Comptoir Libanais boss – ‘foundations now in place to execute our measured expansion plans’: The chief executive of Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes, has told Propel the company now has the foundations in place to execute its “measured” expansion plans. Having opened restaurants in Bath, Exeter and London’s Soho in the past month, Chaker Hanna said the company, which now has 17 sites, was keen to grow both in the capital and the regions. He added: “We have strengthened the team and with the initial public offering in the past three months, we now have the foundations in place to execute our expansion plans. We opened our first site in 2008, in London, and the success of our first regional site in Manchester gave us the encouragement to open outside the capital.” Further sites are due to open next year in Reading and Oxford and Hanna said there was no reason why Comptoir couldn’t have a presence in “all the big cities”. He added: “We could have one or two restaurants in these places – but there is no rush. We’ll take it one step at a time. The location has to be right. It took us two years to get the right site in Manchester while in Exeter it took 18 months. I wanted to be in Oxford three years ago! But the funding and team is in place that will allow us to expand at a reasonable pace. Growth is important but it’s got to be the right opportunity.” The company launched its first in-store restaurant last week at John Lewis in London’s Oxford Street and Hanna said it was a partnership it was looking to extend. He added: “It’s a bit of an experiment but our customer profile matched perfectly with John Lewis’. We’ll see how it progresses but if it is successful we can look at other opportunities.” Hanna said current trading was “very positive” and the company had seen no effect, as yet, from Brexit. He added: “Nobody knows though what is going to happen in say the next year-and-a-half. We won’t be complacent. We want to improve what we do. We think the food is amazing – it hits every palette really but we always want to do things better to keep ourselves head and shoulders above our competitors. We’ve got some amazing team members working for us and we need to keep developing them and also make sure we continue to recruit good calibre staff. They are the ones who interact with our guests on a daily basis and it’s very important we look after them.”




Potting Shed acquires third freehold with support from Downing: Potting Shed Trading, a company founded by the Burning Night management team and funded by the Downing EIS Pub fund, has acquired a further freehold site. The company has purchased the former Rutson Hospital in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. The property is prominently situated on High Street and adjoins a recently constructed 10,000 square foot Marks & Spencer food hall. The historic grade two-listed building provides 9,623 square feet over ground and first floor with external seating area and courtyard. This is the third freehold purchase within 12 months for the company, which has a number of further acquisitions in the pipeline. The extensive development will see this iconic building converted into a modern, upscale bar and restaurant complete with the funky reclaimed interior that the brand is associated with together with a focus on cask ales, bespoke cocktails and fresh artisanal food. Steven Kenee, partner of Downing LLP, said: “I am delighted that this impressive site has been secured for the third Potting Shed. The first two sites continue to trade ahead of expectations and we very much looking forward to bring the irresistible combination of the well invested, on-trend interior and good old fashioned hospitality that the brand stands for to the picturesque town of Northallerton.”



US pizza company Jules Thin Crust launches in UK: US organic thin crust pizza company Jules Thin Crust, has opened its first UK site, in Putney, south west London. The company has opened the 2,100 square foot unit in Lacy Road on the site of Urban Diner following a deal by Matthew Englender, of Restaurant Property. The 60-cover restaurant includes a basement, ground floor and first floor. The rent is £55,000 per annum; the lease is an assignment and runs until 2030. Jules Thin Crust was born more than 12 years ago when John and Jan Ordway searched in vain for a restaurant that would attract and properly nourish their two young daughters and, at the same time satisfy their own appetites. It now has ten sites across the US. It uses an organic high gluten flour (a gluten-free option is also available) that produces a crispy thin crust, and the pizzas feature gourmet toppings such as roasted eggplant, portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and Kalamata olives. The dough and sauces are made fresh on site every day while ingredients are seasonal, locally sourced where possible, and organic. There is also an extensive drinks menu.


Soho House to launch Fox Bar today, in Brixton: Soho House & Co is launching Fox Bar today (Friday, 28 October) in Brixton, a new underground drinking den inspired by taverns in Chicago and New Orleans. The bar will be based in the basement of Piano House and form part of a complex that includes the company’s Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger brands. It will have a mixture of live music and DJ performances between Thursday and Saturday evenings, and weekly events such as foosball tournaments and wings nights. Cocktails will be dark spirit based, with plenty of American whiskeys and a wide selection of rum drinks. They can be enjoyed with a selection of bar snacks, such as chicken nuggets, chicken wings and crinkle cut fries. The food menu will offer the original Chicken Shop dishes as well as the Dirty Burger classics. Main dishes can be enjoyed with sides including crinkle-cut chips, onion or sweet potato fries, creamy coleslaw, corn on the cob, butter lettuce and avocado salad. There will also be a selection of American-style desserts such as deep filled apple pie, warm chocolate brownie and lemon tart, all served with either cream or homemade vanilla ice cream.


