Bistrot Pierre to open site at former Baptist church in Preston: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre is to open a site in Preston in the spring. In a first for the group, Bistrot Pierre will open the bistrot in a 19th century Baptist church in Fishergate, which has stood in the town centre for almost 160 years. It will be the company’s fourth site in the north west. Rob Beacham, who co-founded the company with John Whitehead in 1994, said: “We’re very excited to be opening in such an incredible space. No two bistrots in France are the same and this is an ethos we endeavour to encapsulate when designing our own bistrots. We ensure each of our restaurants has its own local character and reflects its surroundings. We’ve never opened a bistrot in a church before so I look forward to supporting its restoration and breathing a new lease of life into such a fabulous old building.” The Fishergate bistrot, which will create 50 jobs, will seat more than 200 diners – with space for 164 customers inside and 50 outside. Jenics acted for Bistrot Pierre, which currently operates 22 sites, on the deal. Bistrot Pierre received £9.8m from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans.
Chesterford Group opens 11th Churchill’s Fish & Chips site, two further venues in pipeline: The Chesterford Group has opened the 11th site for its Churchill’s Fish & Chips brand, with two more lined up for launch before Christmas. The company has opened its latest venue in Luton. It is part of a multimillion-pound redevelopment of the Marsh Farm housing estate in the Bedfordshire town. It will be followed by openings in Chelmsford in Essex and Didcot in Oxfordshire. Managing director James Lipscombe said: “We’re really proud to be part of the regeneration of the Marsh Farm housing estate and to be part of such a thriving multicultural community. It’s great to see enthusiastic response to our fish and chip offering and shows there is still great demand for our national dish. With two stores opening before the new year and our strong financial performance, we’re confident about our 2018 openings and maximising all the opportunities available to us.”
Camerons Brewery brings Head of Steam brand back to Liverpool: Camerons Brewery has launched a site for its Head of Steam brand in Liverpool. The company has opened its 14th Head of Steam venue at a site formerly housing The Abbey pub in Hanover Street. The new pub offers 34 keg lines with a selection of rotating craft beers from UK and world brewers, as well as ten cask ale lines and a selection of premium cocktails, spirits and soft drinks. Food includes a brunch menu and a range of British pub classics with a focus on local ingredients. A Head of Steam venue once stood in the former North Western Hotel in Lime Street, Liverpool, but the venue is now operated by JD Wetherspoon. Camerons Brewery chief executive Chris Soley told Insider Media: “As part of expansion plans to increase our retail pub division, we have been looking at a number of potential opportunities across the UK for our Head of Steam brand. We have been specifically looking at venues in the north west, and Liverpool was a city we were really keen to open a site in. This venue will be a very different proposition to the Head of Steam pub that previously traded in Liverpool and will be modelled on the success we have had at our site in Sheffield.”
Prezzemolo & Vitale opens second London site, in Chelsea: Family-run Italian operator Prezzemolo & Vitale (P&V) has opened its second London site, this time in King’s Road, Chelsea. Founded in Italy 30 years ago by husband-and-wife team Giuseppe Prezzemolo and Giusi Vitale, the brand offers Sicilian and Italian delicacies, including takeaway ready-made meals, sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards. The King’s Road venue also features a coffee bar and wine cellar, which offers “classics and rarities” as well as Giù Giù, P&V’s own-brand wine. The site also sells artisan products such as pesto, sauces, preserves, jam, honey, biscuits and beer, alongside a range of healthy, organic and gluten-free foods. The venue also offers home delivery, online ordering for collection, and sommelier and personal shopping services for special meals. P&V’s debut London site is at the Mercato Metropolitano market in Southwark.
Alchemist gets go-ahead for Nottingham site – at second attempt: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Nottingham – at the second attempt. The company had an application to open a venue in Pelham Street on the site of the All Saints clothing store turned down by the city council in April. Now it has been granted permission to open an outlet in King Street on the site of the former Tropeiro restaurant, which shut in April last year. It will be The Alchemist’s first venue in the East Midlands. Managing director Simon Potts told The Business Desk: “We’re really looking forward to bringing The Alchemist to the vibrant city of Nottingham. We love the location in the heart of the city and feel our great all-day dining offer and theatrical cocktails will be a popular addition to the city’s excellent food and drink community.” The Alchemist currently operates 11 sites, with its next due to open in Oxford next month. A further four venues are set to follow by April and Potts previously told Propel the company plans to focus on expansion in London in 2018 as it looks to eventually build a 50-strong UK estate. Palatine Private Equity supported a buyout of The Alchemist from Living Ventures in 2015.
