Buzzworks’ turnover passes £10m mark: Ayrshire-based restaurant company Buzzworks has reported turnover has passed the £10m mark. The company, owned by Alison, Colin and Kenny Blair, saw turnover increase to £10,010,691 for the year ending 30 April 2016, compared with £8,717,814 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell by nearly half to £230,866, compared with £454,775 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. It disposed the leasehold of its Bosun’s Table site in Largs at a cost of £237,757. The company stated: “During the year, as part of the future business strategy, the group sold the Bosun’s Table in July 2015 – in the previous year this was deemed as non-core and let out on a commercial basis. The directors are pleased with the trading results for the year showing sustained sales and margins. Through continual cost controls, procurement process and rota management, the directors seek to improve profits to reinvest into the current portfolio and the future growth strategy of the business.” Last week, Buzzworks revealed it would expand beyond its Ayrshire heartland by opening three new sites this year to bring the brand to new areas of Scotland.
Mixology Events to launch cocktail bar and store concept TT Liquor in Shoreditch: Mixology Events, which is led by Alastair Tatton and Stephen Thompson, is set to open cocktail bar and store concept TT Liquor in Shoreditch at the end of the month. The venue in Kingsland Road will be set across three floors, with a specialist liquor store and a subterranean cocktail bar. Padlocked “deposit boxes” will be available for hire so guests can keep private liquor collections at the venue. The upper floors will host Mixology Events’ signature cocktail-making classes, experiences and events. TT Liquor will offer 1,000 liquors, including rare bottles and gift sets that combine glassware, equipment and spirits. Everything stocked in the liquor store will also be available in the cocktail bar at a “drink-in” price. The 120-capacity cocktail bar will feature four menus, each embodying a dedicated era. Mixologists will explain the history of each cocktail, its relationship to other cocktails, and analyse its ingredients and flavours. Cocktails will be accompanied by small plates. Jail cells within the bar – remnants from the building’s use as a police station in the 19th century – will host tasting experiences including classes on whisky, rum, gin and beer. Each vault can house ten to 15 guests. The cocktail classes will take place in a range of lounge spaces for up to 170 guests in total, available for private hire as studios or events spaces.
Barclays downgrades M&B rating: Leisure analysts at Barclays have cut their rating for Mitchells & Butlers shares to ‘underweight’ from ‘equal-weight’, with an unchanged target price of 220p. Barclays has turned cautious on the company amid worries over deteriorating cash flows, sending its shares more than 3% lower. In a sector note to clients, the analysts said: “We expect capex of £200m in FY17 (versus depreciation of £117m), with the majority of capex being spent on the existing estate rather than new pubs.” The analysts noted that M&B’s free cash flow yield of just 5.2% is the lowest of the managed pubs and well below that of Barclays’ favourite player JD Wetherspoon at 8.2%. Barclays reiterated its ‘overweight’ stance on Wetherspoon’s and raised its target price to 1,050p from 1,000p after upgrading its 2017 underlying earnings (Ebitda) forecasts by 4%. Barclays upped its target price for Enterprise Inns to 140p from 115p, with its ‘equal-weight’ rating reiterated. The bank also cut its target price for Greene King to 770p from 910p, while keeping an ‘overweight’ stance, and reduced the target for Marston’s to 130p from 140p with its ‘underweight’ rating unchanged.
Red Mist Leisure acquires eighth site: Red Mist Leisure, the pubco founded by Mark Williams and Mark Robson, has acquired its eighth site. The company has bought the freehold of the Next Door Restaurant & Rooms in Odiham, Hampshire, from James and Rachel Watt off a guide price of £1,175,000 in a deal brokered by agent Fleurets. Next Door Restaurant & Rooms previously formed part of the George Hotel. However, under Red Mist Leisure’s ownership the property’s name will change to The Red Lion. The grade II-listed building comprises cafe/restaurant areas, a catering kitchen and cellarage, with the upper floors providing six en-suite rooms, a large office and customer toilets. Robson said: “We are delighted to have acquired this great business from Rachel and James who have done a fantastic job here for years serving the community. We intend to continue that personal service and quality their customers expect.” Kate Dowd, of Fleurets, who brokered the sale, added: “James and Rachel have worked hard over the years to create Next Door but are happy to hand over the baton to Red Mist Leisure, a company they both respect for its style of operation and quality of service.” Red Mist Leisure has seven other sites across Hampshire and Surrey.
