Brewhouse & Kitchen acquires Horsham site: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has acquired a site in Horsham, West Sussex, Propel has learned. The company has bought the freehold of contemporary Japanese restaurant Wabi in East Street from owners Paul and Verity Craig. The Craigs acquired Wabi in early 2014 from receivers for more than £1m. The venue was opened by former Nobu chef Scott Hallsworth about nine years ago. The Craigs will continue to operate Bohemia bar in Brighton and their nightclub lighting, sound and installation company Showtec. Verity Craig said: “It was an offer we simply could not refuse. We continue to enjoy successfully trading Bohemia in The Lanes in Brighton as well as Showtec and have no future plans to sell Bohemia as it is our core trading business. We have enjoyed owning Wabi and meeting so many lovely people in Horsham who have supported Wabi immensely over the years. We thank every one of them, along with the wonderful teams of people we have employed over the years. We would like to wish every success to the new owners and wish our team (who they are taking with them) every success for the future too.” Earlier this month, Gumbrell told Propel the company was close to exchanging on a site in east London that would add to its venues in Highbury and Islington. He also said the group was in legals on three further sites. Brewhouse & Kitchen operates 20 sites across the UK and last month opened its largest to date, in Milton Keynes. Meanwhile, the company has announced it will introduce three new keg beers to each of its brewpubs, including a seasonal brew every quarter.
McMullen – strong acquisition pipeline being built for 2018 and beyond:Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer McMullen has said a strong acquisition pipeline is being built for 2018 and beyond. The company revealed its plans in its accounts for the year ending 30 September 2017 filed at Companies House. Turnover increased to £80,812,000 compared with £79,215,000 the previous year, while profit before tax was up to £13,429,000 compared with £12,219,000 the year before. Managed like-for-like sales rose 1.6% with wet sales up 2.7%. However, food sales were flat after a softening in the latter part of the year. Headline sales across all managed houses increased by 3.1%, with both wet and food sales up 3.1%. Writing in the accounts, chairman Charles Brimms said: “Sustained profit growth in the retail division depends on successful acquisitions and developments. There were planning and development delays at both our new-build sites – the Princess Charlotte in Colchester and the King’s Mead Pub and Family Golf Centre outside Ware – but both pubs are now open and trading above expectations. Other notable developments included The Bootmaker (formerly Baroosh) in Chelmsford, which reopened in September and The White Hart in Hertford, which reopened in April. The White Swan in Pimlico, a freehold acquired in 2012, was taken under direct management at the end of August when the tenant’s lease expired. A strong acquisition pipeline is being built for 2018 and beyond. On a 52-week basis, the tenancy division’s profit contribution increased marginally. While total income from wet sales and rent increased 4.1%, there were material one-off costs associated with the conversion to tenancy of a former managed house. We continue to seek good-quality pubs and sites that have a long-term future. There were no pub acquisitions during the year but, since the end of the year, we have acquired a site in Epsom and a pub near Braintree. We are confident, however, that our strategy of acquiring and investing in good-quality sites along with recruiting, training and developing the best possible teams to serve our customers will enable us to prosper over the long term. We are also well placed to seize opportunities that may arise in the short term.”
TRG Concessions reveals further details of London Southend airport plans as it takes over F&B offer: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has revealed further details of its plans as it prepares to take over the food and beverage offer at London Southend airport next month. Existing outlets at the airport include Arnold Forbes and Lakers brands, which were previously operated directly by the airport. While TRG Concessions will operate and develop the existing catering concessions, it will also introduce new concepts this year, including a bespoke pub concept The Navigator, Giraffe Stop and Costa Coffee. During the course of the contract, TRG Concessions will introduce further high street brands. The takeover is part of TRG Concessions’ investment of £5m-plus to develop the food and beverage offer at London Southend airport over the next ten years. This development is expected to create further jobs at the airport over the coming year while all current staff are offered contracts with TRG Concessions. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are delighted to have taken over sites at London Southend airport and look forward to operating and developing them into award-winning concessions over the next few years. We welcome our new team members into the business and will be investing in them to help support future growth in our Southend business.” Glyn Jones, chief executive of Stobart Aviation, owners of London Southend airport, added: “We are consistently voted best airport in London and a key part of our mission is to deliver a great experience for our guests. We know from customer feedback that improving our food and beverage offer is the main way we can make their experience even better so this new partnership with TRG Concessions, which will bring six new high street brands to London Southend airport, is fantastic news for passengers. It is also a great vote of confidence in the UK’s fastest growing airport, another step along our road to becoming both bigger and better.”
