Burger & Lobster set to expand to 25 restaurants by end of 2016: Burger & Lobster plans to add nine restaurants this year to have an estate of 25 sites by the end of 2016. The company currently has 12 sites in the UK, one in the US and three franchised restaurants. Managing director Simon King told the Propel Multi Club Conference the company plans three more UK restaurants before the summer, two more franchised sites by July and two more New York City sites. King reported the first New York site served 8,000 customers last week and the brand is performing well in the regions with its Bath site turning over £47,000 net of VAT last week. The sale mix across Burger & Lobster is currently 77% food and 23% drink, with lobster accounting for 53% of food sales, burgers accounting for 24% of sales and lobster rolls accounting for 23%. The company is currently serving 39,000 customers per week in the UK. King reported the company saw 8.9% like-for-like sales growth in the UK last year – despite not increasing its standard £20 charge for both burgers and lobsters since 2011. King said the price of lobster had increased by £30 per kilo in the last two years – from £21 to £51. “We’ve maintained our margin through greater efficiencies,” he said. King reported the company expected 30 franchised restaurants by the end of 2017. Franchisees need to have £2m in liquidity to be granted a franchise. In the UK, Burger & Lobster will need to develop a “smaller Burger & Lobster variant”, he said. “We took £47,000 net in Bath last week – we can’t do that (level of turnover) in Aberdeen.”



Domino’s – sales of sides, desserts and beverages are booming: Domino’s chief executive David Wild has reported its best sales growth is coming from sides, desserts and beverages rather than pizzas. He told the Numis Leisure & Travel Conference that 2015 saw like-for-like sales volumes increased by 32.7% for beverages, 14.8% for desserts, 12.1% for sides and 8.1% for pizzas. Average weekly store sales had risen 11.1% to £19,519 and store Ebitda rose to 15.5% from 13.6% the year before. Wild highlighted the role of new products in driving sales – year-on-year chicken sales rose 30% with the launch of the Chick ‘n’ Mix Box, stuffed crust sales rose by 17% courtesy of the return of the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust and new and improved brownies increased orders by 60% over 2014. Wild argued the UK market remains under-penetrated, compared with both the US and Australia/New Zealand markets – the latter two countries have an urban population of less than half of the UK, with population per store at 36,500, compared with 61,100 in the UK.



Antic London set to hit 50 sites by end of 2016: Antic London, the operator of shabby chic pubs in up-and-coming parts of London, led by Anthony Thomas and backed by Downing, is set to grow its estate to at least 50 pubs by the end of 2016, Downing partner Steve Kenee has told the Propel Multi Club Conference. The company currently operates 41 pubs – and six of the additional openings will be financed by Downing, Kenee reported. Antic achieved 7.1% like-for-like sales growth in 2015 and mature sites average £25,000 per week of turnover. Kenee told the conference Antic invariably opens in parts of London where the food and beverage offer is two years’ behind more developed parts of the city. “It is operating in areas of London going through or about to go through gentrification,” he said. Antic sites offer a “shabby chic, stripped back, non-imposing” environment that allows “everybody to relax and mix with a variety of demographics”, Kenee added. Downing, which has investments with seven multi-site pub and restaurant companies in the sector, invests as much as 85% to 90% of the capital required for new ventures, investing in new Special Purpose Vehicles for new ventures rather than taking a stake in existing businesses.



Michelin-starred chef to open Manchester restaurants and hotel for Neville and Giggs group: Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare will open two restaurants and a hotel in Manchester’s former Stock Exchange building as part of his role as creative director for Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville’s GG Hospitality. O’Hare, who picked up a star for his Leeds restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain and also featured in BBC’s Great British Menu, told the Manchester Evening News the city centre restaurants would open “around summer 2017”. O’Hare said: “We’re going for two restaurants instead of one, and a hotel. It’s really exciting but it’s a big project. We’re trying to finalise things like names, menus and design concepts. But it won’t be another Man Behind The Curtain.” Former Manchester United players Neville and Giggs founded leisure group GG Hospitality, whose portfolio includes Hotel Football, Café Football Old Trafford, and Café Football Stratford. It is also opening a boutique at the St Michael’s complex in Manchester city centre. O’Hare was appointed creative director of the company in January.




