Stonegate to open seven more Popworld sites in 2018, first London venue launches next month: Stonegate Pub Company has revealed it will open seven more Popworld sites in 2018 taking the brand to 35 in total. Popworld features a soundtrack from the nineties and noughties alongside cocktails, bookable booths and cocktail masterclasses. Stonegate will be opening sites in Norwich, Leeds, Bolton, Hartlepool and Morecambe and its first sites in London and Manchester. The first site in the capital will launch in Watling Street on Friday, 7 September. Since its Southampton inception in 2014, Popworld has seen almost five years of consecutive growth in sales, margins and profits. The brand opened its 25th site – in Milton Keynes –at the beginning of the year and Stonegate said it has seen “industry-leading” return on investment on recent openings and has the top net promoter score for atmosphere within the sector. Having launched the Popworld app in 2016, the number of new and active users has continued to grow and there are now more than 15,000 users. Head of marketing Alan Armstrong said: “We are incredibly proud to see the Popworld brand go from strength to strength since our launch in 2014. Not only are we opening seven new bars this year, but we are also making our way to large cities such as Manchester and London for the first time.”
Cambscuisine raises £750,000 for expansion: Pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine, led by Oliver Thain and Max Freeman, has raised £750,000 on online investing website SyndicateRoom to open two pub restaurants. The company, which owns and operates nine sites in Cambridge, had set a minimum target of £550,000. Cambscuisine, which ended up offering 13% equity in return for the £750,000 investment, owns and operates nine pubs and restaurants across Cambridgeshire. Thain told Propel: “We are delighted to have raised £750,000 to help us with our expansion plans. We are a Cambridge-centric restaurant business working with local suppliers and businesses and, of course, our loyal customers and employees. We love the idea of local people joining our journey and helping us grow and develop the business, as they have since our purchase of The Cock in Hemingford in 2001. We have a strong platform from which to develop sites. The focus will be freehold and leasehold pubs and restaurants in Cambridgeshire and the surrounding area.” Casual Dining Group chief operating officer James Spragg joined Cambscuisine’s board last month as non-executive director. Cambscuisine’s portfolio consists of two Smokeworks, two Chop Houses, modern brasserie Millworks and four country pub restaurants.
TRG Concessions opens Hawker Bar at Luton airport: TRG Concessions, The Restaurant Group division that operates food and beverage brands in travel locations across the UK, has opened a new concept called Hawker Bar at London Luton Airport as part of the airport’s £160m redevelopment programme. Hawker Bar extends across 3,200 square feet with seating for 134. The bar is named after the infamous Hawker planes that flew from Luton’s airfields during the Second World War. An outside terrace that overlooks the runway allows customers to experience UK aviation at work. Hawker Bar aspires to bring an “accessible premium” to the airport during its 80th anniversary year. The bar serves international and local beers, on draft and in bottles, as well as a modern international and eclectic wine list. It also offers a range of premium spirits and cocktails on draft. The all-day food menu includes a selection of seafood, small bowls and mix and match sliders and draws inspiration from flavours around the globe. The venue features marble walls, gold pendant lights and rich wood flooring complimented by deep button backed banquette seating. TRG Concessions has operated at London Luton Airport since 2005 and have served more than 5.5 million guests in that time. TRG Concessions said the £1.3m investment in Hawker Bar (over a seven-year contract) showed its level of commitment to the airport’s redevelopment programme by offering more than “just another food and beverage” outlet but instead a hospitality experience. Nick Ayerst, managing director of TRG Concessions, said: “We are delighted to open Hawker Bar at London Luton Airport and it is an excellent addition to our portfolio of great restaurants and bars. This is a very exciting time for the airport and Hawker Bar show our commitment to bringing fresh and exciting concepts to the airport during this phase of development and growth. We look very forward to welcoming guest to Hawker Bar over the next seven years.”
