Japanese fusion cafe concept Sushi Cupcake to take over Dayrooms Café space in Holborn: Japanese fusion cafe concept Sushi Cupcake is to launch in Holborn, central London, before Christmas. The grab-and-go venue will open in Theobalds Road, catering to the area’s large demographic of office workers. As well as sushi cupcakes, the concept will offer noodle bowls, sides, smoothies, a matcha bar, desserts and Japanese-style breakfast. The 355 square foot venue was formerly occupied by The Dayrooms Café, which will now focus on its venue in Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill. The lease for the unit is on assignment. Danielle Agami and Gabriella Sether, surveyors at Restaurant Property, both acted on the deal. They said: “Sushi Cupcake will open its first site in a beautifully refurbished unit perfect for its innovative concept and in line with its trendy fit-out plans.” No other agents were involved in the deal. Australian boutique lifestyle brand The Dayrooms launched its debut café in Notting Hill in July 2017, expanding to Theobalds Road for a second site a few months later. Zumrud Mammadova and Aytan Mehdiyeva launched The Dayrooms to provide a “UK stage for rising stars and emerging young Australian talent”, opening a womenswear shop in Westbourne Grove.
Douglas Jack cuts TRG profit before tax forecasts by 5% again: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has cut his profit before tax forecasts on The Restaurant Group (TRG) by 5% again after the business indicated recent trading had been tough and Wagamama saw a slowdown in like-for-like sales. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 145p, Jack said: “Wagamama’s recent decline in like-for-like sales growth could be attributed to tough comparables. In the same period last year like-for-like sales were up 12.0% so the two-year run-rate was 9% per annum, consistent with the like-for-like sales of the previous three quarters. Could there be more to it than that? Wagamama’s 6.3% like-for-like sales were split evenly between like-for-like price, volume and delivery, which means the pace of delivery growth has slowed from 4% even though delivery is meant to be in high growth and unaffected by the drag of declining retail and leisure park footfall. Against this footfall backdrop, 2% to 4% in-store like-for-like volume growth was never going to be sustainable over the long term due to current capacity constraints during peak trading periods. Over the first 34 weeks, group like-for-like sales were up 3.7%. As Wagamama’s were up 9% during this period, the rest of the company was up circa 1%. Given the subsequent change in Wagamama’s like-for-like sales and the trading backdrop – the company cited disruption at Gatwick due to Thomas Cook and tough cinema comparables – we estimate group like-for-like sales are now up almost 3% after 46 weeks. Circa 3% like-for-like sales are slightly ahead of our full-year forecast assumption – but it needs to be under the current unhelpful backdrop. Wagamama’s £54.9m moving annual total Ebitda with 147 sites is £1.5m ahead of our forecast at the time of the acquisition. We cut our forecasts by 5% in September and we are cutting our 2020E and 2021E forecasts by circa 5% to reflect less optimistic trading trends and no drop in interest costs. TRG’s valuation isn’t strenuous – it could unlock some upside by selling some assets. For example, we estimate selling its pubs could lever the company and generate a circa 20% jump in equity value. However, it would also make the business wholly reliant on leasehold restaurants while taking away one of the pillars that supports like-for-like sales.”
Restaurateur Alessio Matrone opens third site for IT restaurant and gallery concept, in Mayfair: Restaurateur Alessio Matrone, who launched bar restaurant IT Ibiza in 2015 and a sister site in Milan in March this year, has brought the brand to London. The restaurant has launched in Mayfair’s Dover Street offering dinner, aperitivo, art and Balearic DJs. Chef Gennaro Esposito, of two Michelin-starred restaurant La Torre del Saracino on Italy’s Amalfi coast, has created the menu at the former art gallery, which doubles as a space for emerging artists. Esposito’s menu includes pomodoro with homemade tomato sauce; olive soup with almond fennel purée and scabbardfish; and IT’s signature dish, which features raw sea bass, red prawns and tuna served in a glass ball. The venue also offers thin-crust pizza while brunch is served all day on Sunday. IT Ibiza offers a restaurant and bar, while IT Milan features two restaurants and a bistro.
Breddos Tacos and Belzan founders to open Mexican taqueria in Liverpool next month: Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney, who have grown Mexican concept Breddos Tacos in a joint venture with Gleneagles owner Ennismore, will open a Mexican taqueria in Liverpool next month having joined forces with the founders of city restaurants Belzan and Volpi. They will launch Madre at the Royal Albert Dock on Saturday, 7 December. The 100-cover restaurant, opening at the grade I-listed site on the Atlantic Pavilion, will offer seating over two floors, a dedicated bar, and a large courtyard. Madre, which means “mother” in Spanish, has been inspired by the food culture of Mexico City. The Breddos and Belzan partnership was born after a sell-out pop-up in Liverpool last year. Lunch at Madre will feature a varied selection of tacos, while the evening menu will also feature larger sharing plates. The drinks list will focus on margaritas, craft beer and natural wine.