Artisan burger restaurant Cut & Grind to make debut, in King’s Cross: Artisan burger restaurant Cut & Grind is to make its debut in King’s Cross, London, this autumn. Student developer Urbanest has given more than 3,080 square feet of ground-floor space to the restaurant in its 669-bedroom accommodation scheme close to Google’s new campus. The restaurant has been designed to carry a retro aesthetic with a modern twist and features a chef’s table. It will sit in the heart of the recently redeveloped 67-acre King’s Cross site having signed a 15-year lease. Cut & Grind founder Paschalis Loucaides said: “We are delighted to be launching at Urbanest, not simply because it puts us at the heart of King’s Cross but because of our shared love of great design and offering a premium service.” Urbanest chief executive Mark Morgan added: “Creating the best living experience for residents means thinking carefully and creatively about mixed-use buildings. We’re always keen to try new concepts and are delighted to be opening Cut & Grind’s first outlet. Blending quality food with the theatre of an open kitchen offers an exciting artisan take on a classic staple.” CF Commercial acted on behalf of Cut & Grind, while Colliers International represented Urbanest.
Warrens Bakery franchisee to open third Hampshire site, in Winchester: Warrens Bakery franchisee Farhat Abbas will open his third Hampshire site on Tuesday (26 September), in Winchester. Abbas, who operates sites in Eastleigh and Southampton for the Cornwall-based company, will open the new venue in Jewry Street. It will be Warren Bakery’s fifth franchise store outside the south west. Chairman Mark Sullivan told Insider Media: “We are immensely proud of all that the team has achieved this year and, with the rise in popularity of craft and British baking, are delighted we will be able to share our recipes and award-winning sweet and savoury bakes with even more customers in Winchester. With big expansion plans over the next five years, quality, provenance and hand-crafted skill are at the heart of what we do and we look forward to welcoming the Winchester store and staff to the Warrens Bakery family.” Warrens Bakery, which was founded in 1860, has more than 50 sites and Sullivan said earlier this year the company had a pipeline of 100 stores.
Robinsons lodges plans to build 135 homes in Macclesfield: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has lodged plans to build up to 135 homes on green space near Macclesfield town centre. The family-owned brewery has submitted an outline planning application to Cheshire East Council to develop a 13.3-acre site between Chelford Road and Whirley Road in Henbury. Although house types will be determined at the reserved matters stage, it is envisaged there will be a mix of properties including detached, semi-detached and mews-style homes along with associated parking and landscaping, reports Insider Media. A design and access statement for the scheme said: “The proposed development will provide up to 135 new homes, which will provide a range of house types to create a balanced mixed community. The development will create a high-quality sustainable residential neighbourhood, which maintains and enhances the key existing landscape features, integrating the site into the wider area.” Founded in Stockport in 1838, Robinsons operates about 300 pubs across the north west, North Wales and the Midlands.
TGI Friday’s to start delivering alcohol in US: TGI Friday’s is to start delivering alcohol in the US. The company has partnered with delivery startup Lash to begin delivering alcoholic drinks along with food orders placed via its mobile app. The test will begin in the coming months in Houston and Dallas, both in Texas, with roll-out across the US to start in 2018. However, delivering alcohol is a legally tricky proposition. TGI Friday’s and Lash came up with a solution that will be tweaked on a state-by-state basis. While food and alcohol will be delivered together when ordered on the app, the delivery person is actually making two stops – first to pick up the alcohol and again at the TGI Friday’s restaurant. For cocktails, customers can order an “everything but the booze” kit (that is sold by TGI Friday’s), plus the suggested bottle of alcohol (sold by the local store separately) and then mix the drink at home. TGI Friday’s is also exploring the possibility of making bartenders available for hire via the app. Vice-president of digital strategy Caroline Masullo told Business Insider: “We’re a bar-centric business. Right now no-one – from within their own technology – is delivering both food and alcohol.” TGI Friday’s hopes the service can drive incremental sales and stand out from the “sea of sameness” in the sit-down restaurant business. The company has grown take-out sales by 30% since it launched online ordering last summer.