Kent-based operator reveals plans for ten-strong estate as it acquires Star Pubs & Bars site for second venue: Kent-based gastro-pub operator Liquor Box and Pantry has revealed plans to grow to a ten-strong estate after securing its second site. The company, owned by father-and-son team Simon and Dan Barton, has taken on its first Star Pubs & Bars site – the White Horse in Sundridge. The Bartons plan to repeat the success they’ve achieved at their other pub – the Royal Oak in New Ash Green. They have reopened The White Horse ahead of a joint £150,000 refurbishment with Star Pubs & Bars in October. Features such as fireplaces, wood panelling and exposed brick walls will be restored and retained with the rest of the interior redecorated and upgraded. Outside the pub will be redecorated with seating for 100. A new permanent barbecue area is also being installed. The Bartons plan to introduce craft beer and real ale from the Kent area, a menu of up to 15 gins as well as an extensive wine list and premium lager and cider. The food menu features KFC – Kickin’ Korean fried chicken wings with sesame seeds and spring onion; and slow roasted fennel and cardamom pork belly with cider, sour cream, tarragon and chestnut mushroom sauce and colcacannon. Simon Barton said: “Having worked for others for many years, three years ago Dan and I decided it was time to team up and work for ourselves. It’s been great working with Star Pubs & Bars and we look forward to working with it at the White Horse and in the future helping to grow our estate.” Star Pubs & Bars operations director Dugald Macer added: “Simon and Dan are a great team. They’ve got lots of experience and a real passion for what they do. Their approach and the plans for the White Horse will result in a fantastic pub for the local community and wider area.”
 
Bubbacue went into liquidation owing creditors £1.2m, new document reveals: Northern Ireland-based barbecue restaurant company Bubbacue went into liquidation with debts of more than £1.2m, a new document has revealed. A statement of affairs filed at Companies House by liquidators Keenan Corporate Finance showed Bubbacue owed to 27 suppliers and backers a total of £1,201,758, including a £400,000 taxpayer-funded loan. But liquidators estimate the Belfast chain, owned by John and Karen Blisard, has just under £18,000 to pay off what it owes. Bubbacue announced last month it was closing with immediate effect after going into liquidation. It had one site in Callender Street and another in Botanic Avenue. The Blisards, who also founded and then sold the burrito chain, Boojum, said they were pulling the plug in a Facebook post. In March 2017, Bubbacue secured £400,000 from the NI Growth Loan Fund, which is backed in part by taxpayer-funded Invest NI. Meanwhile, £40,528 is owed to Close Brothers Asset Finance and £30,352 to wholesale food supplier, Henderson. The document also revealed the directors ploughed £454,916 of their own funds into the company, which they haven’t been able to make back. The liquidators estimate the firm has just £17,610 available to meet the debts.
 
Whitbread adds nearly 600 Premier Inn bedrooms during August: Whitbread has added nearly 600 new bedrooms to its Premier Inn brand this month. The company has opened four new sites – in Gloucester (104 bedrooms), Hayes (150), Sevenoaks (80) and Staines (155) – while extensions to three existing hotels have added bedrooms at Liverpool (20), Plymouth (24) and Rochester (40). The suite of sites adds a total of 573 bedrooms to the Premier Inn estate, creating 180 jobs. Jo Moon, property acquisitions director for Premier Inn & Restaurants, said: “Adding four new sites and three extensions to our network in a month is a testament to the hard work of our property acquisitions, extensions, construction and new openings teams. It also demonstrates the benefits of Premier Inn’s flexible development requirements and what can be achieved through close collaboration with our development partners, host local authorities and local communities. We remain extremely active across the UK and are continuing to look for more great sites that match our target locations nationwide.” In its past financial year, Whitbread secured deals for 31 new Premier Inn hotels across the UK, contributing a further 4,300 rooms to the secured development pipeline. In its preliminary results in April, the business confirmed it has more than 14,700 Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn bedrooms in its committed pipeline and expects to achieve its target of 85,000 bedrooms by 2020.