D&D London to launch Italian trattoria Radici with Francesco Mazzei in April: Restaurant operator D&D London will launch a traditional Italian trattoria in partnership with chef Francesco Mazzei in April by transforming its Almeida restaurant in Islington. Modern British restaurant Almeida held its last night on New Year’s Eve. It will reopen as Radici, which translates as “roots”, and reflect the Calabrian cuisine of Mazzei’s heritage as well as dishes from southern Italian regions Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. An evolving menu will offer a range of charcuterie and cheese, as well as Mazzei’s favourite dishes from his homeland. Pizza and bread will be baked in a traditional wood-fired oven and, in true Italian style, there will be a family feasting menu on Sundays. The kitchen will be run by Antonio Mazzone, who has been Mazzei’s right-hand man for more than a decade. The main restaurant and bar will lead to a wine room, private dining room and terrace. Mazzei said: “I have lived in Islington for over 20 years and hope this relaxed neighbourhood restaurant becomes part of the community and a go-to venue for authentic southern Italian food.” In December 2015, D&D London reopened its Sartoria site in Savile Row, with Mazzei at the helm as chef patron, where he will continue his role. D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London.
Fourth to build on ‘transformational’ year of global expansion: Fourth, the software partner to the hospitality and leisure industries, has said it will build on a “transformational” 12 months that saw partnerships signed with “leading players around the world”. During the past 12 months, Fourth secured deals in Australia, Europe, the US and the United Arab Emirates for its platform that helps hospitality companies to optimise revenue and profit via smart workforce planning, purchase to pay and inventory management. Operators that signed new or extended deals included TGI Friday’s, Hakkasan, AB InBev, Malmaison, Enterprise Inns, Riley’s Sports Bars, and Drake & Morgan. Fourth chief executive Ben Hood said: “We are excited by the opportunities we have to support the hospitality industry on a global level and are buoyed by a truly transformational past 12 months. Our platform now operates in 60 countries, supporting more than 50,000 sites. One of the key trends in the sector is the flight to better, smarter, faster and more efficient ways of working. This inevitably means harnessing the power of connected systems that help operators increase profitability, improve customer service and scale confidently. In light of this we are seeing high demand for our cloud-based solutions. The demand for these better systems and better ways of working can only accelerate given the significant cost headwinds the industry is facing, including legislative challenges, cost-of-goods inflation, and the highly competitive nature of the trading environment.”
City Pub Company gets go-ahead for fifth Cambridge site: Independent pub operator City Pub Company has been given the go-ahead to open its fifth Cambridge site. The company has had its plans to convert the Backstreet Bistro in Sturton Street approved by the city council despite fierce opposition from residents. Plans to upgrade the roof plant and install an air extractor system at the venue were met with concerns, along with fact the capacity was being increased from 40 to 114, reports the Cambridge News. However, the company was granted permission by the council to go ahead to add to its four other sites in the city – The Punt Yard, The Mill, The Old Bicycle Shop and Cambridge Brew House. City Pub Company will now finish refurbishing the site ahead of reopening it as The Petersfield, in April. Last month, chairman Clive Watson told Propel the company, which has just acquired its 30th pub, had identified three further sites as it looked to build a 35-strong estate ahead of its planned AIM float this year.
Former Princi head baker opens organic delicatessen at Kurt Zdesar’s Fucina: Former Princi head baker Massimiliano Porta has opened his organic delicatessen and bakery Panetteria within Kurt Zdesar’s Italian restaurant Fucina in Marylebone. Panetteria by Fucina offers Italian artisanal groceries, along with freshly made bread, pastries and special blends of coffee. It also features gelato and pasta-making rooms. Porta has developed five different breads to make sandwiches that will be filled with meat from Fucina’s wood-fired pit. Food buyer Andrea Orsini has foraged across Italy to source Italian products that will be available exclusively in the UK through Panetteria. The delicatessen shares the same design principles as Fucina, with red-brick detailing and natural wood display cabinets. Zdesar brought Nobu to London as director of operations for Nobu Europe. He also operates The Black Roe Poke Bar and Grill in Mayfair and sushi bar Chotto Matte in Soho.
Giggling Squid opens in Farnham, 20th site: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant group backed by the Business Growth Fund, has opened its latest site – in Farnham, Surrey. The 140-cover restaurant in Castle Street takes the brand’s venues to 20, with the next site due to open in Brentwood, Essex. In October, Giggling Squid reported sales of £11.8m in its most recent year, a 55% increase on the previous year. The company stated: “Due to high demand, Giggling Squid is now starting to open and fill larger units, as well as extending to all-day openings as diners enjoy their unique lunch tapas concept into late afternoon. The pipeline for 2017/18 is looking healthy with a number of properties secured or in planning processes. By the middle of 2017, Giggling Squid looks set to trade across 25 sites.” In August, Giggling Squid co-founder Andy Laurillard told Propel his desire was to grow the brand he majority co-owns with wife Pranee to 150 sites. He said: “There’s no shortage of options. We’ve looked at 650 places, got 60 ‘definite’ spots and 120 ‘possibles’, all south of Birmingham and outside central London.”