US-style restaurant Harvey’s opens second drive-thru in Wales as it eyes expansion: US-style restaurant Harvey’s New York Bar and Grill has opened its second drive-thru in Wales, its third site in total, amid expansion plans. The new drive-thru in Bangor joins the first in Rhuddlan, which opened in December 2014, and a restaurant in Llandudno. Harvey’s director Craig Holmes told the Daily Post: “We have basically transported the same concept from Rhuddlan to Bangor because it works. There are lots of McDonald’s sites out there and I don’t want to knock what they do but some people want something a bit more upmarket. We have made a lot of effort to make these nice sites to eat in – we go out our way to welcome families. This means most people come in to eat.” Regarding expansion plans, Holmes said: “We are still actively looking at more sites, particularly on Anglesey. We expect to start progressing a new site in the next two or three months.”




Benugo wins contract to take over two Hampstead Heath sites, restaurant critic’s anger: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has been awarded three-year contracts by the City of London Corporation to take over the leases of two venues on Hampstead Heath. In May, Benugo will take over the Parliament Hill Cafe in Parliament Hill Fields, run by Savoy-trained chef Alberto D’Auria and his family for more than 30 years. It will also move into another family-run venue, The Golders Hill Park cafe. After a ballot earlier this week, members of Hampstead Heath Management Committee voted seven to six in favour of awarding the contract to Benugo, which operates more than 50 venues at places such as the British Museum and Regent’s Park. Benugo founder Ben Warner told the Camden New Journal: “We are looking forward to being able to bring our fresh, high quality, modern British food and flavours to these unique venues. We are mindful that in some cases we will be inheriting established food operations and are confident our vision and menus will be embraced by their communities.” However, the contract award has sparked anger among some local residents. Restaurant critic and television presenter Giles Coren said: “If you have a brand like Benugo there, you may as well have a McDonald’s. I’d much rather eat at a family-run place.”




Taylor St Baristas to open ninth London site, prepares to launch brand in US: Coffee shop company Taylor St Baristas will open its ninth London site on Monday (21 March) and is preparing to launch the brand in the US. The company is continuing expansion in London by opening in Chancery Lane in the Southampton Buildings. Co-founder Nick Tolley, who also co-founded the Harris + Hoole coffee chain that Tesco took full ownership of last month, told Propel: “This site will be a bit of a new concept for Taylor St, featuring an all-day a la carte offer and a range of low-intervention wines and craft beers. We’re very excited to see how it goes!” The opening will be followed by its first US site “in a month or so” in New York. The store will be located in Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Tolley added: “Like Chancery Lane, the shop will boast an a la carte offer, with a menu inspired by the kind of food coming out of the best cafes in Melbourne, Sydney, London and New York. And we’ve flown over five of Taylor St’s best baristas to help ensure the shop is bashing out the quality of coffee we’ve long been delivering here in London.” Tolley founded Taylor St Baristas in 2006 with siblings Andrew and Laura inspired by the “sort of good coffee we took for granted back home in Australia”.




Des McDonald to open Japanese restaurant on 16th floor of Birmingham hotel: Restaurateur Des McDonald will open izakaya-style restaurant Rofuto on the 16th floor of the Park Regis Birmingham hotel on Tuesday, 26 April. The venue will offer a modern Japanese menu with 360-degree views of the city skyline at more than 141 feet. The restaurant will sit alongside cocktail lounge and sake bar Kurabu. Rofuto, the Japanese word for “loft”, will feature a large central bar, an open kitchen, and hand-painted murals. The menu will be divided into six sections: sushi and sashimi, tempura, robata grill, mains, sides and desserts. Signature dishes will include saffron gindara with razor clams, and sesame tuna tataki and soft shell crab with wasabi puree and black garlic crumble. Desserts will feature twists on European classics such as matcha tiramisu and wasabi macaroon. McDonald, a former Ivy chef and chief executive of Caprice Holdings, with establishments including Soho House and Annabel’s, said: “I am delighted to be opening my first modern Japanese restaurant, Rofuto, with my partners at Park Regis Birmingham. I love rooftop spaces, having opened four successful restaurants on the roof of Selfridges in London. I fell in love with the unparalleled dramatic views.”



