Albion and East Group secures fourth site and second in Brixton: Albion and East Group, which is supported by The Imbiba Partnership, has secured its fourth site and second in Brixton, south London. The company has taken over a site in Ferndale Road formerly occupied by Brazilian barbecue brand Cabana. Located next to sister site Canova Hall, Albion and East will launch new concept Cattivo in October, comprising a laid-back Italian-style cafe with a cocktail bar in the basement. The venue will focus on southern Italian small plates, including home-cooked ragu, meatballs and filled pasta, and offer gin-blending and cocktail masterclasses. Cattivo will also cater for private dining and events and host experiential activities such as a “dinner and show” package featuring cabaret, jazz, circus performers and magic, and a show-time weekend brunch. Albion and East managing director Sarah Weir said: “We are super excited to introduce Cattivo to the vibrant Brixton neighbourhood. It complements our sister bar Canova Hall but offers something different and continues to add to the energetic Brixton nightlife and restaurant scene.” Albion and East launched Martello Hall in Hackney in 2016, followed by Canova Hall in May 2017. Its third project, Serata Hall, will open within The Bower development at Old Street in early 2019.
Andy Scott’s Rel Pub Co makes second Chelsea acquisition: Leisure property entrepreneur Andy Scott has purchased his second Chelsea site in three months. Tutto Mare has been purchased out of administration from Ross Inns. The venue is located at a corner site in King’s Road and is arranged over four floors. It previously traded as an Italian restaurant and bar on the ground floor with a large terrace fronting Kings Road and a nightclub in the basement. Scott told Propel: “It has been a popular late-night venue at weekends and for functions for many years, with four large letting suites and a flat on the upper floors and located a stone’s throw from Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge football ground.” Scott said his company, REL Pub Co, had funding in place and was actively looking for new London sites and groups of pubs and bars outside the capital. Ian Newman, REL head of property, added that the company had “other sites in legals”. REL re-entered the pub market in May with the purchase of the nearby Chelsea Pigs Ear, just off King’s Road. REL has ten companies under management in the leisure, events, recruitment and transport sectors operating out of Scott’s 50-strong Oxford Circus head office. His leisure businesses include West One Hotel & Catering, which provides temporary and permanent chefs to London’s top hotels bars and restaurants, and Contraband Events, which provides crew for international entertainment and events.
Lane7 to open 11th site, next week: Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept, is to open its 11th site, at The Cube in Birmingham on Friday, 3 August. The venture will take over a unit formerly occupied by the short-lived Geisha nightclub, which closed in March 2017. The Lane7 venue will include a UV-lit private karaoke booth for up to 16 people and table tennis tables that can also be used for beer pong – a drinking game in which players throw a ping-pong ball across a table with the intention of landing it in a cup of beer at the other end. There will also be several arcades featuring retro games such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. The focus will be on bowling, with nine lanes split into three sections on ground level. Lane7 founder Tim Wilks said: “We have seen loads of interest since we announced we would be coming to the Midlands so we knew we had to make this site special. Unfortunately, we’ve been brainwashed for the past 20 years into thinking bowling is about plastic seats and plastic hot dogs in a dreary retail park. Lane7 is bringing the glamour back into bowling in the heart of Birmingham’s nightlife. The arcades, karaoke, beer and ping pong have been a huge hit in our other sites and it’s great to be able to bring a new feature in shuffleboard, which we think Birmingham will love.” Lane7 will open on the same day as Serve Birmingham – a ping-pong venue that will feature 17 tables, a bar and restaurant when it launches in Temple Row.
Boxpark reports more than 100,000 pints sold during World Cup: Boxpark has reported its four highest trading weeks on record, with more than 100,000 pints sold across the business. Boxpark also experienced a media reach of an estimated 2.5 billion viewers thanks to delirious scenes from Boxpark Croydon being broadcast by a host of media outlets. Founder Roger Wade said: “The reaction to the World Cup this year has been unprecedented, with Boxpark becoming the ultimate World Cup fanzone. The 1,200-capacity space in Boxpark Croydon is equipped with high-definition screens and surround-sound, resulting in an indescribable atmosphere and an incredible sense of community among the fans, all rooting for our boys.”
