Coffee#1 wins Cafe Life Regional Coffee Chain of the Year for 2016: SA Brain’s coffee chain Coffee#1 has been awarded Cafe Life’s Regional Coffee Shop Chain of the Year. The brand, which operates a portfolio of 69 coffee shops located in Wales and the south west and south of England, was recognised at the awards for its “all-round coffee experience”. Coffee#1 saw off fierce competition including from Bristol-based Boston Tea Party. Judged by a panel of industry professionals, the Cafe Life awards recognise excellence and innovation in the UK cafe and coffee bar sectors by highlighting those who are pioneering and leading the market, whether in the development of new products or the creation of excellence in the high street. Scott Waddington, Coffee#1 chief executive, said: “This is thoroughly well deserved recognition for the outstanding Coffee#1 team, which has set an exacting focus on product delivery, customer service and operating standards during the past 12 months. Our strategy of whole heartedly concentrating on our customer has served us well in the past year and will continue to do so in the portfolio of stores already in our pipeline for the next 12 months.” Jo Hamilton-Welsman, Coffee#1 operations manager, added: “I am delighted for the Coffee#1 team that has secured this award. I never cease to be impressed by the skill and dedication of our baristas and their approach to providing warm, inviting customer service. Our unique brand is creating high levels of customer and employee interest and I am confident that Coffee#1 will increasingly be seen as the best employer within the sector.”
Wogan’s sons to open Homeslice pizza restaurant at redeveloped BBC Television Centre: Better pizza brand Homeslice, founded by Sir Terry Wogan’s sons Mark and Alan, will open a site next year at a building close to their hearts – the redeveloped BBC Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. Television Centre is being transformed into a £1bn complex with 950 apartments, a hotel, a private members’ club and gym run by Soho House, an Electric cinema, restaurants and offices, as well as television studios. Alan Wogan said: “We’ve got emotional ties with the place. Obviously ours is a very different business from the one dad was in and we are very proud of his achievements there. It would have been nice if he’d known we were going to open a restaurant where he spent so much of his career. He would have been thrilled.” Other venues opening at Television Centre include a Mediterranean tapas bar from London restaurant company Salt Yard Group, Soho House Italian brand Cecconi’s, and better burger brand Patty & Bun. Salt Yard founder Simon Mullins said the development – part of an £8bn regeneration of the Wood Lane area – “ticked all the boxes” for restaurateurs. He told the Evening Standard: “It has the holy trinity of office workers, tourists and residents.” A 600-cover rooftop summer pop-up Pergola, which opened on one of the buildings scheduled for demolition, has had more than 83,000 visitors. Homeslice currently operates three restaurants in London – in Fitzrovia, Shoreditch and Covent Garden.
Worcestershire-based multi-site operator acquires American-style diner site: Multi-site operator Chaytor Services plans to transform American-style diner Detroit’s in Worcester into a family restaurant. Chaytor Services director Jessica Pinches said the company, which operates Brown’s in Quay Street as well as Bushwackers nightclub in Trinity Street and Sin bar in New Street, was finalising plans for a “big spend” on creating a new restaurant. She told the Worcester News: “We are still in the final stages of negotiations and it will be part of our food brand. It will be a casual, dining experience aimed at families. It’s right next to the racecourse and an iconic part of Worcester. Brown’s has the cathedral and this will have the racecourse. When people ask why, it’s because this is a great location. We hope to make the outside area bigger so you can sit and have lunch or dinner overlooking the racecourse.” Chaytor Services also runs another Bushwackers nightclub in Birmingham and Brown’s sister restaurant The Daffodil in Cheltenham.
