Sumosan founder launches Israeli-Japanese dining concept with backing from Cain International: Cain International, the privately held investment firm led by Jonathan Goldstein, has partnered with Janina Wolkow, restaurateur and founder of multi-award-winning contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan, to launch JiJi’s, a new Israeli-Japanese dining concept. The debut site will launch in London’s Islington Square development in June. Heading up the kitchen will be executive chef Bubker Belkhit, who has worked with Wolkow for more than 20 years and was instrumental in the creation and ongoing success of Sumosan. JiJi’s will also sell branded merchandise, including homemade sauces, selected condiments, apparel and books. Wolkow said: “Inspired by frequent travels to Tel Aviv, Jiji’s will demonstrate how Japanese and Israeli cuisines can complement each other perfectly. We’re thrilled to be working with Cain International and it’s fitting we’re launching this new concept in Islington, the centre of the casual dining scene in one of the world’s most international cities.” Goldstein added: “Having collaborated with Janina to bring Sumosan to our development at Courchevel 1850, where it has been exceptionally well received, we were very pleased to work with her in making this exciting dining concept a reality. Pent-up demand has resulted in levels of trade that have greatly surpassed expectations for hospitality-focused businesses as the national lockdown eases and we believe that strong brands offering unique experiences will continue to thrive in a post-pandemic economy. Jiji’s will be an excellent addition to our growing portfolio of hospitality, lifestyle and leisure investments.” Cain’s portfolio of experiential-focused investments includes crazy golf brand Swingers, which expanded into the US earlier this year; Maslow’s Group, which operates private members’ club Mortimer House; and restaurant company Prezzo, which has more than 150 UK sites.
Wagamama UK revenue decreased 37.8% to £219.9m in 2020: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned brand, has reported its UK revenue decreased by 37.8% to £219.9m in the year to 27 December 2020. The company said covid-19 restrictions significantly impacted the ability to trade with periods of full closure and out-of-restaurant-only trade but, where possible to trade for eat-in dining, “sales recovered strongly”. The business said it saw a strong performance in delivery and click and collect sales channels with “significant outperformance on 2019 sales”. It said its UK revenue decreased by 38.9% from the third quarter of 2019 to £61m in the fourth quarter of 2020 with ongoing covid-19 restrictions during the final quarter, including national lockdowns and tiering measures. At the same time, it reported a strong performance in delivery and click and collect sales with “significant year-on-year growth”. Adjusted Ebitda decreased to £10.6m in the fourth quarter of 2020, and it said that while covid-19 continued to impact on trading, the group “continued to proactively manage costs during the quarter including the ongoing negotiation of rent deals”. In terms of the final quarter of 2020, the business said it effectively pivoted to changes in restrictions with continued momentum in eat-in sales early in the period followed by strong out-of-restaurant sales during lockdown and tiering measures. The company said: “The business has maintained a strong focus on cost management during the year in order to mitigate the effect of reduced trading as far as possible. Investment in our people, product and property continued to drive key metrics pre covid-19, including net promoter score (NPS) and low team turnover. Our strong focus on customer safety and experience post-reopening equally continued to drive strong customer feedback and metrics.” Emma Woods, the brand’s outgoing chief executive said: “While the fourth quarter of 2020 and the early part of 2021 have proved challenging for the hospitality sector as a whole, we are extremely positive as we reach the first phase of reopening our eat-in business. Our teams have worked tirelessly to ensure the business is well set up to emerge strongly from the pandemic and we look forward to resuming our growth strategy for the business both in the UK and internationally.”
Doma Hospitality to open debut Gallio site in Canary Wharf: Doma Hospitality, part of BHL Global, which operates The Stafford London hotel and Game Bird restaurant, Sicilian restaurant Norma London, and Michelin-starred Northcote in Lancashire, is to launch the first site under its new pizza concept Gallio in Canary Wharf, Propel has learned. The brand, which launched last year as a delivery-only concept, plans to open a full-service restaurant in the site formerly occupied by PizzaExpress in Cabot Square. Announcing the concepts launch last year, Doma said its menu had been developed in collaboration with Ben Tish, chef and culinary director of The Stafford London and Norma. Gallio operations director Chantal Nell said at the time: “We are passionate about provenance and quality, and can’t wait to bring a slice of Mediterranean sunshine to Londoners.” Gallio currently offers delivery within a radius that will include Lambeth, Waterloo, Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall, South Bank and Southwark. Marc Rogers at MKR Property is believed to have acted on the Canary Wharf deal.