Olive Tree Brasserie to open fifth site, in Lytham: North west-based Mediterranean restaurant Olive Tree Brasserie is to open its fifth site, in Lytham. Owner Dean Wilson will convert a NatWest bank branch in Dicconson Terrace into a 100-cover restaurant, creating 30 jobs. Olive Tree Brasserie opened its fourth site in Stockton Heath in the spring following its debut in St Annes in 2008 and further openings in Chester and Preston. Wilson told the Blackpool Gazette: “We have been waiting for the right site to come along in Lytham and we beat some fantastic restaurant groups to secure this spot. We’re excited to finally be opening a site in Lytham after wanting to do this since starting the brand. It’s important when diners visit one of our venues they feel they are getting the real Olive Tree Brasserie experience – fresh food, beautiful surroundings and a great atmosphere helped by our staff and a good soundtrack.”
Atul Kochar axes plans to open debut Birmingham restaurant: Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar has axed plans to open his debut Birmingham restaurant. The concept, NRI, was to open at the Mailbox last October 2017 but Kochar is now looking elsewhere in the city to open a restaurant. A spokeswoman told Birmingham Live: “We plan to open a restaurant in Birmingham in the near future and we’re currently in discussions with landlords regarding the location.” Hoardings featuring Kochar were put over the planned home for NRI at the front of the Mailbox – a 5,000 square foot unit previously let to Emporio Armani. At the time, Kochar said: “I’m very excited to be opening my new concept in Birmingham, a city which I have long admired for its diversity and food culture.” Earlier this month the promotional hoardings were taken down because the “licence expired on the imagery”. NRI, which stands for Not Really Indian”, was described as “showcasing high-quality but affordable spiced dishes that draw inspiration from the chef’s travels around the globe”. Kochar operates four restaurants in London, including Benares, where he became only the second Indian chef to receive a Michelin star. He also operates a restaurant in Madrid, is an author and has made numerous television appearances.
Whitbread opens two new Cookhouse And Pub sites: Whitbread has opened Cookhouse And Pub sites in St Columb, Cornwall, and Northwich, Cheshire, to bring the brand’s portfolio to eight. Both have opened at former Brewer’s Fayre sites after a trial of the brand in Oldbury, Holystone, Ripley and Kilmarnock. Two further Cookhouse And Pubs opened in Premier Inn hotels in Bridlington and Rhyl earlier this year. The brand, which won the “new pub and restaurant concept” category at this year’s Menu Innovation and Development Awards, aims to reinvent the pub dining experience, combining the food and service of an all-day casual dining restaurant with the relaxed vibe and affordability of a pub. The menu features grazers, oven-fired flatbread, as well as grills, lighter options, brunches, pub classics, Sunday roast and desserts. Cookhouse And Pub features rotating specials alongside craft beer, cask ale and cider, draught wine and cocktails on tap or by the carafe. Sarah Tinsley, head of strategy and innovation at Whitbread Restaurants, said: “These sites represent fantastic opportunities for us to introduce this exciting brand to the local market. We continue to invest in our estate and Cookhouse And Pub will further expand across our portfolio this year. The team is passionate about offering affordable, quality food in a relaxed and welcoming environment and we’re confident these latest summer openings will perform well.”
Smoky Boys signs for Wembley Boxpark and Hemel Hempstead: Smoky Boys BBQ And Grill Haus, the halal premium meat barbecue and burger brand that has three restaurants on the outskirts of London and a delivery kitchen unit, has signed with Boxpark Wembley to open a site in October. The company has also signed to open a site in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, this summer. Sharif Rahman and Hiron Miah launched the brand in Watford in 2016. Rahman said: “Smoky Boys has not only become a brand name making waves, it is also one that crosses the boundaries of halal and non-halal followers due to its highly attractive concept and exciting food. Boxpark Wembley is a great site and we’re proud to be part of it. It was a much sought-after site.” Miah added: “Compared with other gourmet burger establishments, Smoky Boys is accessible in terms of the items it offers and the price points. We felt it was time we went out with the brand and acquired other sites, increasing its popularity and solidifying further.”
