NYC Bar & Grill operator acquired out of administration: NYC Partnership, which operated five New York-themed burger restaurants and bars under the NYC Bar & Grill brand, has been acquired out of administration. Joanne Hammond and Claire Dowson, of Begbies Traynor’s Sheffield office, were appointed joint administrators of the business on 22 February. The company had expanded rapidly in the previous 18 months and obtained funding to support its growth. However, it encountered problems when the opening of its Darlington site was delayed by three months, which had a significant impact on cash flow. Sites in Bawtry, Stocksbridge, Doncaster and Hull, all in Yorkshire, were closed and staff made redundant by the company prior to entering administration. Following the appointment of administrators, a pre-pack sale of the business and assets of NYC Partnership was completed. This enabled the Darlington venue to remain operational with 15 staff transferred to the purchaser, reports Insider Media.
Jamie Oliver goes Dutch with Pizzeria concept: Chef Jamie Oliver has opened his first Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria site in the Netherlands as he continues international expansion. The 142-cover restaurant has opened in Koningstraat in Arnhem city centre. The move follows an opening of the first Jamie’s Pizzeria outside the UK, in Budapest at the end of last year. Oliver has previously opened two Jamie’s Italian restaurants in the Netherlands – in Rotterdam and Den Haag – while there is also a Jamie Oliver’s Diner in Rotterdam. A further Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria launch is planned for Tilburg later this year. Oliver now has more than 50 sites internationally across 24 countries.
Hickory’s seeks sites for further expansion: Smokehouse and barbecue group Hickory’s, backed by private equity firm Piper, is seeking new sites as it plans further expansion. Propel has learned the company, which is set to open two venues this year, is looking to acquire leasehold or freehold sites of about one acre for new-build venues or conversions. The company is seeking sites roughly within two hours of Chester that could provide 150 covers plus an outside dining area and more than 60 parking spaces. Neil McDonnell opened the first Hickory’s in Chester in 2010. The brand now operates seven sites, including West Kirby, Rhos-on-Sea, Birmingham and Southport.
McDonald’s UK boss – ‘three-legged stool’ strategy is secret to success: McDonald’s UK chief executive Paul Pomroy has said the company’s “three-legged stool” approach is the driving philosophy behind its success. The “three stools” refers to McDonald’s UK sitting down with suppliers and franchisees at an annual general meeting to discuss strategy. Pomroy told Marketing Week: “The three-legged stool looks at the elements of our business that need to be successful. The company on one side, our franchisees that run our restaurants – we’re 90% franchised in the UK – and then you’ve got our suppliers. For the business to be successful, each leg of the stool needs to be successful. Communication is critical and suppliers and franchisees need to work together towards a strategic goal. We share our three-year plan for growth and expect our suppliers to go back to their business and work on that. It’s all about trust. If we’re not open with them, they can’t do their job.”
Skinny Kitchen plans to double estate by end of year despite Bournemouth blow: Healthy eating concept Skinny Kitchen has said it plans to double its estate by the end of the year despite closing its Bournemouth site. The Skinny Kitchen now has four restaurants – in Belfast, Canterbury and two in Ibiza – but Skinny Kitchen co-founder Joel Belchem said by the end of the year there would be eight restaurants in total, with new branches set to open in Boxpark Croydon, London and Leeds. However, Skinny Kitchen’s Bournemouth site has closed almost two years after its launch following a row with the council over an extraction system. Belchem told the Bournemouth Echo: “We got to the point where the amount of money they wanted us to pay a solicitor and to change the extraction system wasn’t worth it. We looked to relocate in Bournemouth but there wasn’t a suitable building. Business was doing really well and we were making money and getting bigger. It’s really frustrating with all that’s going on with the new restaurants that we had to close the one in Bournemouth.” Belchem founded Skinny Kitchen with Lois Breckell and Rachel and David Mason. It is backed by investors in the Lineker’s and Ocean Beach Club brands.