Cafe, grill and bar Megan’s to open second London site: Cafe, grill and bar Megan’s is to open a second London site, this time in Parsons Green. The new venue will open in Parsons Green Lane at the end of October offering a Mediterranean-inspired menu, charcuterie sharing boards and sourdough pizza. Like its debut site in King’s Road, Fulham, Megan’s On The Green will be child and dog-friendly. Breakfast and brunch dishes will include eggs benedict, sweet potato baked eggs, and a brunch bap with hash brown, cheese and bacon. Main dishes will include deconstructed pan kebabs, shakshouka with yogurt, pistachio and pita, and stuffed aubergine with green chilli and tomato, Hot Dinners reports. Decor at the Fulham site includes a ceiling covered in fairylight-bedecked branches and paper blossoms.
Berry Bros & Rudd reports turnover boost but exceptional costs lead to increased losses: Wine and spirit merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has reported a turnover boost but exceptional costs have led to an increase in losses. The company saw turnover increase to £148,077,000 for the year ending 31 March 2017 compared with £145,002,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Turnover would have been £170.5m with the inclusion of invoiced sales from En Primeur, a service that allows customers to buy wine before it is bottled and released to market. However, these sales are deferred until the product is made available to the customer. It reported a pre-tax loss of £5,625,000, compared with a loss of £640,000 the year before. In the accounts, the company said an exceptional cost of £2.9m was due to the write-off of an aborted IT investment pre-dating 2016. It also lost £2m after incurring write-off costs associated to a historic project within its Anchor Brewing & Distillers accounts. Berry Bros & Rudd said it had seen “strong underlying sales growth” during the year, which it said was reinforced by En Primeur campaigns in Burgundy and Bordeaux. In April this year, the company sold The Glenrothes whisky brand to Erdington, which it said had “significantly deleveraged the business”. It added: “Following the year-end, we have opened a new shop at 62-63 Pall Mall/2 St James’s Street and a new private wine advisory space at 3 St James’s Street. This allows the company to strengthen its offering, to enhance the retail experience and to continue to provide our customers with the finest customer service.” Berry Bros & Rudd can trace its roots to 1698 and first supplied the royal family with its products during the reign of George III in 1760. It established its operation in Basingstoke in 1967, with its registered trading address now at Houndmills in the Hampshire town.
Atul Kochhar delays Birmingham restaurant launch until next year: Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar has delayed the launch of his Birmingham restaurant. NRI was due to open in the Mailbox this autumn but the launch has now been put back until next year. Kochhar blamed a “number of factors” for the five-to-six-month delay. A spokesman told the Birmingham Mail: “The opening of NRI is on track to open February or March. When it does open, it will be a great addition to Birmingham’s food scene.” Kochhar, who is a regular on BBC television show Saturday Kitchen, is only the second Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, which was awarded to his London restaurant Benares in 2007. NRI, which will open at the front of the Mailbox, will offer “high-quality but affordable spiced dishes that draw inspiration from the chef’s travels around the globe”. Kochhar opened his first NRI restaurant in Mumbai in 2015, with the menu including dishes such as Burmese green tea salad, chicken liver masala toast, and Caribbean goat curry. He said: “There is a complex plethora of Indian cuisine that has developed outside India and each of my dishes tells a beautiful story – stories I am keen to share with Birmingham.”
Goodbody – M&B has continued to outperform the market: Goodbody leisure analyst Brian Devitt has said Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has continued to outperform the market despite a meaningful weather impact in the fourth quarter. Devitt said: “Total like-for-like sales were +1.8%, with food sales +1.4% and drink sales +2.1% for the period. Year-to-date total sales have increased 2.9%. For the past eight weeks like-for-like sales were +0.3%, with food sales +1.5% (third quarter: +1.3%) and drink sales -1.2%. The statement notes the weather has been more challenging in August and September, which led to a weaker performance in drink-led venues. However, it is worth noting there have been improving trends in the food-led business in the past eight weeks (despite what we believe were tougher comparables) and overall the group has continued to outperform the market. The group has opened 13 new sites and completed 236 remodels and conversions year-to-date. During the year the group disposed of 79 sites for proceeds of £46m, which the statement noted is marginally above the net book value of the properties. Overall, this appears a decent update from M&B. Like-for-likes are marginally behind our full-year expectation but looking at the mix of trends (food picking up in the fourth quarter, drink sales soft) this does appear to be predominantly driven by worse weather year-on-year. This is further evidence that management’s estate refurbishment plan is steering the group in the right direction. We will leave our forecasts unchanged following the release. The outlook for the sector remains challenging and M&B is not immune to these pressures. However, the fact its underlying trading is generally accelerating leaves it better placed than others to cope with headwinds. However, we continue to see greater upside elsewhere in the sector.”