Deltic Group to close Cameo site in Preston: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, is to close its Cameo site in Preston. The venue in Market Place, formerly known as Squires, will stage its final night on Monday (31 October) with a “monster Halloween special”. The company said the timing coincided with the end of the lease for the building, but gave no further reason for the closure. Instead it reassured clubbers the venue’s Monday Mayhem sessions would continue at sister club Evoque in Church Street from 7 November. General manager Leigh Sweetman told the Burnley Express: “We want Cameo to end on a high and invite clubbers to come out in their scariest costumes to make this Halloween a memorable one. We have a few trick or treat surprises, a spirited atmosphere and three rooms of monster anthems lined up to give Cameo a fitting send off.”


BrewDog updates on site pipeline and bar plans for 2017: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has updated on its site pipeline and its bar plans for 2017. The company stated: “Here’s a quick update on the BrewDog bars ongoing, and a hit-list for 2017. Dalston – our bar, BottleDog, tasting room and pilot brew kits for the public is still going ahead and we will be on-site very soon with a launch in the first quarter of 2017; York – it took an age to get through the licensing stage but we are all clear, in the building and BrewDog York will be open before Christmas; Berlin – the next bar to open will be our epic Mitte site in central Berlin; Homerton – a short hop from Dalston is our next London bar, where work is due to commence this week with a launch date set for the end of November; DogTap USA – Our Columbus brewery bar is being finalised and construction will start within a fortnight, earmarked for February 2017 opening. But where are we after locations next? Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam, Dublin, Edinburgh, Brixton and Peckham.” The company will also look at more takeaway options, including trialling the first BrewDog craft beer vending machine at its Shoreditch venue while upgrading some of its growler fills with new automated filling machines imported from the US. It would also take its beer quality approach “to the next level” by rolling out its direct-draw cellar systems to other bars having installed it at its Southampton site. The company added: “Elsewhere in our bars divisions we have several other development projects ongoing – we are committed to further developing our amazing new food menus to raise the level to even greater heights, and with even more epic vegetarian and vegan options throughout, as well. Plus in 2017 we will be launching Lone Wolf spirits in our bars, and we are looking forward to playing with the incredible spirits in many different ways. And finally, once our Dalston Hopworks is open we are looking at a second site for the same idea – in Scotland.”


NYC Bar and Grill opens fourth site, in Hull: Yorkshire-based American restaurant brand NYC Bar and Grill has opened its fourth site, in Hull. The company, founded in 2013 by Lee Edwards, has opened the venue at the St Stephen’s shopping centre. It has joined the Rock Up climbing centre, bowling and games centre Funstation, Gravity trampoline park and the Reel cinema in the new upper-terrace development. St Stephen’s manager Jim Harris told the Hull Daily Mail: “It is great to bring a new restaurant to the city in NYC, which will create even more choice for local people and add to the evening economy of both St Stephen’s and the city centre in general.” NYC Bar and Grill’s other sites are in Bawtry, Doncaster and Sheffield.


Starbucks joins Movement to Work: Starbucks has joined the Movement to Work initiative as it seeks to help fight youth unemployment across the UK. Starting in London, Manchester and Birmingham, Starbucks will be offering about 400 placements to young people throughout the year. Starbucks’ commitment will help contribute to the professional development of about 865,000 young people in the UK who are not in education, employment, or training. Movement to Work is a coalition of Britain’s top employers that aims to tackle youth unemployment by providing high quality vocational training and work experience, giving young people the skills and confidence to take the first steps into their careers. In particular, it aims to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are struggling to identify and take advantage of employment opportunities. Movement to Work is backed by the UK government, the Trade Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.