Soren Jessen to team up with workspace firm Fora to open Scandinavian restaurant in Borough: Soren Jessen, who launched Ekte Nordic Kitchen in the Bloomberg Arcade last month, is teaming up with workspace firm Fora to launch a Scandinavian restaurant in Borough. Jessen will open Borealis in the summer on the fifth floor of Borough Corner – a new development in Borough High Street that is also occupied by Fora. Borealis will offer the “best of classic Nordic cooking”, focusing on seasonal, sustainable produce, much of it from nearby Borough Market, and marrying the “flavours of Nordic cooking and simple preparation with the freshest and finest local ingredients”. The restaurant will also offer market specials, a daily changing menu and a roof terrace, Hot Dinners reports. Fora launched its first workspace on the borders of Clerkenwell, Barbican and Old Street in a building that also houses chef Stevie Parle’s Rome-inspired restaurant Palatino. Fora’s other space is also in the Clerkenwell area but, as well as the Borough site that is due to open in July, its website also states venues will open in Reading in July and Fitzrovia in October, with five further London sites due to launch in the next two years. Jessen, a former executive director of Goldman Sachs and UBS, left his City of London job to launch debut restaurant 1 Lombard Street in 1998.
Fledgling firm Funicular to launch first immersive dining experience on Friday: Fledgling firm Funicular is to launch its first immersive dining experience – The Murder Express – on Friday (25 May). The “experience creation” company has been founded by actor and scriptwriter Craig Wilkinson and production director Ed Borgnis, with the aim to introduce the “best in production technology and premium food offerings from chefs and culinary personalities”. The Murder Express will take place in Arch 63 below east London’s Pedley Street train station. Guests will be “transported” from the Seven Sins Bar to a fictional town in France. They will board a 19th century dining car with booth seating and period table lamps to sit at the “heart of the action”, mingling with characters such as Frank, an East End costermonger, music hall star Tilley, and Vera, a widow in search of adventure. The experience will feature a menu designed by MasterChef 2016 finalists Billy and Jack. Borgnis said: “Craig and I are incredibly excited to launch Funicular. We’re working with an extremely talented team and as such the production values of our debut show will be world class, as will the food. It’s a pleasure to have Billy and Jack on board.” Billy Wright and Jack Layer met on BBC One’s MasterChef. Last summer they hosted a month-long supper residency in collaboration with Silent Pool Gin at the Royal Festival Hall.
BrewDog passes £16m in Equity for Punks V fund-raise: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has passed the £16m point in its Equity for Punks V fund-raise. The company set out in October 2017 to raise £10m in an initial 90-day period and has now secured £16,125,727 from 34,342 investors. The campaign was due to finish in January but BrewDog extended the campaign until Monday, 15 October or until the maximum potential raise of £50m is reached. With 2.8% equity in the business being made available at £23.75 per share, it means BrewDog values its business at £1.8bn. The initial target of £10m was used to build a brewhouse at BrewDog’s Ellon brewery and invest in the company’s first sour beer facility, The Overworks. The funds raised before October will support accelerated growth across the global business, including £10m to launch a craft beer brewery in Asia and £5m to open a facility in Australia. A further £3m is earmarked for expanding and investing in UK BrewDog bars, with plans to open 15 bars in 2018, including four brewpubs. BrewDog also wants to invest £2m to create its own television network dedicated to craft beer. The company stated in its blog: “This investment is turbo-charging our fight for better beer!” Earlier this month, BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie revealed they were turned down by the producers of BBC television series Dragons’ Den in 2009. Their pitch would have offered the Dragons 20% of the business for £100,000. The company recently appointed Jason Marshall to the newly created role of chief financial officer. The company will launch its latest bar – BrewDog Angel – in Essex Road, Islington, on Friday, 1 June.
Crafted Projects sets launch date for much-delayed £10m leisure complex in Newcastle: North east-based Crafted Projects, formerly known as Ladhar Leisure, has set a launch date for its much-delayed £10m White Hart Yard scheme in Newcastle. Plans that include bars, restaurants and a rooftop cinema were unveiled four years ago but have been delayed by archaeological surveys. The first phase of the project will now begin at Easter 2019 to rejuvenate 30,000 square feet of grade I property. Crafted Projects director Barry Ladhar told Chronicle Live: “The vision of local pop-up food and drink businesses within an infrastructure controlled by Crafted Projects will provide a new creative drive in the Cloth Market and Grey Street area. The permissions granted include comprehensive redevelopment of the properties within White Hart Yard and neighbouring properties formerly known as Bar Kiss and 24 to provide a new mixed-use leisure complex consisting of late bars, restaurants, a rooftop cinema, arts space, hot-desk facilities, and food stalls.” The development is expected to create up to 200 jobs. Crafted Projects will open its second Pleased To Meet You gin bar as part of a boutique hotel in Morpeth this autumn. The company also operates Lady Grey’s, The Redhouse, Hop & Cleaver and Central Oven & Shaker, all in Newcastle, and The Globe in London.
