Di Maggio’s Group reports turnover boost: Scottish restaurant operator Di Maggio’s Group has reported turnover increased to £34,862,713 for the year ending 30 April 2017, compared with £33,798,490 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down to £5,332,218 compared with £5,768,519 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross profit margin fell slightly to 71.6% from 71.7% the previous year. The company stated: “The directors are satisfied with the group’s performance during the period, which saw turnover increase by £1,064,000 to £34,863,000 (2016: £33,798,000). This increase in revenues was achieved through organic growth as well as the opening of new restaurants. At the period end shareholders’ funds totalled £12,238,000 (2016: £11,086,000). The group continues to be a significant employer within the Scottish central belt. The directors continue to look for suitable restaurant sites to expand the group’s business.” The company operates 24 restaurants and is due to open the £8m Anchorline Aparthotel in Glasgow in August.

Chilled Pubs takes on site used by Harry Ramsden’s to debut pub format for fourth venue, aims for 15-strong estate: Chilled Pubs, owned by former British Institute of Innkeeping licensees of the year Richard and Loren Pope, has secured its fourth venue. The company has taken on the Wingerworth in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, which was previously home to the debut Harry Ramsden’s pub, in partnership with Punch. The pub, which has been shut for 12 months, will reopen in mid-April under its previous name of The Hunloke Arms. It will have about 100 covers on the ground floor with the Popes planning to add a restaurant on the first floor later in the year with 60 to 70 covers. Richard Pope told Propel: “We’ve been looking for site four for some time. It’s similar to our other pubs – our preference is to take on failed businesses and change them radically.” Pope said the company was targeting an estate of 12 to 15 pubs in the next ten to 12 years. Its first site – The Bull’s Head in Repton – is freehold while its other two pubs – The Joiners Arms in Quarndon and The Swan in Walton-on-Trent – are leaseholds and, while the company preferred the latter, Pope said it would look to add to its freehold estate after the next “two or three pubs”. He added: “Leaseholds allow us to achieve a positive cash flow faster and means we can grow quicker at this stage.” Pope also revealed The Bull’s Head, which has been trading for 11 years, enjoyed a record Saturday at the weekend, although he was unsure why. “We don’t show sport so I can’t put it down to the Six Nations,” he said. “The other two pubs are also performing really well too – we’re really pleased.”

Alex Proud to close Camden nightclub to focus on new ventures: Brighton-born entrepreneur Alex Proud is to close his Proud Camden nightclub next month to focus on new ventures elsewhere in London. The live music, gallery and cabaret venue at Camden Stables Market will shut on Sunday, 4 March. Proud said: “After more than 17 years at the Stables Market in Camden and, having been part of the transformation of a town that is now thriving with visitors from across the globe, we have decided to move on. I’m dedicated to keeping the Proud venues fresh and we have found two new venues that will open in due course. The first – Proud Embankment – is underneath Waterloo Bridge and we’re also opening a new Proud venue in Camden High Street. This is another chapter in our story but I do think it’s a sad one for Camden to lose a venue with such a rich musical heritage.” Proud launched his first art gallery in Camden in the late 1990s, which became a popular haunt for celebrities and rock stars. The gallery moved to Camden Stables Market in 2001, when the Proud Camden name was established. In 2006, Proud Camden embarked on its next chapter by moving to its current location at a 200-year-old former horse hospital at Camden Stables Market. Proud continued to develop the site throughout its tenure, creating a multi-faceted entertainment experience that incorporated a roof garden and bar, art gallery, live music hall and pioneering cabaret restaurant. The venue has welcomed artists such as Sting, Jarvis Cocker, Florence + The Machine, and Coldplay. It also hosted Ed Sheeran’s first live performance.

Forecourt operator EG Group to buy 762 US sites for £1.5bn: Blackburn-based forecourt operator EG Group, which is backed by private equity firm TDR Capital, has struck a deal to acquire 762 sites in the US from Kroger for $2.15bn (£1.53bn). Kroger’s convenience store business operates in 18 states and includes 66 franchise operations. The stores employ 11,000 staff under brand names Turkey Hill, Loaf ‘N Jug, Kwik Shop, Tom Thumb and Quik Stop, which generated a total revenue of £2.85bn in 2016. As part of the deal, EG Group will establish its North American headquarters in Cincinnati and continue to operate stores under their established names. EG Group owns and manages about 2,600 sites in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy, employing more than 12,500 staff across brands such as Esso, BP, Shell, Spar, Starbucks, Burger King, KFC, Greggs and Subway. With the inclusion of the Kroger assets, EG Group will own and operate about 4,400 sites across Europe and the US. EG Group founder and co-chief executive Mohsin Issa told Insider Media: “We have had much success across Europe and we firmly believe the Kroger assets present a fantastic foundation to overlay our retail experience and know-how in the US.” The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval.

