Company News:

TGI to launch ‘Friday’s for grown-ups’ bar focused concept: TGI Friday’s is to launch a bar-focused concept, which harks back to the heritage of the brand as it looks to re-engage with older consumers. The first site under the new concept, which is being pitched at a more grown-up demographic, is set to open early next year in Cobham, Surrey. The company is about to start work on the former Carluccio’s premises with the concept inspired by TGI Friday’s original site, which launched in New York’s 63rd and 1st in 1965 and that it might take its name from this location. Speaking at Propel’s final Multi Club event of the year, TGI Friday’s chief executive Robert Cook said: “It’s cocktail-led but still has all the attributes that one would expect from Friday’s. When the first one opened in New York, it was a cocktail bar with a small food offering. Rather than a small food menu, we’re going to have a sharing menu. I would describe it as Friday’s for grown-ups – people aged 40 to 55. We’re looking at where those people have gone as Friday’s fans and how can we re-engage with them. It will be a lot of fun and something to smile about in quite a difficult world. We’re grabbing the opportunity where we are able to pick up sites in a smaller format. Our sites are 6,400 square foot on average and these are about 4,000 square foot to 4,500 square foot. With so much distressed property in the market at good prices we’ve been able to secure half a dozen sites.” It is thought sites in Canterbury, Harrogate and Cambridge are under discussion for the new concept. Cook said trading has been “relatively good” if “patchy”, but the tiering system coming into force had made things “very difficult to navigate”. Its refreshed “Famous at Friday’s” brand is now in place in 12 sites. Cook, who joined the business in December last year, said he originally hoped the new format would have been in place in almost half its 87-strong estate by now, but another five sites will have undergone the change by the time lockdown is due to end. With its other initiatives such as click and collect, delivery and at-home boxes in place, Cook said it has allowed the business to be “more nimble on its feet” this time around and also “provide incremental revenue streams besides a portfolio of restaurants”. But Cook said the procedures in place meant the business was ready to reopen for dine-in in England on 2 December “or whenever it might be”. He added: “My fear is it might be longer than that. I just hope we have some sort of Christmas to trade on.”
Natural Kitchen having to ‘take drastic action to have a chance of coming back’:Justin Green, managing director of London-based deli and cafe concept The Natural Kitchen, which was placed into administration last month, has said the business is having to take “drastic action to have a chance of coming back”. Propel revealed in September, the nine-strong company was working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It has since been placed into administration with Quantuma overseeing the process. Propel understands Green is looking to buy back the bulk of the business. In an update on the group’s website, he said: “Like many other businesses, Natural Kitchen has struggled as the pandemic evolved with no realistic opportunity to reopen successfully given our City-based locations. It’s no one’s fault but covid. This resulted in Natural Kitchen having to take drastic action to have a chance of coming back. The process is ongoing, and we are now trying our very best to agree on a reopening strategy with our partners. This will, in the main, now be next year as we find ourselves in lockdown again with no guarantee that restrictions will be lifted enough for the business to trade pre-Christmas. When you begin to return to your places of work in the City, Natural Kitchen will, we hope, be open again to serve you. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be everywhere and will depend a great deal on the pragmatism of our partners to find a way through. Like you, we have everything crossed for the future.”
Flower Burger secures UK debut site: Milan-based vegan burger brand Flower Burger, which earlier this year signed a master franchise agreement with London-based multi-brand multi-unit food and beverage operator Gerry’s Group to develop the brand across the UK, has secured its debut site here, Propel has learned. The brand, which already operates in Italy, France and the Netherlands, has secured the former Herman Ze German site in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia. The site is set to undergo a refurbishment, before launching post-lockdown with “signature Flower Burger design”. The company is on the hunt for further sites in central London. The partnership with Gerry’s, which was brokered by food and beverage business developer and franchise consultant Seeds Consulting, involves 45 openings in key cities over the next ten years. Founded in 2015 in Milan by Matteo Toto, Flower Burger is an “innovative vegan burger concept” with 14 locations in Italy, Marseille and Rotterdam. All burgers are produced from raw ingredients and without the use of additives in its central production facility and they are cooked in store to order. Gerry’s Group is a multinational company operating more than 30 Costa Coffee locations in the UK, as well as Wok To Walk franchises in the UK and IHOP restaurants in Pakistan. Kit Alexander at Etch acted on the Fitzrovia deal on behalf of the vendor, while Adam Bowers, of Stonebrook London, acted on behalf of Flower Burger.
