Maxwell’s opens Tropicana Beach Club in Covent Garden: Maxwell’s Restaurants Group, operator of venues such as Café de Paris, Roadhouse and Maxwell’s, has opened its latest venue – Tropicana Beach Club – in Covent Garden. Tropicana Beach Club is a “tropical paradise” late-night bar and restaurant that promises to provide an experience more typical of a luxury Caribbean holiday. The venue features a “lagoon pool-style” dance floor surrounded by VIP beach cabanas, two bars, party booths and unique design features, including 30ft palm trees, more than 500 tropical bird decorations, and a “jungle” of exotic flowers and plants. Customers can enjoy live music, cabaret, steel drums and beach games hosted by a team of lifeguards. Technology allows the club to manage the mood, ambience and sound to create sunset, sunrise, twilight and even tropical thunderstorms. Tropicana Beach Club stocks a “treasure cove” of rum and more than 50 cocktails, including the signature Flamingo Fling. The kitchen is run by executive chef Trevor Tobin (formerly of Burger and Lobster among others) and takes inspiration from beach-style grills from the southern hemisphere. The venue is available for private hire for up to 600 guests. In August, Maxwell’s said it would invest £1m in its late-night operations and expand its portfolio of venues across the capital because of an “increase in confidence in the future of London’s nightlife”. Independently owned and managed by Brian Stein, the group employs more than 500 staff across 12 venues in London.




Private equity backer refinances Pret A Manger: Pret A Manger’s private equity backer is due to recoup millions of pounds after refinancing the fast-growing brand. Bridgepoint, whose other investments include Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, has borrowed £463m against Pret A Manger, The Sunday Times reports. The deal allows Pret to repay £190m of high-interest shareholder loans owed to Bridgepoint and others, and to improve the terms of its existing debt. The refinancing follows strong performance from the company, which has more than 400 stores, despite an intensifying battle for the lunchtime pound with healthy eating chains such as natural fast food brand Leon and sushi outlets such as Wasabi. Sales at Pret A Manger rose by almost 14% to £676.2m last year, and City sources believe Bridgepoint is likely to look at a stock market float towards the end of next year. Pret has expanded rapidly. It trialled a “veggie Pret” store in Soho this year, which it has decided to keep open. It has also opened sites in New York’s Penn station, Paris-Garde de Lyon and Nice airport. Pret A Manger has said its Penn station site is its most lucrative in terms of sales per square foot.




Six restaurant and foodservice brands confirm sites at revamped Oxford shopping centre: Six restaurant and foodservice brands have confirmed they will open sites at the revamped Westgate Centre in Oxford. Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi will occupy a unit in the rooftop garden area, which will offer panoramic views of the city. Other brands moving into the £440m new-look shopping centre are Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien, Comptoir Libanais, owned by Levant Restaurants Group, Pret A Manger and Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group, which specialises in Kyushu cuisine from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands. They will also be joined by Pizza Pilgrims, started by brothers James and Thom Eliot, who are originally from Oxford. Sara Fuge, development manager for the Westgate Oxford Alliance, told the Oxford Mail: “Westgate Oxford will be home to more than 100 stores and 25 restaurants and cafes, as well as a boutique cinema and rooftop terrace dining.” Construction work is under way and the new centre, featuring a John Lewis department store, is due to open in October 2017.




American barbecue brand Bodean’s opens eighth London site, in Muswell Hill: American barbecue diner-deli brand Bodean’s has opened its eighth London site, this time in Muswell Hill. The venue in Broadway is on the former site of Giraffe and is part of the brand’s ongoing roll-out across the capital. The 75-cover Bodean’s Muswell Hill specialises in home-smoked meat, bourbon and all-American dining. Plates of Jacob’s Ladder rack of ribs and burnt ends sit alongside an extensive drinks menu featuring cocktails, bourbon and craft beer. Bodean’s founder André Blais said: “We are delighted to continue our roll-out of Bodean’s across London. Muswell Hill is perfectly positioned in a high footfall location with a great local crowd and lots of families. North London is an area we’ve wanted to explore for a long time and we have been looking forward to bringing authentic Kansas City barbecue to Muswell Hill.” The other Bodean’s diners are in Balham, Clapham, Covent Garden, Fulham, Old Street, Soho and Tower Hill. The company plans to open a further two sites in London during the next 12 months.