Utopian Brewing hits target in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Utopian Brewing, chaired by Faucet Inn founder Steve Cox, has hit its £350,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Earlier this month, the company increased its equity offering to 23.49% for the investment from 19.1%, resulting in a reduction in the pre-money valuation from £1,485,000 to £1,140,000. So far, the company has raised £350,030 from 138 investors and the campaign is currently “overfunding”. Its pitch states: “This funding will enable us to build out our 3,500-litre brewhouse with sufficient vessels to produce more than 8,000 hectolitres per annum. We will aim to install sufficient infrastructure and have space to add vessels later to increase production to more than 15,000 hectolitres per annum. All our ingredients will be sourced from UK producers. We aim to sell draught product to pubs and bars locally and through national distribution. We have provisionally agreed to supply 15 sites and believe our industry contacts will give us a head start in rapidly adding new outlets. We plan for a packaged product to be added as soon as possible for both online and retail sales.”
Faucet Inn closes Kupp in Exeter for ‘rethink’: Faucet Inn has closed the site in Exeter city centre that houses its Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp for a “rethink”. Signs in the window of the restaurant in the Guildhall shopping centre read: “We are currently closed for a rethink. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.” The restaurant was closed throughout Tuesday (24 July) with workmen seen removing stock, Devon Live reports. Kupp was one of the first restaurants to open at the Guildhall in October 2016. The brand, which has sites in Paddington, Southampton and a concession at John Lewis in Oxford, offers a range of dishes from healthy breakfasts to an all-day dining menu alongside signature shareable smorgasbords. Many of the dishes use classic Nordic cooking techniques such as curing, pickling and smoking. Kupp and the Guildhall were approached for comment.
Savills markets Lady magazine’s office in Covent Garden for restaurant use: The Lady magazine owner Ben Budworth has instructed agent Savills to market the publication’s Covent Garden offices for use as restaurant space. The iconic property at the junction of Bedford Street and Maiden Lane extends to 5,000 square feet across ground floor, first floor and basement levels. The owner has submitted a pre-application for change of use of the site to A3 (restaurant), with plans to apply for full planning consent once a restaurant operator has been secured. Budworth said: “After well over 125 years in our property, The Lady doesn’t need quite so much of this wonderful space any longer. We are therefore delighted to welcome a new tenant in. The building is so heavily steeped in history it wouldn’t surprise me if the new tenant was still here in another 125 years!” Tiffany Luckett, associate director in the central London retail team at Savills, added: “This visually stunning property is right at the heart of Covent Garden in a sought-after restaurant spot, a stone’s throw from the market and prime retail locations of Henrietta Street, James Street and King Street. With Covent Garden’s restaurant scene continuing to thrive, it is an ideal opportunity for a new or existing food and beverage brand to tap into this year-round demand.” The Lady has numerous celebrity links including former editor Rachel Johnson and featured in Channel 4 documentary Lady And The Revamp in 2009. More recently, Made In Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo was part of The Lady team as an editorial assistant.
Boparan hires Catherine Salloux as group marketing director: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) has hired Catherine Salloux as group marketing director with immediate effect. Salloux has worked for Del Monte and Unilever and held directorship roles with Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian and more recently Bill’s. Tom Crowley, chief executive of BRG, said: “As we continue to grow our business nationally and internationally, Catherine’s wide-ranging experience and first-class track record with leading brands will be invaluable as we seek to achieve an ambitious growth plan across our brand portfolio, including Giraffe, Harry Ramsden’s, Slim Chickens, Ed’s Diner, Fishworks and Wondertree.”
Tampopo to open third East Street: Tampopo is preparing to open a third site for its grab-and-go concept East Street. Focusing on fast, fresh food, East Street will take over the former Rice site in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, adding an “on-the-go” element to its pan-Asian food offer. Diners will be able to eat in at the 56-seater restaurant – with 20 additional seats outside – or order and take away from an open kitchen. Tampopo was founded in Manchester and has been serving east Asian food for more than 20 years. From its original site at Albert Square, the group has expanded to open restaurants in the Corn Exchange and the Trafford Centre in the city, and Fitzrovia in central London. Dishes come from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and beyond, and include sharing platters, noodles and curries. East Street aims to reflect the relaxed “grab and graze” style of street markets and shopping centres in Bangkok and Singapore. The building has been redesigned in an industrial style, with added neon signage and an open kitchen.
