Abokado eyeing eight more central London sites and £3m turnover boost by end-2017: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by private equity firm Kings Park Capital, has secured further funding to grow its presence in central London in a bid to boost its turnover from £14m to £17m by the end of next year. The company plans to grow the number of its central London stores from 28 to 36 in 12 months, fuelled by operating cash and a £2.1m loan secured from Royal Bank of Scotland. Abokado launched in Covent Garden in 2004, with the latest openings by the family-owned business in Islington and its first store south of the river in Blackfriars. Founder Mark Lilley said Abokado’s healthy “on-the-go” dishes, including sushi, noodle soups and green Thai wraps, were integral to driving the brand’s growth by tapping the growing trend for healthy food options. He told the Telegraph: “We’re proud to have opened 28 Abokado sites around the city. The opening of our 30th site by the start of next year will be a very important milestone for the business.”
In September, KPC co-founder Jason Katz told Propel he believed there is scope for more than 100 Abokado sites in London before it even considered regional and international growth. He said: “When we backed Abokado it had five sites, now it has 28. There is still plenty of opportunity in London so it makes sense to continue adding units there for the time being. I think there is also scope for it to grow regionally and internationally.”
SABMiller chief Alan Clark ‘best-value boss’ on FTSE 100: SABMiller chief executive Alan Clark is the best-value boss on the FTSE 100, according to remuneration consultant Pearl Meyer. The South African, who was in charge of the brewer when it was acquired for £80bn by rival Anheuser-Busch InBev earlier this year, ranked top in Pearl Meyer’s annual list. For every pound paid to Clark in the past four years, shareholders received £5,984 in return. Second on the list was BT’s Gavin Patterson, with GlaxoSmithKline’s Sir Andrew Witty third, The Times reports. Clark, whose total pay fell 17% last year to £5.9m, joined SABMiller in 1990 and became chief executive in 2013. His performance was boosted by the bid battle for SABMiller, in which its shares soared by more than 50%. The chief executive was in line for a £55m payout from the deal through share awards and options amassed during his 26 years at the company.
Dylan’s to open £1.5m Llandudno seafront restaurant, third Welsh site: Anglesey-based restaurant group Dylan’s is set to open its third site in Wales, this time in Llandudno. The company, which operates restaurants in Menai Bridge and Criccieth, has bought a grade II-listed seafront building that formerly housed Washington nightclub, which closed in 2012. Dylan’s will begin a £1.5m refurbishment programme at the building in East Parade before the end of the year, with the opening creating up to 40 jobs. A company spokesman said Dylan’s was putting together a funding package with a view to opening the restaurant in spring 2017. The plan includes creating a dining space over two floors, a cocktail bar and outdoor terrace. Dylan’s director David Evans told the Daily Post: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been able to secure this amazing building – it’s the perfect setting for our third restaurant. This is an ambitious project, which demonstrates our commitment to North Wales. We are confident we can secure the funding required to meet our opening target date. Our expansion into Llandudno will help us extend our destination dining experience further along the North Wales coast.” Dylan’s launched its first restaurant in Menai Bridge, Anglesey, in 2012 and opened its second site, at Portmeirion architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’s Morannedd building in Criccieth last year. It has also opened a prep kitchen for its restaurants in Llangefni. Its venues focus on locally and sustainably caught fish and seafood sourced directly from fishermen in the region.
Pub People Company opens second Nottingham city centre site: East Midlands-based operator Pub People Company has opened its second site in Nottingham city centre. The company has launched Six Barrel Drafthouse in Carlton Street on the site of the former Image Bar. It has invested £200,000 to refurbish the site, which Pub People describes as a “traditional pub with a modern twist”. Natural timbers have been used to create the bar surface, the ceiling has been exposed, while one internal wall has also been exposed to make the most of the natural brickwork. A stack of board games is stored close to the pub’s beer fridges and chessboards have been built into three tables. Six Barrel Drafthouse offers beers from local breweries Castle Rock and Lincoln Green, as well as further afield. A range of craft beer from the US, Belgium and the UK is on offer in bottles and cans. There is also coffee from Nottingham-based independent roasters 200 Degrees. Pub People Company operations director Andy Crawford told the Nottingham Post: “Six Barrel has a solid pub architecture to it, with different types of quality furniture. It’s not formulaic, it’s completely individual.” Pub People Company operates 47 sites across the region, including its other Nottingham city centre site – Bunkers Hill.
