Red Oak Taverns reopens Berkhamsted’s oldest pub: Red Oak Taverns has reopened The Bull, the oldest pub in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, following a six-figure investment. The company acquired The Bull from GRS in 2015 as part of a 146-pub portfolio. Work on the pub in High Street includes a new kitchen, a decking area seating 50 and refurbished interiors. It will be run by new licensees Russell and Michelle North, with home-prepared food served daily and the couple’s son, Jake, as bar manager. Red Oak Taverns director Mark Grunnell said: “It’s great to be able to breathe life back into a fantastic historic community pub and is a perfect example of the success of the collaborative approach on which we pride ourselves. Over the past six years, we have built our portfolio from 32 to 170 sites and we are now on the acquisition trail, having transformed many unloved pubs back into thriving concerns in the heart of their communities. We’ve achieved this through investment and working together with our licensees.” Founded in 2011 by Grunnell and Aaron Brown, the company is privately owned by its co-founders and a small number of like-minded investors. Its estate is mainly in the south, north west and the Midlands. The Bull backs on to the Grand Union Canal, with records showing it was in use as a pub in 1535.

Friska to open first concession site after signing first franchise deal: Independent healthy eating brand Friska is to open its first concession after signing its first franchise deal. The company, founded in 2009 by Ed Brown and Griff Holland, is opening the site at the newly refurbished London Luton Airport departures lounge in partnership with Delaware North. The new site, which will be the company’s ninth outlet and is due to open in June, will be the biggest Friska yet and have more than 85 covers. Brown said: “We’re really excited to collaborate with Delaware North on what will hopefully be the first of many deals in transport hubs. They are world-leading and we are confident that they are the right partner for Friska’s next phase of expansion.” Delaware North business development and marketing director Simon Harrington added: “We have loved the Friska offer since we first met Ed and Griff and we are extremely excited about opening the London Luton Airport store, hopefully the first of many in UK airports.” London Luton Airport commercial director Rupert Lawrie said: “The development currently underway at the airport isn’t just about transforming the terminal and transport links – it’s about transforming the experience for passengers and that includes ensuring there are food and drink options to suit all tastes. Friska is an incredibly exciting addition to that mix.”

JD Wetherspoon puts up prices: JD Wetherspoon has put up the cost of its popular meal deals as it introduced new menu items. Prices vary nationally but the Sunday People reported Wetherspoon’s burger and drink deal has risen on average from £7.25 to £7.40 while a chicken burger has increased from £4.59 to £4.75. A pint of Kronenbourg costing £3.09 is now £3.19. At one site – in Oxted, Surrey – its breakfast deals have also gone up, with porridge rising from £2.39 to £2.45 and toast from £1.59 to £1.65. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have introduced a new menu with some new products and there maybe some changes on food and drink prices. We aim to remain extremely competitive. However we will not comment on individual prices.”

Boki agrees deal to open second site, in Seven Dials: Coffee shop concept Boki has signed a deal with Shaftesbury to open its second site, within a 1,300 square foot space in Earlham Street, Seven Dials. Boki was founded by Kim Mahony Hargreaves and Boris Becker in 2014, combining their careers in hospitality and business management. They opened their first cafe in 2015, working with Allpress coffee, T2 tea, and London-based food and drink producers to create a healthy and wholesome breakfast and lunch menu. The new shop will look to create an all-day social hub in Earlham Street and will expand its offering and opening hours into the evening. Hargreaves said: “We are delighted to be launching our concept at such a prestigious London location. We have a long love for Seven Dials having met while working in the film industry in Soho 12 years ago. Situated among other excellent cafés and food destinations, this will be the ideal venue to launch.” This follows the recent opening of tea specialists, My Cup of Tea, a modern tea maker sourcing and blending the best teas and tisanes. The new 1,400 square foot Seven Dials shop, which is only its second location in the UK, features a classic tea counter at the rear where loose teas and tisanes are sold by weight and displayed in steel scoops and apothecary jars. Within the unit there is a cafe and tearoom as well as the opportunity to purchase teapots, matcha bowls and gift sets. Shaftesbury retail leasing and strategy surveyor Addy Williams said: “Boki will add another eye-catching new cafe with a really attractive design concept. My Cup of Tea has already been trading well and attracting visitors who are curious to see their unique offer. Both brands provide visitors with a haven to relax and drink in the atmosphere whilst at Seven Dials in the heart of the West End.”

Royal Yacht Britannia unveils plans for Scotland’s first ‘boatique’ hotel: Plans for Scotland’s first luxury floating hotel have been lodged that would see the MV Fingal converted into a 23-bedroom hotel berthed at the Prince of Wales Dock in Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith. The £3.5m investment by the Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprises, would see the ship provide a wide range of bedroom suites, cabins with private balconies, duplex apartments, and a presidential suite. The “boatique” hotel is expected to open in Easter 2018 and create 30 jobs. The Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith, attracted 350,000 visitors last year and has been named Scotland’s Best Attraction for the past 11 years by VisitScotland. Britannia chief executive Bob Downie said: “We are looking forward to the challenges of operating in the luxury hotel market and the benefits it will generate for Britannia in the years to come.” Peter Lederer, chairman of the Gleneagles Hotel, added: “This ‘boatique’ hotel has the potential to be the best hotel experience in Edinburgh and, given the quality of the Britannia experience, I am looking forward to seeing a new benchmark in Scotland.”

