Bourgee to fire up expansion with Chelmsford launch: Steak and lobster restaurant Bourgee will start expansion when it opens its second site, this time in Chelmsford on Saturday, 1 October. Bourgee, which launched its first restaurant in Southend in 2014, plans to roll-out its “affordable luxury” recipe with the opening in Chelmsford’s new £3m dining quarter. The 120-cover restaurant will be spread over two floors, with a bar on each floor. The company, founded by Great British Menu chef Mark Baumann and director James Welling, has further openings in the pipeline for 2017 in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich. Baumann said: “Bourgee offers a premium dining experience that is accessible to all. Outside the major cities, most people’s experience of steak is cheap, rubbish cuts. We are on a quest to change that. We want everyone to experience the best without having to pay the earth for it. The talented team of chefs cook the meat on a specialist Josper grill, while diners are given graphite blades imported from Germany to cut the meat without tearing.” Welling added: “Chelmsford is just the start. For us, it’s so much more than delivering steak and lobster, we’re giving diners a unique, premium experience at a price they won’t baulk at.” Chelmsford’s dining quarter at the High Chelmer shopping centre also features Carluccio’s, French brasserie Cote and Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay.




Loungers signs deal to open Cosy Club in Lincoln: Cafe brand Loungers has agreed a deal to open a Cosy Club in Lincoln. The company has signed for the new £12m Cornhill development in the city, which is set to open next summer. It will be joined by Danish home and general store Flying Tiger Copenhagen and suit hire company Moss Bros. The grade II-listed Corn Exchange building will house five brands in total once complete. Cosy Club managing director Jake Bishop told the Lincolnshire Echo: “The magnificent grade II-listed Corn Exchange building caught our eye as it fits in perfectly with our ‘mansion splendour meets village eccentricity’ ways. We like every customer to leave ‘feeling splendid’, which we’re confident will be the case at this beautiful building. We will also be in a prime position in the heart of one of the UK’s leading retail and leisure destinations as well as in one of the most exciting historic and up-and-coming cities in the country. I can’t wait for our grand opening bash.” Loungers operates 15 Cosy Clubs in the UK, with its next due to open in Liverpool in December.




Benugo lined up to run proposed new cafe in Primrose Hill: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo is being lined up to run a proposed cafe in Primrose Hill, London. The Royal Parks has applied to Camden Council to renovate the building next to the playground at the bottom of the hill into the outlet. The works would include landscaping and removing metal railings and gates to provide clearer access to the cafe and public toilets. The Royal Parks said the cafe would improve on the “limited offer” of the Benugo food truck, which serves only cold food and hot drinks. Benugo was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when it was forced to pull out of its planned takeover of family-run Hampstead Heath cafes following a public outcry. However, Ianthe Williams, who chairs the Friends of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, said it seemed a “fair deal” that Benugo would run the cafe, because it would replace its food truck. A Royal Parks spokeswoman told the Camden New Journal: “Primrose Hill is being served by a mobile food truck with a limited offer that does not meet the demand of park users.




CG Restaurants & Bars signs deal to open first regional Dirty Martini site, in Cardiff: CG Restaurants & Bars has signed a 25-year lease to open the first regional site for its Dirty Martini brand, in Cardiff. The company has agreed a deal with landlord Legal & General for the former Maddison site in St Mary Street, which will have capacity for 700 and create 65 jobs. A circa £1.2m refurbishment is under way at the 10,000 square foot venue, which will feature a central bar, artwork and areas available for hire. Dirty Martini chief executive Scott Matthews told Business News Wales: “When we decided to open in Cardiff, we wanted to ensure we were located in the heart of Cardiff’s nightlife. The former Maddison site was an ideal location, providing us with plenty of scope to redesign the venue. We are excited and can’t wait to open.” Will Edwards, fund manager at Legal & General, added: “We are delighted to have completed a letting to Dirty Martini, marking the completion of the first stage of our asset management strategy for the property. We now only have the basement space to let.” Dirty Martini has nine sites in London and is expected to hit sales of £13.5m in 2016.




