New World Trading Company restructures operational team as it views further growth: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company has restructured its operational team as its gears up to open six sites next year, Propel has learned. The Chris Hill-led, 27-strong business has created three regional director roles as part of the restructure filled by Bruce Millington, formerly of Zizzi and Marston’s; Aideen Byrne, formerly of PizzaExpress; and Leane King, who has been with New World Trading Company for the past seven years. The restructure sees the group’s operation director Matt Bamber oversee all the company’s “Unique Brands”, which comprises everything apart from The Botanist brand, including The Florist and House sites. The company opened its 19th Botanist site earlier this week, in Warrington, Cheshire. It launched the 10,000 square foot venue at the £142m Time Square development, which is being delivered by Warrington & Co on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, with Muse Developments appointed development manager. The new Botanist has space for 170 diners across two floors and circa 100 people at the bar. The company is scheduled to open further Botanist sites next year in Cardiff (February), Lincoln (April), and Preston (June). It is understood to have three more sites lined up for the second half of 2020, including another site under The Florist name. Regarding the Warrington site, Metis Real Estate Advisors acted on behalf of Warrington & Co and Muse Developments, while New World Trading Company dealt directly.
Hawthorn Leisure to step up expansion of managed pub segment given ‘attractive’ return on investment: Hawthorn Leisure chief executive Mark Davies has told Propel the company is looking to step up expansion of its managed pub estate in 2020 given the division is generating a return on investment of more than 30%. The company bought north west-based Bravo Inns, the 44-strong managed operator, on Tuesday (3 December) for £17.9m, taking the Hawthorn Leisure managed portfolio to 98 sites. Speaking on the back of the acquisition, Davies said: “Our target was to have 15% of our pubs as managed by the end of the year and we have now achieved that. Now we’ll look at whether we step that up to 20% or even 25%. Given the return on investment in our managed pubs is topping 30%, against 24% in our leased and tenanted division, it is an attractive proposition. We look at the success Craft Union has had for Ei Group and think there’s the possibility of doing something similar. We expect to be busy in 2020 and we’re tracking everything. We think there’s a healthy balance between buyers and sellers and the pub market is flourishing – there isn’t a better place to put your money in right now. We expect there to be plenty of competition when it comes to deals but we believe our track record will put us in pole position, as it did with the Bravo deal.” Davies said Bravo Inns would be integrated into the existing 660-strong Hawthorn Leisure estate, with Bravo Inns founder Ken Buckley continuing as a consultant to the business and helping with future acquisitions. The Bravo Inns name will be retained in each of the pubs and Davies said it would be business as usual. He added: “Ken has been very canny over the years when it comes to finding the right sites and has done a great job. This is a quality estate of pubs that’s also a great geographical fit for us and we will now try to take it to the next level.”
Splendid Restaurants appoints Ben Clayton as managing director: Splendid Restaurants, operator of the Absurd Bird brand and circa 40 KFC sites, has appointed Ben Clayton as managing director, Propel has learned. Clayton spent nine years at TGI Friday’s, including the past two and a half as senior director – restaurant excellence for its international business. He also spent time as the brand’s regional director of international franchise operations in Europe. Before joining TGI, he spent more than four years at Papa John’s International as director of research and development. Splendid Restaurants, which is owned by Splendid Hospitality Group, one the UK’s fastest-growing privately owned hotel groups, operates Absurd Bird restaurants in Bath, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, Soho and Spitalfields. The concept recently launched two virtual delivery brands – Epic Chicken, which offers chicken tenders, wings, burgers and waffles, and Wing World, which focuses on wings alone. Last year Splendid converted two Jack & Alice sites, in Tring and Thame, into a new concept – Coluco. Splendid Restaurants retained the sites when Jack & Alice founders Mark and Vanessa Hall took full ownership of the pantry wine bar concept and its site in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
Pieminister eyes five further sites as it opens 16th venue, in Exeter: Bristol-based pie and mash restaurant operator Pieminister has continued its expansion by opening its 16th site, in Exeter, and exchanging a conditional contract to secure a second outlet in Manchester. The Bristol office of agent Carter Jonas negotiated both deals on behalf of Pieminister and is seeking four more sites for the brand to open in 2020. Target cities include Bath, Brighton, Cambridge, Coventry, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Reading, Southampton and York, with sites between 700 and 2,000 square feet being sought. The Exeter site is a 900 square foot venue in The Crescent and was acquired for a rent of £25,000 per annum. The site is opposite the Mercure Hotel and next to better burger brand Five Guys. Pieminister managing director Jon Simon said: “Pieminister is no stranger to Exeter having traded at Exeter University for several years. However, with Exeter College, the railway station and city centre close by, we look forward to welcoming a wider range of customers.” Carter Jonas partner Stuart Williams added: “Securing clever trading locations such as Exeter is key to securing profitable outlets. The fact extraction isn’t a requirement opens a wider range of opportunities. Pieminister’s strength of covenant is also attractive to landlords.” Founded in 2003, Pieminister employs about 300 people.
