Jamie Oliver granted extra time to finalise acquisition of Australian restaurants: Jamie Oliver has been granted extra time to finalise the acquisition of restaurants run under franchise in Australia – the Australian operator of Jamie’s Italian restaurants went into receivership at the end of last year. In November, Oliver moved to buy back the business, which included six restaurants, from then-owners Keystone Hospitality Group to save the franchise. He planned to have the transaction wrapped up by 11 April. But Oliver’s plans to bring his eponymous restaurants back in-house under his British parent group hit a snag when the sale was not finalised by the deadline. However, an urgent court hearing in New South Wales concluded with administrators and receivers being granted extra time to complete the takeover from the Keystone Group, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The New South Wales Supreme Court heard if an extension of time was not granted, the Jamie’s companies, which are insolvent, would go into liquidation, with the loss of more than 300 jobs. Administrator Katherine Barnet told the court both parties agreed to the sale on 31 December but there had been a delay in finalisation for a number of reasons, including the complexity of the transaction and negotiations with the respective landlords at each restaurant. Justice Fabian Gleeson agreed to a four-week extension to reconvene the second meeting of creditors for the Jamie’s entities in order to allow the sale to be completed. Under the terms of the agreement with Jamie’s Italian International, all employees will be offered the same or similar jobs with the same terms and conditions. The Keystone Group was placed in receivership when it failed to renegotiate an A$80m (NZ$85.8m) loan with its financiers, the private equity group KKR and Olympus Capital.
Speratus Group opens fourth Boozy Cow site with Dundee outlet, increases number of charities supported: The Boozy Cow, the burger restaurant owned by Speratus Group, has opened its fourth site, in Dundee, and increased the number of charities it is supporting. Speratus Group founder Garreth Wood revealed a further five good causes would receive a boost from The Boozy Cow restaurants, which donates its entire profits for the year to charity. Wood said Hot Chocolate Trust, Mid-Lin Day Care, Dundee Woman’s Aid, Art Angel and Help for Kids would now benefit, bringing the total number of good causes supported to 18. The company has opened the Dundee Boozy Cow on the former site of Laing’s Bar and Kitchen. It has overhauled the building and revamped the beer garden. Last month, Boozy Cow boosted charities with a windfall of more than £210,000 and it has now given away almost £500,000 since opening its first venue in Aberdeen in 2014. Wood said: “The charities we’ve partnered with do outstanding work in Dundee, from supporting disadvantaged children and young people to providing care to elderly people and helping women who have suffered from domestic abuse. I’m proud we at Boozy Cow are donating our profits to help these fantastic causes. There’s no one else doing what we’re doing. Boozy Cow is edgy, it’s exciting and distinctive yet still manages to be family-friendly, and its profits are going to important community causes. There’s nothing like this in Dundee.”
Four more restaurant brands sign for Westgate Oxford: Four more restaurant brands have signed to open sites at the £440m Westgate Oxford development. Comptoir Group-owned Shawa Lebanese Grill, Indian street food brand Rola Wala, Nando’s and Benito’s Hat have agreed deals with owner The Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate. The brands were unveiled with six months to go until the official opening of the development in the city centre. Westgate Oxford will have the city’s first public roof garden with The Breakfast Club, Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi and Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho among the foodservice brands to have already secured sites. The 800,000 square foot complex will be anchored by a 140,000 square foot John Lewis store. Land Securities leasing director Naomi Howard said: “In exactly six months, we will open our doors to the public, bringing them a vibrant blend of luxury and high street retail stores to be explored, alongside some of the most exciting food and drink brands the region will have to offer. We are thrilled to announce today’s new signings – who will be joined by more new names in the coming weeks.”
