PCA makes eight recommendations to Star Pubs & Bars after pubs code breaches and £2m fine: The pubs code adjudicator (PCA) has published a list of eight recommendations Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars must fulfil after it was fined £2m for “unreasonable stocking terms in proposed market rent only (MRO) options tenancies”. An investigation by the PCA found Star Pubs & Bars had committed 12 breaches with the result it had “frustrated the principles of the pubs code”. As well as identifying how the company had offered stocking terms that had acted as a deterrent to tenants pursuing a free-of-tie tenancy, the PCA highlighted systemic corporate failures by Star Pubs & Bars in its approach to compliance. Along with the eight recommendations, it also said Star Pubs & Bars must publish a letter on its website explaining the findings of the investigation, what Star Pubs & Bars will do in response to the recommendations and how these measures will affect tenants. The recommendations were: 1. When making an MRO proposal, Star Pubs & Bars must follow PCA guidance, have evidence why its offer is reasonable, take into account and record factors it has relied on; 2. When serving an MRO proposal and negotiating with tenants, Star Pubs & Bars must be transparent and provide tenants with evidence supporting its grounds for reasonableness; 3. When Star Pubs & Bars receives an arbitration award relating to compliant MRO terms or new PCA advice, guidance or investigation outcomes, Star Pubs & Bars must be proactive in considering whether MRO proposals, in negotiation or arbitration, contain non-compliant stocking terms. Star Pubs & Bars must be straight with tenants about that non-compliance, offer a new proposal, be as open as it can on reasons for change and ensure policies are updated; 4. Star Pubs & Bars’ code compliance officer (CCO) role must be independent to challenge decisions that may be non-compliant with the pubs code. The CCO should ensure requirements of the CCO role are upheld; 5. Star Pubs & Bars must implement a system that supports the CCO’s duties under the pubs code. Any new system must provide for independent monitoring, further improvements to be made and a framework that evidences the effectiveness of its approach; 6. Star Pubs & Bars must ensure its record-keeping and administrative systems can support and evidence pubs code compliance; 7. Star Pubs & Bars must train its staff on findings from the investigation; and 8. Star Pubs & Bars must carry out an audit of its MRO tenancies to identify non-compliant stocking terms. Star Pubs & Bars must offer to change those terms without cost to the tenant. Star Pubs & Bars has appealed against the “disproportionate” £2m penalty.
Heavitree to cancel rent in January for tenants: Exeter-based tenanted pub operator Heavitree Brewery is to cancel rent in January in a bid to support publicans. The company is also only charging 50% rent in December for those pubs able to trade with those shut having their payments waived. The company stated: “In order to support our estate, all pub rental charges between April and July were cancelled. Charges in August were reintroduced at 25% of the usual rates, at 40% in September and at 50% in October. Following the second national lockdown, November rental charges were also cancelled. Owing to the challenging trading conditions associated with tier two, the company has taken the decision to charge at 50% for December, but only for those pubs that can trade, and to cancel all pub rental charges for January with what is anticipated to be a very difficult trading environment for the hospitality industry. The board continues to protect its cash flow by monitoring spending and suspending all capital projects. It continues to work closely with Barclays Bank, which has supported the company throughout. The company continues to work with its tenants to assist where possible and to interpret the announcements from government.” Heavitree operates more than 65 tenanted pubs across Exeter and south Devon.
Malhotra Group reports Ebitda and turnover fall in leisure division following ‘significant’ capital investment programme: Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group has reported Ebitda in its leisure division reduced to £100,000 for the year ending 31 March 2020, compared with £1.2m the previous year following a period of “significant” capital investment and redevelopment, together with divestment of non-core venues. Turnover in the leisure division reduced to £8.4m from £8.9m the year before. With regards to the coronavirus pandemic, the group said the investment it has made in its venues to provide a covid-safe environment means “we expect our trading to be robust when sites are permitted to open”. Total group turnover increased 9.3% to £38.1m compared with £34.8m the previous year. Ebitda rose 7.5% to £9.9m compared with £9.2m the year before, while pre-tax profit was up to £5.4m from £4.8m the previous year. The company also operates in the care home and property sectors. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “We continue to invest in a significant capital expansion programme across the care and leisure sectors to improve the quality of services across our businesses.” Shareholders’ funds in the year also increased, by 21.6% to £78.8m.