BrewDog brewery expansion to go ahead after council agrees to move recycling facility: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog can start expansion of its brewery and headquarters in Ellon after Aberdeenshire Council agreed to move a neighbouring recycling facility. Legal contracts have been completed, with BrewDog also given the option of acquiring an adjacent council “waste bulking facility”. Balmacassie Industrial Estate, which houses the recycling facility, was constructed in 2011, with BrewDog’s brewery built next door. Construction of a new recycling facility would take about eight months, with a new site yet to be named. Cllr Richard Thomson said: “It is very encouraging to watch as the BrewDog success story continues to unfold across the globe from its base in Aberdeenshire. I am pleased councillors have been able to support the company’s ambitions to further expand the scope of its operations at Balmacassie, while at the same time ensuring people in the Ellon area retain access to high-quality recycling facilities within the town. This represents a good deal for BrewDog, for Ellon, for the council and for Aberdeenshire as a whole. We wish the company every success for the future in what we hope will be a long and productive association with Ellon.”
Social enterprise sandwich shop chain Social Bite opens new venture, Home, in Edinburgh: Sandwich shop chain Social Bite, which is backed by Josh Littlejohn and employs people who have been homeless, has opened a new restaurant venture – Home – in Edinburgh in partnership with Dean Gassabi, who owns restaurant brand Maison Bleue. The venture in Queensferry Street serves French-Scottish cuisine and provides training and employment programmes for members of the Social Bite Academy, a four-year paid course for homeless people. Diners are encouraged to “pay forward” meals for the homeless, who can attend a special service on Mondays. Half of the profits will go to Social Bite, with the other 50% supporting other charities. Gassabi told BBC News: “I had already secured these premises for a new Maison Bleue restaurant when Josh came to me with the proposal for Home. This venture with Social Bite is a fantastic way for us to put something back, including helping the homeless community.” Littlejohn added: “Home is a unique place. It’s a place where you can get a first-rate meal at the same time as helping some of the most vulnerable people in society. It’s a natural evolution of what we’ve been doing at Social Bite.” Social Bite has cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
McDonald’s to test Happy Meals addition to all-day-breakfast in US: McDonald’s is trialling another addition to its all-day breakfast menu in the US – Happy Meals. The company said it would begin testing breakfast Happy Meals in Tulsa this week. The Happy Meals come with either two McGriddles cakes or an egg and cheese McMuffin. McDonald’s said the latter option is the same size as a regular Egg McMuffin, except without the slice of Canadian bacon or butter. The company said the McGriddles cakes in the Happy Meals have 240 calories, and the egg and cheese McMuffin has 260 calories. The Happy Meals also come with side apples, yogurt or hash browns. In the afternoon and evenings, fries are also an option. If the test is successful and goes national, it would be the first new entree for the Happy Meal in more than 30 years, said McDonald’s spokeswoman Becca Hary.
Living Ventures opens Alchemist and Gusto sites in Birmingham: Living Ventures has opened its Alchemist cocktail bar and sister Italian restaurant brand Gusto, next door to each other in Birmingham. The venues are in Colmore Row, with The Alchemist located in the historic Grand Hotel and featuring the company’s first late-night speakeasy bar in the UK. The company describes the speakeasy as a “wonderland with 18-foot ceilings covered in a canopy of lights” with a bespoke copper-clad entrance. There is also a 54-cover restaurant serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The standalone business under Living Ventures’ umbrella operates seven UK sites, with two in Manchester, two in Leeds and one in London and Liverpool. A further site at MediaCityUK is scheduled to launch in 2017 among several other openings around the country. The Grand was built in 1879 and has a rich history – not least being the site where Malcolm X gave his last speech in England.
M&B to open second Miller & Carter in Lancashire next month following Harvester conversion: Mitchells & Butlers is to open its second Miller & Carter steakhouse in Lancashire next month by converting its Harvester site in Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool. The company is refurbishing The High Cross Harvester in Longhouse Lane before reopening it under its Miller & Carter brand, creating 30 jobs. As well as an exterior revamp, the restaurant will also include booth seating and modern artwork. Mitchells & Butlers said the change was part of the group’s commitment to continually review its estate and follows on from the brand’s other Lancashire site in Aughton, near Liverpool. Karen Thompson, general manager at Miller & Carter Poulton-Le-Fylde, told The Business Desk: “Bringing a new Miller & Carter to Poulton-Le-Fylde is extremely exciting for the brand and we’re really pleased to be able to grow the team further, following the success of Miller & Carter Aughton.” Miller & Carter has more than 40 sites in the UK.