Noble Inns brings Bad Egg back to Moorgate: London gastro-pub operator Noble Inns has brought back its eclectic diner concept Bad Egg by popular demand. The venue has returned to City Point in Ropemaker Street, Moorgate, and is open seven days a week. The concept is back six months after the site was rebranded as Little Smoke. New on the menu are the N’duja Croque Monsieur, Bad Egg Burrito, and a Snicker Bocker Glory while favourites that have made a return include the Cheeseburger Hash, consisting of a smashed cheeseburger, crispy fries and a fried egg; and its weekend brunch menu. Noble Inns co-founder Scott Hunter said: “Bad Egg is where we can pour all our guilty pleasures into the menu, including our favorites – deep fried chicken, peanut butter and jelly bap, and the pulled pork and kimchi hash. It’s developed a loyal, almost cult-like following over the years so we’re excited to bring it back.” Noble Inns also operates Smokehouse, Pig & Butcher and The Princess of Shoreditch.
Kerridge to pay homage to ‘Swinging Sixties’ at first London venue: Two Michelin-starred pub chef Tom Kerridge plans to bring the spirit of the “Swinging Sixties” to Knightsbridge when he opens his first London restaurant. The chef, who was behind the first gastro-pub in the country to earn two Michelin stars, is reopening The Rib Room at the five-star Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel this year and aims to pay homage to its original 1961 launch. He told the Evening Standard: “The idea of coming to London is something we have been toying with for ages. When the opportunity presented itself within the Carlton Tower … everything I’ve done has to have some kind of history and heritage to it. It opened in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when Knightsbridge was synonymous with double-decker buses, minis, and that idea that we became very awake, to art, to food, to music. When you think of Knightsbridge in the sixties – that’s something we’re desperate to bring back.” Kerridge runs the Hand & Flowers in Marlow and also owns nearby pub The Coach. His London venture will be his third venue. He also revealed he will retain The Rib Room’s original name.
Whitbread expected to report staycation benefit when it unveils full-year results: Whitbread is expected to report a rise in pre-tax profits at its full-year results on Tuesday (25 April) helped by the continuing growth in Costa Coffee and strong trading at budget hotel brand Premier Inn. Analysts expect the company to report profits of £560m to £570m on a turnover of about £3.1bn, up from £546m and £2.9bn the previous year, although the comparison is helped by a 53-week year. The company, headed by former Lloyds banker Alison Brittain, is expected to benefit strongly from the increase in inbound tourists and the increase in staycations due to the fall in sterling, as well as from the continued roll-out of Costa Express at a rate of 1,500 coffee machines a year. Investors will be looking closely at whether the firm has improved on its third-quarter figures, which showed a slight fall in like-for-like sales in its food outlets.
Eataly to donate $1m to preserve The Last Supper: International Italian food emporium Eataly has promised to donate $1m to preserve Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. It will fund a high-tech air filtration system that will extend the painting’s life by an estimated 500 years – it has been in a state of gradual deterioration essentially since its completion in 1498, and the precise environment required to preserve it means Milan’s Santa Maria delle Grazie must limit its visitors to 1,300 per day and viewing time to 15 minutes. “Preserving quality, culture and tradition has always been our main goal,” said Eataly USA boss Nicola Farinetti. “We are happy to be able to help conserve this masterpiece of world art for an additional 500 years. Not only will it give the possibility to the entire world to enjoy it for a longer amount of time, but will continue to establish the everyday connection between food and culture.”
Luke Thomas to focus on London launch and international ventures: Chef Luke Thomas has ended his two-year association with Luke’s Eating House and Gin Rickey’s in St John Street, Chester. Parent company Odysian’s 21-year lease has expired and the venue will be rebranded and taken over by The Alchemist chain this summer. Thomas won BBC’s Future Chef competition when he was 15. His career has seen him working with Gary Rhodes, Heston Blumenthal and became known as the youngest head chef in the UK aged 19. Now he works as a culinary advisor to brands around the world and develops menus for the Generator Hostel chain. “With the sale of the lease, this now allows my time to be focused on my international ventures such as Retro Feasts Dubai and launching my own concept bar and restaurant in London this year,” he said. “It was great spending time close to home and working with Odysian on this project, I enjoyed working with a really incredible team that launched the venture along with the many local suppliers in all aspects who supported the business.” He plans to open a venue in London later this year.