Birmingham-based rodizio operator launches pizza concept in The Cube: A “rodizio de pizza” concept that combines Brazilian and Italian dining has launched in The Cube in central Birmingham. Osteria Rodizio Rico is the brainchild of owner Mike Nayla, who already operates a more traditional Brazilian restaurant at the complex – Rodizio Rico. The new concept still involves using a churrascaria – a Brazilian barbecue-style grill – but offers all-you-can-eat Italian food. Nayla told Insider Media: “There is such a demand for Rodizio Rico’s food it made sense to expand. However, rather than simply add more tables to the existing restaurant we have invested in a fresh concept. The first ‘rodizio de pizza’ was opened by an Italian immigrant in Brazil in 1972. The concept is the same as our ‘rodizio de carne’ offering – only this time we serve unlimited pizza and pasta for a fixed price instead of barbecued meat.” The Cube director Neil Edginton added: “Rodizio Rico brought the concept of churrascaria to Birmingham and customers have loved the easy-going, friendly character of the restaurant. It is one of The Cube’s best-known and most popular venues so we are excited to taste the new flavours Mike Nayla and his team have created at Osteria Rodizio Rico.”

Charles Wells to brew Courage in London for first time in a generation: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells will brew Courage beer in London for the first time in a generation thanks to a craft collaboration with Southwark Brewing Co. The Courage SE1 project will see a new limited edition range of cask ales released every two months until February 2018. The beers will be brewed by the team at Southwark Brewing Co with the guidance of the brew team at Charles Wells, which is custodian of the Courage brand and heritage. A session IPA and a smoked porter will be the debut releases – during London Beer Week (13 to 19 March) – alongside a series of tours highlighting 230-year-old Courage’s influence on the SE1 area. Charles Wells marketing director Jason Wills said: “The Courage SE1 Project will merge the expertise and creativity of brewers from Courage and Southwark Brewing Co and bring a modern twist to the Courage range that is close to our original London SE1 roots in both location and passion.” Southwark Brewing Co managing director Peter Jackson said: “We research history extensively for inspiration for our new beers and, when we were approached by Charles Wells to develop this project, we jumped at the chance.” The Courage cockerel logo has also been redesigned – but only for use during the project.

Whitbread chairman checked out by Marks & Spencer: Whitbread chairman Richard Baker is understood to have been sounded out by Marks & Spencer (M&S) in its search for a new chairman. Baker, who is also chairman of DFS Furniture, is a contender to succeed Robert Swannell, who plans to stand down this year. Baker was chief operating officer at Asda before becoming boss of Boots in 2003. He turned around the chemist chain, merged it with Alliance Unichem and agreed its £11bn sale to private equity firm KKR and Alliance founder Stefano Pessina in 2007. It is not clear whether Baker, who chairs the British Retail Consortium, would be interested in the M&S role, which would probably force him to relinquish his job at Whitbread, reports The Sunday Times.

Halewood secures £50m funding, teams up with Liverpool FC: Halewood Wines and Spirits has secured a £50m funding boost and agreed a partnership with Liverpool Football Club. Halewood has secured a three-year, £50m debt facility from Royal Bank of Scotland to support its growth and acquisition strategy, which includes developing a balanced portfolio of spirit brands to complement its drinks range that includes Lambrini, Crabbie’s and Red Square. Meanwhile, Merseyside-headquartered Halewood has teamed up with Liverpool FC in a partnership that will run until 2020 in a bid to boost brand recognition internationally. Halewood will benefit from the club’s global reach through digital marketing and social media channels, while its drinks will be available at the Anfield stadium’s hospitality lounges, the Boot Room Sports Café, and at the club’s conferences and events. Halewood chief executive Stewart Hainsworth said: “The partnership with RBS is another important step in Halewood’s strategic plan to build a portfolio of distinctive brands with strong local provenance. Halewood has grown up in Liverpool, we’re proud to be here and want to use our growing, high-quality spirits portfolio alongside one of the world’s best football teams to put an even brighter spotlight on the city.” Earlier this month, Halewood entered the brewing sector by acquiring a majority stake in Lake District-based brewer Hawkshead.