East Coast starts expansion of Neighbourhood concept with flagship Liverpool opening: Manchester-based East Coast Concepts has started expansion of its Neighbourhood concept by opening a second site, this time in Castle Street, Liverpool. Neighbourhood combines a brasserie atmosphere with European and new American cuisine. The grade II-listed Castle Street site, with an interior originally created for Alliance Bank, features a domed banking hall with paired Corinthian columns. The company secured a multimillion-pound cash injection from private equity firm NorthEdge Capital in June to expand its Neighbourhood and Victors brands in the north of England. East Coast Concepts owner and founder James Hitchen has said the company plans to double its estate with the launch of three venues in 2017, doubling its portfolio to six. He told Insider Media: “Now is a very exciting time in our journey. Since opening in November 2013, Neighbourhood has been central to the explosion of the restaurant and bar scene in Manchester and we’re excited to be building on this with our Liverpool opening. We’ve spent a lot of time here, looking at what’s already on offer and finding some gaps in the market. This will be our new flagship site, and we’ll be doing things here that we don’t in other venues (such as offering breakfast). We have a real focus on live music and we’re looking to develop fresh talent on the music side and in the bar and restaurant itself.”
Admiral Taverns reopens Welwyn Garden City pub following £300,000 investment: Admiral Taverns has reopened The Mayflower in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, as the Sheldan Inn following a £300,000 refurbishment. The pub in Sloansway is being operated by experienced licensee Dean Hutton, who is introducing a new food offer and monthly entertainment. The pub will offer Sunday roast dinners and also show live sports throughout the week. The Sheldan Inn also features a new function room, which is available for hire. Hutton said: “Admiral Taverns has been a great support and bought into my vision for a family-friendly, fun and community-focused local pub. This new look and name will mark a fresh chapter for the pub at the heart of the Haldens community.” Admiral Taverns chief executive Kevin Georgel added: “Our substantial investment is indicative of our commitment to support local pubs and the communities in which they are located. In Dean, we have invested in a dedicated entrepreneur, who not only has a bright vision for the future but genuinely cares about the community and the role of the pub to serve local residents and visitors to Welwyn Garden City.”
MOD Pizza opens Newcastle restaurant, third UK site: Fast-casual artisan pizza brand MOD Pizza has opened its third restaurant in the UK, this time at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, near Newcastle. The company, which launched in the UK earlier this year, operates sites in Leeds and Brighton, with more openings planned for London and Nottingham. MOD’s artisan-style pizzas and salads are individually crafted using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces. Customers create their own pizza and salads, choosing any combination from more than 30 featured toppings. Alternatively, they can choose from a menu of MOD classics. Pizzas are hand-fired in a 300C oven in minutes, while salads are hand-tossed for each customer. The price remains the same – £7.47 – regardless of the number of toppings. The menu is rounded out with soft drinks and hand-spun milkshakes, while MOD Metrocentre will also offer £10 pitchers of Estrella beer. MOD UK chief executive John Nelson told Chronicle Live: “We are thrilled to bring MOD to Gateshead and to introduce the community to our incredible pizza and the special people-first culture. MOD is a company focused on taking care of its people and community. We hope people will come down to see what all the buzz is about!”
Cotswolds-based operator acquires third site: Cotswolds-based operator Neil John has acquired his third site in the region – The Royal Oak in the village of Painswick. The pub will reopen on Friday, 25 November with a full refurbishment planned for the new year. John told So Glos: “With all the bad news about local pubs closing down, it is very exciting and positive to be reopening this much-loved Painswick venue.” John also owns The Falcon Inn in Painswick and The Stirrup Cup in nearby Bisley.