Starbucks’ first global franchisee expands with drive-thru site: 23.5 Degrees, Starbucks’ first franchisee globally, has expanded by opening a drive-thru store near Huntingdon. A total of 25 jobs have been created at the store at the newly extended Brampton Hut services on the A1/A14 Interchange, which will be the first drive- thru in the area. On its website, 23.5 Degrees states: “Having opened our first store in February 2013, 23.5 Degrees currently operates 39 stores with a current pipeline of 23 further stores approved and under development. We have a developmental territory covering Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Essex and Dorset as well as 23 boroughs within the Greater London area. Managing director Mark Hepburn has a track record of significant success in foodservice franchise businesses, including Burger King and KFC and our business growth is supported by private equity firm Connection Capital as well as Royal Bank of Scotland.”
Whiting & Hammond pub could be closed for months after fire: A Whiting & Hammond pub, The Mark Cross Inn, five mile outside Tunbridge Wells, Kent, could be closed for months after a fire last weekend. Owner Brian Whiting said the pub would not be open “for at least two weeks” and could remain closed for three months or more. He told the local newspaper: “The roof has been burned through but this could probably be replaced quite quickly. The problem is the fire took out all of the electrics and we will need to rewire the pub. How long this will take is anyone’s guess.” Whiting said he had been “overwhelmed” by the community support he has received. He added: “I have been astonished and surprised by the number of supportive messages we have received from people. I want to assure them when the place reopens it will be better than ever.”
Bistrot Pierre to open Southport site in autumn: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre will open a site in Southport, Merseyside, in the autumn. The company, which currently operates 18 sites, will invest £1m converting the former Russell & Bromley store in Lord Street into the new 140-seat venue, creating 50 jobs. The plans involve a significant investment, with changes to all three floors including replacing glazing, repairing the listed veranda and introducing pavement seating at the front. Co-owner Rob Beacham told The Champion: “Southport is a historic and vibrant town that attracts many visitors to enjoy its culture, scenery, shops and restaurants and we’re proud to be involved in the growth of its food and drink scene.” Bistrot Pierre is understood to have agreed a ten-year deal for the 23,000 square foot building, with a rent of about £70,000 a year. The company, founded by Beacham and John Whitehead in 1994, received £9.8m from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans.
Subway meets CQUIN targets at hospital sites, reveals first low/no sugar drinks store trials: Subway has said its 12 NHS franchised stores at hospital sites have met the relevant criteria relating to food and drink sold on NHS premises for the 2016/2017 Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) targets. The brand has exceeded the forthcoming CQUIN target announcement, by only serving no sugar and reduced sugar drinks in these stores. This roll-out exceeds the deadline for voluntary implementation detailed in the 2017/2018 CQUIN targets, as set-out by NHS England. This was made possible by Subway changing to a new beverage partner alongside putting in place a comprehensive programme that provided its corporate and individual franchisees with the necessary tools and information to comply. After partnering with Britvic and PepsiCo, Subway stores removed high sugar drinks, in favour of no sugar and reduced sugar dispensed or bottled options only. This is part of a trial that will help determine the shift in customer behaviour and sales impact as a result of the no sugar and reduced sugar roll-out. Subway country director for the UK and Ireland Peter Dowding said: “This action builds upon the strong healthier-for-you food-on-the-go credentials the brand already has in place. It further demonstrates our commitment to providing a better food environment in hospitals to patients, staff and visitors.”
McDonald’s using Snapchat as first round job interview in Australia: McDonald’s is using Snapchat to hire job applicants in Australia. The company is asking applicants to send them a ten-second Snapchat video using a filter that shows them wearing a McDonald’s uniform. The videos, which McDonald’s is calling “Snaplications”, will serve as the first round in the interview process. McDonald’s will review the videos and send digital applications to potential employees who could move on to the next round in the process. Snapchat is a smartphone application that allows users to send picture or video messages that disappear after the recipient views them. McDonald’s is looking for applicants with a “bubbly personality”, according to Shaun Ruming, chief operating officer of McDonald’s Australia. “I’ve learned a lot about Snapchat recently from my 14-year-old daughter,” Ruming told the Australian news website news.com.au. “We’re looking for that positivity, bubbly personality, someone we think would be good in a customer service role. Based on what my daughter sends to her friends, you do get a bit of a glimpse [from a ten-second video].”