Taco Bell set to double up in Wales and Merseyside: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is set to double up in Wales and Merseyside. The company is opening a restaurant in Swansea. It will be the company’s second Welsh restaurant following its launch in Cardiff earlier this year. The Swansea branch will be in Oxford Street, in an empty unit next to H&M. An official opening date has not yet been announced, but it is expected to be “soon”. The news was revealed by The Big Heart of Swansea, the city centre initiative run by Swansea Business Improvement District, in a Facebook post. It said: “A vacant unit in Oxford Street, Swansea, will soon be home to Taco Bell, the second branch in Wales. We can almost smell the tacos, burritos and nachos.” Meanwhile, Taco Bell will also be opening a second restaurant in Merseyside. Knowsley Council has revealed the Tex-Mex chain has signed up to open a restaurant in Kirkby where a major redevelopment in the town centre is in process. The restaurant, which will also offer a drive-thru, will join major names including Morrisons, KFC and Home Bargains. The 1,977 square foot restaurant is due to open next summer and will join Taco Bell’s other site in Merseyside, in Liverpool’s Bold Street. Taco Bell operates 52 UK restaurants having opened its latest in Leicester last month. There are more than 7,500 restaurants across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California, in 1962.
New F&B destination and community hub launches in Hove following £4m investment: Investor and operator Luke Davis has opened Rockwater Hove – a three-storey food and beverage destination and community hub – following a £4m investment. Davis, who is chief executive of investment company IW Capital and owner of Rockwater Hove in East Sussex, has put about £3m towards redeveloping the seafront building that will be open all day. The project has been two years in the making and offers an open terrace on the roof that overlooks the sea. The site has been trading as Shacks by the Shore with takeaway beer and food, and access to a heated “igloos” area outdoors. More than £1m has been raised by Hove residents. Davis told The Argus: “I believe the coast of Brighton and Hove to be one of Britain’s most stunning beauty spots, and now we’ve developed a location that enables families to take this in surrounded by the ultimate hospitality experience. It’s not been the easiest of years to launch something of this scale in a sector hit hardest by covid, but every minute has been worth it to be able to open this to the community, at a time where coming together safely couldn’t mean more. Our aim when deciding to evolve the concept of Rockwater was fundamentally a home from home for Hove’s residents and our guests from further afield.” The indoor/outdoor space has cosy fireside spaces and an art deco bar.
Tokyo Industries submits plans for 17-bedroom hotel next door to its second Impossible site: Tokyo Industries, led by entrepreneur Aaron Mellor, will take down partitions to allow access to its second Impossible venue in its blueprints from Hotel Impossible next door. The Impossible WonderBar and Tea Rooms, which opened after a £3m investment in York earlier this month, is next door to a former Marchbrae clothing store that Tokyo Industries wants to convert into a 17-bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar. The operator submitted plans for the hotel to York City Council. A statement from Tokyo Industries read: “It is our intention to maintain all aspects of heritage interest and create a unique destination of extremely high quality with design that reflects the heritage of the site and reflects the architectural detail inherent in the building. This includes maintaining the footprint of the site, creating new partitions where necessary and the forming of the hotel spaces. It is our intention to work closely with York City Council planning and heritage officers to see this building come back to life.” Its Impossible site replaced the former Carluccio’s in St Helens Square and covers three floors with a ground-floor tearoom and brasserie with a cocktail bar on the first floor. Work is expected to begin on a whisky lounge above the Impossible WonderBar in January and a secret speakeasy bar is proposed to the rear of the site. There will also be two rooftop terraces overlooking York Minster. Tokyo Industries opened Impossible Manchester in 2017.
Rudy’s Vegan Butcher shop set to open next month: Rudy’s is set to open a vegan butcher’s shop in north London next month – subject to coronavirus restrictions. Rudy’s Vegan Butcher is the second brand in the business’s line-up, which includes Rudy’s Vegan Diner in Camden. Founded by Matthew Foster and Ruth Mumma, the butcher’s shop will offer dirty burger patties, cheeze sauce and chilli-non-carne, rack of jack ribs, lobstah salad, meatballs, chick’n lover paté, shredded BBQ pulled porc and roast turk’y – all non-meat products. And there’s a charcuterie section offering vegan smoked ham, salami de provence, pepperoni and homemade pastrami. The outlet is located on the corner of Islington Park Street and Upper Street, at the site that was previously Burger Lux.
Wimpy to open Bracknell restaurant: Burger brand Wimpy is to open a site in Bracknell, Berkshire. The company will launch the restaurant at the Princess Square shopping centre in the new year. A Wimpy spokesman confirmed work would start on setting up the restaurant early in 2021. He told Berkshire Live: “We know there is a lot of love for Wimpy in Bracknell and we are looking forward to bringing our fabulous burgers and our special brand of customer service to the town.” Delivery and takeaway services will be available as well as dine-in, subject to coronavirus restrictions. Wimpy, which is owned by South Africa-based Famous Brands, has 71 restaurants in the UK.