Birmingham-based all-vegan/vegetarian coffee shop starts expansion with second city site: Birmingham’s first all-vegan/vegetarian coffee shop – 3 Three’s Coffee Lounge – has started expansion by opening a second site in the city. The concept made its debut in Martineau Place in the city centre in April. The owners have now opened a site in Great Hampton Street in the Jewellery Quarter that, like its sister site, offers vegan jumbo frankfurters made with tofu in 8.5-inch soft rolls and a choice of jalapeno, mustard and ketchup toppings. It also serves soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, paninis, cakes, cupcakes, brownies and shortbread. All offerings are handmade and vegan and vegetarian-friendly. 3 Three’s also offers a range of gluten-free crisps, sweets and chocolates, and four vegan gelato flavours. Co-owner Satnam Singh told the Birmingham Mail: “We’ve been amazed by the response we’ve had since we opened our flagship cafe. There is a great demand for more vegan and vegetarian choice in Birmingham and we felt it was the right time to expand. The Jewellery Quarter location for us is perfect – there are so many great new places that have opened up in the area and we’re thrilled to be part of this community. Our new cafe is much smaller but we hope we’ll be popular with people hoping to grab something fresh and healthy to eat.”
Leicester-based real ale bar lodges plans for second site, in Lutterworth: Leicester-based real ale bar The Real Ale Classroom has lodged plans to open its second site, in Lutterworth. The company has applied to Harborough District Council to convert an electrical shop in Station Road into the new venue. Its existing site in Allandale Road, Leicester, serves a range of ales, ciders and spirits produced by brewers across the county. A statement filed with the plans state that the Real Ale Classroom would aim to “create a stimulating, warm and friendly atmosphere”, reports Insider Media. The statement added: “The plan is to base our bar around an education theme, providing the town with an opportunity to experience the craft skills of regional producers of cider, spirits and real ale. We want to ensure our new development can take place and contribute to the delivery of a strong and vibrant community.”
Birmingham-based restaurant owner set to open second site in city: Birmingham-based restaurant owner William Sui will open his second site in the city on Thursday (17 November). Sui, who owns the 100 Degree Flaming Grill and Bar in Essex Street, is launching seafood restaurant Lobster Peninsula on the site of the former Futurist Cinema in John Bright Street. The grade II-listed building, which has undergone a £900,000 refurbishment, opened as a cinema in July 1919 before closing in the 1990s. The former grandeur is still evident at Lobster Peninsula, with restored high ceilings, pillars and the grand balcony, which features outdoor heaters. The 88-cover restaurant takes up half the theatre space, with a separate 60-seater bar with more casual decor for coffee and cocktails. A chandelier imported from France hangs over the staircase at the entrance to the restaurant and bar. The restaurant will offer sharing seafood platters of lobster, crab, creole fish, prawns, calamari and mussels, alongside steak and chicken dishes. Upstairs, a 200 square metre function room with bar will be used as a nightclub on Fridays and Saturdays and open until 3am. Sui has undertaken the project with business associate Rob Ying. Manager Nuno Peres told the Birmingham Mail: “We noticed a lack of relaxed restaurants where you’re not restricted to a three-course affair. We’re encouraging people to take their time and order a few appetisers or a sharing platter. Close to a million pounds has been invested to create somewhere where diners can enjoy the surroundings as well as the food.”
