hinckley for seventh site: Leicester-based brewer and retailer Elmesthorpe Brewery Company has acquired a JD Wetherspoon pub in Hinckley for its seventh site. Elmesthorpe will take on the lease of The Baron Of Hinckley in Regent Street. In November Wetherspoon announced it wouldn’t renew the lease of the pub, which is due to expire at the end of August. Elmesthorpe owners Nirad and Payal Solanki will then take over the premises, which will be its largest site to date. Minor tweaks to the current business model will include food served for fewer hours and selling Elmesthorpe’s own beer. Nirad Solanki told Leicestershire Live: “Wetherspoon’s legacy will live on in Hinckley. I want to leave everything as it is because I love the Wetherspoon concept of high turnover and low prices. It’s a big operation and, while my wife and I are apprehensive, we feel it’s a natural next step.” Elmesthorpe Brewery Company owns the Dog House bar in Leicester and the Bulls Head in Stoney Stanton. It also has pubs in Rugby and Tewkesbury and two bars in the Czech Republic.
Hard Rock Cafe launches delivery in London with UberEats partnership: Hard Rock Cafe in London is offering delivery for the first time after partnering with UberEats. Hard Rock Cafe said it was testing door-to-door capabilities in the UK as it “explored different channels to connect with customers”. Des Addis, Hard Rock Cafe London general manager, told the London Post: “As consumer dining habits change our new partnership with UberEats allows us to engage more thoroughly with consumers who prefer experiencing their meals at home rather than in-restaurant.” Toussaint Wattinne, general manager, UberEats UK and Ireland, added: “Hard Rock Cafe is an iconic London establishment and we’re thrilled to announce this partnership that will allow Londoners to enjoy Hard Rock’s famous food at the push of a button.”
Bar 6 Group opens third Near & Far site, in Camden: London-based Bar 6 Group has opened a third site for its Palm Springs concept Near & Far, in Camden, its fifth venue in total. The company said the flagship site would take Near & Far to the “next level”. The 180-capacity venue in Chalk Farm Road is set over four floors and features a lounge, two bars and a covered roof terrace. The cocktail menu is inspired by world travels while the kitchen serves Mexican street food from Elote, a concept created by former Caravan head chef Alex Hutton. Bar 6 Group operates Near & Far venues at Peckham Levels and the Angel as well as The Good Mixer in Camden and Magic Roundabout in Old Street. Creative director Sarah Holgate said: “Starting from an outdoor site in the middle of a roundabout, moving on to our third Near & Far location feels like a dream. We have the space and flexibility to give Camden a new injection of energy to provide casual drinkers and diners with an experience like no other in the area.”
Historic Sussex Hotels acquires Ei Group pub in Climping for fourth site: Historic Sussex Hotels has acquired The Black Horse Inn in Climping, West Sussex, from Ei Group for its fourth site. The pub will undergo a major refurbishment to reopen in spring 2020. A spokesman for family-run Historic Sussex Hotels said: “We are excited to add The Black Horse in Climping to our portfolio and look forward to restoring the pub to its former glory. Each of our hotels and spas are unique in style, character and history and united in a commitment to offering a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere.” Richard Phillips, of Ei Group, added: “It is pleasing to see the building, which has been operated as a pub for nearly 180 years, will continue to be used and enjoyed by locals and guests.” Nick Earee, of Fleurets, who brokered the deal on behalf of Ei Group, said: “We are thrilled to have completed on the quick sale of this grade II-listed 17th century property. We began marketing the premises in late November off a guide price of £500,000 for the freehold.” Historic Sussex Hotels’ other sites are Bailiffscourt in Climping, Ockenden Manor in Cuckfield and The Spread Eagle Hotel in Midhurst, all in West Sussex.
Adventure Leisure gets go-ahead to bring golf brand to Basildon at former Deltic Group site: Adventure Leisure has been given the go-ahead to open a site for its adventure golf brand Mr Mulligan’s Lost World Golf at a former Deltic Group venue in Basildon, Essex. Adventure Leisure has been granted permission by Basildon Council to convert Chicago’s at Festival Leisure Park. The venue will include two nine-hole crazy golf courses, a bar, restaurant and mezzanine. It is set to open later this spring, creating 20 jobs, reports the Basildon, Canvey and Southend Echo. Adventure Leisure operates eight Mr Mulligan’s Lost World Golf sites, including in Cheltenham and Milton Keynes. Deltic Group closed Chicago’s in January.