Sushi and bento brand Kokoro opens Leicester restaurant, 15th site: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro has opened a restaurant in Leicester, its 15th site. The new venue in Gallowtree Gate offers hand-made sushi and sashimi to eat in or take away as well as a wide choice of east Asian cuisine in small or regular-sized portions. Main dishes include chicken teriyaki, Korean beef stew, spicy tofu, and yakisoba (egg noodles seasoned with Kokoro’s secret sauce). Sushi and sashimi dishes include salmon hosomaki, vegetable hosomaki and California roll, the Leicester Mercury reports. There are also soups, salads and sides. The first branch of Kokoro opened in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, in 2010. The company operates two branches each in Brighton and Guildford, as well as sites in Camberley, Crawley, Croydon, Horsham, Maidenhead, Milton Keynes, Sutton, Wimbledon and Windsor. Kokoro means “heart”, “soul” and “spirit”. On its website the company states: “We put our heart, soul and spirit into the food made for you. All our sushi is prepared using fresh and high-quality ingredients on the premises. At any branch you can enjoy authentic oriental foods that are delicious and affordable to you and your family.”




Middletons Steakhouse and Grill opens sixth site with £1.5m Leicester launch: Norfolk-based Middletons Steakhouse and Grill has opened a £1.5m restaurant in Leicester, its sixth site. The 200-cover restaurant is in a grade II-listed former NatWest bank in St Martins. Middletons has taken a 20-year lease on the property, with the opening creating 60 jobs. The building, designed in 1900 in the baroque revival style, lay empty for 16 years and has undergone a “sympathetic renovation”. Middletons managing director Steve Hutton said the painstaking restoration included refurbishing the original doors and panels, which are made from rare Brazilian mahogany. He told the Leicester Mercury: “The huge former banking hall, based on ancient Roman architecture, is an amazing space and our most ambitious project to date.” Hutton hopes to open further restaurants in the Midlands once Leicester is established and has plans for a seventh site in Peterborough, which he hopes to open early next year. Steve and Tracy Hutton opened their first Middletons Steakhouse and Grill in King’s Lynn in 2010. The company’s other sites are in Norwich, Milton Keynes, Colchester and Watford.




Mamalan opens fifth London site, in Shoreditch: Beijing street food specialist Mamalan has opened its fifth London site, in Shoreditch. The new venue is a ground-floor unit in Richmix Square. Mamalan founder Ning Ma creates street food dishes inspired by recipes served on her grandfather’s market stall in the Chinese capital. The 24-cover restaurant is decked out with birdcages from China and also offers seating outdoors. The menu features new offerings alongside Mamalan’s signature dumplings and noodle dishes. Traditional Beijing toasted buns come with a variety of fillings such as pork, crispy chicken, prawn and tofu, with many dishes ideal for sharing. The Shoreditch site features an expanded cocktail list, including Bull In A China Shop containing Buffalo Trace bourbon, rose syrup, lemon juice and homemade jasmine iced tea. Mamalan launched in Brixton Village and now operates restaurants in Clapham, Dalston and East Village, with another scheduled to open at Croydon Boxpark at the end of the month.




Bristol-based The Clifton Sausage to start expansion with second site, in Bath: Bristol-based, upmarket bangers-and-mash restaurant and bar The Clifton Sausage is set to start expansion by opening its second site, in Bath. The company is opening the 80-cover venue in The Paragon on the site of the Cow Shed restaurant. The site, which is within the grade II-listed Bladud Buildings, is set to open on Saturday, 22 October. The Clifton Sausage, in Clifton Village, opened in 2002 and two years ago it was bought by its manager Simon Quarrie and wife Joy. The menu features at least six varieties of sausage served with mashed potatoes or champ (mash with spring onions). Simon Quarrie told “We have been looking for a long time for the right place in which to expand. The Cow Shed premises are ideal. When they came on the market we jumped at the opportunity of taking them over. It means we will be able to offer the people of Bath and visitors to this World Heritage site our unique service of classic British food with its emphasis on sausages. The Cow Shed, which opened two years ago, is closing to allow owner Adam Denton to concentrate on his original restaurant in Whiteladies Road in Clifton.




Rick Stein tables plans for guest house next to Marlborough restaurant: Celebrity chef Rick Stein has tabled plans for a guest house next to his new restaurant in Marlborough, Wiltshire. Stein has applied to Wiltshire Council to convert a former estate agent in High Street for the new venture. The scheme involves creating four bedrooms and restoring a connection between the two buildings, reports the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. Earlier this month, The Seafood Restaurant (Padstow) reported turnover grew to £16m in the year to 27 December 2015, up from £15.3m the year before. Pre-tax profit also increased to £1.18m, compared with £1.05m the previous year. He also acquired Tideway Restaurants, trading as The Depot in Barnes, for his first site in London.