Chipotle launches campaign to highlight food safety improvements: Chipotle has launched a marketing campaign outlining the scope of its food-safety improvements in an attempt to halt falling sales following last year’s foodborne illness outbreaks. In a video on the company’s website, Chipotle chairman Steve Ells describes eight ways the chain has boosted food-safety protocols, stating: “In 2015, we failed to live up to our own food-safety standards and, in so doing, we let our customers down. In late 2015, I made a promise to all our customers we would become an industry leader in food safety. In keeping with that promise, we’ve made advancements that have reinvented the way we manage our entire supply chain and care for our customers in our restaurants.” Ells said the new initiatives included an electronic tracking system to follow ingredients through the supply system; new handling procedures at restaurants; increased inspections by internal and third-party teams; and the establishment of a food-safety advisory council, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. Chipotle has been struggling throughout 2016 to reverse the sharp decline in traffic at its 2,000 US restaurants following the illness outbreaks. The company has offered discounts and promotions throughout the year and also launched a summer loyalty programme. Same-store sales fell 23.6% in the second quarter, including a 19% drop in traffic, which was an improvement on the near 30% decline in the first quarter this year.




D&D London reopens Chelsea restaurant Bluebird following £2m refurbishment: D&D London has reopened its Bluebird restaurant in King’s Road, Chelsea, following a £2m refurbishment. The art deco landmark was built in 1923 as a garage for 300 cars, including the Bluebird in which Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the land speed record. The new interior pays homage to the building’s heritage and the atrium’s original steel frame has been refreshed with bold red paint. The central bar has been designed using stainless-steel bumpers and topped with marble, while two mini petrol pumps serve cocktails. The dining room features mature trees, climbing plants and wildflowers, while a floor-to-ceiling drape can be drawn between the bar and restaurant to create a semi-private dining space. Bluebird also has four private dining rooms. The menu by executive head chef Liam Smith-Laing, formerly of Gordon Ramsay’s Petrús and Marcus Wareing at The Savoy Grill, features “simple, fresh and honest dishes inspired by the best of modern European cooking”. The cocktail menu includes the 301, made with Portobello Road Gin and served theatrically in a miniature Bluebird car. There are also mocktails and a wine list with an emphasis on sparkling, English and natural wines.




Pizza Hut appoints its first chief customer officer as part of plans to put consumers first: Pizza Hut has appointed Helen Vaid as its first chief customer officer, a newly created executive position, as part of plans to put customers first and give them a stronger voice. Vaid will oversee “transformation of the Pizza Hut in-restaurant and digital customer experience”, with a large part of her job focusing on digital ordering, which the chain sees as its largest growth opportunity. She will also oversee the brand’s international e-commerce, technology and operations segments. Pizza Hut International president Milind Pant told Investopedia: “One of the key priorities for Pizza Hut has always been putting the customer experience at the heart of everything we do and we think the addition of Helen will represent an even bigger step-change for Pizza Hut all over the world. To truly provide the best customer experience possible, we must make it easier to get a better pizza by boldly approaching the online and offline experience as a whole, and Helen’s experience and thought leadership matches perfectly with this vision.”




Boma opens Putney Bridge brasserie, third London site: Neighbourhood brasserie and bar Boma has opened a restaurant at Putney Bridge, its third London site. Boma Bridge in Putney High Street offers seasonal world food, with dishes including roasted bone marrow with barley demi, pickled chilli, shallots and sourdough; stuffed spinach wraps with rice noodles, bean sprouts and pickled daikon; and hake fillet with Jerusalem artichoke purée, fennel, piperade and lardoons. Desserts include warm beignets with salted caramel and chantilly cream, Hot Dinners reports. Boma’s other restaurants are in Wandsworth Bridge and Parson’s Green but the new venue is the first to feature a late-night space – a cocktail bar and private dining room for larger groups. Boma is the brainchild of Kieran Monteiro, Austin Eyre and Adam de Kock. A boma is a “safe enclosure” in eastern and southern Africa, and encompasses how the owners feel a restaurant experience should be – relaxed, comfortable and welcoming.




Street food duo Butchies launches first permanent site, in Camden: Street food duo Garrett and Emer Fitzgerald, known for their fried chicken pop-up Butchies, have opened their first permanent site – Butchies’ Hatch – in Camden Market. The Fitzgeralds aim to build on the huge following Butchies has built at its Broadway Market stall. Butchies cooks its free-range chicken using a pressure fryer, making it extra juicy. The new restaurant will offer a choice of five chicken sandwiches served in a soft butter-toasted bun. All the sandwiches are named after television and movie characters from the 1980s and 1990s, including The Clarice Starling (with buffalo sauce, blue cheese slaw and pickles); and The Clancy Wiggum (smoked streaky bacon, guacamole and smoked chilli mayo). There is also a vegetarian option – The Margot (halloumi, guacamole and smoked chilli mayo) – as well as sides such as twice-cooked fries, cheese fries with red Leicester cheese dripping, and hot wings in buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip. Butchies’ Hatch is open daily from 11am to 10pm.




Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant concept Ottoman Grill to launch in Exeter city centre next week: New Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant concept Ottoman Grill will launch in Exeter city centre next week. The venue in Guinea Street will open on Monday (26 September) and is the brainchild of the Demir family. The 60-cover restaurant will occupy the former site of Dinky’s Play Café, which closed in June. Huseyin Demir, a chef with 30 years’ experience, will run the kitchen, with a hand-made copper barbecue and wood-fired ovenkey as the restaurant’s centrepiece. He told the Express & Echo: “It’s one of a kind in the south west. The nearest one I know of is in London. People will be able to sit around it and watch their food being cooked.” Ottoman Grill has been granted a premises licence by Exeter City Council for the sale of alcohol from 11am to 11pm every day.




Numis – ‘M&B shows strong summer trading but full-year estimates remain unchanged’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Mitchells & Butlers has shown strong summer trading but full-year estimates remain unchanged. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 268p, Barrett said: “Like-for-like growth of 1.8% compares with -1.3% in weeks one to 43, and suggests the acceleration evident in weeks 29 to 43 (-0.7%) has continued. A smaller contribution from new openings means total sales also fell by 0.8%, to £2,084m. This is slightly below our forecast of £2,102m and means any uplift from like-for-like sales is offset elsewhere. Warm weather in early September would have been a significant boost to sales, evident in much-stronger performance of drinks (+3.7%) over food (+0.4%) in the last eight weeks. On margins, guidance is unchanged – that is, a reduction in FY16 as a result of investment and wage inflation. This is likely to continue in FY17. Our FY16 forecasts imply 40 basis points of margin attrition, followed by 80 basis points in FY17. Mitchells & Butlers’ main strategy for addressing weak like-for-likes is investment-led. In the past two years circa 400 pubs – or 24% of the estate – have been invested in. Sales uplift in remodelled sites remains about 10%, we estimate. Interestingly, uninvested sites have shown a relative outperformance (possibly reflecting menu changes and other operational improvements). The triennial pension review is under way and we expect an update with FY results in November. This remains a threat in our view, with the mark-to-market possibly increasing to £709m at March 2017 and by a further £200m thereafter. For FY17 we currently assume a return to modest like-for-like sales growth (0.5%) but with ongoing pressure on margins (-80 basis points). After a strong fourth quarter, we see risk to the upside, but by a maximum of 100 basis points (circa 4% on earnings per share). Mitchells & Butlers trades on a CY17 price-to-earnings ratio of 8.0 times, EV/Ebitda of 8.9 times and free cash flow yield of 9.8% (but note the potential deterioration in pension deficit gives EV/Ebitda of 9.7 times and free cash flow yield of 8.1% marked-to-market).”




CH&Co Group’s specialist City arm Lusso appoints operations director: Lusso, the specialist City caterer and part of the CH&Co Group, has appointed Sharon Linney as operations director in a move reflecting the business’ period of significant growth. Linney will be responsible for a portfolio of Lusso’s clients in the City and central London, overseeing a team of three operations managers. She joins Lusso from The Brookwood Partnership, where she was operations director. Prior to this she held operations director roles at Bartlett Mitchell and a social enterprise company, and enjoyed a 20-year career of progression through the ranks at Aramark. Lusso managing director Paul Hurren said: “Lusso is currently in a period of significant growth and it’s vital we have the right team and resources in place to continue the growth curve, while ensuring we deliver on our promise of providing delicious, innovative and sustainable food, supported by excellent service. Sharon is a fantastic asset to the team and her experience and proven reputation for growing client relationships and retaining business will ensure we’re well placed for continued success.” Linney added: “It’s a fantastic brand in a very strong position of growth and I’m thrilled to be part of the team to continue to develop the business and drive it forward. Being a smaller, unique business, supported by a great group, makes Lusso a very attractive proposition. It enables individuality to be retained and attention to be paid to what matters, doing the very best job possible for our clients and delivering continued excellence.”