Bar operator’s festival sold out three month ahead: Lost Village, the Lincolnshire boutique festival organised by the UK’s largest private operator of bars and nightclubs, Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor, was sold out three months ahead of the event over the August bank holiday weekend. The immersive event featured Michelin-starred culinary options including Tommy Banks, of the Black Swan in Oldstead, while Lee Westcott and Dan Cox also cooked a tribal banquet. Sunday roasts were provided by the Hawksmoor team, Dishoom made its festival debut and Caravan served coffee. There was also day-long comedy at the Lost Theatre. Panels and talks from artists and experts featured Peggy Gou, The Black Madonna while Charlotte Church delivered the inaugural Lost Village lecture. The festival offered workshops including archery, crossbow and pyrography, yoga, wellness and lakeside hot tubs. Friendly Fires, Four Tet and Everything Everything headlined. The festival began at MODA Warehouse in a cattle shed outside Lincoln before moving to its current forest site four years ago – it won the Best Small Festival, Best Boutique Festival and Best Festival Production awards at last year’s Festival Awards. Camping now fills seven fields and boutique camping options were also expanded this year. One review site states: “When it feels like all festivals are becoming echoes of each other, Lost Village is a legitimate standout from the pack. Few events make such a concerted effort to offer something that can honestly be described as a unique experience, but in this case, Lost Village could be the real deal.” Mellor’s founding partners for the festival are Radio One DJs Jaymo and Andy George, Ben Atkins, Anglo Management and more recently festival specialists Broadwick Live.
Inflata Nation opens UK’s first double-decker inflatable theme park for fourth site: The UK’s first double-decker inflatable theme park has opened at the Flemingate shopping centre in Beverley, East Yorkshire. The new Inflata Nation, which spans 16,000 square feet, is the first venue of its kind in the country to have two levels and also has the UK’s largest ball pool, housing 200,000 plastic spheres. The brand is owned by husband-and-wife team Matt and Michelle Ball, who have opened three other Inflata Nation centres – in Manchester, Runcorn and Birmingham – within the past year. The opening of the new £700,000 inflatables centre means Flemingate, which is owned by Hull-based property company Wykeland Group, is now 95% let. Wykeland Group property director David Donkin told The Business Desk: “Inflata Nation brings something very special to Flemingate. The Inflata Nation team has created an amazing environment for all ages to enjoy – it’s quite a sight to see.”
Investment sale of Saracens Head in Bath completes for £3.25m: Coffer Corporate Leisure has completed the investment sale of Saracens Head – the oldest pub in Bath – on behalf of a private client for £3.25m .The property in Broad Street is subject to a long lease to Spirit Pub Company, which is owned by brewer and retailer Greene King. The purchase price of £3.25m reflected a net initial yield of 4.14%. Jack Silvani, of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “There is huge demand for defensible, secure, income producing assets at present. This pub has traded successfully for more than 300 years – no other asset classes offer this level of continuity. We anticipate investor appetite for pubs of this calibre will continue to increase, particularly from institutional investors who are attracted by the liquidity of the assets.” Coffer Corporate Leisure advised the vendor, a private client. Ereira Mendoza advised the purchaser, a private family office.
Former Apprentice star and Irish MasterChef winner to launch coffee shop and cocktail bar in Merseyside: A former contestant on BBC show The Apprentice and an Irish MasterChef winner are launching a new coffee shop and cocktail bar in Crosby, Merseyside, on the back of St Modwen’s multimillion-pound investment in the area. Kurt Wilson, who appeared on The Apprentice in 2014, and Harry Marquart, who won MasterChef in 2011, will be opening Frankie’s. The venue will be based at the newly refurbished Glenn Buildings South, with the duo having signed a ten-year lease. It will serve bagels, sandwiches and light bites, and have an extensive cocktail menu. Wilson told Insider Media: “We’re really excited to be opening Frankie’s in Crosby and we’re positive it will be a huge success. I’m Crosby born and bred, and when I heard about the regeneration plans for the area I had to get involved.” Alastair Budd, St Modwen director of asset management, added: “Frankie’s will be an excellent addition to Crosby and we are pleased to be providing quality premises for another independent, local business.”