Bottles & Battles founders to open second site for Italian wine bar concept, in Chelsea next month: Franco Mancini and Daniele Marano, founders of wine merchant Bottles & Battles in Mercato Metropolitano in Borough, are to launch a second site for their Italian wine bar concept Bottles next month. The pair, who have teamed up with pop-up restaurant Sood for the venture, will open the venue in Chelsea on Monday, 9 December. The venue in Draycott Avenue will add to the debut Bottles site in Spitalfields Market, which opened in July 2018. The concept focuses on regional Italian wine made by independent producers and small farms alongside Italian small plates. The Chelsea site will also offer fresh juice, light lunches and an aperitivo menu influenced by “classic Italian tipples”. The glass-fronted, 50-cover wine bar will feature a timber wine wall, with guests able to buy their favourite bottles, a copper-topped bar, and seating set alongside a cheese and meat display. The white and blue-tiled dining area will be set beneath a central skylight, while the downstairs dining room will host private dinners and Italian supper clubs.
Heavenly Desserts lodges plans for York site: Artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts has lodged plans for a site in York. The company has applied to the city council to convert the former premium fashion shop Van Mildert in Blake Street, which shut earlier this year, reports York Press. A planning statement accompanying the application reads: “Heavenly Desserts recently agreed to let the unit with the view of expanding its growing cafe/restaurant franchise offering a range of luxury desserts in stylish, modern outlets. Although there has been interest from new tenants, in particular for the use of the premises for restaurant and cafe uses, no end user was secured. The lack of interest means if the application proposal is refused the unit is likely to lie empty.” Heavenly Desserts was founded in 2008. Last week it agreed a deal for a site at International Quarter London in Stratford – its first outlet in the capital.
Esquires Coffee opens in Stratford-upon-Avon: Esquires Coffee has opened its latest store, in Stratford-upon-Avon. The venue has launched in Alcester Road in the Arden Quarter offering the brand’s 2019 Christmas menu and a new drinks range in partnership with luxury popcorn brand Joe & Seph’s. The range includes a peanut butter hot chocolate and spiced mulled toffee apple, all served with triple chocolate popcorn. Esquires’ festive menu includes turkey and vegan nut roast sandwiches and peanut butter tray bakes. Store owner Martin Brown said: “We’re so happy to launch Esquires Coffee in Stratford – it’s a wonderful opportunity.” Doug Williamson and Gary Buckland founded Esquires Coffee in Vancouver in 1993. The brand expanded to the UK in 2000, where it now operates more than 40 sites.
Whistle Punks opens fourth site, in Bristol: Urban axe-throwing operator Whistle Punks, which is backed by Edition Capital, has opened its fourth site, in Bristol. The company has launched the site at the former Panache nightclub in All Saints Street. The venue features six axe-throwing lanes alongside a menu of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. On the food side Whistle Punks is working with Bristol-based pizza brand Pizzarova. Jools Whitehorn and John Nimmons launched Whistle Punks in 2016, which also operates sites in Birmingham, Manchester and London. Earlier this year the company secured £1.5m of new investment from Edition Capital that will enable the business to expand across the UK as the popularity of alternative sports and experiential leisure continues to rise.
Indian street kitchen and bar concept Indico opens second site, in Birmingham:Midlands-based Indian street kitchen and bar concept Indico has opened its second site. Owner Faheem Badur has added to his venue in Parkgate Shopping Centre in Shirley with a site at the Mailbox in Birmingham after agreeing a deal with complex owner Milligan. Indico’s menu is inspired by the north Indian street food scene and focuses on chaat and curry. As at its sister site, interiors at the Mailbox include bespoke artwork and graffiti. The venue, which sits by the Canalside entrance on Level 3, also offers beer, wine, spirits and cocktails. Badur said: “A lot of time and thought has gone into our new Indico restaurant. We wanted to remain true to our vibrant street food roots while creating a new experience at Mailbox. While Mailbox already has a fantastic collection of retailers, entertainment venues, bars and restaurants, we felt there was a real opportunity for a desirable and authentic Indian eatery to add to the mix.” David Pardoe, head of marketing, retail and tenant engagement at Mailbox, added: “Our customers have expressed a demand for a unique Indian experience so we’re pleased to add Indico to our offering.”
Wadworth crowns its ‘best of the best’: Brewer and retailer Wadworth has recognised the stand-out pubs and people from its managed and tenanted estates at its Best Of The Best Awards. The annual event took place this week at The Bear Hotel in Devizes, Wiltshire, with the 27 winners including Danny and Tara Adams, who run The Greyhound in Bromham, who scooped the best tenanted business partners award for the second year in a row. Other winners included Chris Masters, of The Hadley Bowling Green in Hadley (best manager); and Chris Dickinson and Sean Brady, of the Crown Inn in Tolldown (best managed turnaround pub). Chief executive Chris Welham said: “Our pubs are special and these awards recognise the dedication and hard work that goes into creating some of the great British pubs. The biggest winners are the communities that have these pubs at their heart.”