Manchester multi-site operator MAD acquires former Oddworld site to expand city portfolio: Manchester-based operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) has added another site in the city to its portfolio. The company has acquired The Blue Pig in the Northern Quarter that was operated by Oddworld, which went into administration earlier this year. It joins MAD’s other venues in the city that include Hula, Walrus, Roylee, The Fitzgerald, Tusk and recently launched Ibiza-inspired bar the Lazy Lizard. The Blue Pig will reopen in mid-April after a minor refurbishment and continue to operate under its existing name. Andrew told the Manchester Evening News: “The Blue Pig is a much-loved Northern Quarter staple with a loyal customer base. We don’t need to make much in the way of change but we want to add our signature MAD twist so we’ll give the interiors a refresh. However, we are committed to honouring what The Blue Pig is all about.” Oddworld’s other two sites – Odd Bar in Thomas Street and Oddest in Chorlton – were taken over by Manchester-based operators Matt Nickson and Adam Regan earlier this month.
Sambal Shiok owner to open permanent site in Highbury: Sambal Shiok owner Mandy Yin is to open a permanent site for her Malaysian pop-up restaurant this summer. Yinn will open a laksa bar in Holloway Road in Highbury, north London, this summer on the site of former Mexican restaurant Amigos. The venue will have room for 40 diners – ten held back for walk-ins and counter dining, with the rest at tables. Yinn founded Sambal Shiok in London in 2013. She started trading at street food markets but customer demand led her to focus on laksa (spicy Malaysian noodle soup) and the launch of her pop-up restaurant. Her laksa bar has had sell-out runs across London during the past two years. She said on the restaurant’s website: “I take inspiration from everything I ate in my childhood growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Then I mix it up and put a new slant on it.”
Wine-focused neighbourhood restaurant concept Sapling debuts in Dalston: Wine-focused neighbourhood restaurant Sapling has launched in Dalston, east London. Bob Ritchie has opened the site in Kingsland Road offering a weekly rotating list of 36 wines, including a number of grower champagnes and sparkling wines. The aim is to represent a broad spectrum of “inspired and inventive interpretations”, with most of the wine sustainable, organic, biodynamic or low-intervention. All are available to order by the glass. There is also a larger list of more than 100 wines available by the bottle or to sample via the Coravin system. A seasonal food menu includes small plates and a “larder” menu. Ritchie said: “Sapling has been five years in the making and it’s been an amazing journey. I started with weekly tastings at Berry Bros’ Pickering Cellar, which evolved into wine schools in Burgundy, multiple wine exams, almost two years of searching for the right site and leaving my career at the end of 2016 to make Sapling happen. The team and I look forward to sharing the continuation of this journey.”
BrewDog opens Reading site for third launch of 2018: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened a site in Reading – its third launch of 2018. The company has opened the bar in Castle Street, featuring 20 beer taps. In addition, the bar stocks bottled and canned beer from around the world in two “open-air” beer fridges. BrewDog’s menu of burgers and wings is also available, with a brunch option at weekends. Co-founder James Watt said: “Beer fans of Reading have been crying out for a BrewDog bar for too long so it’s awesome we have finally set up home in Berkshire. The craft beer scene has been exploding over the past few years and we want our presence to help accelerate that growth in Reading, making the town an epicentre of amazing craft beer.” The company’s latest fund-raise, Equity for Punks V, has so far raised more than £13m from more than 29,000 investors across Europe. It is due to close in October.
TGI Friday’s puts vegan dishes on the menu: TGI Friday’s has added vegan dishes for the first time as part of its new menu, which also features a range of meals with fewer than 600 calories. The company, which is renowned for its grills, hand-crafted burgers and glazed ribs, has added made-to-order dishes such as smoked tomato bruschetta, avocado houmous, and garlic vegetable fajitas. The new lower-calorie range includes Cajun cream pasta and crispy noodle salad – both available with chicken or prawns. Meat-lovers can enjoy a limited edition Rib Tickler Burger (flame-grilled beef burger topped with pork rib and coated in golden mustard barbecue sauce). TGI Friday’s UK head of food and drink Terry McDowell, who created the menu, said: “Friday’s is all about being inclusive and the latest menu allows us to cater to everyone.” TGI Friday’s also revealed it would donate crockery, including 10,000 plates, to food-waste charity FareShare.