Starbucks to enhance loyalty programme: Starbucks is to launch a number of enhancements to its Rewards loyalty programme next month. From Tuesday, 16 April, for the first time all members will be able to earn and redeem stars for rewards immediately after joining the programme. Members will continue to earn two stars for every $1 spent when using a registered Starbucks card for eligible purchases. The programme, introduced in 2009, has seen membership increase more than 25% in the past two years to 16 million active members as of December 2018, a 14% increase over the prior year. Starbucks Rewards transactions accounted for 40% of tender in US company-operated stores in the same period. Programme updates include a new, tiered structure that will offer customers more ways to use their stars towards free items, while stars earned by visa credit and pre-paid members will no longer expire. Starbucks chief marketing officer Matthew Ryan said: “These new updates put choice in the hands of our customers and a personal touch they can only get from Starbucks.” Meanwhile Cliff Burrows, who oversees Starbucks’ Siren Retail division that includes the Roastery, Reserve, Teavana and Princi brands, will take extended unpaid leave from 1 April. Burrows joined Starbucks in 2001 and was promoted to group president in 2016. After ten years with the company, all benefits-eligible Starbucks employees can take unpaid leave of up to 12 months.
Pivovar unveils craft brewery plans: York-based brewer and bar operator Pivovar has unveiled plans for a new craft brewery in the city. The company wants to build the brewery at its premises in Station Yard, Elvington. It already has brewing facilities at Sheffield and Leeds but the company told York Mix this site would be “different”. Planning documents submitted to York City Council describe it as a “craft brewing company and test brewery”. Pivovar began as a beer importer, with most of its lager brewed at a partner brewery in the Czech Republic and delivered to Elvington. More recently, Pivovar invested in a nano test brewery within Spark:York in Piccadilly to “reduce its reliance on its Czech brewery”, the planning documents stated. However, it quickly became apparent a larger, out-of-town facility was required. The new brewery would also act as a training facility for the Pivovar brewing team in Sheffield and Leeds, and supply the company’s pubs including Pivni, the York Tap and Pavement Vaults, and the Market Cat, which is its debut joint-venture site with Derbyshire-based Thornbridge Brewery.
Pop-up turned permanent pizza restaurant launches crowdfunding campaign for second Cardiff site: Pop-up turned permanent pizza restaurant Dusty Knuckle has launched a crowdfunding drive to fund its second site. Dusty Knuckle is looking to raise £40,000 on Kickstarter to support the transformation of a former warden’s bungalow on the edge of Sophia Gardens into a 100-cover eatery complete with open kitchen, fire pits, and an in-house bakery. The company signed a ten-year lease on the property in November. The pitch states: “The site will allow us to make the most of our strengths, have an open kitchen where customers can watch our chefs at work, a small kitchen garden for us to gather produce, and a massive outside seating space for people to be surrounded by nature, with the park and castle as the backdrop. We’ve always had a sustainable philosophy at the core of our business but doing things in a way that’s sympathetic to the environment often costs more. That’s why we’ve decided to ask for some help.” Founders Phill Lewis and Deb Noyes opened their first site in Canton in 2016 having started out touring markets and festivals in Wales.
York-based vegan street food trader goes from pop-up to permanent with city centre launch: Vegan street food trader Once Across The Garden, which offers plant-based burgers, cakes and sweet treats at markets and festivals around Yorkshire, is to open its debut bricks-and-mortar site. Owners Chris Knowles and Catherine Speight will launch a cafe in an empty Wok & Go unit in Church Street in York city centre. Chris Knowles told The Press: “York is such a food-focused city – people expect different things and the city is very good at catering for that. As a vegan business and as vegans ourselves, we feel it’s important to represent veganism in a way that’s accessible for everybody – there’s no judgement.” The couple hope to open the venue in the “next few weeks”, with seating on the first floor and a takeaway service.
Alfa Leisureplex Group adds Bridlington hotel to portfolio for 21st site: Employee-owned hotel operator Alfa Leisureplex Group has added the Monarch Hotel in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, to its portfolio. It marks the 21st site for the company and second in Yorkshire having previously acquired the Cumberland Hotel in Scarborough. Managing director Karen Sawbridge said: “Our Leisureplex hotels are hugely popular with customers and we are proud to welcome the Monarch Hotel as the latest addition to the group.” Alfa Leisureplex Group employs about 700 employees across its hotel, holiday company and tour coach operator businesses.