Brother Marcus opens third and largest site, at Spitalfields Market: Balham-based brunch brand Brother Marcus has opened its third and largest site to date, at Spitalfields Market. Founded by Alex Large, Arthur Campbell and Tasos Gaitanos, the concept focuses on eastern Mediterranean cuisine. The venue in Crispin Place is lined with banquette seating, with larger tables for groups, and features flagstone flooring and wicker lampshades. A large bread oven bakes pide (flatbread), while there is a dedicated grab-and-go salad counter that also offers falafel in wraps and pittas. In the evening the venue serves cocktails, natural wine and slow-cooked mezze dishes. The pergola-covered courtyard features hanging plants, festoon lighting and heaters, while the outdoors counter serves coffee, in-house pastries and salad to go, turning into a cocktail bar in the evening. A Brother Marcus spokesman said: “Our new home feels elevated and refined. Brother Marcus is growing up.” The debut Brother Marcus opened in Balham, with a second site launching in Islington in June 2018.
Café Rouge launches Snowman-themed afternoon tea: Casual Dining Group brand Café Rouge has launched a festive afternoon tea inspired by Raymond Briggs’ iconic book The Snowman. The offer, which is in partnership with publishing house Penguin Ventures and is available until 5 January, includes croque monsieur with pigs in blankets, scones dusted with snow (icing sugar), strawberry jam, clotted cream, marshmallow chocolate cheesecake, carrot cake, and white chocolate mousse topped with a “snowball”. Café Rouge head of marketing Jaci Fletcher said: “We have managed to capture precious Christmas memories and give them back to guests in the form of something edible!”
Meliá to open Mediterranean and British fusion restaurant in South Kensington this week: Spanish group Meliá Hotels is to open a restaurant with a fusion of Mediterranean and British cuisine at its Hotel London Kensington site in South Kensington this week. The 74-cover SW7 will launch on Saturday (30 November) with decor heavily inspired by the nearby V&A museum’s designer, William Morris. The bar will serve cocktails inspired by Morris’ designs and love of nature, while the kitchen will be headed by Javier Rodrigo Alviz, who has worked at the Waldorf Hilton, Claridge’s and Adam Handling’s The Frog in Covent Garden. Alviz most recently headed up Melia’s White House restaurant in Regent’s Park. His menu at SW7 will include an Italian blues burger with gorgonzola and figs.
Angus Steakhouse becomes first UK restaurant chain to serve Aberdeen Angus Pure: London brand Angus Steakhouse has become the first UK restaurant chain to serve Aberdeen Angus Pure steak. The company has worked with farmers, logistics experts and butchers to source and supply pedigree Aberdeen Angus steak to its restaurants. To qualify as Aberdeen Angus Pure, both sire and dam must be registered pure-breed and have a traceable ancestry through DNA testing and cattle passports. Angus Steakhouse managing director Alexa Reid said: “We have worked incredibly hard to be able to bring Aberdeen Angus Pure to our guests in what we believe to be an industry break-through. Our team has experienced the entire farm-to-fork process thanks to support from pedigree farmers and suppliers.”
Elior unites all services under Foodsmiths umbrella: Contract caterer Elior UK is bringing together all its services for owners and operators of attractions, venues, events and stadia under its Foodsmiths brand. Elior UK said the brand wouldn’t always be visible on-site since most catering services were delivered under a client’s bespoke own brand and identity but added it would roll out a Foodsmiths-branded cafe and restaurant format for clients who wanted a separate food service identity on-site. Kenny Finlayson, Elior UK managing director and head of the Foodsmiths brand, said: “Foodsmiths gives us the platform for doing what we’ve done successfully in other sectors of our business – joining up the best value-added thinking and methods from right across Elior, in the UK and internationally, to create a great and constantly improving customer experience”.
St Christopher’s Inns scoops accommodation accolade: St Christopher’s Inns, which is owned by pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, has scooped the best accommodation accolade at the British Youth Travel Awards 2019. The operator won the award for its flagship site in London Bridge – St Christopher’s At The Village. The site underwent a £6m refurbishment in 2017, which saw a new focus on sustainability, introduction of the UK’s first capsule beds and renovation of its hostel bar, Belushi’s. In its 2019 financial year, St Christopher’s At The Village has seen total sales of £5.33m – 5.3% ahead of budget and 31.8% up on last year. Accommodation generated sales of £2.26m – 42% of total revenue. St Christopher’s Inns also took home the silver award for the best use of social media category after implementing a user-generated content strategy and working closely with influencers to make its online presence “more relatable and engaging”.