Abokado rewards London Marathon finishers with free lunch: Healthy eating chain Abokado has once again supported The London Marathon 2017 by offering free lunches to finishers. Runners are asked to produce their finishers’ medals in any one of Abokado’s 29 stores across London when they reopen on Monday (24 April) to receive a free lunch. Director Mark Lilley said: “We look forward to congratulating many London Marathon runners on Monday with a ‘feel great’ lunch. Having run the London Marathon myself I know it is no small feat and this is our small way of supporting this wonderful event and recognising the amazing efforts of the charity runners.”
Framptons Cafe Bar & Kitchen to open third site, in Bath: Cafe concept Framptons Cafe Bar & Kitchen is to open its third site, in Bath. Three former Parachute Regiment officers Tom Walker, Ed McAdam and Sam Westlake took over Framptons Cafe Bar & Kitchen in Ringwood, Hampshire, last year and subsequently opened a second venue, in Tunbridge Wells. Kent. Now the trio, who have 21 years’ experience in the army between them, are opening their third outlet, in Grand Parade, Bath, creating 30 jobs. They are currently refurbishing the property, which was previously home to La Tasca, which is owned by Casual Dining Group. The Bath branch of Framptons, which serves artisan, healthy and seasonal local food as well as drinks and cocktails, is expected to open this summer. Westlake told the Bath Chronicle: “We recognised our training and experience could be applied to a bar and restaurant business and we’ve learnt a lot as we’ve grown over the past year. We are all really excited for the potential for Framptons in this perfect new site in Bath, and we will be bringing fantastic management from our New Forest site, to help support the team, so that we can deliver for our new customers.”
Bristol-based Middle Eastern and Caribbean restaurant company Biblos opens fourth site in city: Bristol-based Middle Eastern and Caribbean restaurant company Biblos has opened its fourth site in the city. The company, owned by William Clarke and Ariel Czackers, has launched Calypso Kitchen at the Wapping Wharf development. Calypso Kitchen has a Caribbean beach shack theme complete with corrugated iron panels, oil drum light fittings, blue-painted breezeblock walls and bare concrete ceiling. There is a bigger emphasis on Caribbean-inspired dishes compared with Biblos, with the menu including jerk chicken, prawn gumbo, oxtail stew and, my favourite, roasted jerk belly pork. The expansion was made possible after Czaczkes and Clarke secured a £135,000 funding package from NatWest and Lombard. Clarke told Insider Media: “Our mission is to open as many outlets as possible, and to bring our homemade products to as many people as we can; opening our new restaurant is a great step in the right direction.”
Topolabampo lodges plans for third site as it eyes former La Tasca site in Aberdeen: Scottish-based Mexican restaurant concept Topolabampo has lodged plans to open its third site, in Aberdeen. The company has applied to the city council to open the venue in Union Street on the former site of Casual Dining Group-owned La Tasca. It takes inspiration from the four main regions of Mexico – Oaxaca, Chiapas, Chihuahua and Topolabampo, reports the Evening Express. A planning statement accompanying the application said: “Overall, the changes to the shopfront will simplify and modernise the shopfront in a manner which remains respectful of the character of the building and the area in general. It will enhance the pedestrian environment in this section of the street.” Topolabampo said the interior would be similar to its existing outlets in St Vincent Street in Glasgow and Lothian Road in Edinburgh.
Brewhouse & Kitchen to open site in Lichfield next month: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, will open a site in Lichfield, Staffordshire, next month. The company will open the venue on Tuesday, 2 May in Bird Street on the site of The Gatehouse, which it acquired last year from JD Wetherspoon. Gumbrell previously said: “The Gatehouse is a great addition to our business, Lichfield is a prosperous cathedral city, it has great demography and the pub is an iconic building in the town centre. We will continue to focus on high quality locations in the Midlands and the north of England, following our acquisitions in Sutton Coldfield, Wilmslow and Chester.” Brewhouse & Kitchen has 16 sites across the UK and is currently transforming its latest acquisition – the Riverbank Bar & Kitchen in Nottingham ahead of reopening in the summer.