Buzzworks to open ninth site: Ayrshire restaurant company Buzzworks is to open its ninth site this summer. The company is investing £750,000 to convert the Stag and Hound pub in Kilwinning into The Corner House. Buzzworks said the new restaurant would seat over 100 guests and also have an intimate private dining room for up to 20 people. It said the food would focus on “simple dishes with big flavours”. A spokesman told the Kilmarnock Standard: “The Corner House will offer all-day eating and drinking in a relaxed and stylish environment. The stunning new look venue will also feature our interpretation of a traditional bar – cosy and comfortable but with a modern twist. The menu will have a real focus on simple dishes with big flavours. Whilst our fully stocked bars will be home to an impressive range of craft beers, great wines by the glass and classic cocktails.” Buzzworks operates eight other sites across Ayrshire including The Millhouse in Stewarton, Longhouse in Kilmarnock and Treehouse in Ayr.




Revolution founders reveal second site for pub brand: Revolution Vodka Bar founders Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod have revealed the second pub site for their Flying Pig & Lobster vehicle, launched in partnership with celebrity chef Simon Rimmer. The company is set to open new venture The Viking on Black Horse Hill on the site of the Hill Top pub in West Kirby in the Wirral. It has been granted permission by Wirral Council to build a single-storey kitchen extension at the back of the Enterprise Inns pub, improve the beer garden and install a larger window at the front. The pub was previously known as The Collingwood and run by Michelin-starred Kirkby chef Aiden Byrne. Flying Pig & Lobster also operates The Elephant, in Woolton Village, Liverpool, a Star Pubs & Bars site. Last August, Ellis said the company had secured an undisclosed location for its second site and was “researching retail offers in Scandinavian countries to give it a Nordic feel”. Ellis, Macleod and Rimmer set out to modernise the traditional pub offer by creating a retail offer that trades through all the dayparts with a broad demographic.




Artigiano opens second Base + Barley site – in Cardiff: Artigiano has opened its second pizza and beer restaurant Base + Barley – in Cardiff – amid plans to roll-out 200 venues in the next ten years. Artigiano, which runs coffee bars that transform into wine bars in the evenings, launched the concept in Exeter late last year. The venue in Queen Street, Cardiff, seats more than 100 and offers breakfasts and artisan sourdough pizzas cooked in wood-fired or stone-based pizza ovens. It also features a bar serving boutique wines, cocktails and craft beers and ciders. The concept was founded by Steve Keough and Joe Hill, who also operate Artigiano sites in London, Reading, Exeter and Cardiff. The next Base + Barley venue to open will be in Bournemouth.




Vegan kitchen concept launches in Liverpool, for each meal sold, another given to charity: Give Kitchen, a registered charity that pledges to “eradicate hunger, poverty and disease by 2040”, will open its inaugural Inspiration Centre, Eatery and Organic Shop in Liverpool next month. For every meal sold, one will be given to a homeless person in the UK or a starving child abroad. The Inspiration Centre will offer vegan wholefood breakfasts, large and small plates, and desserts. Co-founders Paul Hampson and Dario Curcillo’s own-branded, organic, fairtrade-certificated coffee will also be on offer, alongside a selection of vegan drinks. The venue in Harrington Road at Brunswick Dock will also have an on-site shop. Hampson told the Liverpool Echo: “We hope our guests will leave not only feeling satisfyingly full but also great knowing they’ve helped someone out who is less fortunate.”




Nottingham restaurant owners to open new £1m venue: The owners of Nottingham-based Italian restaurant Pizzeria Savai are to open a £1m bar-restaurant in the city. The Iacovitti family is launching SaltBox in Bolero Square on the ground floor of the Ice House serviced apartments block next to the Motorpoint Arena on the eastern edge of the city centre. The 6,000 square foot venue featuring an 80-seat restaurant that offers “modern British food” will open on Friday, 1 April. Mick Iacovitti told the Nottingham Post: “We want to catch people going into and coming out of concerts at the arena. A lot of them won’t know Nottingham and if the arena empties at 10.30pm on a weekday a lot of places in the city are calling last orders for 11pm.”




