Le Bistrot Pierre reports turnover and profit boost: Le Bistrot Pierre has reported turnover rose to £32,531,323 in the year to 30 June 2018, up from £25,762,307 the year before. Profit before tax was £182,108, compared to a loss of £966,795 the year before. Trading Ebitda was £2.5m, compared to £1.81m the year before. In August 2017, the company secured additional investment of £3m from its shareholders in the form of loan notes and share capital. The company stated: “This investment demonstrates the confidence the group’s investors continue to have in the Bistrot Pierre brand, offering and management team.” Nick White took over as chief executive in May 2018, stepping up from chief operating officer. His promotion came as chief executive John Whitehead, who co-founded the business with Robert Beacham in 1994, stepped down. The company opened sites in Middlesbrough and Southport during the year and has opened venues in Preston and Coventry since the year-end. It has also opened a first site for sub-brand Rooms by Bistrot Pierre, with a 14-bedroom property at Royal William Yard in Plymouth.
Eataly to open sixth US site, in Las Vegas, featuring more ‘immersive and interactive experience’: Eataly, the largest Italian food hall chain in the world, is to open its sixth US site, in Las Vegas in December. The venue will open at the city’s newest resort, Park MGM, and showcase the brand’s “continued evolution” by offering a more “immersive and interactive experience”. Eataly Las Vegas will serve as Park MGM’s main entrance on Las Vegas Strip and feature food counters, bars, cafes and dining experiences focusing on traditional Italian food and drink. The 40,000 square foot site will also feature alfresco dining and live cooking demonstrations. Eataly USA chief executive Nicola Farinetti told PR Newswire: “Eataly Las Vegas will showcase our continued evolution. We are integrating our retail store and restaurants further than before to create a more immersive and interactive experience surrounding premier food offerings. We can’t wait to share our country’s delicious cuisine and culture with the Las Vegas community. While Eataly will always remain authentically Italian, we are also excited to incorporate the culture and ingredients of the American southwest throughout the venue.” Eataly operates more than 35 sites worldwide. In June, the company announced its food and drink park Fico Eataly World, near Bologna, attracted 1.5 million visitors in the first six months.
Carluccio’s property director steps down to set up as external consultant:Carluccio’s property director Alison Stanton is stepping down after 19 years with the company to set up as a consultant. Chief executive Mark Jones said: “Alison Stanton has decided to step back from her full-time position of property director, working with us as an external consultant instead. Alison has played a pivotal role in the development and growth of Carluccio’s since its inception and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her loyalty and outstanding service. I am delighted I will still be able to rely on Alison’s support and her unrivalled knowledge of the brand as she continues to assist us on a number of property projects. I look forward to our continued working relationship.” Stanton added: “I have been part of the Carluccio’s family for just shy of 20 years. It feels like the right time for me to take a step back but I’m delighted to still be able to continue with the business working with Mark and the team, albeit in a new role.”
Rockfish eyes Poole for £1.75m restaurant and seventh site: Rockfish Group, the sustainable fish and chip brand led by Mitch Tonks, has submitted plans to open a site in Poole, Dorset. The company wants to transform a former Purbeck Pottery unit at Poole Quay following a £1.75m investment. An open-plan dining area and bar have been proposed, with further seats on a mezzanine, the Bournemouth Echo reports. A design and access statement reads: “Consideration has been made throughout the scheme to have minimal impact on the surrounding conservation area while providing a place for locals and tourists to enjoy fresh fish alongside the quay. We believe Poole quay is a perfect location for us and we would fit well into the area and community, providing a high-quality destination restaurant for families to enjoy local seafood.” Earlier this week, Rockfish reported turnover increased to £6,905,113 in the year to 30 April 2018, up from £6,307,129 the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £114,081, compared with £22,568 the year before. The other Rockfish restaurants are in Brixham, Dartmouth, Exeter, Exmouth, Plymouth and Torquay. Henry Dimbleby sits on the board, while restaurant critic Giles Coren is an investor.
Byron becomes first restaurant brand to roll out Facebook Messenger payment bot: Better burger brand Byron has become the first company to roll out a new Facebook Messenger payment bot. To use Byron Quickpay, which has been developed by technology company Flyt, a customer opens Facebook Messenger, selects a Byron restaurant and enters their table number. The bill is recalled from the POS system and displayed in Messenger for the customer to approve and pay. The service is available in Byron’s sites in Farringdon, Holborn and Central St Giles, and will be rolled out across the estate. When the bot was piloted by Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca earlier this year, Flyt said it accounted for up to 14.5% of in-restaurant payments, with a peak conversion rate of 69%. Byron managing director Steve de Polo said: “We have previously provided customers with the ability to pay and leave via our own app. This latest innovation further decreases the friction for giving our guests control in how they choose to pay. We’re proud to be the first to roll out this service and are in the process of making it available across our restaurants.” Flyt chief executive Tom Weaver added: “This bot makes pay at table easily accessible as Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion monthly active users worldwide. This tech also makes it possible for smaller quick service restaurants to support pay at table without having to build their own apps.” Facebook Messenger product manager Heath Black said the technology was helping waiting staff see tips “15% to 20% higher” than normal.