Former Davy’s and Hush Hush employee acquires East Sussex pub for first standalone venture: Hospitality specialist Nick Bolton has taken ownership of The Buxted Inn in Uckfield, East Sussex, following a six-figure funding package from HSBC. Bolton, who has worked in the industry for more than 15 years, has bought the venue in High Street for his first standalone venture with partner Ariane. Bolton has worked in various London wine bars, restaurants and hotels, including Davy’s and Hush Heath Estate, as well as training staff for venues such as Claridge’s, Intercontinental and The Mayfair Hotel. He will introduce new menus at The Buxted Inn using locally sourced produce while there will be a wine list of almost 100 varieties. Bolton said: “We want to create a vibrant hub for the local community and their feedback will be vital to making this a success. We plan to work with as many local suppliers as possible to showcase the amazing produce available in East Sussex.” Sarah Milligan, HSBC’s area director in Kent, added: “Nick’s ideas to evolve the pub, which is already hugely popular in the area, will create a fantastic hub for local foodies and wine enthusiasts.”
Café Rouge receives MSC blue fish label certification: Casual Dining Group brand Café Rouge has received official certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The award, which will see MSC’s blue fish label added to Café Rouge menus across the UK, coincides with the brand’s new seasonal spring menu, which features certificated Shetland mussels and hake, along with smoked cod and haddock fishcakes. In addition, a dish of sustainably sourced smoked cod has been added to the main menu. Café Rouge has conducted training on MSC operating standards across all its sites, as well as undergoing a rigorous audit of its fish supply chain. Café Rouge managing director James Spragg said: “We’re delighted to be the first restaurant operator of scale to receive this certification from MSC, which is testament to the excellent work of our procurement team.” MSC senior commercial manager George Clark said: “Café Rouge has demonstrated full supply chain traceability and seafood sustainability can be delivered at scale in a high-street dining environment and on a national level. This is what diners now expect.” MSC is a charity that awards efforts to protect oceans and safeguard seafood supplies.
Friends of Ham closes Leeds wine bar less than year after opening: Leeds-based wine bar Ham and Friends, the sister site to Friends of Ham, has closed after less than a year. While the venue in Merrion Street has shut, the Friends of Ham sites in Leeds and Ilkley remain open. The Yorkshire Wine School, which was based at Merrion Street, is also unaffected by the closure. Ham and Friends, which opened in June last year, featured a food hall, walk-in cheese room, wine mezzanine and bar spread across two floors. Ham and Friends told The Business Desk: “It’s with a heavy heart we have to say we are now permanently closed. We gave it our best shot over the last year and would like to thank everyone who came to pay us a visit.”
Experienced hospitality duo reveal plans for Manchester cocktail bar: Experienced hospitality duo Ben Spier and Keith Patterson have revealed plans for a new cocktail bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Spier and Patterson are turning the former Cord site in Dorsey Street into NYQ, a “laid-back cocktail lounge inspired by early 1980s New York”. The duo, who have decades of hospitality experience between them, said they want to create a “relaxing bar that comes alive below street level at weekends”. Spanning two floors, the bar’s upper level will serve cocktails curated by master bartender Ben Scorah alongside a menu of beer, wine and spirits, while the basement will host resident DJs and guests. Spier told BDaily: “NYQ will complement the thriving cocktail bar scene in the Northern Quarter. NYQ will be a place where people can enjoy a good night out with great drinks and get down on the dance floor.” NYQ will launch at the end of April.
Subway to open first Northern Ireland drive-thru as it acquires Belfast KFC site: Subway is to open its first drive-thru in Northern Ireland. The company will open the 2,000 square foot outlet in Boucher Road, Belfast, on a former KFC site in the summer. Stephen Smith, of Osborne King, who negotiated the letting on behalf of the landlord, told Insider Media: “We are delighted to have secured a letting to Subway and particularly pleased it has chosen this site to operate its first drive-thru restaurant in Northern Ireland.”