Be At One to open second Leeds site next month: Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar group, will open its second Leeds site next month. The company, founded by Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield in London in 1998, will open the new venue in Boar Lane on Friday, 26 May. It will be the first time Be At One has doubled up outside of London, having launched its first Leeds site in Millennium Square in 2015. The new venue is on the site of a former restaurant and bar encompassing 3,000 square feet of trading space set over two floors. Locke told Insider Media: “Millennium Square was out first site in the north, it was an obvious choice for us because of Leeds’ thriving independent cocktail scene and the city’s unpretentious attitude to fun. When the opportunity arose to take another site in Boar Lane we jumped at it and allows us to introduce the party to a different part of town.” Be At One currently operates 31 sites across the UK.
Brooklyn Beer to open East End Beer Mansion for two days: American beer brand Brooklyn Brewery is to stage an immersive Beer Mansion in east London from 12-13 May. The event will invite guests to experience an “immersive festival” over two floors offering music, food, art, technology and beer. The Beer Mansion will have different zones, and each will have a “flavour profile”. The Tart of the Tropics zone will serve more fruity and tropical flavoured beers, while Dark Room will offer guests a more richly roasted flavour. Other zones include The Forest, The Stoop and The Anatomy of Beer. Guests will also be treated to food from Voodoo Ray’s, Killa Dilla and chef Andrew Clark. Activities throughout the two-day event are set to include live graffiti and yard games, while music will be provided by bands and artists such as Livin’ Proof, Sofrito and Papa’s on the Rooftop. Visitors won’t just be limited to beer from Brooklyn Brewery, instead they will be able to choose from a range of beer brands including NYA Carnegiebryggeriet, the Redchurch Brewery and Forest Road.
Freehold of Lancashire pub home to Goosnargh Brewing Company has asking price reduced: The asking price for the freehold of a Lancashire pub that is home to Goosnargh Brewing Company has been reduced from £695,000 to £595,000. The Ye Horns Inn, an 18th century pub in Goosnargh, near Preston, is being marketed by agent Christie & Co. It has been under the same family ownership since 1952 and is currently operated by Mark and Denise Woods. The coaching inn has been extended to include an outdoor seating area and barn conversion housing six en-suite rooms. The pub consists of a parlour bar and three dining rooms, plus a function room and meeting room on the first floor. Planning permission has been obtained to extend the restaurant. An additional ten-acre parcel of land is also available. The freehold price includes a five-barrel micro-brewery plant and the Goosnargh Brewing Company, which currently brews three times fortnightly.
OakNorth provides £500,000 loan to Adventure Bar to add two sites: OakNorth, the bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has completed a debt finance deal of £500,000 to Adventure Bar, the London cocktail bar chain. Its fourth and most recent site, The Escapologist, is located in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden and opened in April 2016 following a £1.1m loan from OakNorth several months earlier. It’s styled as part “modern day Victorian men’s club” and part Masonic lodge and offers classic cocktails and a menu of high-quality pizzas. The second loan from OakNorth will be used to acquire two new sites – the first of which will be located in Waterloo Road and is expected to open in the summer – while the business is currently in the process of identifying the second venue. The directors at Adventure Bar said they saw the Waterloo Road site as an ideal acquisition opportunity due to the significant footfall in the Waterloo area driven by both tourists and locals – Waterloo station is the most connected in the south of England with an estimated 99.2 million visitors per annum. Waterloo Road is also located within a few minutes’ walk from Kings College London’s Waterloo campus where it is likely to attract students who are keen to benefit from its happy hours and numerous parties throughout the year. Tom Kidd, co-founder and director of Adventure Bar, said: “With its proximity to the Southbank, Waterloo has become a popular spot for both locals and tourists – as a result, it experiences oversubscription throughout the week with more people than available places. While there are a number of pubs and restaurants in the area there is no cocktail-led proposition – we’re hoping to fill this void. We were delighted to have the opportunity to once again work with OakNorth – the bank supported us with the acquisition and development of our fourth site, so it’s great to be working with them again for our fifth.”