New York-based restaurant Red Farm makes UK debut: Red Farm, the New York-based restaurant known for its twist on Chinese dim-sum, has made its UK debut. The company has opened a site in Russell Street in London. Its best-known dish is its Pac Man shrimp dumplings – a parade of dumplings that look just like the iconic game, reports Hot Dinners.
BrewDog launches own television network: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched the BrewDog Network, with programming spanning craft beer, cocktails, food, travel, comedy, game shows, and documentaries. The subscription service featured 14 original series at launch, including The BrewDog Show, a reboot of the television series that previously aired on NBCUniversal’s Esquire Network, which shut in early 2017. The service is available worldwide on android and iOS devices and online at brewdognetwork.com. The new BrewDog Show features co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie travelling the world to celebrate other beer-making practitioners and enthusiasts. Other BrewDog Network originals are Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person?, hosted by actress-comedian Alison Becker, and Business Punks, a docu-series in which Watt profiles “business misfits who have clawed their way to success”. Watt said: “After our previous television show got cancelled, we didn’t want to sit around in our underpants, crying into a tub of ice cream so we decided the only thing to do would be to build our own television network.”
New Japanese/Indian fusion restaurant concept to launch in Soho: A new Japanese/Indian fusion restaurant concept is to open in London next month. Sakib Ahmed and Romo Chowdhury are launching Gamma Gamma in the second week of September after securing a site in Greek Street, Soho, in a deal brokered by agents Restaurant Property. Modern pan Asian tapas dishes will be served at Gamma Gamma including seared nori tuna loin, baby gem lettuce, soft boiled egg, truffle potato, green beans and cherry – an Asian take on Niçoise salad. There will also be healthy, lean meats from exotic farmed animals such as zebra, ostrich and kangaroo. This will be coupled by a bespoke cocktail list that has been specifically created in-sync with the food menu. Inspiration for the name of the 1,722 square foot ground floor and basement site came from the address. Gamma is the third letter in the Greek alphabet and two gammas make a six and the restaurant will be based at 6 Greek Street. Danielle Agami and Gabriella Sether, of Restaurant Property, who brokered the deal, said: “We’re delighted that we were able to secure such a prominent site in the heart of Soho for the owners of Gamma Gamma and we wish them every success for the opening.”
El Gato Negro founder to open second restaurant next month: El Gato Negro chef patron Simon Shaw is to open his second restaurant next month, in Manchester city centre. Shaw is launching Canto in Cutting Room Square on Thursday, 20 September. The new venture is set to be Manchester’s “only Portuguese restaurant” and will be under the direction of head chef Carlos Gomes. Following in the footsteps of El Gato Negro, Canto will offer a broad selection of seasonal small plates, or petiscos as tapas is known in Portugal, underpinned by larger dishes. There will also be a take-out service on selected dishes. Shaw said: “It’s been on my radar to open a modern Portuguese restaurant for some time. It’s a brilliant location and perfect for what we want to achieve – an informal and relaxed offer, a real neighbourhood restaurant. It’s going to be a challenge – like all new ventures are – but a fun one.”
Halewood to open £1m Liverpool gin distillery in November: Halewood Wine & Spirits is to open a £1m gin distillery in Liverpool in November. The company is opening the venue in Castle Street for its Liverpool Gin brand and will comprise with two bars – a premium gin and spirits bar on the ground floor and a premium dark spirits bar at basement level. There will also be a specially designed gin lab where visitors can make the spirit themselves and a bartender school. General manager Emily Kelly told Insider Media: “This is such an exciting time; we can’t wait to get to work on the distillery and see it all coming together. Liverpool Gin is much loved throughout the city and we’ve had amazing feedback.”