The Italian Job passes 50% mark in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to open second site, increases equity stake and extends offer: The UK’s first Italian craft beer pub The Italian Job has passed the 50% mark in its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its second site. The company, whose inaugural venue is in Chiswick, west London, was originally offering a 17.5% equity stake in return for the investment. It has now increased that to 22.22% and extended the offer until Friday, 8 April “owing to ongoing conversations with investors”. So far 79 investors have pledged £202,530. The largest investment to date is £40,000. The investment will be used to take over the lease of a new pub, ideally somewhere in east London. The target pub will have 80 covers with the ability to accommodate over 100 people at peak times. The site will preferably have a late licence to cater for the desired younger demographic, and the business is looking to pay a premium in order to mimimise refurbishment expenses. Unique and interesting locations are preferred and the new site is planned to be open by the summer. The Italian Job is a joint venture from the founders of Italian brewery Birrificio del Ducato and Marco Pucciotti who owns several pubs and restaurants in Rome including Hop & Pork and Epiro.




Hogs Back Brewery freezes beer prices, urges action on SBR scheme: Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery said it was backing the Budget duty freeze on beer and cider with a wholesale price freeze to on-trade and off-trade customers for the rest of 2016. However, the brewer urged the Treasury to address the Small Brewers Relief scheme (SBR) which is withdrawn in stages as a brewer’s volumes grow meaning, the company said, Hogs Back will pay significantly more in duty than brewers that stay below the SBR threshold. Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson said: “Whilst it’s heart-warming to be able to contribute more to the common good by paying more duty, we are urging the Treasury to address this particular problem in the near future. Small businesses like ours, working hard to deliver growth, shouldn’t be disincentivised by the tax system.” Hogs Back’s growth has been driven by the success of its flagship Traditional English Ale. Thompson said: “Hogs Back beers continue to be an enticing combination of great quality and fair prices and with our prices held for the rest of the year, we hope our customers will continue to support us by drinking even more of them!”



Redcomb Pubs reopens Worplesdon Place as boutique hotel and pub after £1m refurbishment: Redcomb Pubs, led by Dan Shotton, has reopened Worplesdon Place on the outskirts of Guildford, Surrey, following a £1m renovation project. The 19th century country manor house was purchased by the pub operator in September last year and since then building work has been carried out to reinstate the venue to its former glory as a boutique country pub with rooms. It traded previously as a Beefeater and Premier Inn site, the brands owned by Whitbread. The venue incorporates 29 individually designed boutique bedrooms. Shotton said: “We are delighted to relaunch this stunning venue back into the local community and committed to delivering a country pub that continues to meet and exceed our guests’ expectations. We’ve developed a strong business across the Redcomb Pubs portfolio that centres on delivering simple, seasonal, freshly cooked food at sensible prices, an interesting range of wines and beers, top notch hospitality and a friendly relaxed environment.”




Darwin & Wallace to open fifth site at Battersea Power Station development: Darwin & Wallace is to open its fifth site, “No29”, early in 2017 as part of phase one of the multimillion-pound development at Battersea Power Station. Joining a community of hand-picked retail outlets, restaurants and shops, No29 is a modern interpretation of the local neighbourhood pub. No29 will be the sole pub provider in phase one. Mel Marriott, Darwin & Wallace managing director, said: “We are all incredibly excited to be a part of Battersea Power Station’s regeneration development and the growing community within it. Together with our team of artisans and carefully selected suppliers, we are looking forward to seeing our vision of a modern 21st century pub, complete with unique design, food and drink paired with the spirit of Battersea come to life in No29.” The group opened its first location, No 11 Pimlico Road in Belgravia in 2012, followed by No 32 The Old Town in Clapham in 2014. No 1 Duke Street followed in Richmond in late 2015 and the fourth location is set to open in the heart of Chiswick in April.



Bone Daddies to open ramen bar in Old Street, fourth London site: Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies will open its fourth London site – at The Bower, Old Street, in June. The menu will showcase ramens and snacks such as 20-hour pork bone broth tonkotsu, and sweet and spicy pig bones, alongside a selection of new, specially developed dishes such as kushikatsu (skewered, breaded and fried meats and fish served with assorted sauces). Bone Daddies Old Street will feature the restaurant’s signature rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and an extensive list of Japan-inspired cocktails, beer, whisky, sake and wine. The restaurant will incorporate a small bar counter and seat up to 65. Open for lunch and dinner, the new site will adhere to Bone Daddies’ no reservations policy. The other Bone Daddies sites are in Soho, Kensington, and Bermondsey, while chef proprietor Ross Shonhan also operates Asian fusion pop-up Shackfuyu in Soho and Japanese pub concept Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden.