M Restaurant Group to launch ‘mindfulness’ benefits for staff: M Restaurant Group is to give each member of staff four extra days off a year to improve mental wellbeing and counter a chronic staff shortage in London’s hospitality industry. Staff and managers can use the days in whichever way they want, including a “mental health day” to lower stress levels or for extra rest after a tough week. Employees who don’t use all their four days will have the remaining “M Days” added to their holiday allowance, which they will be paid for if not used. The company will also be the first hospitality group to offer staff access to Spill, an app that enables users to talk to a personal counsellor without booking an appointment. Spill allows users to exchange texts with an accredited counsellor whenever they need to share concerns or let off steam. Use of the app is anonymous, with the monthly cost covered as an employee benefit. Since 2018, M managers at all levels have been assigned up to six extra fully paid holiday days a year on reaching key people-related bonus targets such as staff retention and good staff survey results.
Peel Hunt issues ‘Add’ note on Fuller’s shares after trading update: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Doulas Jack has issued an ‘Add’ note on Fuller’s shares noting “strong trading with more to come in quarter two”. He said: “Managed like-for-like sales rose by 4.0% during the first 16 weeks, ahead of our 2.0% full-year forecast. We are holding our forecasts and believe like-for-like trading prospects are even stronger in the second quarter (until 30 September). We would use current ongoing weakness as a long- term buying opportunity. Managed (63% of group Ebit) like-for-like sales rose by 4.0%, with the last seven weeks up 6%. Even though 90% of the managed estate offers outside drinking, this is a good performance against comparables of 6.6% over both the first nine weeks and the first quarter as a whole. The scope for like-for-like sales to grow should be greater in the second quarter due to a continuation in the favourable weather into July. Last year, the weather was not great from July to September, a period when like-for-like sales fell into slight negative territory for both Fuller’s and the managed pub and pub restaurant sector. Cost inflation has slowed slightly. Thus, the company needs 3% like-for-like sales growth to hold like-for-like profits in 2019E (pre-mitigation if needed, 4% in 2018). Food prices eased in the second half of 2018. Business rates increases are £1m in 2019E versus £2m in 2018. Utilities costs are now flat. Labour costs are heavily influenced by the National Living Wage (+4.2%; ripples up through differentials). Tenanted (23% of group Ebit) like-for-like profits rose by 4% against a tough comparable of 5%. This represents an improvement on the 2% increase (versus a 5% comparable) during the first nine weeks. The estate is benefiting from its market positioning (70% of outlets being wet-led pubs) and the process of investing and converting pubs to turnover-based franchise agreements (13 in 2018; 15 in 2019E). Brewing (14% of Ebit) volumes were flat, an improvement on the minus 3% after nine weeks. We believe the brewery is a valuable asset that is not reflected in the share price, but it needs to generate volume growth if its margins are to recover. At least 12 managed outlets should open in 2019E. These sites have been acquired or are in development. Our forecasts cautiously assume no other sites are added between the second and fourth quarters. We are holding our 2019E forecasts, which assume 2% like-for-like sales in managed and 2% like-for-like profits in tenanted/leased. We believe the company’s large valuation discount to Young’s (10.5 times versus 12.5 times EV/Ebitda) is unwarranted.”
Didsbury Gin signs Botanist supply deal: Independent distiller Didsbury Gin has signed a deal with The New World Trading Company that will see it roll out its gin across all 15 Botanist bars in the UK. The craft gin combines traditional methods and modern botanicals using hand-peeled citrus fruit, British roots and hand-cracked juniper berries. Created by Manchester gin enthusiasts Mark Smallwood and Liam Manton, Didsbury Gin has been hailed by Vogue Magazine as “one of the most exciting new British gins”, and is stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Kelly Harrison, creative development specialist at New World Trading Company, said: “Since opening The Botanist in Didsbury last year our northern bar experts have had Didsbury Gin on their radar.”
Hakkasan sells equity stake in The h.wood Group back to company: Los Angeles-based luxury hospitality and nightlife company The h.wood Group has reacquired its global rights from strategic partner Hakkasan Group via the buyback of 100% of Hakkasan’s equity stake, which the UK-based company bought in 2014. Brian Toll, co-founder of The h.wood Group, said: “This decision follows years of growth with Hakkasan Group that helped us grow our portfolio of nightlife concepts in Los Angeles into a diversified hospitality brand with restaurant, nightlife and hospitality venues across the world. We are proud of the work we’ve done with Hakkasan Group and our long-standing partnership.” Hakkasan chief executive Nick McCabe added: “Our relationship with The h.wood Group has been a productive and valuable one. We look forward to its continued growth and success as an independent group.”