Cote to open second Limeyard site as part of expansion plans in south east: Cote is to open the second site of its all-day American dining brand Limeyard as part of expansion plans in the south east. The company has secured a site at the Two Rivers shopping centre in Staines. It will be taking a 3,325 square foot unit over two floors on a 20-year lease as further outlets are sought in the Greater London region. Cote acquired the brand along with fellow American dining chain Jackson & Rye earlier this year. The deal for the Staines restaurant was agreed by agent Lunson Mitchenall. Two Rivers is jointly owned by client funds of Aberdeen Asset Management and M&G Real Estate. Aberdeen’s head of asset management for the UK Simon Moscow told Property Week: “Limeyard will serve to enhance the already impressive food and beverage line up Two Rivers boasts. We have seen a real customer appetite for quality restaurants brands, following the successful launch of Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Wagamama, and have been working closely with our joint agents to develop our growing reputation for providing and morning to evening offer.” Mitchenall and Morgan Williams are the joint agents for Two Rivers. Limeyard, whose existing site is in Ealing, west London, represented itself.


Former Claridge’s chef to open new restaurant concept Perilla in Newington Green next month: Chef Ben Marks, who has worked at Claridge’s, The Square, and Noma, and Matt Emmerson, formerly of London-based restaurant company Polpo, will launch new concept Perilla in Newington Green, north London, on Tuesday, 8 November. The move follows acclaimed residencies at Palm 2 in Clapton and Platform 1 in Dulwich. Marks has devised a menu of seasonal dishes featuring his “modern interpretation of classic European ingredients”. The new restaurant is on the corner of Newington Green and Green Lanes, with the space designed by Red Deer Architects. Much of the furniture and fittings will be vintage pieces, while tables will be crafted from upcycled barn doors. Perilla will offer an a la carte and five-course set menu with dishes including seaweed bread brushed with roasted lamb fat; roast kale with cod roe; cuttlefish bolognese; and preserved plum custard. Emmerson will run front-of-house and the bar, overseeing a wine list from Europe’s classic regions, cocktails with a focus on gin from small batch distilleries, and Perilla’s own infusions, which will be visible in jars behind the bar. Emmerson said: “We are incredibly excited to be opening Perilla. We want to bring our twist on fine dining out of expensive, traditional restaurants and make it accessible, affordable, and informal.” Perilla is being backed by a team that includes Philip Howard, of Elystan Street, Martyn Nail, executive chef of Claridge’s, and Thomas Kochs, managing director of Café Royal.


Stonegate to convert JD Wetherspoon site in Hull to Yates’s: Stonegate Pub Company is to convert Hull’s William Wilberforce, one of ten JD Wetherspoon pubs it acquired a few months ago, to Yates’s. The company has converted a number of Yates’s in smaller towns to other of its trading formats whilst cementing its position in cities with a new updated design. The William Wilberforce pub Trinity Wharf was one of 45 across the country to be put on the market by Wetherspoon’s in May. The pub will now undergo refurbishment with a provisional opening date of Thursday, 10 November. Stonegate chief executive Simon Longbottom said: “The change of ownership is a positive sign of a fresh chapter and new opportunities with the investment, which is due to complete mid-November. We have a strong track record in picking sites that when we add a touch of Stonegate magic, customers love.” Stonegate is about two-thirds of the way through an investment plan across its estate, investing an average of £220,000 per site in circa 100 pubs per annum on a five-to-six-year cycle – the company has about 250 uninvested sites remaining. “The badge of honour is return on capital invested,” Longbottom told Propel in September. “We do pragmatic, customer-focused investment, achieving a return on capital of 40% or more. Yates’s strength as an all-day trading format in the big cities has been cemented with a new design proposition, which is working really well.”


YO! Sushi opens Boston, Massachusetts, site: YO! Sushi has opened its first site in Boston, Massachusetts, located in the Seaport District. YO! Sushi’s Boston restaurant is the first stand-alone restaurant in the United States. Other locations in Florida, New Jersey, and New York can be found in malls. YO! Sushi is next door to the new Shake Shack. It has secured a beer and wine licence and is in the midst of getting approval to serve.


Marston’s applies to open new-build pub in Grantham, gets go-ahead in Nottingham: Marston’s has submitted a planning application for a new-build two-storey building with 65 car parking spaces and children’s play equipment on a site in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The planning application said the site on vacant land at the crossroads junction of Harlaxton Road and Trent Road – formerly a James Irlam haulage yard – has previously had planning permission granted for a mixture of retail, pub and fast food uses. The ground floor of the building would be given over to the pub and 15-seater restaurant, together with bar, toilets and kitchen and service areas. The first floor would be for staff accommodation. To the south would be an outdoor amenity area providing seating along with a children’s play area, which would be fully secure. The north of the site would have further seating. Marston’s said the pub would provide up to 60 jobs. Meanwhile, the company has also been given the go-ahead to build a 150-cover pub restaurant on derelict land in Nottingham. The Top Valley Way site has been vacant since The Royal Hunt pub was closed down and demolished in 2007.