Aramark launches campaign to reduce single-use plastic: Catering company Aramark has launched a campaign to significantly reduce the use of single-use disposable plastic across its global operations by 2022. Starting in September, Aramark will implement changes across 19 countries, including the UK and Ireland where it serves more than 110 million meals a year in more than 1,100 workplaces, sports and leisure venues, hospitals and universities. The announcement is part of a holistic strategy to address single-use plastic overall, starting with the most visible category of straws, cups and soup containers offering reusable products and encouraging consumers to consider biodegradable alternatives. Already Aramark has removed more than 410,000 straws from UK sites and is in the process of removing 418,000 straws from client locations in Ireland by December. Similarly, it has replaced about five million plastic lined coffee cups and soup containers with a fully compostable product. Beyond this, it plans to reduce the use of any single-use plastic such as bags, forks, and knives and expand offerings with reusable containers and bags. Frank Gleeson, region president, northern Europe, said: “The world is changing at a rapid rate and urgent action is required to meet the sustainability challenges we are facing. We want to promote best practice and by responding and acting quickly to remove plastic straws and containers from all of our restaurants, I believe we can make a difference in the use of unnecessary plastic and make the restaurant and hospitality industry more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
Matt Whiley to relocate Scout cocktail bar to Hackney: Matt Whiley, founder of London-based drinks company Talented Mr Fox, is relocating his cocktail bar Scout from Shoreditch to Hackney. Whiley has shut the original site in Great Eastern Street ahead of its reopening in its new home in Graham Road on Tuesday, 11 September. The ground floor bar will replicate Scout, while the basement will see the launch of a second venue, Gold Tooth, which will showcase Whiley’s kegged cocktail company. The new Scout will have a slightly larger capacity with 40 covers, and also have a kitchen, allowing the food offering to be expanded. Of the current cocktails on the menu, 12 will be transferred over, as will some of the ferments, and the drinks list will still include beer and wine. Meanwhile, Gold Tooth will have four cocktails on tap, alongside beer and wine. The bar will also have a strong focus on art with gallery evenings hosted on the first Thursday of every month. Whiley said: “Great Eastern Street has been great for Scout, and it will always be a part of the bar’s story. However the relocation to Hackney allows us to enhance and better our offering even more with a larger space and a fully equipped kitchen.”
Wolverhampton hotel closes after legionella bacteria discovery: A Wolverhampton hotel has closed after the discovery of legionella bacteria in its water. The Ramada Park Hall Hotel and Spa shut the hotel to overnight guests on Friday (24 August) after being served with a prohibition notice from the City of Wolverhampton Council. The notice banned the hotel from using its hot and cold water systems until a schedule of remedial works has been completed. Cllr Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council cabinet member for environment, told Insider Media: “Although Legionnaires’ disease is rare and we are not currently aware of any cases in this instance, it’s important we take the right precautions to prevent the risk of anyone falling ill. The council will now follow the legal process and work closely with the business to ensure the necessary works have been carried out and there is no longer a risk to public health.” He stressed the council was “keen for the hotel to reopen” once the risk had been addressed.
Former ResDiary director launches digital agency: Chris Johns, founder of Nudge, the hospitality CRM SaaS platform and formerly a director of Restaurantdiary.com, has started a new agency providing digital strategy and supplier selection services to the restaurant and bar sector. The new agency, called The Difference is named after British inventor Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, the computer that heralded in the age of IT, and also references the belief people are the core difference in achieving success. Johns said: “Having worked on the supplier-side for many years, our ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’ approach will appeal to operators who want to grow their business by understanding and implementing the best digital strategy for their business. We want to be there for the long-term for our clients, helping them fine-tune their strategy, hitting the signal to deliver maximum return.”