Wok to Walk ‘focuses appetite’ on UK to hit 13-strong estate by end of 2018: Fast food chain Wok to Walk has said it is “focusing its appetite on the UK” and will have a 13-strong estate by the end of 2018 and 100 across the globe. The company said it had signed contracts with groups such as Starboard Dining and Gerry Offshore, while it has opened or is about to open venues in Reading, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester and finalising agreements in a number of other UK cities. Wok to Walk offers rice and noodle bases cooked with a choice of meat, fish and vegetables, with a selection of sauces stirred through. Wok to Walk chief marketing officer Cristina Piera said: “The UK has proved to be an excellent market for Wok to Walk. From London to Cardiff, British customers are helping us break our own records year after year and we are ready to quell customers’ cravings for good Asian quick service restaurants around the country.” Matteo Frigeri, of Seeds Consulting, who is in charge of business development for the brand, added: “There is not a single Wok to Walk unit in the UK that is not delivering solid profitability. As a result, the franchisees – who are all experienced restaurant operators – are pursuing an aggressive expansion plan over the coming months.” This year the brand has also entered markets in India, Australia, Cyprus, Israel and Malta. Wok to Walk is majority owned by Japanese restaurant group Toridoll Holdings, which operates 1,575 restaurants in Japan, south east Asia and the US.
BrewDog gets go-ahead for Peterhead pub plans: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has had plans approved to open a pub in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. The company will resurrect The Drummer’s Bar, which has stood empty in Marischal Street for five years, with the dilapidated shopfront replaced by floor-to-ceiling windows. BrewDog’s decision to come to Peterhead town centre was welcomed by council planning officials, with no objections received. Peterhead business improvement district chairman John Pascoe told The Press And Journal: “What it means in practical terms is filling a large empty business premises on one of the main streets in the town centre.” Meanwhile, BrewDog will open its Carlisle site in Botchergate next month at the site of a former amusement arcade next to JD Wetherspoon’s Woodrow Wilson pub. Last week, BrewDog opened a bar in Canary Wharf for its tenth venue in London and 70th worldwide, while it closed its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube after raising £26.2m.
Glasgow-based Indian restaurant group secures third site in city, fourth in total: Glasgow-based Indian restaurant group Mother India has secured its third site in the city – and fourth in total. The company has purchased The Lansdowne Bar & Kitchen in Lansdowne Crescent. No name has been given to the new restaurant but Mother India said it was keen to retain “Lansdowne” as part of it. The new owners aim to open the restaurant in late November, reports Glasgow Live. The company operates Mother India in Westminster Terrace, Glasgow, and Indian tapas concept Mother India’s Cafe in the city’s Argyle Street as well as Edinburgh.
Sourced Market founder stresses size of market opportunity in letter to would-be investors: Sourced Market founder Ben O’Brien has written a letter to would-be investors on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, where the company is seeking to raise £750,000, stressing the size of the company’s market opportunity. He stated: “I started Sourced Market in 2007 because I was frustrated at the poor quality of food on offer at music festivals and knew amazing traders at Borough Market I felt deserved a wider audience. After two summers of festivals and meeting more amazing food and drink producers, I wanted to share my discoveries with a wider audience. That’s when I grabbed the opportunity to open a permanent site – at St Pancras in August 2009. What is really exciting for me is how the market has changed and the size of the opportunity now in front of us. When I started Sourced Market it felt like we had a niche offer. Nine years later and many of the products we pioneered – artisan coffee, craft beer, real bread – have become mainstream. We are regularly approached by landlords and developers, unsolicited, about sites where they would love to see Sourced Market. I receive emails from individuals and local organisations in towns across the UK asking if we would consider taking a site that had recently become available because, having been a customer of Sourced Market when in London, they want to see one open in their town. We are not short of opportunity. What has restricted our growth has been access to capital so it is amazing to see so many people share our vision and in a week more than 100 investors have supported us with investments large and small.” The campaign has raised more than £661,000 so far.