Former Soho House chef set to open restaurant in Greater Manchester: Former Soho House chef David Gale is set to open a restaurant in Whitefield, Greater Manchester. Gale, who worked for Soho House at its hotel in New York, is teaming up with Lee Richardson to launch 188 Kitchen in Bury New Road. The venue is beginning to take shape after Gale’s original plans to open a Spinningfields restaurant fell through. The menu will centre around modern British cuisine. The 75-cover venue will feature a dining area and a bar downstairs, while up a floating walnut staircase will be a more formal restaurant space, decked out with a glittering crystal chandelier and overlooked by an open kitchen. Gale told the Manchester Evening News: “This is a lot bigger project than we thought we were going to take on but it just feels right. We believed in the area, we believe in the product that we’re going to create and Lee obviously believes in the product that I’ll put on the plate.”


Numis Securities – Whitbread has a disappointing outlook for its 2018 financial year: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Whitbread has a disappointing outlook for its 2018 financial year. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 3,728p, Barrett said: “Costa has been an unqualified success, with five-year compound annual growth rates of 15% and 25% in stores and Ebit. We therefore view the first half of 2017 as disappointing, as 180 basis points of margin attrition resulted in flat Ebit for the division. An additional £14m contribution from new units and like-for-like sales was offset by the National Living Wage (£9m), a new labour scheduling system (£3m) and other cost inflation (£4m). Additionally the group will face a circa £10m increase in coffee prices in FY18. Management expects a further 100 basis points margin reduction in FY18, equivalent to an additional £12m of costs. While the National Living Wage and input cost inflation are unavoidable, we would like to see Whitbread attempt to offset or pass-on these costs before conceding defeat. In addition we detect that international profit growth will be delayed by a rethink of the strategy in China and France. Underlying trading in both businesses was resilient in the second quarter – like-for-like revpar +0.5% and Costa like-for-like of more than 2%. For FY18 we now assume revpar growth of +1% and Costa +2%. Whitbread’s freehold backing dampens the operational gearing in the event of a macro-slowdown but each 1% on revpar and 1% on Costa’s like-for-like both have a circa 2% impact on earnings per share. We have long viewed Costa’s track record as outstanding versus the leisure peer group, with the five-year compound annual growth rate in 25% Ebit ahead of Starbucks at 20%. We are supportive of its roll-out strategy and see attractive structural growth in drive-thru, travel hubs, Express machines etc. However, the margin readjustment means that Costa’s profit may move sideways for a period, making it hard to justify a premium rating in our sum-of-parts (we move from 15 times Ebitda to 12 times Ebitda). Overall, the CY17 price-to-earnings ratio of 13.6 times and EV/Ebitda of 8.5 times seem fair for a business expected to show group annual earnings per share growth of circa 4% in the next two years. In contrast a tougher focus on costs would allow unit roll-out better to translate into profit growth.”


Greene King puts historic Carbeth Inn on the market: Greene King has placed the historic Carbeth Inn, Blanefield, Scotland, on the market – it closes this Sunday (£0 October) after 200 years of trading. A post on the pub’s website said: “It is a pub that almost everyone in the west of Scotland will have at least one fond memory of, but sadly a pub that has struggled more than others as the industry has nosedived over the past decade.” A Greene King spokesperson said: “As a leading pub operator and brewer, we are committed to running high quality community pubs. To be able to continue to invest in our core estate, from time to time we have to make the difficult decision to sell pubs. After careful consideration, we have decided to place the Carbeth Inn on the market and it is up for sale as a going concern for hospitality use. We have received interest which we are looking to progress.”


Camerons Brewery continues to roll-out KerbEdge partnership with Tynemouth launch: Camerons Brewery has continued to roll out its partnership with Hull-based burger company KerbEdge into its Head of Steam venue in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear. KerbEdge will launch its pop-up kitchen at the brewer’s seaside venue from Thursday, 10 November, running until the end of this year. KerbEdge will take over from Longhorns, which ran its barbecue smokehouse pop-up in the venue since February, with “Kitchen by Longhorns” continuing at the Head of Steam sites in Headingley and Sheffield. The Head of Steam Tynemouth becomes the third venue in the brewer’s estate with the “Kitchen by KerbEdge” partnership, following on from its Hull and Leeds bars. Camerons Brewery chief executive Chris Soley said: “It has been great working with Adam and the team from KerbEdge at our two venues, and we were both keen to explore new sites we could develop this partnership further. We have been really impressed with the way it has developed the menu in our venues, and have taken time developing food with beer in mind, both in terms of using it as an ingredient and also accompanying dishes too. This is a key focus for our Head of Steam bars, and it’s great working with the team at KerbEdge who fully embrace this. We are currently exploring the ‘pop-up kitchen’ theme across our managed estate; this gives us the opportunity to work with up-and-coming food businesses, and keeps our menus fresh and current.” KerbEdge founder Adam Bryson added: “After a fantastic start to our relationship with Camerons, we are delighted to further our work across their estate. We love the passion the teams have for beer and that complements our love of a good burger.”