Micro-brewery owner opens pub after renovation: Andy Gascoigne, who owns micro-brewery Haworth Steam Brewery and Haworth Gins, has opened a North Yorkshire pub after a three-month renovation. Gascoigne, a former rugby league player for Hull and Leeds in the 1980s, has relaunched The Farmers Arms, which he acquired three months ago. He said: “Covid has played havoc with our refurbishment plans but we have worked really hard to ensure our lovely inn is open for the local community over Christmas. We will stay open until the new year – and then close again so we can complete our thorough overhaul. A short Christmas opening was not what my wife Mandy and I had in mind when we bought the inn in the autumn. We already have a brewery and drinks business so we are no strangers to the licensed trade. We’ve got some exciting plans for the pub and look forward to opening permanently early next year.” The freehold of The Farmers Arms, in Muker, North Yorkshire, was sold off an asking price of £575,000 through estate agent Christie & Co in October.
Bristol-based restaurateur launches Sri Lankan concept: Bristol-based restaurateur Raja Munuswamy has opened a new Sri-Lankan concept in the city. Munuswamy, who is behind Indian restaurant Nutmeg in Clifton, has launched Nadu in Stokes Croft. It has taken over the space most recently occupied by Masa + Mezcal, which announced in August it had closed permanently. Nadu means “land” or “place” in Tamil and the concept is inspired by Munuswamy’s Tamil heritage. Tamil food is based on the concept that food shapes the personality, mood, and mind, and Nadu’s menu has been created with this in mind by head chef Saravanan Nambirajan, who has worked in a number of Michelin-starred kitchens across the world. The menu showcases a range of fish and meat dishes, alongside vegetarian and vegan small plates, all of which can be enjoyed alongside a cocktail menu. Munuswamy told Bristol Live: “We’re excited to bring a taste of Tamil culture to Bristol, and introduce people to the food we’re so passionate about.”
Mediterranean restaurant Bellefields to open in the spring, in south London:Mediterranean restaurant Bellefields is set to open in The Department Store in Brixton in the spring. Located in Bellefields Road, the ground floor restaurant, bar and courtyard space will serve cuisine inspired by the Mediterranean, from the Aegean and Balearic to the Levantine basin. Architecture company Squire & Partners has teamed up with head chef James Mathieson to create the restaurant. The menu will include dishes such as linguine vongole, lamb tagine and Turkish manti.
McDonald’s to launch Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets in time for new year:McDonald’s is launching a limited-edition menu item that will start on 30 December and run for six weeks into February. Its Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets comes with a sweet curry dip. Customers can order a box of the nuggets from £3.59 for six, £4.09 for nine, or 20 pieces for £5.99. McDonald’s is currently running its Christmas menu, which includes a double Big Mac, which will be available until 29 December.
Coventry-based brewery to open city centre bar: Coventry-based Dhillon’s Brewery is to open a bar in the city centre. Owner Dal Dhillon is launching the venue at the historic Christchurch Spire that was formerly home to the Inspire bar. Dhillon’s Spire Bar will be a continental cafe-bar serving a range of draught lager, soft drinks and coffee and have “lots” of outdoor seating. It will also serve food. Dhillon told Coventry Live: “We needed a site that was inner city because our brewery by the Ricoh Arena, which is staying there, is quite difficult for customers and patrons to travel to. We already have an established brand that has been going for five and a half years and the business has really been going from strength to strength. I’m really encouraged with what the city is doing so I’m chuffed to be a part of it.” Inspire, which offered customers a range of bottles and cans of beer and cider from around the world, closed in November last year.
Aparthotel hotel operator Native takes over management of Edinburgh property:Aparthotel hotel operator Native has taken over management of Kintore House in Edinburgh. It said Kintore House, with 82 apartments comprising studios, one-bedroom units and ground-floor leisure and co-working spaces, would “build upon Native’s unique ethos of providing the flexibility and amenities of a design-led boutique hotel, coupled with the space, comfort and privacy of a home from home”. The aparthotel was operating under the Mode brand, part of BridgeStreet. Native operates an aparthotel in Glasgow’s Anchor Line building and launched a boutique aparthotel in Manchester’s Ducie Street Warehouse in 2019. Native chief executive and founder Guy Nixon told The Herald: “After opening in Glasgow in 2018, it was a natural step to head to the wonderful city of Edinburgh, building on our commitment to bring the Native concept to wider regions of the UK. We are excited to be operating in Scotland’s two greatest cities.”