Indian restaurant concept Nutmeg opens in Bristol: Indian restaurant concept Nutmeg has opened in the Clifton area of Bristol. The menu at the restaurant in The Mall has been inspired by the 29 states of India but uses local produce, much of it sourced within a three-mile radius. Head chef Arvind Pawar is from Delhi and each dish refers to its Indian state of origin, from Mirchi masala chicken (Mumbai) and Goan-style pork chops vindaloo to sea bass Jal Tarang (West Bengal) and tandoori quail from Madhya Pradesh. There are plenty of meat-free choices, including Gujarati-style vegetable biryani. Nutmeg is set across two floors, including a mezzanine dining area, and offers draught Kingfisher beer and Thatcher’s Gold cider alongside wine, liqueur coffees and cocktails, including post-dinner options such as mango and gin Martini and spicy pineapple margarita, the Bristol Post reports.
Whitbread eyes Premier Inn for Aviemore: Whitbread has lodged plans with Highland Council’s Badenoch and Strathspey planning service to build a Premier Inn at Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. Whitbread wants to build a £6.5m, 60-bedroom hotel, creating 25 full-time jobs. The proposals include car parking for 53 vehicles, a service area and landscaping at the prominent site at the former Cairngorm service station in Grampian Road, which has been derelict for the past decade. Premier Inn already has more than 700 hotels in the UK, including four in Inverness – totalling 59,000 rooms – and has set a target of 85,000 rooms by 2020. Mark Tate, chief executive of the Cairngorms Business Partnership, said attracting the UK’s largest hotel brand was a “vote of confidence” in the area.
Goodman Restaurants partners with Spit and Roast for food offering at late-night Zelman Drinks concept: Goodman Restaurants, which owns Zelman Meats, has partnered with chicken specialists Spit and Roast for the food offering at its late-night bar concept Zelman Drinks. The bar opened recently in Station Place in Finsbury Park, north London, at the former site of live music venue The Silver Bullet. The bar, which has a 4am licence, features live music and DJ sets. Originally, customers could order-in pizza from nearby Yard Sale. From Wednesday (16 November) Spit and Roast will offer dishes such as buttermilk-fried chicken bap with slaw and its own Korean hot sauce, which will also be served as sliders, alongside Korean hot wings. Dishes created especially for Zelman Drinks will include classic Dutch beer snack Bitterballen, served with traditional sweet mustard, Hot Dinners reports. Goodman Restaurants operations director Dave Strauss said Zelman Drinks is aimed at people in the restaurant industry. He said: “It’s for all the restaurant folk who, like myself, finish work at 11.30pm or midnight and are looking for somewhere to go.”
Sisters to turn Cotswold pub into restaurant cafe concept The Hive: Sisters Jayne Evans and Sally Coleridge are set to launch restaurant cafe concept The Hive after acquiring Cotswold pub the Fox House in Stow-on-the-Wold following a deal brokered by agent Colliers International. The Hive will feature a licensed cafe and restaurant downstairs, with a two-bedroom holiday let upstairs. The nil premium leasehold was available for £36,000 per year, while the apartment – consisting of the upper floors of the building – was sold off a guide price of £550,000. Evans said: “Fox House had everything we were looking for in one of our preferred locations. The high standard of the renovation work already carried out means both operations are ready to go.” Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt, who brokered the deal, added: “The building offers a fantastic opportunity to establish a new restaurant operation next to Porch House Hotel in one of the Cotswolds’ largest, most visited and pretty towns. The Cotswolds are a magnet to visitors virtually all year round. Stow is a beautiful old town full of honeyed Cotswold stone houses and cottages. It draws in many day and staying visitors as well as having a strong resident population on which to draw.”
Nando’s to launch its first Christmas menu: Nando’s will launch its first Christmas menu on Wednesday (16 November), which will feature two new festive additions. The company has combined two Nando’s favourites in one burger – a flame-grilled boneless chicken thigh and chicken breast fillet. Nando’s told the Mirror the new burger would be “served in a Portuguese roll on a bed of baby spinach”. The other addition to the menu, the Peri-Berry Burger, is topped with Peri-Berry chutney featuring cranberries, raspberries and blueberries, infused with peri-peri chillies. The company has also put a festive spin on its peri-peri wings, turning them orange by using a new glaze. The festive menu will run until early January.