Manorview increases apprenticeships, adds chef options: Scottish hospitality group Manorview has seen an increase in apprentices entering its Training Academy. The group is on track to see 55 apprentices come through the academy from April 2017 to March 2018, a rise from 48 the previous year. The company is looking to grow that number to 65 during its new intake period, which starts next month. This apprenticeship year will include SVQ Professional Cookery Level 2 and 3 qualifications for the first time. Training Academy assessor and verifier Robi Giovino said: “We’re introducing the Professional Cookery qualification to try to encourage more chefs into the industry. We want to provide that pathway for young chefs to follow a passion and to see it as a career choice.” The Manorview portfolio consists of nine boutique hotels in Scotland. In January, the company paid out more than £80,000 in the first payment from its HeartCount Fund, which shares a proportion of the group’s profits with its workforce.
Douglas Jack – we are holding our forecasts on Cineworld: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has held his forecasts on Cineworld as the company makes a strong start to the new financial year. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 270p following the company’s preliminary results, Jack said: “The UK’s 6.5% increase in box office revenue comprised 2.3% growth in admissions and a 4.1% increase in average ticket prices. In comparison, market box office grew by 2.1% versus a 1.4% increase in admissions, and Cineworld’s number of screens increased by 7.1% versus 2.7% for the market. For Cineworld and the market, this would imply no like-for-like box office growth. UK retail increased by 7.1% with net retail spend per admission up 4.4% to £2.37, helped by the addition of a further five Starbucks (to 29 in total), promotions and film mix. UK other income was up 2.3%, with advertising up but held back by February’s disposal of the distribution arm in Picturehouse. Booking fees are continuing to grow, with more than half of tickets now purchased online. Overseas box office grew by 8.2% in local currency, with total admissions up 4.7% and average ticket prices up 3.5%. In sterling terms, overseas box office grew 18.0%. Overseas retail rose by 29.1% (18.7% in constant currency) with spend per admission up 13.4% to £1.86. Other income rose 8.3% in local currency and 17.4% in sterling terms, driven by advertising. The company opened 109 screens in nine sites (four in the UK and five in the rest of the world), as well as the acquired Empire Newcastle site (16 screens). The company also opened five Starbucks sites and three VIP sites, 11 4DX screens, two Superscreens and two IMAX screens during the year. Returns should be highest in European expansion and refurbishments (four in the UK, two in the rest of the world in 2017). Management believes the US has huge potential, including a possible two-year payback on the first 50 upgrade projects – these represent 10% of Regal sites but 25% to 30% of Ebitda. Management is also confident of exceeding its $100m synergy target, ($60m costs, $40m revenue), with cost savings likely to emerge first but with revenue synergies (via subscriptions and booking fees) likely to offer the greatest upside. Management has retained the current dividend payout ratio. This equates to a dividend yield of 5.8% based on 2019E earnings. The shares have de-rated to levels (7.7 times 2019E EV/Ebitda) last seen in 2012. Management has a strong track record for generating good returns from acquisitions. We believe reinvigorating the Regal estate and driving extra synergies should boost the rating over the next two years.”
Zonal agrees Trent Bridge deal: Hospitality management solutions company Zonal has agreed a deal with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club to provide its Trent Bridge venue with its Aztec EPoS. The investment, comprising 30 Aztecs that have been installed throughout the ground, is set to give the venue payback within two years. Trent Bridge’s solution also includes Zonal’s payment system (ZPS), with integrated chip-and-pin and contactless functionality, including Apple Pay. General manager of catering at Trent Bridge Jason Hollingworth said: “Previously we couldn’t even take card payments but, being a top-flight sporting venue, our customers were rightly demanding a speedier, better experience and now we are on trend. We are advertising the new service and expect to be a 50-50 cash/card business soon.” Trent Bridge is also installing Zonal’s hand-held order pad, iServe, and its kitchen management system, Kitchen iQ. These additional modules, which fully integrate with Aztec, will form part of the ground’s £7m media broadcast facilities and hospitality catering suite, which are under construction at the Radcliffe Road Stand end of the ground and due for completion next month.