Interbev Brands triples portfolio within six months of launch: Interbev Brands, the international brand management division of Interbev that launched fewer than six months ago to distribute, license and produce drinks from international and boutique manufacturers, has tripled its product portfolio. The portfolio now spans nine beer, six spirit and three cider brands along with a soft natural mineral water brand. New partner announcements for both UK and international distribution include Crafter’s London Dry Gin and Estonian premium beer Viru. Interbev founder and owner Steve Brogan said: “Interbev Brands’ proposition is to build and manage a unique range of fresh and exciting products to satisfy the growing appetite for premium brands with today’s consumers. We are thrilled our range has grown to cover both the premium and mass categories. Our brand partners comprise independent and often family-owned businesses – dominant in their local markets – who want to work with like-minded partners who are flexible, dynamic and gutsy to build their brands internationally.”




Berkmann Wine Cellars to become exclusive UK agent for New Zealand’s Mahi Wines: Berkmann Wine Cellars will become New Zealand producer Mahi Wines’ exclusive agent in the UK from Saturday, 1 October. The range will feature a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, alongside single vineyard wines Boundary Farm Sauvignon Blanc and Twin Valleys Chardonnay. Berkmann Wine Cellars purchasing director Alex Hunt said: “We are delighted to welcome Mahi Wines to our portfolio. What struck us in particular was the texture of these wines; while far from heavy, they have a sense of substance that places them among the very best in Marlborough.” Mahi Wines owner Brian Bicknell added: “We make wines to be shared at the table so Berkmann’s strength and expertise in the premium on-trade, alongside such an impressive line-up of quality family producers, makes them an ideal partner.” Berkmann’s New Zealand portfolio also includes Coopers Creek, Julicher Estate, Mount Holdsworth, and Bannockburn Bridge.




Showcase Cinemas operator pushes turnover towards £100m, doubles pre-tax profit: The UK arm of the company that operates Showcase Cinemas, which has 20 sites across the UK, has pushed turnover towards the £100m mark and almost doubled pre-tax profit. Newly filed results for NATL Amusements (UK) revealed turnover of £94.7m in the year to 31 December 2015, up from £81.8m in the 12 months to 1 January 2014. Pre-tax profit also climbed to £2.7m from £1.4m a year earlier. A statement filed with the results said NATL had invested in “digital and technological innovation” across its Showcase estate, including the installation of IMAX, 3D and large-screen formats. It has also introduced luxury seating concepts and more food and drink offerings, reports Business Insider. The statement added that directors expect the present level of activity to be sustained for the “foreseeable future”. Showcase has cinemas in Liverpool, Bristol, Derby, Dudley, Cardiff, Coventry, Manchester, Newham, Peterborough, Teesside, Walsall, Glasgow and Paisley. Its “De Lux” branches are in Derby, Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Nottingham, Reading and Kent’s Bluewater shopping centre. NATL Amusements (UK) is part of National Amusements, a US group that operates 850 screens across the UK, US, Argentina and Brazil.




Savills markets Isle of Wight country house estate for £3m: Agent Savills, on behalf of the joint administrators James William Stares and Rupert Graham Mullins, of Rothmans Recovery, is selling The Priory Bay Estate in Seaview on the Isle of Wight for a guide price in excess of £3m. Set in 48 acres, the estate benefits from a private beach and houses a total of 44 bedrooms. The grade-II listed country house offers 18 suites/bedrooms, with additional letting accommodation in converted barn and cottage developments. There are two restaurants within the property, as well as tennis courts, a six-hole golf course and a helipad. Savills said the self-contained nature of the estate, with its extensive grounds and views over the Solent, made it an “ideal destination for weddings and conferences”. Situated to the south of Seaview, Priory Bay is 3.5 miles from Ryde and its ferry links to Portsmouth. Seaview is a popular tourist destination on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight and benefits from strong summer trade. Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, said: “The Priory Bay Estate offers a unique opportunity to the buyer – its location and heritage sets it apart from other hotels on the island. It offers a range of income streams from two restaurants and weddings and conference facilities, providing year-round business.” The affairs, business and property of Peartime, trading as The Priory Bay Hotel (in administration), are managed by James Stares and Rupert Mullins, the joint administrators, who act as agents of the company and without personal liability.