Whitbread completes deal for Premier Inn as part of Royal Arsenal Riverside scheme: Whitbread has completed a leasehold deal on a 128-bedroom Premier Inn and restaurant at Berkley Homes’ Royal Arsenal Riverside development. Due for completion in spring 2017, the new Premier Inn will be part of an 88-acre, mixed-use scheme with 5,000 homes, 900,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as shops and restaurants. Derek Griffin, head of acquisitions (London) at Premier Inn, said: “Woolwich is an outstanding location – soon to reap the benefits of Crossrail and an estimated £1.5bn investment by 2030. With strong customer demand and the popular appeal of the Premier Inn brand in London, the capital is an important growth area for us. With a spate of big ticket new deals in London already this year, we’re showing we have the flexibility, expertise and capital to secure the very best sites.” Karl Whiteman, divisional managing director of Berkeley Homes, said: “Woolwich is becoming ever more popular with tourists and the new hotel will add to the area’s wealth of amenities.”



Wildwood gets go-ahead to open restaurant in Crawley: Tasty brand Wildwood has been given the go-ahead to open a restaurant in Crawley – its second venue in West Sussex. The company has been granted permission by the borough council to transform the A Chef Buffet site in the High Street. It applied for listed building consent to refurbish part of The George Hotel into a restaurant and also create a deli area selling fresh produce inside the main entrance, reports the Crawley News. Wildwood already has delis at several of its existing sites selling freshly baked pastries and breads, plus artisan products such as olive oil as well as salads and sandwiches. The company has 31 sites in the UK, including one other in West Sussex, in Chichester.



Halewood buys 50% stake in Pogues whiskey: Drinks manufacturer and distributor Halewood International has acquired a 50% stake in The Pogues Irish Whiskey. The deal was struck with the legendary Irish band, The Pogues, whose members Shane MacGowan, Jem Finer, Andrew Ranken, Spider Stacy, James Fearnley, Terry Woods, and Darryl Hunt retain ownership of the brand’s remaining 50%. West Cork Distillers, one of two independently owned and operated distilleries in Ireland, developed The Pogues Irish Whiskey in 2015. While the company continues to hold global distribution rights, it has awarded Halewood distribution rights for Halewood’s core markets including the UK, South Africa, Romania, China as well as through travel retail. Halewood International group chief executive Stewart Hainsworth said: “This acquisition further strengthens our close partnership with West Cork Distillers. We already distribute the West Cork Irish Whiskey brand range in the UK and throughout our network, and West Cork Distillers distributes Halewood brands in Eire.”



El Mexicana to open venue in £14m Bolton development, first north west venue: Mexican burrito specialist El Mexicana will open a venue in the £14m Market Place development in Bolton, its first site in the north west and its 20th in total. The first businesses will open in the refurbished Victorian vaults on Wednesday, 23 March, including Italian restaurant brand Prezzo. Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen are also set to open in the coming months. The vaults scheme is part of a wider £19m redevelopment that will also see a nine-screen cinema open later this year. Centre manager Nikki Wilson-Cooke told Bolton News: “We are really pleased to announce another big name in El Mexicana signing up to join the project.” El Mexicana has grown from one outlet in 2011 at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield to 19 venues, the majority in southern England.



Milan restaurant Savini opens first overseas venue on site of one of London’s oldest restaurants: Milan restaurant Savini has opened its first overseas venue in London. Savini at Criterion has launched in Piccadilly Circus on the site of The Criterion, one of the capital’s oldest restaurants that went into administration last year, reports Hot Dinners. Designed by Royal Albert Hall architect Thomas Verity, the neo-Byzantine dining room and bar features a gold ceiling and marble columns. The menu features authentic Italian dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients such as slow cooked roast pork with borretane onions in balsamic dressing as well as braised cheek of veal with cream of Jerusalem artichoke and star anise, and Peruvian potato chips. There is also a deli counter selling items including balsamic vinegars, pasta, truffles and coffees. Dating to 1867, Savini is Milan’s most famous restaurant.