Ei Group partners with Molson Coors to give away 15,000 pints of Doom Bar during Cask Ale Week: Ei Group, formerly known as Enterprise Inns, has partnered with Molson Coors to give away 15,000 pints of Sharp’s Doom Bar during Cask Marque’s Cask Ale Week (25 September to 8 October). The nationwide promotion is available at Bermondsey Pub Co sites, part of the group’s Ei managed operations business unit, and at participating Ei Publican Partnerships venues. In the summer, Ei Group launched its National Pub Fortnight campaign, in which it also gave away 15,000 pints of beer. Consumers can redeem their free pint via a web-based app, while participating pubs will receive marketing support across all digital platforms. Ei Group retail concept director Steve de Polo said: “National Pub Fortnight marked a step-change in our approach as we reached out directly to consumers to support our publicans and drive sales. It was a roaring success and we’re confident our Cask Ale Week activity will drive further interest in pubs across the UK.” Paul Nunny, director of Cask Marque, the industry watchdog for quality beer, said: “Cask ale is Britain’s ‘national treasure’ when it comes to drinks, and Cask Ale Week is the chance for pub-goers, pubs and breweries to celebrate it.”
Beannchor Group to launch rooftop cocktail bar concept in Belfast next month: Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor Group is to launch a rooftop cocktail bar concept at its Bullitt Hotel in Belfast, with drinks garnishes garnered from living walls. Babel, a 250-capacity rooftop bar and garden, will open on Friday, 20 October and is part of the hotel’s £1.75m expansion, which will include 31 new bedrooms and create 30 jobs. Babel will feature an open-air terrace with panoramic views over the city, an interior living wall made up of 300 fresh plants and herbs, and a vertical exterior garden wall that will be visible from ground level. The drinks menu will be based around “shrub cocktails”, with the living walls providing a fresh supply of herbs for use as ingredients and garnishes. The venue will be available for private hire and have its own food offering influenced by south and east Asian cuisine. Beannchor director Conall Wolsey told Belfast Live: “The vision behind the hotel is for it to offer much more than bed space, we want it to be a place where people come to work, relax and socialise. The addition of the rooftop bar and garden will only add to this vision and the stunning views across Belfast were the selling point for us when deciding how to utilise this space. We continuously want to push the boundaries and the living walls will enable us to introduce a new cocktail-led concept in Belfast.” In May, Beannchor Group acquired the headquarters of stage show Riverdance in Capel Street, Dublin, to turn it into a 100-bedroom Bullitt Hotel.
Small-batch craft distiller Durham Gin receives £250,000 investment to relocate and launch whisky: Small-batch craft distiller Durham Gin has received £250,000 investment from the Finance Durham fund. The first transaction from the £20m Maven Capital Partners-managed fund will allow Durham Gin to relocate to central Durham to accommodate greater production capacity and storage facilities. The new site will include a visitor centre, which will provide guided tours and host private and corporate events. Founded in 2014 by former NHS chief Jon Chadwick, the company creates spirits using a 400-litre copper pot. It produces gin, vodka and gin-based liqueurs under the Durham Gin and Durham Vodka brands. Part of the £250,000 will also go towards the launch of Durham Whisky, which will be produced by head distiller Jessica Tomlinson. The first bottles will be available in 2021. Maven investment director Michael Vassallo told Insider Media: “This is an exciting business consisting of driven and passionate individuals, with a product tailored to increasing market demand. As the first of many growing businesses the fund will support, we look forward to helping Durham Gin in its quest to become the region’s distiller of choice.” Paul Wigham, corporate partner at Watson Burton, led the team advising Maven, assisted by solicitor Eleanor James