Hong Kong-style egg waffle concept Bubblewrap to open first permanent site, in Soho: Bubblewrap, a Hong Kong egg waffle concept that has cut its teeth as a festival food truck, is set to open a permanent site in Soho next month. An egg waffle is similar to a pancake and is cooked in a waffle iron, rolled up like an ice cream cone, topped with a generous scoop of gelato and covered in sauce, Hot Dinners reports. Egg waffles have apparently been around since the 1950s, when they appeared in Hong Kong as a way of using up broken eggs, before becoming a popular street snack. Bubblewrap will offer plenty of flavour combos such as cocoa waffle with berries, sea salt and dark chocolate, and a matcha waffle with mochi and red bean. There will be 14 toppings to choose from and nine sauces, including Nutella and condensed milk. The venue in Wardour Street will also offer Hong Kong-inspired soft drinks such as Lemon Chill and Silky Milk Tea.
Coffee#1 to open Sutton Coldfield site next month: SA Brain’s coffee chain Coffee#1 is set to open a site in Sutton Coldfield town centre next month. It will take over the ground floor and basement of the former Dorothy Perkins and Burton store in The Parade. Coffee#1 operates more than 70 coffee houses in the UK, mainly in Wales and the south west, but also has eight sites in the Midlands. The company sells its own brand of single-origin coffee from Brazil, Guatemala and Costa Rica. The planning application to Birmingham City Council states: “The company prides itself on the excellence of its coffee and the high quality and careful design of its stores.” Coffee#1 opened its first store in Cardiff in 2001, with SA Brain acquiring the business in 2011. It was named Regional Coffee Chain of the Year in 2016. Marketing manager Sarah Hill told the Birmingham Mail: “We hope the award will inspire coffee-lovers to try us as a better alternative to many of the other high street coffee chains.”
India’s biggest food festival operators launch Indian tapas and cocktail concept in Fitzrovia: The team behind Mumbai’s The Grub Fest, the biggest food festival in India, has launched an Indian tapas and cocktail concept in Fitzrovia. Lokhandwala has opened in Charlotte Street offering Indian small plates, mixing traditional and new dishes, alongside a range of vegan Ayurvedic shots and smoothies. The space features a restaurant on the ground floor, with The Hot House cocktail bar to the rear and a speakeasy on the first floor with an outside terrace serving a range of cocktails. Main dishes include Gujju Vaal Daal Chaat (broad bean, lentils and black pulses served with yogurt and tamarind chutney) and prawns marinated with yogurt, coriander, mint, celery and green chilli.
Las Iguanas goes live with Feed It Back: Las Iguanas, the South American-inspired restaurant brand owned by Casual Dining Group, has gone live with Feed It Back, the EPOS-linked guest feedback service. The service is now being used across all 53 of the brand’s restaurants following a successful two-month trial at several venues. Feed It Back is the only guest feedback system that integrates in real time with Zonal’s Aztec EPOS system, among others, enabling feedback questions to be personalised to the guest’s visit. Las Iguanas chief operating officer Gareth Lock said: “Our previous approach to the collation of guest feedback has seen incredible returns but, due to the manual processes involved in managing the information, we have struggled to react quickly to both positive and adverse guest comments. We were keen to find a solution that allowed us to continue collecting guest reviews on a large scale while being able to action our guests’ feedback immediately for the first time.” Guest experience manager Lisa Campbell added: “Dish-specific feedback is a key source of new insight. Feed It Back draws data from the guest’s order instantly to target specific dish-related questions. Insight is a key reason for signing up; the ability to monitor guest reviews, mystery visits, social media and key business reports available on one portal, by all staff members, from board-level to venue managers, has simplified our decision-making and reporting systems. Within one month of the trial starting, we identified a key guest experience issue, received board sign-off for investment and had made the improvement.” Feed It Back head of customer success Julia Platia said: “There is a fun and vibrant culture at Las Iguanas and we have enjoyed working with the team to underpin their vision with our technology.”