Polish restaurant brand North Fish secures debut UK site: Polish restaurant operator North Fish has secured its debut UK site, Propel has learned. The quick service chain, which operates 48 sites in Poland, is understood to have secured the Baguette du Monde unit in the Bullring, Birmingham, for an opening early next year. Last year the company, which is owned by Polish investor Michal Solowow, appointed Savills to search for its first UK locations. It is targeting high-footfall sites of between 600 and 1,500 square feet in major shopping centres before expanding to the high street and transport hubs. North Fish specialises in seafood and offers fish burgers, wraps, sandwiches and soup alongside snacks such as pollock sticks and French fries. David Bell, head of UK leisure at Savills, said: “North Fish has seen a clear gap in the UK grab-and-go market for high-quality fish dishes. The brand has undergone impressive growth in Poland and we look forward to supporting its UK expansion, initially with sites in major shopping centres followed by a wider roll-out.”
Gloria Jean’s lines up second UK site: Australian coffee house concept Gloria Jean’s is set to open its second UK site, in Birmingham, Propel understands. The brand was founded in the US, where it has circa 50 sites, and established in Australia, where it has 460. Gloria Jean’s is set to take the former Costa Coffee site in Birmingham’s New Street to follow an opening in Sutton, Surrey, earlier this year. Gloria Jean’s, which has 1,000 coffee houses worldwide, was purchased by Retail Food Group for £93m in 2014. Gloria Jean’s was due to launch its first UK site in the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow but this site has never opened. The brand was initially targeting London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Cardiff as it sought to open 190 UK outlets in ten years. Retail Food Group, which owns fellow coffee concepts Esquires and BB’s Café, has also launched Donut King and Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar in the UK.
Lussmanns to open sixth site and first outside Hertfordshire: Lussmanns Fish & Grill, the independent brasserie group backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, is to open its sixth site, in Oxford, and first outside its Hertfordshire homeland. The 80-cover, 2,750 square foot site will launch in Little Clarendon Street in the city’s Jericho district in early 2020. Like all Lussmanns restaurants, the Oxford site will focus on ethical and sustainable dining. Lussmanns is currently the only restaurant group in the UK to be fully accredited with an MSC-certificated wild fish list, while meat is organically reared. Managing director Andrei Lussmann said: “It will be a pleasure to join my thriving peers on this bustling high street and I look forward to seeing what a new county brings.” The other Lussmanns Fish & Grill sites are in Harpenden, Hertford, Hitchin, St Albans and Tring. In May, Propel reported Lussmanns was looking to expand into neighbouring counties such as Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex, with towns and cities such as Bedford, Brentwood, Cambridge, Rickmansworth and Welwyn Garden City thought to be on its radar. AG&G is understood to have acted on the Oxford deal.
JKS Restaurants to open third Hoppers site, in King’s Cross: JKS Restaurants, the London restaurant group founded by Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi, is to open a third site for its Hoppers concept, in King’s Cross. The restaurant will launch in Pancras Square in February with a menu featuring new bar bites, seafood grills, beachside snacks and dishes exclusive to the venue. The restaurant will feature a much larger bar than its sister sites in Marylebone and Soho, offering cocktails and beer on tap including two of Hoppers’ own beers brewed with Camden Town Brewery and a Toddy Ale in collaboration with Osset Brewing Co. Hoppers is inspired by the home cooking and roadside stalls of Sri Lanka and southern India.