Laine Pub Company launches bespoke training programme for management partners: The Laine Pub Company, backed by Luke Johnson and which operates a 48-strong London and Brighton pub estate, has launched a bespoke training programme for its management partners (pub operators) and their staff. The Management Partner Programme (MPP) includes online training and guidance via software company CPL Online and aims to guide its pub operators through a range of commercial, customer service and compliance issues, delivering support through classroom-based workshops and on-the-job inductions. The company’s health and safety system will be the first key document to be uploaded to CPL Online, while Laine added it was in talks with other specialist training providers as it sought to add further subject areas to the MPP. It also plans to work with CPL to develop its own bespoke online training modules. Laine Pub Company chief executive Gavin George said: “We introduced the MPP to help (our partners) best meet their obligations to customers, employees, the company and the authorities, in what is a constantly evolving and highly regulated trading environment.” CPL Online managing director David Dasher added: “The MPP is a fantastic initiative. It’s great to see our systems being used, not just for the deployment of training but as a tool for business-wide communication and collaboration.”




JD Wetherspoon begins work on Chester city centre hotel and bar after two-year delay: JD Wetherspoon has started work to convert The Bull and Stirrup in Chester city centre into a new hotel and bar following a two-year delay. JD Wetherspoon bought the venue in Upper Northgate Street in autumn 2014 with the promise of a £2.3m investment, but it had remained boarded up since. Conversion work is now under way, with company spokesman Eddie Gershon confirming an opening date for the new pub and hotel of 28 February 2017. Planning and listed building consent had already been obtained for a single-storey rear extension and internal alterations to provide ten hotel bedrooms with en-suite facilities as well as new toilet facilities to upper floors. In 1972, The Bull and Stirrup hosted a strike committee, including the now famous actor Ricky Tomlinson, which led to the first ever national strike by building workers, The Chester Chronicle reports.




Birmingham-based deli operator opens wood-fired pizza concept in the city: Birmingham-based deli operator Chris James has opened a new wood-fired pizza concept in the city. James, who launched The Eight Foot Grocer in the Jewellery Quarter 15 months ago, has opened 40-cover restaurant Otto in an adjacent unit in Caroline Street. Otto – Italian for “eight” – offers a choice of eight pizzas alongside salads and ice cream. James spent eight years working in London restaurants before deciding to set up his own venture in Birmingham. He told the Birmingham Mail: “Our ambition is to make the best pizzas in Birmingham. We are making our own dough, we are going to make our own mozzarella and we will source the best other ingredients from Britain and Italy. Each pizza will take between 90 seconds and two minutes to cook.”




McDonald’s UK ends its YouTube influencer campaign: McDonald’s UK has ended its “Channel Us” YouTube influencer campaign geared towards a young demographic because of a lack of interest. The campaign was hosted by two UK-based influencers, but none of the nine clips posted this year reached 1,000 views. McDonald’s head of media and customer engagement Ben Fox said the quick service restaurant chain had learned that creating content people wanted to see was an “inherent challenge” in content marketing. He told The Drum: “We have learnt that content is really difficult and content with purpose is really important. Like a lot of brands, it is a challenge for us and we are looking at a lot of different ways we can pull people towards our brand to build affinity with other audiences.” Underscoring the value platforms place on influencer campaigns, Facebook and Twitter have both been actively luring YouTube creators to their live streaming video offerings, while Google recently acquired FameBit, which seeks to build a “democratised market place” to better connect brands to YouTube influencers.




Patron Cave A Manger team opens Kentish Town wine shop and deli bar: Ellison & Pioc, the team behind Cafe Gourmand bistro in Soho, has opened a wine shop and deli bar a few doors down from its French restaurant, Patron Cave A Manger, in Kentish Town. The restaurant in Fortress Road opened 18 months ago and Jean-François Pioc and Tanzi Ellison have been joined by a new business partner to launch Patron Wine Shop & Deli Bar. A carefully curated selection of cheese, charcuterie, olives and truffles are available to eat in or take away, with each item personally sourced by the owners and with an emphasis on boutique suppliers. The bar features an enomatic wine dispenser, which allows consumers to taste wine by the quarter, half, or full glass. All bottles are hand-picked by the team and will change on a monthly basis. The dining space is filled with authentic French furnishings, with a communal table at the centre seating ten, as well as cosy corners by the front window. Ellison & Pioc said it wanted visitors to feel like they had stepped back in time or just discovered a “hidden gem on the streets of Paris”.




New Thai restaurant concept opens in Ashford: A new Thai restaurant concept has opened in Ashford, Kent. Ben Godfrey has launched Po Thai in Park Street on the site of the former Press Rooms. The restaurant, which features authentic Thai decor, offers a range of options, including a lunchtime menu and Thai tapas dishes. The team also plans to run Thai food cooking courses at the venue. Godfrey told Kent Live: “We are bringing authentic and complex Thai flavours and textures to Ashford. With dishes from all over Thailand, we are able to offer seafood delights from the south to Massaman beef curry from the north.”