Corbin & King appoints new head chef at Bellanger: London-based restaurant group Corbin & King has appointed a new head chef for its Bellanger venue in Islington. The company has brought in South African Dalmaine Blignaut, who has 16 years of experience in the industry. Blignaut’s experience spans four continents – Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. He has a passion for pastry and has been mentored by some of the industry’s greatest chefs throughout his career. He has had stints at some of London’s leading hotels including The Hilton and The Landmark. Blignaut was also head pastry chef at The Reform Club for three years before relocating to Australia and then back to South Africa. In 2015, he returned to The Reform Club, this time as chef tournant, before assuming the role of head pastry chef at Aqua Shard. In November 2017, Blignaut joined the Corbin & King fold as senior sous chef at The Delaunay before being promoted to his new position. Corbin & King, which opened Bellanger in 2015, operates eight other restaurants in the capital, including The Wolseley, with its ninth launching in St John’s Wood later this year.
 
Fish and chip company Queen’s lodges plans for Cheltenham chippie: Fish and chip company Queen’s has lodged plans to open a site in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The company has applied to Cheltenham Borough Council to convert a former convenience store in Cirencester Road. Queen’s has sites in Wales, Birmingham and a restaurant and takeaway in Barnwood Road, Gloucester, where the restaurant side of the site has been put on the market, reports Gloucestershire Live.
Kricket launches second London site, in Brixton: Indian small plates concept Kricket has launched its second London site, in Brixton. The 40-cover restaurant has opened in one of the railway arches in Atlantic Road, with a standalone bar in one arch. The opening sees Kricket founders Rik Campbell and chef Will Bowlby return to their roots – they launched the concept at Pop Brixton in 2015. They said: “It has always been our intention to return to the neighbourhood where our journey first began and we couldn’t be more excited. Brixton has remained such a huge part of Kricket’s identity and we’ve been searching for a permanent site ever since we moved out of Pop Brixton. The Brixton community were our first customers and embraced our approach to Indian cooking from the start.” Kricket’s first permanent restaurant opened in Soho in January 2017, while a third site for the concept will open at Television Centre, the former home of the BBC, in White City in the summer. Last week Bowlby published his first cookbook, which features more than 80 of the brand’s most-popular dishes.
Scottish brewer WooHa increases equity offer as £125,000 crowdfunding campaign passes 50% mark: Scottish brewer WooHa has increased the equity offer in its £125,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to upgrade its packaging equipment and boost sales efforts in the US. The company is now offering a 4.76% equity stake in return for the investment instead of the original 2.44%. The campaign has passed the 50% mark and so far 118 investors have pledged £80,110 with 12 days remaining. The company’s beers are stocked in JD Wetherspoon and Stonegate Pub Company sites in the UK, while Wooha also exports to EU countries and the US, with its “bold, Scottish branding” mainly aimed at export markets. WooHa Brewing Company was founded in 2015 and moved to a larger, 6.2-acre site in the Highlands last year to “accommodate rapid expansion”. It aims to be selling its products through 14 distributors in the US by the fourth quarter of this year. The pitch states: “WooHa is all about big ambitions and showing the world Scotland produces great beer. WooHa has always had a focus on the export market – with the US its main target. WooHa can be found in Tennessee, California and Washington DC. We aim to launch the beer in Alabama, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The new site has allowed capacity to increase five-fold. However, the volume of beer sold is limited by capacity of the current bottling line. WooHa is looking for funding to help finance new packaging equipment to remove this bottleneck and allow the company to continue to grow its international reach.”
Oklava founders open second site, in Fitzrovia: Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie, founders of modern Turkish restaurant Oklava in Shoreditch, have opened a second site, this time in Fitzrovia. They have launched Kyseri in Grafton Way, near Warren Street tube station. The concept showcases modern Turkish plates and draws inspiration from the Kayseri region of the country as well as from Selin’s Turkish-Cypriot heritage. The restaurant also focuses on Turkish “pasta” and house-cured pastirma. Dishes are offered in a format that takes in snacks, starters, pasta, mains and desserts. Dishes include Cypriot hellim loaf with Black Sea fondue, slow-cooked celeriac with preserved mandarin and sunflower seeds, and pistachio and kaymak katmer. Christie has used her extensive wine knowledge, which includes her solo project Linden Stores – a boutique wine shop and restaurant in Highbury Corner – to offer a list from small producers across Turkey and the Middle East.