Camden Town Brewery to open beer hall in June: Camden Town Brewery has announced it will open Camden Beer Hall in June, next to the north London brewery’s original production site in Wilkin Street Mews. The site, which has taken inspiration from traditional Bavarian beer halls, promises fresh beer straight from its tanks, with no pasteurisation, from 24 beer taps. It also claims it will be one of the only venues in the London to introduce a manual glass washing station at the front of its bar. On food duty is Theo Randall who will curate a menu designed to pair with Camden’s range of beers that will combine his love for Italian cooking with dishes you’d find in a Bavarian-inspired beer hall. Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge said: “We’ve been making beer under the arches in Camden for 11 years now, and serving beer on-site has always been an important part of what we do. It will be super exciting to be serving fresh, never pasteurised, beer in our home but now in a space that’s three times bigger.” The site will also house a merchandise shop, selling items such as Tote bags to T-shirts, plus beers to take away. Camden Beer Hall is taking bookings now for tours and tables from 7 June.
Butchies to open in London’s Earl’s Court: London-based chicken sandwich concept Butchies is to launch a site in Earl’s Court next month, Propel has learned. The concept, which was founded by Garrett Fitzgerald in 2013, is understood to have secured a site in Kenway Road, just off Earl’s Court Road. The opening will be the fifth site for the business in the capital, after it opened on the former VQ takeaway site at 122 Clapham High Street last August. The company, which is chaired by Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh, also has sites in Camden, Shoreditch and Fulham (Market Halls), with the latter temporarily closed.
Megan’s to open in Chiswick: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s will open its latest site at the start of next month in Chiswick, Propel understands. The Sarah Hills-led company has secured the former Le Pain Quotidien site at 214 Chiswick High Road, for what will become Megan’s at the Flower Market. The new site will open on 3 May for outdoor dining. Propel revealed in March, the business was to convert a derelict 1930s cafe in the heart of Clapham Common into Terrace by Megan’s. That site opened in Rookery Road last month, offering an outdoor dining restaurant and takeaway deli serving all-day brunch, lunch, dinner and takeaway picnics. Megan’s is also understood to have applied to open a further site in Dulwich Village.
Living Ventures to open second Grand Pacific site in Leeds: Living Ventures, the Paul Moran-led group, will open its second site under its Grand Pacific restaurant and bar concept in Leeds, later this summer. The company, which opened the first Grand Pacific in Manchester in 2017, will open in the Queens Hotel Leeds, part of The QHotels Group. It will form part of a £16m refurbishment of the hotel. The 100-cover restaurant, private dining rooms and bar will offer flavours from “far-flung lands fused together with quintessential British classics” as it “aims to recreate the golden age of high society with a sumptuous, yet relaxed, charm accompanied by great service”. In addition to the main restaurant and bar, the hotel will be home to Cafe Pacific, an all-day social hub offering coffees, drinks and snacks providing the perfect destination for dining, drinking, working or relaxing. Living Ventures chairman Jeremy Roberts said: “We are delighted to bring this beautiful space back to life, echoing the glorious history of The Queens Hotel. Its heritage as a place to relax, eat, drink and just enjoy some of the pleasures of life simply oozes from the walls. It is our privilege and pleasure to let it continue to be what it was always meant to be.” In regards to opening further sites with the 20-strong hotels group, Roberts told Propel there is nothing formally agreed about the future but I think it is fair to say both sides are hopeful that it’s the start of a mutually beneficial journey”. At the same time, the joint venture behind the QHotels portfolio has agreed a debt restructure with its lending club. Property investment company Aprirose and Beijing-based international private equity firm Cindat Capital Management acquired the chain of four and five-star UK regional hotels from Bain Capital Credit and Canyon Partners in 2017. The current QHotel portfolio comprises 20 country house, hotel and spa assets, including Oulton Hall in Yorkshire and Slaley Hall hotel and luxury golf resort in Northumberland.
Rick Stein permanently closes Falmouth restaurant: The Rick Stein Group has permanently closed its Falmouth restaurant. The site has been taken over by a concept called The Taphouse. The restaurant, called Rick Stein’s Fish and located on Discovery Quay, opened in 2010. It was the first restaurant Stein opened outside Padstow. Stein said: “As we opened our first ‘nationwide restaurant’ in the summer; Stein’s At Home, bringing our simple, easy-to-cook dining experience into homes across the country, our teams need to work on growing this area further to ensure we ‘pandemic-proof’ the company and our other restaurants for the future.” The group announced the closure of two of its restaurants last summer in Cornwall’s Porthleven and in Marlborough, Wiltshire. The Porthleven site has since relaunched under Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines as Harbourside Refuge, while the landlord of the Marlborough premises agreed a rent reduction that prevented the restaurant from closing. Stein also owns six restaurants in Cornwall as well as in Barnes, London; Winchester; and Sandbanks, Dorset.