Athens-inspired concept to launch at Senor Ceviche site in Fitzrovia next month:Athens-born restaurateur Jenny Pagoni is to launch a concept inspired by Mediterranean food and wine in Fitzrovia, central London, in January. As revealed by Propel in October, Ampéli will open at the former Senor Ceviche site in Charlotte Street focusing on Greek food while exploring cuisine from the wider region including Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Israel. The 80-cover restaurant will open on Wednesday, 15 January across three floors and include a wine bar and pale green walls inspired by olive groves of the Greek islands. The drinks list will be solely Greek while head chef Oren Goldfeld, who has worked at Nopi and Tel Aviv restaurant Toto, will create dishes such as feta saganaki with tomato jam, and braised cuttlefish with orzo and Moroccan red pepper sauce. Desserts will include chocolate mahlab mousse with hazelnuts. Pagoni said: “After moving to London in 2004, I found what I missed most about Athens was the food and wine. Ampéli will be a place for people to gather and drink something they might never have tasted and share dishes that reflect the diversity of the Eastern Mediterranean.” Harry Edmeades opened Senor Ceviche in Fitzrovia in June 2017 having launched the concept three years earlier in Carnaby, where the concept continues to operate.
McDonald’s tests new chicken sandwiches: McDonald’s is testing two new chicken sandwiches, in Texas and Tennessee, in a move that could be an answer to franchisees’ requests for a menu item that could compete with rivals Chick-fil-A. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich are being tested in Houston and Knoxville until 26 January. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich is a chicken fillet with “sweet fried flour” breading served on a buttery potato roll and topped with butter and crinkle-cut dill pickles. The Deluxe features different toppings – sliced tomatoes, lettuce and mayo. McDonald’s stated: “Houston and Knoxville are getting a sneak peek. Everyone else should stay tuned for what’s to come in 2020.” Industry analyst Tim Powell told Nation’s Restaurant News: “Fried chicken is definitely having a moment and I think McDonald’s has decided it’s an area where it can win.”
Harts Group expands El Pastor menu, closes second Pastorcito site: Harts Group has added more vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian dishes to the menu at El Pastor in Borough and Casa Pastor and Plaza Pastor, both in King’s Cross. The El Pastor brand is known for its authentic Mexican recipes and ingredients, with a focus on tacos made in-house daily. Additions to executive chef Marvin Jones’ menu include a vegan avocado and chayote ceviche, a Veggie Pastor taco, and a vegetarian Spiced Squash featuring radish, cucumber, jicama salad and pipian verde, which can also be vegan on request. A spokesman said: “The menu update responds to an increased demand from our diners for more plant-based options.” Meanwhile the company has closed its second Pastorcito site, in Mercato Metropolitano at Elephant and Castle, despite only opening in August a month after the first Pastorcito opened at Arcade Food Theatre in Tottenham Court Road. Sam and James Hart and Crispin Somerville launched the original El Pastor in Stoney Street, just off Borough Market, in December 2016. Taqueria and production site Tortilleria El Pastor opened in Bermondsey in April 2018 followed by Casa Pastor and Plaza Pastor in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, in October the same year. London-based Harts Group is also behind Barrafina, Quo Vadis and The Drop wine bar.
Greek restaurant owner to open second site in Harrogate: The owner of Harrogate-based Mykonos Bar & Grill is to expand its Greek offering in the North Yorkshire town. Founder Arian Dervishi is to launch Santorini Express, a Greek street food bistro and takeaway, in Parliament Street. His plans to transform an empty building have been approved by Harrogate Borough Council, reports Stray FM. A planning statement accompanying the application states: “The applicants’ use for the premises is to expand on an established food business in Harrogate (Mykonos Bar & Grill) to create Santorini Express, an authentic Greek street food bistro and takeaway that would host customers in a traditional Mediterranean-style environment and independently serve take-out customers too. The need to expand the business has come about due to the increased demand in healthy convenience food and the rise of technology apps such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats.” Dervishi launched Mykonos Bar & Grill about ten years ago.
Nightlife booking app outlines expansion plans: A nightlife booking app has outlined plans to expand into other parts of the UK after enjoying success in Manchester. Founded by Craig Davies, Craig Gidley and Stephen Powell in 2017, Viper has worked with city bars including Arc Inspirations’ Manahatta, Dirty Martini and Tokyo Industries’ Impossible. Users are able to upgrade to VIP, queue jump and purchase drinks packages via their mobile phone. Having recently secured seed investment, Viper is seeking further partnerships as it looks to launch in Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and London. The company is also looking to expand its PR and marketing division by creating launch campaigns for other venues. Powell told Insider Media: “With such a successful business model in place, we’re keen to start thinking about ways we can expand this into other cities and welcome conversations with potential investors. We have proved Viper is a sustainable business model.”