Quintessential Brands’ turnover passes £80m: Spirits producer Quintessential Brands has reported turnover passed the £80m mark driven by strong growth from its branded products. The company saw turnover increase 12% to £80,852,000 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £71,980,000 the year before. Revenues increased by 18% to £26.9m in the UK, 56% to £2.6m in the rest of Europe, 9% to £5.9m in the US, and 8% to £45.5m in the rest of the world. Pre-tax profit dropped 74% to £167,000, compared with £632,000 the previous year. Chief executive Warren Scott told Insider Media: “We are delighted by the performance of Quintessential Brands UK over the past year, with exciting growth in the UK market as well as export. We generated significant growth across our branded portfolio, with total brand revenue up 32% on the previous year. In order to achieve our ambitious growth plans we are continuing to invest all our profits back into our award-winning portfolio of brands, our team and our production capabilities, in particular at G&J Distillers in Warrington.” The company stated: “The group strives to retain existing contracts and win new contracts through a focus on quality of production, customer service and innovation of both liquids and packaging. The directors continue to look at potential opportunities to grow the group, including opportunities to increase production capacity and operational flexibility. The group continues to develop new products and brands that will be launched in subsequent financial periods.”
Signature Living unveils plans for George Best-themed hotel in Manchester: Aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living has unveiled plans to open a George Best-themed venue in Manchester, which would pay tribute to the legendary Northern Ireland international’s life. The company has started the search for a suitable building to house the proposed hotel, with the backing of the surviving Best family. The company famously opened the Shankly Hotel in a joint collaboration with the Shankly family in Liverpool city centre in 2015. It hopes to replicate the success it enjoyed with a hotel inspired by Best, who made his name at Manchester United during a stellar career and was often referred to as the “fifth Beatle”. Signature Living founder Lawrence Kenwright told Insider Media: “We’re starting our search for a building in Manchester for the George Best Hotel and are keen to hear from anyone with ideas about suitable locations. We will be collaborating with the Best family on this special project and look forward to delivering this once we find an appropriate venue to create the hotel. It will include a restaurant and museum space dedicated to the footballing success of this giant of the beautiful game. I personally am incredibly excited at the prospect of bringing a George Best Hotel to Manchester. It will be a tourist destination in its own right and will add a different dimension to Manchester’s burgeoning accommodation offer.” Best made 470 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 179 goals. He also earned 37 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring nine times.
Italian pizzeria owners to make UK debut with Kilburn restaurant: The owners of Pizzeria Trianon in Naples are to make their UK debut by launching authentic Napoletana pizzeria concept Quartieri in Kilburn, north London. Tony Carelli, Alessandro Esposito and Alessio Falanga will open the 70-cover restaurant this spring, using an authentic family recipe dating to 1923. Flour and grain is milled using a traditional method and combined with Naples-inspired toppings to create “cartwheel” pizzas for sharing. The menu will be divided into four sections – antipasti, la storia (the classics), la innovazioni (Quartieri specials) and dolce. Diners will be able to see pizzaiolos knead, flip and bake pizzas in front of them. A selection of sweet pizzas will also be on offer, alongside artisan ice cream from Gelupo in London and cheese from Campania. Wine has been selected from independent producers in the Naples region, while beer will come from Italian brewery Birrificio del Ducatto. There will also be a selection of coffee and soft drinks. The decor will feature geometric shapes, creating a contemporary take on 1960s Naples, with a hand-made, flash-flame pizza oven at the centre. The space will be divided into four quarters, each representing a part of Naples, while music will be curated by DJs the Smoking Guns, focusing on northern soul, funk, rhythm and blues, ska and rock ‘n’ roll.
Deltic Group raises record Christmas charity donation: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has raised more than £27,500 for its charity partner the Echo Trust – the largest amount the business has raised during its Christmas period since 2010. The money was raised for the charity through Deltic’s “Give A Kid A Quid” campaign. Each of the group’s 59 clubs and bars in England collected donations from clubbers who visited during the Christmas period. Liquid Wrexham topped the leaderboard, with £2,937 of donations, closely followed by Colchester, which raised £2,241, then Oxford, Birmingham and Yeovil. The Echo Trust provides grants to children and young adult charities across the UK. Its grants enable the purchase of vital medical or similar equipment that is desperately needed and can’t be funded elsewhere. Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks said: “We’ve been working with the Echo Trust – our partnership charity – for nearly 15 years now, so it’s fantastic to see we raised more money over Christmas 2016 than any year since 2010. The amount raised is entirely due to the generosity of our guests and we’d like to say a huge thank you to them for digging deep for this fantastic cause.” Trustee Kelly Young added: “The Echo Trust wouldn’t be able to do the vital work it does without Deltic’s help.”
Cardiff-based Le Monde Bar and Grill closes Birmingham site: Cardiff-based Le Monde Bar and Grill, which is owned by Myton Restaurants, has closed its site in Birmingham. The company opened the restaurant in August 2014 in Brindleyplace, above Casual Dining Group’s Cafe Rouge, following a £400,000 investment. The 160-seat venue closed for a refit at the end of last year and, while due to reopen later in January, failed to do so, reports The Business Desk. All reference to the Birmingham venue has now been removed from the Le Monde website. The first Le Monde site opened in Cardiff more than 30 years ago.