Indian restaurant Pataka to expand offer, three more London sites planned:London-based Indian food-tech start-up Pataka is opening up its debut site to offer alfresco eating, preparing for indoor dining and will become a catering partner to a new bar concept. Founded by Arjun Baljee, whose family runs numerous restaurants in India, Pataka opened at Adrian’s Restaurant in Grosvenor Gardens, Victoria, in February, and plans to open three further sites, in Mayfair, Bermondsey and Bayswater, from May 2021 onwards. With no storefront, Pataka is run from what Baljee calls “bright kitchens” and offers delivery only but, as restrictions ease, it will offer alfresco dining for up to 20 people while the interior is renovated for indoors dining on 17 May. Meanwhile, Pataka will be the food partner to a new bar next door and will serve a modern finger food menu. Baljee said: “The next step is to push the boundaries with an updated menu and a differentiated dining experience. We want to bring the magic of India’s varied cuisines in a smart, modern manner: we call it ‘Indian 2.0’. Think abstract decor and digital art providing a background for food and cocktails that will totally reimagine your experience of Indian cuisine.”
Pub Invest Group to create 500 jobs: Liverpool-based Pub Invest Group has outlined plans to create 500 jobs. The company is looking to strengthen and expand its workforce on the back of restrictions being lifted, with the company already benefiting from outdoor hospitality reopening. Indoor hospitality is set to reopen from Monday, 17 May, with a range of roles being made available. Pub Invest Group – which recently created 100 jobs in Liverpool – is taking on staff at Einstein, its two McCooleys sites, Blush, Revolver, The Hatch, The Rocking Horse and Zanzibar. A spokesman said: “We will be recruiting for more than 500 jobs, which will include management roles, supervisors, bar staff, floor staff and kitchen staff. Everyone knows it has been a tough time in all sectors since the pandemic began, but none more so than hospitality, which has faced many challenges. We all hope the continued vaccine rollout and dropping R number means we can all look forward now and look to return to some kind of normal sooner rather than later.”
Independent cafe and sourdough bakery concept Trove to open third site: North west-based, independent cafe and sourdough bakery concept Trove is to open its third site in the region, and its first in Manchester city centre. The concept will open its new site within Bruntwood Works’ newly redeveloped Bloc building. It will be the first central city site for the brand, which will open a site on the ground floor of Bloc on 1 June. Trove will join BrewDog’s The Dog House Hotel and Form fitness at the development in the Fountain Street area of the city centre. Established in Levenshulme back in 2011, Trove also operates a site in Ancoats. Marcus Saide, founder of Trove, said: “The Bloc ethos fits perfectly with what Trove is all about – taking care of ourselves and investing in wellness. We’ll be serving up all our classic dishes, including our freshly baked breads, pastries and our homemade pickles and chutneys, as well as some specially created new menu items for Bloc. As we approach our ten-year anniversary of Trove, I can’t think of a better place to create our latest brunch destination.”
Numis – M&B share price undervalued given its prospects during sector’s recovery: Numis leisure analyst Tim Barrett has upgraded Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), arguing the share price is undervalued given its prospects during the sector’s recovery. Issuing a “Buy” note on the shares with a target price of 400p, he said: “As a consumer bellwether, we view M&B as well-placed to benefit from an enhanced short-term outlook, with pent-up demand coinciding with a 10% to 20% reduction in restaurant supply. Additionally, with 53% of its revenue from food, the highest proportion in the sector, M&B is a natural beneficiary of lower VAT rates (5% rate applicable to food and soft drinks). This subsidy has received little media or investor attention but will be a highly important contributor to margin and cash in the 11 months ahead. In raising £350m in new equity (0.8 times peak Ebitda), M&B has ensured it emerges from lockdown with a strong balance sheet. Net debt/peak Ebitda is expected to be 3.5 times (pre IFRS16) while the loan to value on the estate is only 40%. In our view, press and other commentary on the equity raise was inaccurate – the deep discount (210p) incentivised all shareholders to participate and resulted in the Odyzean holding only increasing from 55% to 56.8%. Conversely, M&B’s equity free float has increased to circa £817m, making it one of the more liquid plays on a strong recovery in UK hospitality. After the pronounced vaccine rally, M&B’s share price has been lacklustre, in part due to the number of placings in the sector. Importantly, its enterprise value is 3% below peak, in stark contrast to many other popular reopening plays in travel and leisure (eg. JD Wetherspoon 9% above, The Restaurant Group 21% above) where the market recognises improved supply dynamics will mean survivors exit the pandemic in an enhanced competitive position. We upgrade from ‘Add’ to ‘Buy’.”