Adam Handling opens largest site yet as The Frog E1 relocates: Chef Adam Handling has opened his largest venue to date following The Frog E1’s relocation to Hoxton. The venue, at a former Byron site in Hoxton Square, also houses Bean & Wheat, Handling’s sustainable coffee shop and deli brand, and new bar concept Iron Stag. Handling is overseeing all operations alongside new executive chef Daniel Watkins, who has responsibility for the food offering. The Frog Hoxton’s restaurant offers 60 covers, while Iron Stag seats 120. There is an emphasis on aged whiskies, including 35-year and 40-year bottles as well as the bar’s own casked whisky. Bean & Wheat features a new craft beer bottle shop offering, while Handling has implemented a deposit scheme that sees beer bottles exchanged for free coffee. He said: “E1 was my first independent restaurant and it has been a great testing ground for what we do best. I want to take everything people love about it but slightly elevate the offering.” The chef also operates Frog by Adam Handling and Eve Bar and will launch food and beverage outlets at Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea in December.
London-based steakhouse and beer concept Beef & Brew opens second site, in Haggerston: London-based steakhouse and beer concept Beef & Brew has opened its second site in the capital, in Haggerston. The venue has launched in Downham Road at a site formerly occupied by Beavertown Brewery’s beer and barbecue concept Brew & Que. Unlike its Kentish Town site, the Haggerston spot offers an extended menu with snacks such as half-pint of fried oysters with yuzu dressing or brisket on toast with pickles and gravy. Beef & Brew’s steaks include sirloin from Galicia, fillet from native-breed cattle in North Yorkshire and onglet from grass-fed Herefords. Each steak is dipped in beef dripping before being chargrilled. The venue also offers Sunday roast, while drinks include draught lager from Harviestoun, Calypso and Five Points, specialist beer flights and pairings, wine on tap and a concise bottle list focusing on small producers. Beef & Brew was launched by Michelin-trained Jessica Simmonds and Daniel Nathan in September 2015. Nathan said: “We are moving into a beautiful old pub where we can welcome locals for everything from a beer and bar snacks to a lazy Sunday roast while continuing to champion amazing small producers.” In December, Beef & Brew raised more than £250,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to fund the opening.
The Restaurant Group signs with Yapster for mobile communication across its brand portfolio: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has signed a contract to roll out hospitality chat app Yapster across the majority of its brands. TRG consists of more than 500 sites and some of the country’s best-known restaurant and pub brands, including Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquito, Coast to Coast, Garfunkel’s, Firejacks, Joe’s Kitchen and Brunning & Price. Designed specifically for employees who don’t work at desks, Yapster will enable the TRG team to share information through one-to-one and group chats and an “Instagram-style” news feed. As a dedicated company “chat app”, it is secure and GDPR-compliant, providing a safe online space for colleagues to communicate. Additional features such as the intelligent muting and snooze functions help to protect work-life balances. “When it comes to the customer experience, our team members are the ones who make all the difference,” said Debbie Moore, group HR director for TRG. “We’re constantly looking to innovate in everything we do, including how we support and engage with our people. By connecting our entire organisation in a simple, accessible way, Yapster will help us be operationally efficient and strengthen our brands’ dynamic and inclusive cultures.” Yapster co-founder and chief executive Rob Liddiard added: “Our hospitality offer continues to go from strength to strength.”
Krispy Kreme UK signs for Elementsuite: Krispy Kreme UK & Ireland has signed an exclusive three-year deal with cloud-based SaaS HR platform Elementsuite. The platform was launched in 2014 with the aim of offering hospitality operators a “simplified and flexible HR platform”. The full suite of seven HR modules will be rolled out across Krispy Kreme’s UK and Ireland estate in the coming months. Krispy Kreme UK employs more than 1,600 staff and will open its first Irish store in Dublin in September, adding a further 150 employees. Elementsuite’s modules cover recruitment, HR, learning, performance, engagement, scheduling and payroll