Tortilla enters partnership with Merlin Entertainments, adapts operational model:Tortilla is to open a site in Chessington World of Adventures Resort, through a new partnership with Merlin Entertainments, which could see the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept open further sites with the visitor attractions operator. The first site under the new partnership opens on Monday, 17 May. Tortilla’s managing director Richard Morris said the brand was thrilled to be opening in Chessington and has adapted its operational model to suit the high-volume environment. He said: “We’ve streamlined the menu and repositioned the servery to be able to serve more burritos per second than ever. This is a new model for us and, if successful, we hope to continue opening Tortilla sites of this format in more Merlin locations as well as other high-throughput locations with SSP.” Natalie Fox, commercial director at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Tortilla to our line-up – it’s going to be a great addition to the resort.” Located in the Mexicana Land, Tortilla Chessington will be centrally run and staffed by Tortilla and its employees. Tortilla, which operates circa 50 sites, is rolling out several more restaurants this summer as lockdown restrictions continue to ease, including sites in Exeter (High Street), Edinburgh (St James) and Windsor (Peascod Street). The business will add to its dark kitchens’ estate with an opening in the Deliveroo Editions in Manchester later this month. In October 2019, Tortilla signed a development agreement with transport hub foodservice specialist SSP, which saw it open in London’s Euston station. Merlin, which has grown to become the second largest operator of visitor attractions and theme parks globally, operates attractions such as Madame Tussauds London, SeaLife London Aquarium, The London Dungeon and the London Eye.
Caring eyes ex-Revolution site in Richmond: Serial sector investor Richard Caring is in advanced talks to take on the former Revolution site in Richmond, Propel understands. It is thought Caring would like the site in Whittaker Avenue for either an Ivy Asia or for a Scott’s on the River concept he has been toying with for a while. The backer of Caprice Holdings, Bill’s and the Ivy Collection, already operates an Ivy Cafe and a Bill’s in the area. In January, Propel revealed Caring had lined up at least three new openings, including plans to open on the former La Brasserie site in London’s South Kensington. Caring is believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. He also secured the former Le Pain Quotidien site next door to the Ivy Chelsea Garden in the King’s Road, to open an Ivy Asia. Caring currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester, and is thought to be looking at further opportunities to expand the concept, either as stand-alone sites or adjacent to existing Ivy Collection restaurants. He is also set to open a new restaurant venture in Mayfair, after it was confirmed he had secured the former Porsche Garage in North Audley Street. He is still working on plans to reopen the former Princess Garden of Mayfair site in North Audley Street, which he acquired in 2016. It had previously been earmarked for a Caprice Cafe concept but may now become another Ivy Asia.
New York-based restaurant Sunday heading to UK: New York-based restaurant Sunday is heading to the UK. Founders Todd Enany, Adam Landsman and chef Jaime Young are launching the venue in London’s Notting Hill this summer. It will take over the site previously occupied by French brasserie Cote in Westbourne Grove. The two-floor venue is “aiming for a vibe that will echo the Brooklyn original”. Its menu includes dishes such as littleneck clams, garlic bread crumb and smoky bacon; and grilled swordfish, charred broccoli greens and butter bean pistou; along with its famed Sunday pancakes with hazelnut maple praline and brown butter. Drinks are set to include an all-natural wine list and cocktails. Enany said: “We are all excited to be opening up in London, a city with a phenomenal food scene that we can’t wait to be a part of. We’ll be bringing a big taste of Brooklyn with us but we’re also looking forward to working with new ingredients and local producers to make this a true London edition of Sunday in Brooklyn.” The original Sunday restaurant was launched in Brooklyn in 2016. Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook London, acted on the Notting Hill deal.
Big Mamma Group reveals details of Covent Garden restaurant for third London site: Big Mamma Group, the operator behind the London-based restaurants Gloria and Circolo Popolare, has revealed details of its third site in the capital. The company, which unveiled the planned opening last summer, will launch Ave Mario in Covent Garden on 25 June. Based in two buildings in Maiden Lane, and with an entrance in Henrietta Street, the 7,000 square foot space will have seating for almost 300, two terraces, a bar featuring a 3,500 bottle wall, and an inner courtyard. While Gloria was inspired by Capri, and Circolo by Sicily, Ave Mario takes Florence as its starting point. Dishes will include carbonara ravioli and the Cotoletta Milanese. There’s also going to be a new caviar section to the menu, using Baeri caviar from Venice. The basement will feature Big Mamma Group’s first counter dining experience where guests will also be able to watch the chefs at work in the kitchen. Big Mamma Group operates 20 Italian restaurants across major European cities including London as well as delivery-only pizza restaurant Napoli Gang.