Sector entrepreneur-backed Japanese-inspired snacks and meals company raises more than £250,000 on Seedrs: Japanese-inspired snacks and meals company Miso Tasty, which has sector entrepreneur Yaser Martini as a director and investor, has raised more than £250,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The company, which was founded in 2014 by chef Bonnie Chung, was aiming to raise £150,000 and is offering a 9.53% equity stake in return for an investment. So far, 227 investors have pledged £252,770 with the largest investment to date being £25,100. The pitch states: “Miso Tasty is a modern brand of Japanese-inspired snacks and meal solutions. We have a growing range of tasty, wholesome products including miso soups and miso pastes, and an internationally acclaimed cookbook. You can find us nationwide in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Wholefoods, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols, as well as in offices such as Google. This investment will primarily meet the working capital requirement for launching our new Ramen Noodle Kits into a confirmed listing of 290 Waitrose stores and support the roll out to other major retailers. Our noodle range increases our capital requirements due to the larger stock holding required to supply a more mainstream category. We intend to invest in our supply chain to ensure that we remain a reliable supplier to our growing number of customers. We intend to continue investing in brand-building activities such as consumer trade shows, PR, events, social media, and in-store marketing to ensure that we are supporting our growing range of products with increased brand awareness.”

Former St John chefs open debut restaurant in Lewisham: Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar will open their debut restaurant, Sparrow, in Lewisham, south east London, on Tuesday, 28 March. The husband-and-wife team met while working at St John in Smithfields and seasonality will be at the heart of their menu, with a focus on British meat and vegetables and European cooking techniques. The diverse menu will reflect Blake’s background as chef at Bao and Merchant’s Tavern, and Nandakumar’s career at Pollen Street Social and her Sri Lankan heritage. Opening in Rennell Street, close to Lewisham station, Sparrow will feature an open kitchen clad in emerald V&A tiles, and antique tables and chairs. Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner, Sparrow will also open for brunch at weekends, offering coffee made with Ozone beans and a menu featuring appam – a Sri Lankan-style pancake made from fermented rice batter. Nandakumar said: “We chose the name Sparrow because it reflects the kind of food we make – like a sparrow we aren’t specific to a place or country. One week we might put a classic Italian dish on the menu and other times we’ll make a crunchy Malay-style salad with whatever is in season.”

Turtle Bay eyes Swansea city centre site: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay is set to open a venue in Swansea city centre. The company has applied to transform 4,000 square feet of ground-floor space at the former Inspirations store in Castle Street. James Morse, a director of the company that owns the building, told the South Wales Evening Post: “As well as creating jobs for local people, this new restaurant will add to the area’s vitality while supporting Swansea Council’s ideas to transform Castle Square into a more thriving, family-friendly destination where people can dine and enjoy views of the castle.” Turtle Bay operates 35 sites in the UK and last month applied to open a venue in Colchester, Essex. Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema and opened its first site in Milton Keynes in 2010. It opened a site in Cardiff’s St Mary Street in December.

Carluccio’s opens restaurant at Solihull town centre development: Carluccio’s has opened its latest site – in a four-storey building at the new Mell Square shopping centre in Solihull, West Midlands. It is one of the few Carluccio’s in the UK that offers pizza, each hand-stretched using slow-proven dough to create a thin and crispy base and topped with Italian ingredients including buffalo mozzarella, 18-month aged Parma ham and nduja – a spicy pork salumi. In November, plans were approved for Mell Square owners IM Properties to convert eight shops next to Carluccio’s into three restaurants. Rob Hemus, of IM Properties, said: “We hope to create a thriving hub of restaurants, where people can meet up with friends, family and colleagues and enjoy the atmosphere.” Earlier this month, Carluccio’s launched its debut “new generation” site in York featuring a 168-cover restaurant alongside a shop and deli.

Krispy Kreme announces double opening: Krispy Kreme will open a store in Sutton Coldfield next week, while it is also advertising for staff to work at a site set to launch in Middlesbrough. The Sutton Coldfield site will open in the Gracechurch Centre on Tuesday (14 March). The kiosk-style store will feature Krispy Kreme’s signature Original Glazed doughnut plus 16 other varieties, including the new Nutty Chocolatta. Krispy Kreme operations director Neil Williamson told the Birmingham Mail: “We’re hugely excited to be expanding in the Midlands. We’ve been eager to open a store in Sutton Coldfield since seeing great success with our Birmingham Selfridges store.” Krispy Kreme UK operates more than 70 stores across Britain.

St Austell Brewery appoints retail director: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has appointed Steve Worrall as retail director to lead its 177-strong managed and tenanted pub business. Worrall will work alongside estate director Adam Luck before succeeding him at the end of 2017. Luck will remain on the board as property director. Worrall has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, most recently as brand director at Spirit Pub Company. He also has experience of owning and operating his own food-led pub business and as a hospitality consultant to the pub trade. St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton said: “Steve and his team will focus on responding to the ever-changing demands of consumers and ensuring our growing pub estate continues to deliver exceptional and distinct experiences. It is excellent news we will be able to retain Adam’s considerable knowledge of our estate and his property experience gained over 40 years with the company.” Worrall added: “The company has a clear focus on providing the very best customer experience throughout its sites. I am looking forward to joining the great team at St Austell and playing a part in delivering the vision for continued growth.” Last week, St Austell Brewery appointed Tim McCord as general manager of Bath Ales, which it acquired last July. The company is due to start work on a new brewery at Bath Ales’ headquarters in Warmley in September.