ICMI plans boutique hotel in north east Scotland: ICMI, the group behind Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s Cromlix Hotel, has revealed plans to open a new boutique hotel and spa in north eastern Scotland in 2020. The group, which also runs Inverlochy Castle, Greywalls and Crossbasket, has announced it is transforming the B-listed Ury House into an exclusive retreat as part of a Jack Nicklaus golf complex. The firm revealed it will manage the hotel on behalf of developer FM Group, and is aiming to make the resort one of the best in the UK. Speaking to the Aberdeen Evening Express, Norbert Lieder, managing director of ICMI, said: “Our intention is to develop a location for people who live on the estate, golfers, the local community and visitors from around the world. As well as individually designed bedrooms and suites, there will be a clubhouse, restaurant and conference centre. I believe there is a real need for a resort of this quality in the north east.”


London-based Caravan opens third site, in Bankside: London-based Caravan, the restaurant, bar and coffee roasting concept, has opened its third site, in Bankside. The company, founded in 2010 by New Zealanders Miles Kirby, Laura Harper-Hinton and Chris Ammermann, has opened the venue in Great Guildford Street. It has converted the ground floor of what was a late-19th century metal factory into a 4,000 square foot venue with a dining area that can seat 140 guests, plus a standalone bar. Caravan opened its first site in Clerkenwell in 2010 before adding a second venue, complete with roastery, in King’s Cross two years later. It will also open a stand-alone roastery later this year in an 8,500 square-foot Victorian warehouse, also near King’s Cross. Harper-Hinton previously said the company was looking to expand internationally and had looked at sites in Brooklyn and, longer term, would be interested in opening in New York and other cities.


New south east Asian restaurant concept set to open in Formby: A new south east Asian restaurant concept is set to open in Formby, Merseyside. Denise Riley is teaming up with three other entrepreneurs, who all have a history in the hospitality industry, to launch Suay in School Lane. The menu will encompass south east Asian cuisines with a selection of Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, Cantonese and Chinese dishes as well as signature cocktails. The decor will have a “modern feel” with traditional south east Asian colours. An artist has also been commissioned to do a hand-painted mural for the restaurant, which is currently being refurbished ahead of opening in mid-November. Riley told the Southport Visiter: “We thought there was a need for this type of restaurant in the area. We want to bring the culinary experience you’d expect in a city centre restaurant to the suburb whilst keeping in tune with the feel of Formby village.”


New micro-brewery set to open in Dover: A new micro-brewery is set to open in Dover, Kent. Breakwater Brewery has been given the go-ahead by the district council to convert an abandoned warehouse in Lorne Road. Victor Evans has joined forces with brewer Phil Lowry for the venture. They now await licensing for alcohol and if all goes to plan, they hope to open by next Christmas. Before the duo took over the site, the warehouse – a brewery itself 100 years ago – was close to collapse and was ready for demolition. Once the project is complete it will add a bar, a function room open for hire, and a micro-brewery bringing back the ales the town was once famous for including Dover Pale Ale. Evans told Kent Live: “To bring a brewery back to where there was one previously is really exciting.”


New Thai restaurant concept to open in Middlewich: A new Thai restaurant concept is set to open in Middlewich, Cheshire. Julian Leese and his wife Pom are launching Kin Arai in Booth Lane on the site of the former Kinderton Arms Hotel in December. The Leeses first bought the property at auction in February 2015, and intended to turn it into a seven-bedroom house before the idea of a restaurant took hold. Julian Leese told the Middlewich Guardian: “We have had a restaurant before in Wales, but we were living in England at the time so that didn’t really work out. That was many years ago and we never thought about whether we would go back into it or not. My wife is a chef and she has contacts in the ingredients industry. We can do it properly and do authentic Thai food, still using local meat and fish.”