No damages paid to family after teen had fatal reaction to Byron burger: The family of a teenager who died after unwittingly eating food he was allergic to at a Byron restaurant says it does not feel properly compensated. Owen Carey, who had a dairy allergy, ordered skinny grilled chicken at Byron’s O2 Arena branch in London for his 18th birthday in April 2017. He informed staff about his allergy but was not told buttermilk was included. He collapsed and died shortly later. Byron said it has since improved all allergen procedures. A coroner ruled in 2019 that Mr Carey, from Crowborough, East Sussex, was not told about allergens that led to his death. The Carey family is now working to change the law. The Careys received a letter from Byron’s chief executive apologising for “all the pain” the family had suffered. But Mr Carey’s father, Paul, told Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show the family has not been awarded damages or specific compensation for their pain or suffering. Byron’s insurers refused to pay any damages and only offered to pay a proportion of the legal and funeral costs, he said, describing the decision as “pathetic”. He added: “We weren’t looking to profit from Owen’s death – we would have donated the money to the charity, the Anaphylaxis Campaign, which supports people at risk from serious allergies.” The family is now officially launching its campaign for “Owen’s Law”, which would require clear, specific allergen labelling on every restaurant menu. Byron has updated its menu that originally stated “Chicken – choose yours grilled or fried”, to “Chicken – marinated in buttermilk, choose yours grilled or fried”. Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “Even though this happened two years before I was employed by Byron, I have personally taken the responsibility to improve all allergen procedures. I am very supportive of any improvements or changes that can be made across the industry to prevent further tragic accidental deaths from occurring and will work with the family accordingly.”
Rosa’s Thai Cafe to make Midlands debut this month: TriSpan-backed Rosa’s Thai Cafe will open its first Midlands restaurant, at Paradise Birmingham this month. The London-based company will launch its latest venue at Two Chamberlain Square on Tuesday, 18 May. The 80-seat restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner daily. Earlier this week, Propel revealed Rosa’s Thai Cafe is set to further enhance its presence in London, with two new sites. The company has lined up the former Bella Italia site in Baker Street and is understood to be close to securing a site in Grafton Way, Bloomsbury. The 24-strong group, which was founded by Alex and Saiphin Moore in 2008, also operates a handful of delivery kitchen sites. The business plans to open up to six new restaurants this year and continue to add to its delivery kitchen estate.
The Coconut Tree to open Bath restaurant this month for seventh site: Sri Lankan bar and restaurant group The Coconut Tree is to open its seventh site, in Bath, this month. The company will open the outlet in Broad Street, in the premises previously occupied by Koh Thai, on Monday, 24 May. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “We searched for a site in Bath for two years so it feels wonderful to finally have an opening date to look forward to. We can’t wait to bring a little piece of Sri Lankan hospitality to the city.” The Coconut Tree was founded in 2016 by five Sri Lankan friends living in Cheltenham – Praveen Thanginah, Dan Fernando and Shamil Fernando, who oversee the food; financial director Mithra Fernando; and operations director Rodrigo Rashinthe. The Coconut Tree operates two sites in Bristol and one in each of Bournemouth, Cardiff, Cheltenham and Oxford. In March, the company announced it would extend its offer of 50% off for all eat-in customers from Monday to Wednesday until the end of January 2022.
Judy Joo confirms Canary Wharf opening for Seoul Bird concept: Seoul Bird, the fledgling Korean concept from chef Judy Joo, is to launch in Canary Wharf. As revealed by Propel last month, the concept, which launched last summer in Westfield London, has taken the Radio Alice site in Jubilee Place for an opening in late June. The concept specialises in crispy, double-fried, Korean-style chicken inspired by Joo’s Korean-American heritage. Chickens are brined for 24 hours before being double fried and served with Asian slaw. Making their debut on the menu will be mixed buckets with double-fried tenders, wings and thighs, as well as the tender bucket filled with tenders and the grilled bucket with thighs and wings cooked over charcoal, all served with a choice of Seoul Bird’s signature sauces for dipping. Seoul Bird also offers bibimbap bowls (steamed rice with vegetables, pickled daikon, edamame beans, onions and poached egg). Also joining the menu will be frozen Seoul Shakes. Joo said: “ [Chef] Andy [Hales] and I have spent a lot of time developing some exciting dishes that we can’t wait to bring to Canary Wharf. Growing up in America, buckets of chicken were a special treat that I looked forward to. I wanted to recreate that sense of sharing and abundance at Seoul Bird.” Joo left the business she founded, Jinjuu, in 2019, after launching the Korean street food concept in Kingly Street, Soho, six years ago. Jinjuu grew to three sites, including one in Mayfair, but only the original in Soho remains.