Marco Pierre White restaurants in Wales report weekend covers at full capacity:Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, has said its two Steakhouse Bar & Grill restaurants in Wales have been inundated with reservations following the two-and-a-half-week “firebreak” lockdown ended on Monday (9 November). The teams at the Cardiff and Swansea venues are gearing up for a bumper weekend with both reporting covers at full capacity. Black and White Hospitality marketing manager Carys Cobley said: “The interest and support from the people of Swansea has been just phenomenal and is on a level never seen before. The Cardiff team is also reporting similar interest. Both are also reporting really positive numbers in the run-up to and during Christmas.”
Electric Pubs adds to portfolio: Electric Pubs, the Dorset-based pub and restaurant operator, has added to its portfolio. The company will shortly reopen the World’s End in Almer, which has been shut since the spring. As part of the nearby Charborough Estate, it has been a pub for almost 600 years. The original site burned down about 30 years ago, but it was rebuilt in the style of its predecessor. The pub will offer a selection of real ale and cider with regularly changing guest ales. Electric Pubs director Steve Killingbeck said: “Over time, we plan to expand the food and wine offering. We will have a largely British menu with a strong emphasis on Dorset produce, meat and fish, and bespoke wine. We also plan to significantly expand and upgrade the outside areas, developing a large country garden in the fields to the rear, which we hope to open in the summer of next year.” Richard Drax, co-owner of Charborough Estate, said “We are delighted Electric Pubs will now be operating the World’s End. It shares our vision for the pub and how it can develop going forward.” Electric Pubs was established in 2019 and operates five other sites. It is also developing a seafood-focused restaurant and bar, to be located within the Bridport Arts Centre, which will open next year. Charborough Estate was advised by Savills on the World’s End deal.
Costa Coffee introduces anti-bacterial reusable cup lid: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has launched an anti-bacterial reusable cup lid for £1 as part of a trial across 500 participating stores, with national rollout planned for 2021. More than 1,200 were sold in the first week of sale. The fully reusable lid is more hygienic and better for the environment than regular takeaway lids, Costa said. The lid is made from polypropylene, a durable thermoplastic polymer with an anti-bacterial coating and is suitable for small (12oz), medium (16oz) and large (20oz) takeaway cups across Costa Coffee stores, as well as small (12oz) and medium (16oz) cups available at Costa Express machines. The lid is dishwasher-safe and can be used time and time again if cared for correctly. A Costa spokesman said: “As we continue to drive reuse and recycling rates across our stores, we understand not every customer will opt for a reusable cup, but we hope our new reusable lids will be an entry point to reuse for those customers. They are smaller and more convenient, with the added benefit of its anti-bacterial coating to give even more peace of mind when contact is a concern. Initial sales results suggest it’s something the market has been missing and we look forward to expanding nationally in 2021, following the success of this trial.”
McDonald’s festive advert to launch during new series opening episode of I’m A Celebrity: McDonald’s will release its Christmas advert during I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, which will take up the entire 90-second break on Sunday evening (15 November). The animated video shows a single mum trying to get her son to embrace his inner child but he refuses to do so until after they have visited a McDonald’s drive-thru. The boy also stashes a bag of “Reindeer Treats”, which is what McDonald’s has named its carrot sticks on its festive menu, to feed Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve. Music is the advert is a cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young. It comes as McDonald’s has pledged to donate funding to enable FareShare to redistribute four million meals to families in need before next Easter. Added to its donation before the October school half term, McDonald’s will help fund more than five million meals.