Indian street food and cocktail bar concept Zindiya to launch in Birmingham: Indian street food and cocktail bar concept Zindiya is set to open in Birmingham. The 90-cover restaurant in Woodbridge Road, Moseley, is at the former site of Luker’s bakery and should open before Christmas. It will offer an all-day menu, including afternoon tea and a range of small plates designed to share. Wine, beer and spirits have been chosen to complement the Indian flavours. The outside will be brightly painted, while the interior will be designed to resemble a bustling and colourful Indian street. Zindiya is a concept by Shivani and Ajay Kenth, with the name deriving from a combination of the Indian word for life and the owners’ daughter Diya. The Kenths told the Birmingham Mail: “There are already a number of old-fashioned curry houses but Zindiya is completely different to anything Moseley has seen before. We are bringing Indian flavours and dishes to the restaurant, served almost as a tapas concept so people can share and enjoy a wide range of different dishes with their friends. Moseley is a unique place and we want to be part of that, bringing back the ethos that has made the area so desirable and vibrant.”




Deli owners launch Greek bistro concept in Leeds: Delicatessen Amalthea has launched a Greek bistro concept at its site in Leeds. The family-owned business sells traditional Mediterranean produce while serving Greek coffees and gourmet snacks during the day. The new bistro offers an orthodox menu of classic and modern Greek dishes in the evening. Head chef Constantine Tsapanidis has worked in five-star hotels, enabling him to form an exclusive partnership with an independent supplier, which supplies items such as olive oil, sauces and organic honey that are difficult to find in the UK. He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Following extensive research into the food and drink market, we are able to bring the best Greek products to the UK. I’m a specialist in traditional and modern Greek cuisine.” Amalthea also hosts weddings and corporate events at its site in The Crescent.




Fitzrovia partners Epic for second pub within Charles Wells’ estate: Fitzrovia Pub Company, in partnership with Epic Managers, has taken on its second Charles Wells site. The Knife & Cleaver in Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire, part of Charles Wells’ leased and tenanted estate, has been refurbished to “offer a relaxed, home-from-home environment” with space for 110 diners and accommodation in nine hotel rooms. There is also a 16-seat private dining space. The pub will be the second opened by Fitzrovia Pub Company and managed by Epic, led by pub operator Andrew Coath, who also runs the Anchor in Aspley Guise, near Milton Keynes. The menu, which “showcases the best of British produce and blends the contemporary and classic” will change regularly. There is a selection of Charles Wells’ real ales as well as wine and cocktails that change frequently to match the season. Richard Bishop, director of tenanted and leased pubs at Charles Wells, said: “We’re pleased that Fitzrovia has seen another fabulous opportunity within our estate. Under the management of Andrew Coath and his Epic team, we know the new-look Knife & Cleaver will be just as successful and is a further example of our commitment to invest in our leased and tenanted pubs, and support those who run them.” Coath added: “We are really excited to have opened the doors to the new Knife & Cleaver and to have created this eclectic British pub, which offers something for everyone. We are delighted to be working with Charles Wells on this great pub, which we are confident will appeal to locals as well as become a destination venue for people in Bedfordshire and beyond to enjoy.”




‘Scouse’ restaurant concept The Chancery to launch in Liverpool this month: New “Scouse” restaurant concept The Chancery is set to launch in Liverpool this month. The menu at the restaurant will be based around the city of Liverpool and its traditional comfort food, with the venue based in Chancery House in Paradise Street, close to Liverpool ONE leisure complex. The concept is the brainchild of Philip Lee, who told the Liverpool Echo: “Our menu is based around Liverpool and its food, with dishes such as posh Scouse, posh pea wack, all the stuff your mum used to make – real comfort food. There are loads of restaurants based on other types of food, so we thought it was time to show off Liverpool’s own food, and give a real taste of Liverpool. Everything will be sourced from as close to the city as possible.” The red-brick, grade II-listed Chancery House was built in 1899 for the Gordon Smith Institute for Seamen charity.




Five Guys to open site at Dudley shopping centre: Better burger brand Five Guys is to open a site in Dudley, West Midlands. The company is opening the restaurant at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre on Monday, 5 December, creating 35 jobs, reports the Express & Star. Five Guys has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013. Last month, the company said it expected to expand its international footprint from eight countries to more than 30 during the next five years as results “outpace” its most “optimistic projections”.




‘Extra-virgin Greek food’ concept Kalimera launches first permanent site: “Extra-virgin Greek food” concept Kalimera has launched its first permanent site next week, in north London. The restaurant is at Unit 311 in Camden Market, offering a menu of “authentic, vibrant dishes that showcase the best of modern Greek food”. Although inspired by traditional Greek cooking, the venue will revisit the classics to offer a modern take on Greek food, “more akin to that found in cosmopolitan Athens than a traditional taverna”, The Handbook reports. This modern attitude also influences the design of the space, which is decorated with bright yellow stripes to represent olive groves seen from above.