Scottish Starbucks franchisee grows with new drive-thru and cafe in Glasgow:Starbucks franchisee OCO Westend has opened a new drive-thru and cafe in Glasgow, adding to its growing portfolio of locations throughout Scotland. The Glasgow-based business, one of Starbucks’ longest licensed partners in the UK, has opened the store at the new M74 service area in Polmadie, creating 20 jobs, following support from HSBC UK. The new site follows openings in Inverness, Rutherglen, Paisley and Hillington since August 2020, with these stores generating a total of 105 jobs. The support secured from HSBC UK has helped with OCO Westend’s expansion by covering the construction and fit-out costs for the new stores. OCO Westend also plans to open two further stores later this year, with more planned for 2022 and beyond. Led by managing director JJ O’Hara, OCO Westend opened its first store in Dumfries High Street in 2013. It now employs 273 people across 13 stores in Scotland.
Elizabeth Cottam to open contemporary bakehouse and dining room for third site: Elizabeth Cottam, the chef-patron behind Home and The Owl in Leeds, is to open a contemporary bakehouse and dining room in Boston Spa this month. Cora will offer bakery and patisserie-based breakfasts, lunch and afternoon tea tasting experiences, alongside an ever-changing selection of speciality cakes, pastries and wine. Cottam said: “We’re offering elegant, yet fun and playful, pastry and bread creations that are very different from what you typically find in your traditional tearoom or old-fashioned French patisserie.” The first few weeks will be collection only with the full dine-in experience expected by June. The plan for the venue is to bake a small selection of products to take away each week, alongside two tasting menu boxes for brunch and lunch, each containing items that will change weekly.
Gareth Bale signs new 15-year lease for Elevens Bar & Grill following SA Brain operational changes: Football star Gareth Bale has signed a new 15-year lease for Elevens Bar & Grill in Cardiff city centre. Elevens first opened in May 2017 following an extensive redevelopment of the SA Brain-owned venue in Castle Street. In December 2020, SA Brain announced contracts had been exchanged with Marston’s to operate its portfolio of pubs in Wales, on a combination of leased and management contract arrangements. As a result of these operational changes, Elevens has now become a fully independent venture, co-owned by Bale and his business partner Jamie Humphrys with SA Brain as landlords. Bale said: “It’s exciting to be taking Elevens forward as an independent venue.” Elevens Bar & Grill will reopen on Thursday, 20 May. Elevens Bar & Grill was the first step into the hospitality sector for Bale, who in March 2020, also announced his plans to open Par 59 – a new bar, restaurant and mini-golf concept in collaboration with local events brand The Depot. Work on Par 59 has been delayed due to the pandemic, but Bale hopes the venue will launch later this year.
Andina to relaunch in new Spitalfields home this month: Peruvian restaurant Andina is to relaunch in its new Spitalfields home this month. Andina will reopen in Commercial Street on Wednesday, 19 May, in the former Lupita premises. The Mexican restaurant brand was acquired by Andina’s owners Alex and Saiphin Moore, founders of Rosa’s Thai Cafe, earlier this year. Andina’s new home is much larger than its previous Shoreditch base, which was forced to close due to the pandemic. The new site will offer 80 covers in the main restaurant and Pisco bar space, and a further 32 seats downstairs in Bar Mistura – a late-night cocktail bar and taqueria, set to launch in June. The menu at Andina Spitalfields will pay homage to the restaurant’s Andean roots, offering its collection of signature ceviches as well as new vegan dishes, alongside its cocktail list. Meanwhile, Bar Mistura, described as a Latin American speakeasy-style taqueria bar, will serve its own cocktail menu alongside bar snacks and a taco menu. Andina managing director Raquel de Oliveira said: “Having to leave our original home in Shoreditch after seven years was really heart-breaking. But finding our new home in Commercial Street in Spitalfields feels like a fresh start for the team and the Andina brand as a whole.”
Property development company secures £21m for first two properties for new hotel business: Property development company Henley Homes has secured £21m to build the two new hotels for its Rogue City Hotel Group business. The company is behind The Wellington in Glasgow, which will become a 98-bedroom hotel in a former tribunal court building, and The Hobson, a 56-suite luxury hotel and meeting space centred around an atrium-style restaurant housed in a grade II-listed former police station in St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge. The hotels are earmarked for opening in the summer of 2022 and September 2022 respectively. Rogue City, which also owns and operates the Dunalastair Hotel Suites in the Scottish Highlands, secured the funding from Tikehau Capital. The group added it has “major plans to expand exponentially over the next few years”.
Arc Inspirations converts The Pit in Chapel Allerton to Box brand: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has converted its The Pit site in Chapel Allerton to its Box sports bar format. The 2,000 square foot venue in Stainbeck Lane features 14 Ultra HD screens. It also serves the Box’s menu of pizzas and burgers alongside beer, cocktails, wine and spirits. There are also plans to reintroduce live music and events, safety and restrictions permitting. Arc Inspirations operates 17 sites under its Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Box and Manahatta brands.