Zia Lucia announces opening date for new restaurant: Zia Lucia has teamed up with Laine Brew Co to create a new beer to mark the opening of its new pizza restaurant on Friday, 11 December. Founders Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo have used delivery services to their advantage during lockdowns while setting up their fifth site, which will be in Wandsworth, south London. Zia Lucia brings its four doughs to the site plus the new beer, which is named Birra Cabriolè – an unfiltered lager at 4.6% ABV to pair with traditional Italian food. The beer will also be available at Zia Lucia’s sister Berto Pasta restaurants. Pizzas at Zia Lucia Wandsworth will be priced between £7 and £12. They include signature Arianna and Andrea Pirlo pizzas, and are available on all four types of dough. Toppings range from fiery nduja, spicy spianata salami, truffle sauce, honey, burrata, rich blue cheese gorgonzola and roasted pepperoni. The menu will also feature seasonal specials, starters, plates, salads and desserts. The drinks menu focuses on Italian-style cocktails, bottled beers, wine and prosecco. The 60-cover site was the former Chit Chaat Chai site, located in Old York Road.
67 Pall Mall offers three-course meal delivery kits with suggested wine matches:67 Pall Mall, the world’s first private members’ club for wine-lovers, has launched dining at home boxes with recommended wines to match each course. London-based members and virtual members will be able to order weekly dinner boxes inspired by 67 Pall Mall’s new cookbook ‘Wine and Food. The Perfect Match’. Boxes will feature fresh ingredients from the club’s suppliers, to create a three-course menu delivered directly to their homes. Recipe cards will be included in the box with instructions on how to prepare each course. Boxes cost £47 plus £20 delivery fees. The first box, which is available from Friday (13 November), includes Scotch Burford Brown egg with haggis and piccalilli, and 2018 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, Ried Kreutles, Weingut Emmerich Knoll has been chosen as a matched wine; dukkah-encrusted fillet of cod, dried apricot falafel, sumac yoghurt and pomegranate, pairs with NV Viña Ventisquero, Viognier, Tara Atacama, White Wine 2; and port-poached pear, whipped stilton, honeyed walnuts, and recommends NV Tawny Port, 40 Year Old, Quinta do Noval as a match. A different menu is available for Friday, 20 November.
Mindful Chef strikes Selfridges partnership: Healthy recipe box service Mindful Chef has struck a partnership with Selfridges for a new frozen range of meals and smoothies. Selfridges will stock a curated selection of Mindful Chef’s healthy frozen meals and smoothie mixes, all available to purchase from the flagship store in London’s Oxford Street. Additionally, to mark the launch, Mindful Chef has created two exclusive frozen meals – miso aubergine with edamame and teriyaki-glazed salmon – and two smoothie mixes – matcha coconut and tropical turmeric – for the department store. Mindful Chef chief executive Tim Lee said: “While sales of our recipe boxes soared 450% over the first lockdown, it became clear to us there also exists a consumer demand for incredibly quick and simple frozen meals that, nevertheless, provide nutritional value to our customers when time is poor.” Mindful Chef has also recently launched a curated selection of its plant-based frozen meals into Planet Organic stores across London and expanded the frozen range available from the Mindful Chef store. Last week, Nestlé agreed to acquire a majority stake in Mindful Chef, which will see consumer-focused private equity firm Piper exit the business.
The Athenian to launch festive menu: Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian will launch its festive menu on Monday (16 November). Dishes will include winter souvlaki with a festive twist where the souvlaki will be combine wild boar sausage, dressed in aromatic herbs, wrapped in handmade with a dollop of cranberry sauce. There is also a vegan version with Moving Mountains vegan sausages. Both the wild boar and the Moving Mountains sausages are available as a wrap, box or “naked”. The Athenian has also added some traditional Greek desserts to the menu, including the syrupy chocolate baklava and the melomakarona – a Greek honey macaroon. Launched in 2014, The Athenian has sites in Canary Wharf, London Bridge, White City and Victoria that are offering takeaway and its menu is also available on Deliveroo. The festive menu will be served until the new year.
Cafe Murano offers white truffle menu box for delivery: Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett has launched a white truffle menu box for delivery from her London-based Cafe Murano concept. The decadent kit for two to share has been assembled by Hartnett and Murano chef Emily Brightman and has some of the restaurant’s classics as courses but customers can add as much Umbrian white truffle from Meera Cortesi as they wish using a truffle slicer, which comes in the pack. The menu includes focaccia and olive oil, fresh tagliatelle with truffle butter or polenta ravioli with truffle butter, braised feather blade of beef with crushed celeriac, vacherin with confit potatoes and buttermilk panna cotta. The kit costs £175 for four courses and prices start at £105 for a 30g white truffle. Delivery is available within the M25.