Stem + Glory to open third site, debut in London: Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory is starting work this week on its third restaurant and first in London ahead of a January launch. Stem + Glory will open in Bart’s Square, central London. Stem + Glory founder Louise Palmer-Masterton said: “We have been searching for the perfect venue for the launch of our first London restaurant and we know we have found it. It has a historic location and a unique ‘village’ feel, which sits so well with the Stem + Glory ethos. It’s a unique and exciting spot.” Palmer-Masterton said Stem + Glory Bart’s Square would take the brand to the “next level”, serving a new menu of breakfast, brunch, fast eat in and takeaway lunch, and a new vegan evening dining concept. Regular special events and tasting menus are expected to sell out in advance following the precedent set in Cambridge, where seven-course tasting menus are sold out within hours of their announcement.
Loungers to launch Birmingham site next month named after one of the ‘worst cars of all time’: Cafe bar group Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, is to open a site in Birmingham next month named after one of the “worst cars of all time”. Allegro Lounge will be named after the city-made Austin Allegro and launch in Bristol Road South at a former Home Furnishing shop on Wednesday, 28 November. A company spokesman told Birmingham Live: “There will be a nod to the car in our Lounge style, of course, so it may feature in some of the artwork we select. Some lounges have a mural that tells a local story so there’s potential for that too. It will be a home from home at the heart of the community, that’s what we strive for. The name Allegro Lounge is, of course, a nod to the local Austin production.” There are thought to be only 186 Allegros left on the road. Readers of trade magazine Auto Express named the Allegro the second-worst car of all time, behind Indian-built electric car the Reva G-Wiz.
Grillstock owner to be liquidated: Hedrick, which traded as smokehouse restaurant chain Grillstock with restaurants in Bristol and Leicester, is to be liquidated. Neil Bennett and Andy John, directors of Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group, have been appointed joint liquidators. Grillstock has had a tumultuous 12 months. After collapsing into administration in December 2017, two directors bought the business and some of its assets to try to keep it afloat. However, two weeks ago the Leicester and Bristol sites closed. The chain’s festival business, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hedrick, was plagued by problems. The company planned to hold Grillstock food festival in Bristol earlier this year but it was cancelled at short notice due to low ticket sales, with performers and traders said to be “owed thousands”. Bennett told Bristol Live: “We will shortly undertake a marketing exercise for the assets of the company for the benefit of the liquidation.”
Falafel street food operator to open first bricks and mortar site: A Middle Eastern street food operator is launching its first restaurant after securing a site via agent CDG Leisure. The advisory firm secured a 650 square foot unit for the operator at 61 Fleet Street on the site of former baked potato concept Jack the Potato. It is expected to open in December. Diners can expect to see traditional classics such as homemade falafels served in a wrap, houmous plate or salad box with a range of accompaniments. A variety of Mediterranean salads will also be available. The concept launched in 2008 and has gained a loyal following for its quick service and fresh, healthy food. Emma Cousins and Tom Crosthwaite, of CDG Leisure, who brokered the deal on behalf of the previous tenant, said: “This is the perfect location for this operator to expand and introduce its delicious menu to a new clientele. The bricks and mortar space is a testament to the popularity of the brand and its nutritious food, which is sure to be a hit with Fleet Street’s busy lunchtime crowd.”
Ikea opens £1.2m restaurant in Nottingham: Ikea has opened its restaurant at Giltbrook Retail Park in Nottingham following a £1.2m refurbishment. The in-store restaurant has an increased capacity of 500 covers, while zones are decked out with the brand’s furnishings such as sofas and high wooden tables. It also features booths and a phone-charging station. A new winter menu focuses on comfort dishes such as beef stew, chicken kiev and meatballs, while the children’s menu includes fishcakes. The restaurant also offers breakfast, including cereal and fruit. Food manager Tracy Chaplin told the Nottingham Post: “There is more space for families with young children. Before it was difficult to get buggies round – this is much more user-friendly.” The restaurant is part of the store’s £25m revamp.
Liverpool-based cocktails and mini-golf concept eyes Glasgow for third site: Liverpool-based cocktails and mini-golf concept Ghetto Golf is eyeing Glasgow for its third site and first in Scotland. Owners Kip Piper and Danny Bolger have applied to the city council to transform the former Compass Cash & Carry in Lancefield Street. Their proposals include an 18-hole course, a street food restaurant and bar, and a multi-use events space, reports Glasgow Live. The Liverpool course, which opened in December 2016 in a former brewery, includes an old sailing boat, a hippy caravan and a house through which visitors play shots as part of the course. Ghetto Golf’s other site, in Birmingham, has holes inspired by Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and Blockbuster. Both sites are decorated with neon lights and street art and serve barbecue street food. The company’s website states: “Our concept combines crazy golf, theatre, cocktails and DJs in an art-infused environment that showcases the very best street art and writers.”