Stonegate secures MIDAS awards: Stonegate Pub Company secured two awards at the Menu Innovation & Development Awards (MIDAS). Slug and Lettuce won best menu in the premium high street pub category, while Walkabout’s menu was voted best for a town and city pub. Menus were judged on their creativity and appeal, variety of dishes, value for money, innovation and relevance to the current market. Stonegate Pub Company director of food Kevin Steppe said: “This is the first time we have won two MIDAS awards. It’s testament to our continued focus on food quality provided by our fantastic development and operations teams.”
Marston’s lines up new-build pub in Gloucestershire village: Marston’s is lining up a new-build pub and restaurant in the village of Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire. The company has submitted a licensing application to Tewkesbury Borough Council for the venue, which is earmarked for the new Greenacres estate. The two-storey, 150-cover pub restaurant would be built in Sapphire Road and feature a garden and children’s play area, reports Gloucestershire Live. The application states: “As family life becomes busier and households increasingly rely on dual incomes, Marston’s aim has been to make family life as easy as possible by creating an environment that welcomes those with children.”
Molson Coors and Sky to launch new discount deal for licensees: Molson Coors and Sky will launch a new discount deal for licensees on Tuesday, 2 April. The new structure will offer four deals across a range of Molson Coors brands, with a 15% discount offering customers a lower entry point of two brands and three kegs a week, plus three deeper discounts based on the number of brands. Molson Coors and Sky will both offer insights and consultancy services to help licensees determine the most suitable package. Molson Coors on-trade sales director Martyn Cozens said: “Our partnership with Sky has been incredibly successful during the past six years but with more smaller independents popping up across the UK, we wanted to make it work for outlets of all sizes.” Sky Business sales and commercial director Frank Atkinson added: “The simplification of our partnership means more licensees can take advantage of the discounts available.”
Nottinghamshire-based brewer to open debut pub, in Mansfield: Nottinghamshire-based Kings Clipstone Brewery is to open its debut pub, in Mansfield. The venue will see the transformation of the pavilion in the middle of Racecourse Park. Kings Clipstone Brewery owner David Maguire told Chad: “I got the idea while in France. I came across a lovely public park that had turned a similar building into a wine bar and bistro and instantly thought of Racecourse Pavilion. The theme will have an uncompromising focus on cask-conditioned craft beer and ale. We want to work closely with sports associations and the community for events. It is a building boarded up being brought back to life as a community focal point. This can only enhance the area.” The pub will open from 8am to offer tea, coffee, cake and ice cream during the day. The brewery has been operating in the village of Kings Clipstone since 2012.
Brothers strengthens range with two new flavours to capitalise on growing fruit cider category: Cider-maker Showerings Cider Mill is launching two new flavours for its Brothers brand – industry firsts Parma violet and strawberries and cream. The new varieties are aimed at capitalising on the growing fruit cider category, which is experiencing 14% growth in the on-trade, specifically among 18 to 34-year-olds, who make up more than 50% of fruit cider drinkers. Both English premium ciders are available for the on-trade in 330ml and 500ml bottles and are 4% ABV. The new flavours form part of the Brothers brand evolution, which includes a refreshed label design and “continued commitment to add value through creative flavours”. Brand volumes grew 30% in 2018. Managing director Matthew Showering said: “With fruit cider’s huge growth in the past year and millennials constantly demanding new and exciting flavours, these latest additions felt like a no-brainer.”
Zonal appoints new strategic product manager: Hospitality management solutions company Zonal has appointed Henri Jooste as strategic product manager. He will focus on supply chain solutions including stock management. Jooste has spent more than 20 years in hospitality in South Africa and the UK before playing a pivotal role in the development of hospitality technology products. He will be based in Zonal’s Edinburgh head office, where he will work with research and development teams. Chief executive Stuart McLean said: “We are thrilled to welcome someone of Henri’s calibre into the Zonal family. Zonal prides itself on constantly evolving and we continuously assess our products and processes to deliver a dedicated and bespoke service.” Jooste added: “I couldn’t be joining the company at a more exciting time, in its 40th anniversary year. I find it remarkable that, despite its significant growth, Zonal remains a family business at heart, with a culture of passion and dedication to its customers and staff I have never experienced before.”