Revolución de Cuba to make West Midlands debut: Revolution Bars Group is to bring its Revolución de Cuba brand to the West Midlands with a Birmingham opening in in the spring that will create 80 jobs. The 112-cover venue will launch at the former Birmingham Law Library in Temple Street at the end of March following a £1.1m investment. It will bring the Revolución de Cuba portfolio to 15 sites. Spread over two floors, the ground-floor area will feature a traditional bar counter, antique tiles, rattan chairs and decorative railings, while the first-floor bar will retain the library’s original bookshelves and large skylight. Revolution Bars Group commercial director Myles Doran said: “We look forward to bringing rich Cuban culture to this vibrant city and turning up the heat Havana-style.” Last month, executive chairman Keith Edelman told Propel the company was “back on track” after admitting it had been distracted by a potential takeover. The company, which operates 72 premium bars across the UK under its Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, was the subject of a failed £101.5m bid from Stonegate Pub Company in October, while Deltic Group tabled a merger proposal that was rejected by Revolution Bars Group management. The company is set to announce its new chief executive “soon” following the departure of Mark McQuater in October.

Le Bab team to launch Covent Garden kebab concept for second London site: Stephen Tozer and Ed Brunet, who launched kebab concept Le Bab in Soho two years ago, are set to open a second London restaurant, this time in Covent Garden. Maison Bab will take “kebabs to the next level” when it opens in the new Mercers Walk development in Seven Dials in the spring. The restaurant is a collaboration with Manu Canales Garces, a former sous chef at Le Gavroche, who will head the kitchen. He has devised a menu featuring six handmade kebabs served with house-made sourdough flatbread. There will also be mezze dishes, sides and desserts. Maison Bab will offer 40 covers at ground level, with a further 30 seats in the basement, which is also available for private hire. There will also be a “hidden” ten-seater chef’s table. The drinks list will include cocktails, fine wine by the glass and London craft beer. Tozer said: “At Maison Bab we’ll be offering something punchier, bolder and more surprising. We’ve been developing this concept for over a year so we’re incredibly excited to unveil what we’ve been working on.”

St Andrews Brewing Company reveals more details of £1m Dundee restaurant and pub: Craft brewer St Andrews Brewing Company has revealed more details about its plans to open a £1m restaurant and pub in Dundee. The company will sign a lease for two units in the basement of Caird Hall, with the aim to launch a 100-seat restaurant and bar in time for the opening of the V&A in September. The bar will offer 18 taps of craft beer alongside gin and wine, while the restaurant will feature the “best of Scottish produce”. Company director Tim Butler told the Evening Telegraph: “We have been looking at moving into Dundee for about 18 months and when this site came up we had to go for it – it’s a fantastic location. We are aware the V&A is a design museum and so the look of the restaurant and bar will be important. We want to showcase local textiles, fabrics and furniture-makers.” The company, which opened a brewpub in St Andrews in 2013, recently bought two bars in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, it also plans to invest about £500,000 in new equipment at its brewery in St Andrews.

Wrapchic will return to Birmingham to launch airport site this month: Fusion fast food business Wrapchic will return to its Birmingham roots by opening a venue at the city’s airport this month. Wrapchic was founded in Birmingham by Mahesh Raikar in 2012. He told Insider Media: “Our concept is unique in the quick-serve food sector and brings something new and fresh to the consumer. Our existing outlets are doing extremely well in terms of footfall and profitability. The public have really taken to the concept of healthy, fresh Indian food served in a burrito. We are excited to open our doors in such a popular airport close to where Wrapchic was born.” Earlier this month, Wrapchic opened a restaurant in Milton Keynes for its 12th UK venue. It also operates two sites in Dubai and lists restaurants in Leicester and Preston as “coming soon” on its website.