Flower Burger to open UK debut site in London’s Fitzrovia next month: Milan-based vegan burger brand Flower Burger, which last 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, will open its debut UK site next month. Propel revealed in November, the brand, which already operates 14 sites across Italy, France and the Netherlands, had secured the former Herman Ze German site in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia. The site will launch on Monday, 17 May, in line with the reopening of indoor hospitality. The space will seat 65 guests across the two floors – 30 with social distancing rules – and there will be a fully heated and covered terrace on Charlotte Street, accommodating eight tables. 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”. 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.
New Czech beer hub concept Pivo to open in Clerkenwell next month: Pivo, a bar dedicated to showcase Czech beer, will open in London’s Clerkenwell next month. As previously reported by Propel, the bar, which is the brainchild of Filip Celadnik, will launch in the former Grind site at 2-4 Old Street. The new venture will “bring some of the best breweries the Czech Republic has to offer to the masses in London”. It will also showcase a selection of the new wave of modern Czech craft brewers by blending local hops and malts, with those from England and the New World, to brew “distinctive interpretations of stouts, sours and IPAs to reflect current trends in the global beer market”. There will also be a selection of Czech wine and spirits, plus a selection from neighbouring countries and regions. The drinks list will be complemented by a modern bar food menu “that seeks inspiration from traditional Czech cuisine, combining the familiar with the new”. Sammy Weinbaum, at CDG Leisure, acted on the Old Street deal.
Purity Brewing Company appoints new managing director: Warwickshire-based Purity Brewing Company has appointed Andy Maddock as managing director. Maddock has vast experience across brewing and brands, with his most recent senior positions including European agile transformation director and trading director national groups and festivals with Heineken UK, following two years between 2014 to 2016 as managing director of Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh. Maddock’s first priority will be focusing on re-establishing the growth trajectory Purity had enjoyed pre-covid. Purity chief executive and co-founder Paul Halsey said: “I’m excited about Andy joining us in the critical stage of our journey. He will massively upweight our focus on sales and marketing and, more importantly, enable myself to share more responsibility within my role.” Maddock added: “I am excited to be joining the team at this important time not only for the Purity Brewing business but the sector as a whole, as we come out of lockdown in the UK.”
New Italian wine bar opens in Highgate: A new Italian wine bar has opened in Highgate, north London. Italian sommelier Maurizio Titone has joined forces with entrepreneur Marco Petrozzi to launch The Wine Artist in Archway Road. Alongside an exclusive Italian wine list, there are dishes including Roman-style pizza squares and ox eye with black truffles. Petrozzi told Hot Dinners: “We wanted to recreate a place where people could gather and enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures, wine. Food and wine always bring people together – it’s one of the only things that will never go out of style.” Titone trained at The Savoy before becoming head sommelier at Osteria dell’Arancio in Chelsea, which is where he met Petrozzi. Most recently, Titone was head sommelier at Bocconcino in Mayfair.
Bristol-based independent caterer Fosters Events to operate three new dining spaces at National Arboretum in Gloucestershire: Bristol-based independent caterer Fosters Events is set to operate three new dining spaces at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire. Fosters Events has been awarded a five-year contract after a rigorous tender process. Working in partnership with Forestry England, Fosters will provide public catering services to the growing half a million visitors annually, volunteers, members and staff at the arboretum. The site’s main restaurant intends to “celebrate the very essence of the land in which it exists”. Dishes on offer will reflect the nature of the land and produce from within and around Westonbirt. The same concept is at the core of the other two catering spaces, with a walk-in kiosk and ice cream hatch, and outdoor smokehouse forming the last instalment of the new dining areas. Fosters chief executive Neil Lodge said: “We have created three very distinctive offers, which will ensure there’s something for everybody, with the Fosters premium quality and service at the heart of it all.”