Cardiff-based Crafty Devil Brewing Company secures site for first pub: Cardiff-based Crafty Devil Brewing Company has secured a site for its first pub. The company will launch Beelzebubs in Church Street on the site of Small Bar, which is operated by Bristol-based Left Handed Giant Brewing. Small Bar approached Crafty Devil Brewing Company about taking on the lease after hearing of its unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable site. Left Handed Giant Brewing recently raised £1m in a crowdfunding campaign to open a new brewpub in Bristol and it will now concentrate on that venture. In a statement on its website, Small Bar said: “Our focus has been pulled towards Left Handed Giant as our beers have grown in popularity and traction and the time we’ve been able to spend travelling over to Cardiff has decreased. Operating over two cities, along with the growth in Bristol we intend to execute over the coming year, felt like too much.” Beelzebubs will move into the site on Friday, 8 June with all staff from Small Bar transferring across, reports Wales Online.
The Works opens third site, in Chelmsford: Husband-and-wife team Roger and Elaine Bolton have opened a third site for their fast-casual urban-style restaurant The Works, this time in Chelmsford, Essex. The Boltons have opened the venue in the redeveloped Next building in Springfield Road. The Works offers artisan ice cream, which customers can see created in front of them, alongside snacks such as crepes, waffles, hot drinks, desserts, milkshakes, smoothies, cocktails, beer and a range of sparkling, red and white wine. Roger Bolton told Essex Live: “It has the same core and personality but a few added pieces. We are doing a bit more on the cocktails and a bit more on the bar range.” The Works was founded in 2014, with restaurants in Aylesbury and High Wycombe and further expansion plans.
Round Corner Brewing to open £1m brewery at relaunched Melton Mowbray livestock market: Leicestershire-based Round Corner Brewing is to launch a £1m brewery at Melton Mowbray’s livestock market. The brewery will be a major feature of the second phase of redevelopment at the market following a £5.5m investment in the new livestock building, which opened in March. Round Corner Brewing was founded by brewer Colin Paige and City-based director Combie Cryan, who told the Leicester Mercury: “This is a unique opportunity to take beer back to the farm and field and away from the trading estate thanks to a unique setting and an appreciation for natural, local ingredients. Round Corner can become a regional icon, bringing a twist to a long and storied tradition of food culture. The market’s management and Melton Mowbray Council have longer-term ambitions for a significant food and drink experience centred on the market as it’s the largest and one of the most successful town centre livestock markets in the country. If our arrival adds to the ability to make this happen, we couldn’t be happier.” Building work is due to begin in late summer ahead of the launch of an on-site brewhouse in October.
Northern Powerhouse Developments acquires Warwickshire country house for 16th hotel: Yorkshire-based hotel and leisure developer Northern Powerhouse Developments (NPD) has acquired Bourton Hall, near Rugby in Warwickshire, to take its number of UK sites to 16. The 52-bedroom, grade-II listed venue dates to 1791 and sits in 16-acre grounds. NPD, which is led by chief executive Richard Lewis, will undertake an extensive refurbishment to transform Bourton Hall into a luxury hotel and spa. NPD chairman Gavin Woodhouse told Hotelowner: “We are delighted to have completed on the purchase of this exceptional country hotel, which lies in one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations.” In January, NPD acquired hotels in Cumbria and Scarborough from The Co-operative Group.
Family behind Skegness leisure complex launches one nightclub, closes another: The family behind a Skegness seafront leisure complex has launched a nightclub at the site. The Bola family has been redeveloping the venue in Grand Parade that was destroyed by fire ten years ago. It has already opened a pub called Busters and pirate-themed fish and chip restaurant Trawlers Catch on the site. Now it has launched nightclub Kush below Busters featuring a rotating dance floor and water feature. There is also a VIP room with a French 1930s theme, while the venue hosts burlesque shows. There are also plans to create a champagne and prosecco bar at the complex. Taj Bola told Lincolnshire Live: “Our objective was to build something iconic but with a heavy focus on entertainment. We want to be the best possible entertainment spot in the resort.” Meanwhile, Bola has closed nightclub LA Café in the town. He said: “Skegness is moving in a really exciting direction and we found with Kush there was a big scope of bars we could open. We think LA Café will take more than a bit of tweaking and we want to bring a Las Vegas feel to Skegness. We need to take it back to a shell and start from scratch. Skegness is moving in an exciting direction and we have a lot of ideas for LA Café that are going to take a bit of time.”