Chinese-inspired pop-up Lucky & Joy goes permanent with Clapton launch:Chinese-inspired pop-up concept Lucky & Joy has launched a permanent site. Following a series of residencies across London, founders Ellen Parr and Pete Kelly have settled down in Clapton. The 44-cover restaurant in Lower Clapton Road has been inspired by Parr and Kelly’s trips across south east Asia and New York’s Chinatown. The menu features Xinjiang lamb chops with onion and pomegranate, and turnip cake with soy-cured egg. Snacks include mushroom skewers and pickled peanuts.
Experienced Yorkshire-based operators acquire Silkstone steakhouse: Yorkshire-based operators Jonathan Tiffany and Paul Noonan have acquired The Bells Steakhouse in Silkstone, near Barnsley, for an undisclosed sum. They plan to rebrand the business as The Bells Bar & Kitchen offering a “more casual dining element”. The concept will offer modern British cuisine, while the new owners will look to increase lunchtime trade and capitalise on the venue’s outdoor area and pizza oven. Tiffany said: “Paul and I are thrilled to have purchased the business and we’re working hard to re-establish the venue and review the operational running. We intend to implement greater changes in the new year.” Nick Thomas, of Fleurets, who brokered the off-market deal, added: “Jonathan has a wealth of experience in the hospitality trade having owned and operated The Hepworth at Hepworth and The Ford Inn, near Holmfirth, both of which were sold through Fleurets’ Leeds office.”
Frame opens Angel Central site: Fitness brand Frame has opened a site at Angel Central in Islington, north London. The company, which operates seven other venues across the capital, has launched the 5,200 square foot space in a basement offering three studios. It is the latest leisure addition to Angel Central, which is being transformed through an £11m investment. Frame co-founder Pip Black said: “This bespoke space is perfectly designed for our needs.” Laura Wilson-Brown, head of asset management UK at CBRE Global Investors, landlord of Angel Central, added: “The redevelopment of Angel Central included a space designed and intended for a fitness operator – and Frame is a perfect fit.” CBRE and CWM acted for Angel Central, while Insight Retail represented Frame.
Red Admiral Vintage acquires Rotherham hotel: Red Admiral Vintage has acquired the Carlton Park hotel in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The operator plans to undertake a seven-figure refurbishment of the hotel’s conference and banqueting suites, receptions and 80 bedrooms in the new year. The group currently operates 18 hotels in the UK and a property portfolio. All staff at Carlton Park have been retained, with 20 further jobs created. Red Admiral Vintage director Lee Pemberton told Insider Media: “Carlton Park is a sleeping giant in South Yorkshire’s economy. It is a hotel packed with potential. The venue is the largest we’ve acquired to date and our plans will place the venue at the heart of our development and growth plans.”
Tennent’s new visitors’ centre attracts 46% rise in footfall at brewery: The Tennent’s Story visitors’ centre helped to attract a 46% year-on-year rise in footfall at Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow, the Scottish company has said. The centre opened in November 2018 as the UK’s “biggest beer attraction”. Tennent’s invested seven figures to build the centre, which has hosted more than 31,000 tours and ranks seventh on TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Glasgow – receiving more than 800 five-star reviews. The attraction is set across three floors and houses artefacts and an immersive experience that traces the brewer’s history. Tennent’s brand manager James Hughes said: “The Tennent’s Story is the single biggest investment we’ve made in the brewery’s visitor experience so it’s fantastic to see such great numbers.”
Archaeologist launches County Durham distillery: Entrepreneur Scott Wilson-Laing has launched a distillery in County Durham with the support of the North East Business & Innovation Centre. Wilson-Laing has launched WL Distillery after developing a passion for distilling while working as an archaeologist overseas. The business will initially produce a signature gin, which is set to be released in early 2020 with customers able to pre-order limited edition, individually numbered and hand-signed bottles. Wilson-Laing worked alongside business adviser Ron Anderson through the startup process. Anderson told Insider Media: “The passion Scott has, not only for the region’s culture but also distilling, is clear for anyone to see.”