Beer-tour app launches £150,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Beer Adventures, an app that offers more than 112 beer tours in 85 cities, has launched a £150,000 campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company, led by former Yelp marketing director Jonny Quirk, is offering 11.11% equity in return for investment, valuing the company at £1.2m. Beer Adventures will use funds to build its marketing and sales teams to grow its community and tours and “monetise the venues” featured on the app. The company said it had seen 10,000 sign-ups during its soft launch with 1,050 tours taken. The pitch states: “After launching at Indy Man Beer Con 2017, we’ve grown from ten tours to 112 and from ten cities to 85. The app and tours are free, building a global community that is already using us in all corners of the planet. We began as a B2C product selling tours to users. However, we have taken the bold step in the third quarter to change to a B2B service, monetising the actions of our users by charging businesses per new customer who comes through their door by checking in. Advertising will deliver real tangible results. We have secured partnerships with BrewDog and Mikkeller, worked with Manchester, Sheffield and Paris beer weeks, and featured in a number of publications across the UK and US. The technology for the app will be transferred to the company on full payment, which is due before 30 July 2019. The technology has been designed with the aim to diversify across similar interests such as wine, food and city trails, but first let’s take advantage of this huge beer opportunity.”
North Wales-based tapas concept opens second site: North Wales-based tapas concept The Midland Tapas And Wine Bar has opened its second site. Owners David Owen and Emma Brown launched their first venue in Beaumaris on Anglesey in 2016. Now they have opened a site in the centre of Conwy. The 90-seater restaurant, which also features outdoor seating, has opened on the site of the former Time cafe bar in Castle Street. Owen told the Daily Post: “We chose Conwy because there was nothing like this being done in the town and I think we will add to what is here now. We cook everything fresh. We use Welsh ingredients and put a Mediterranean twist on them, such as our Welsh chorizo.”
Abra Wholesale director launches plant-based grab-and-go concept in Farringdon: Restaurant group Abr, owned by Abra Wholesale director Dee Thaya, has opened a plant-based grab-and-go concept in London. Abr has launched Flipside in Cowcross Street, Farringdon. Jen Pardoe and Claudia Tarry, of plant-based food and beverage development agency PB2B, are behind the US-inspired menu and cashless concept. The 30-cover restaurant offers a mixture of self-service and counter ordering. Breakfast options include organic chickpea scramble boxes and mocha morning oats as well as organic Bullet coffee, fresh-pressed juice, smoothies and tea. Lunch items include more than 30 sandwiches and salads along with a rotating range of freshly made soup. In the evening, burgers take centre stage alongside sides, beer and malt shakes.
Leeds-based street food cafe Manjit’s Kitchen raises £40,000 to launch second site: Leeds-based street food cafe Manjit’s Kitchen is to launch a second site after raising £40,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The concept offers vegetarian Indian street food and owner Manjit Kaur said she was looking at potential premises in the city centre. Kaur has run a cafe in Kirkgate Market’s food hall since 2016 after operating from a converted horsebox at festivals and other outdoor events. The business has won a BBC Food And Farming award. She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We have learned a lot running the cafe and we’re ready to take this learning forward and open another place. As we are based in the market, the cafe closes at 5pm. We have therefore built the cafe on lunchtime trade only. We now want to build another place we can open in the evenings too.” Investors in the Kickstarter campaign will receive rewards such as free meals and cookery classes.
Asda opens first sushi counter: Asda is following its more upmarket rivals by offering fresh sushi via specialist in-store counters. The first counter has been opened at Asda’s revamped Patchway Supercentre in Bristol. The counter is operated by Sushi Daily, which also works with Waitrose. Asda shoppers are now able to choose from more than 100 sushi products and order sharing platters made while they shop. Asda Patchway store manager Matt Dodd said: “We are proud to be the first Asda store in the country to introduce a sushi counter. It’s one of the many new features in-store after our major refresh and is already proving popular.” Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s have been rolling out sushi counters in the past couple of years amid moves to make their larger stores more attractive destinations for shoppers. Earlier this month, restaurant group YO! Sushi revealed it had signed an agreement with Tesco to pilot its YO! To Go food counters at two supermarkets.
Bullards submits plans to bring brewing back home: A brewery that closed its Norwich site more than 50 years ago has unveiled plans for a new Norfolk base – on land owned by its founding family. Bullards brewed its last beer at the Anchor Brewery in Westwick Street in 1967 but now wants to begin brewing under its own name again. The new £500,000 brewery at Gressenhall, near Dereham, would allow Bullards to dramatically ramp up capacity as it looks to sell its beer further afield. Plans have been submitted to Breckland District Council for a 500 square metre brewery that would be built on farmland owned by John Bullard, great-great-grandson of company founder Richard Bullard. John Bullard said: “It is a privilege to be involved in the revival of Bullards in our home county. We’re proud of our heritage and believe there is potential to make Norwich and Norfolk renowned once more for brewing. This facility will enable us to do just that.”