Aikens to relaunch flagship Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea: Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens is to relaunch his flagship Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea this spring. The restaurant in Cale Street will close on Monday (12 February) to reopen on Wednesday, 21 March after undergoing an extensive refurbishment. Aikens will introduce a new sharing-style menu that will constantly evolve, allowing the restaurant to make the most of seasonal British produce such as asparagus, rhubarb, mushrooms and game. The floor plan of the restaurant, which is spread over three floors of a Chelsea townhouse, will be rearranged with the bar becoming a focal point for counter dining and drinks, while window seating will also be introduced. The ground-floor and first-floor dining rooms will also be rejuvenated, while the third floor will feature two rooms for private dining and events. Tom’s Kitchen will use UK-based suppliers and local producers, which will be emphasised in the new menus and redesigned space. Aikens said: “I am incredibly proud of everything we have achieved over the past 12 years at Chelsea. The redesigned space and new menus will allow the restaurant to be more innovative, modern and comfortable.” Aikens operates three Tom’s Kitchen sites in London, one in Istanbul, and a new restaurant, bar and deli in Birmingham.

Ei Group strengthens Hickory’s relationship with Southport site deal: Ei Commercial Properties, the Ei Group business that manages a developing portfolio of assets leased to third parties, has further strengthened its relationship with Hickory’s Smokehouse. The company has agreed a commercial free-of-tie lease for the former Pageant pub in Southport, Merseyside, which has now reopened as the seventh Hickory’s Smokehouse following a £1m-plus investment. The Southport site is the second Hickory’s has taken with Ei Commercial Properties – Hickory’s also operates its Rhos-on-Sea restaurant on a similar commercial lease basis. Ei Group said The Pageant had proved difficult to let over the past five years and failed to win the support of the local community. Hickory’s chief executive Neil McDonnell said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement with Ei Commercial Properties on this site. It was originally marketed as a tied tenancy but it was flexible in its discussions, which enabled us to agree a different approach and make a significant investment into this site for the benefit of our customers. The new site has had a very positive response from the local community in the early days of trading.” Greg Parkes, commercial property director at Ei Commercial Properties, added: “We are proactively working with the team at Hickory’s to identify other potential sites across our estate for future projects.” Hickory’s, which was founded in Chester in 2010 by McDonnell following an inspirational trip around the US southern states, is backed by consumer brands specialist investor Piper. Last week it reported turnover increased 15% to £16.6m for the year ending 30 April 2017.

JD Wetherspoon to close Sutton Coldfield pub for rooftop garden rebuild: JD Wetherspoon will close its Bishop Vesey pub in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, on Monday, 19 February to start building work. The Boldmere Road pub will reopen in May with a new £790,000 rooftop terrace featuring seating and a dining area. The only access will be through the pub from the first-floor trade area, with the 176 square metre garden monitored by a CCTV system and serviced by food lifts. In addition, a pizza oven will be installed in the kitchen, Birmingham Live reports. Planning permission for the scheme was granted last July, with a restriction that the beer garden could only be used from 8am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday, and from 9am to 10pm on Sundays. All staff will be relocated to other Wetherspoon pubs while the work is carried out.

Leicester-based escape rooms firm to expand into larger site with added bar: Leicester-based escape rooms company Spirits Bar is set to expand into larger premises after its plans were given the go-ahead by the city council. The company will launch the venture in Hotel Street featuring a bar with escape rooms located in the basement. The company already runs Escape Asylum in nearby St Martin’s Square. A document submitted on behalf of the applicant stated: “This venture will take the Escape Asylum brand into larger premises, creating diversity of usage on the street but also, with the addition of a bar, the venue will aim to positively contribute to the thriving restaurant and bar scene in the surrounding area.”

Five Guys eyes unit at Rushden Lakes development: Better burger brand Five Guys is eyeing a site at the Rushden Lakes development in Northamptonshire. The company is proposing to open the venue next to a number of restaurants that are already open at Rushden Lakes, including tasty-owned Wildwood and Bill’s, reports the Northants Telegraph. An acoustic report and ventilation layout plans have been submitted to East Northants Council. Five Guys, which was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family, has 80 sites in the UK. It opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013, while restaurants are listed on its website as “coming soon” that include Nottingham and Richmond.

Belfast-based restaurateurs open second site in city: Husband-and-wife team Tony and Andrea O’Neill, who operate Italian restaurant Coppi in Belfast, have launched a new venture in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. Buba is an open-plan restaurant that offers modern, eastern Mediterranean-inspired food. It has launched in Saint Anne’s Square creating 20 jobs. Tony O’Neill told Insider Media: “We are thrilled to open Buba. We are introducing not only Greek and Turkish influences but also the exciting and less familiar spices and recipes of North Africa and the Middle East. There is no doubt Belfast offers a superb range of top-quality restaurants producing fantastic cuisine. Buba will be a unique and tasty addition to the rich mix.”