New bar restaurant concept opens in Southport: A new bar restaurant concept has opened in Southport. Vicky Hughes has launched Corridor Bar and Eatery in Lord Street on the former site of Cafe Pierre. It serves a range of craft and cask ales, beers, wines and spirits, as well as small plates, breakfasts and desserts. The decor has an industrial feel with lots of wood and metal along with comfy chairs. Hughes told the Southport Visiter: “The refurbishing and decorating work was initially going to be minimal, a few tables or whatever, but it just escalated and we ended up ripping the entire thing out and starting pretty much from scratch. We’ll have a small menu to start with but we expect to add to it – and we’ll also serve breakfasts but it won’t be the usual ‘fry up’, it’ll be things like bagels and poached egg with avocado. It’s called the corridor for a reason – it’s a long, narrow building, but we’ve made the most of the layout and it’s a good size.”
New mezze restaurant concept Mirra gets approval to open in Colchester: New mezze restaurant concept Mirra has received approval for its plans to launch a restaurant and takeaway in Colchester, Essex. The restaurant will open in High Street at a former bookmakers’ shop and will offer a mix of mezze-style, barbecue and grill dishes across both floors of the building. The family-run Bobby Swift bookies was forced to close in November 2014 following increasing competition from Coral and Paddy Power, the Daily Gazette reports. As well as converting the building, applicant Ismet Cam has been granted permission to install a kitchen extraction system with a vertical exhaust duct on the rear wall. The restaurant will open daily from 7am to 11pm on weekdays and Sundays, and 7am to midnight on Saturdays. An opening date for the restaurant has yet to be announced.
New bar and restaurant concept set to open in Derby next month: A new bar and restaurant concept is set to open in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter next month. Mother and daughter Amie and Sharon Marlow are launching The Palfrey in Old Blacksmith’s Yard, off Sadler Gate. They said it would serve an “eclectic mix” of food and drinks with the cocktail menu taking inspiration from Manchester’s cocktail bars. Amie Marlow told the Derby Telegraph: “There will be 34 covers in the restaurant upstairs. Downstairs, there will be more casual food on the menu, such as sharing platters, and we will have a cocktail menu with signature cocktails that aren’t really in Derby anywhere. I have been up in Manchester where there are lots of cocktail bars – we went to places like The Alchemist, Artisan and The Botanist for inspiration. There will also be boutique bottled beers and cans on the menu and two beers on draught. We will also have a wine list with prosecco and champagne but our main focus will be on our cocktails.”
Lowry Hotel’s profits rise 60% despite major refurbishment: Profits have risen by 60% to £1.3m at the Lowry Hotel, the landmark five-star hotel in Salford, despite trading being hit by a major refurbishment programme. According to its latest set of accounts, the hotel posted pre-tax profits of £1.3m for the year ending 30 April 2016, up 60% on a year earlier. Turnover rose by 1% to £12.7m over the same period. Westmont Hospitality Group and investment partner Mount Kellett Capital Management bought the Lowry Hotel from Rocco Forte for an undisclosed sum in September 2014. In February 2015, Westmont invested £4m in a major refurbishment of the 165-room hotel, including introducing smart televisions and Wi-Fi alongside new curtains, carpets, fabrics and colour schemes throughout the rooms and public areas. The refurbishment was completed in October 2015 but has been followed by a programme this year to refurbish the spa and banqueting suites. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said the company’s performance was in line with expectations. They said although the refurbishment programme had impacted on trading, the business still performed strongly and is expected to fully benefit from the refurbishment in future years.
Swansea-based Gower Brewery launches £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to double capacity: Swansea-based Gower Brewery has launched a £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it aims to double capacity. The company, which was founded in 2011, is offering a 12.28% equity stake in return for the investment. It has grown from a back-of-pub startup to an award-winning brewery that has sold more than 700,000 pints of beer across five countries in the past 12 months. The pitch states: “Over the next 12 months, using the funds raised (plus a £750,000 investment to install the new bottling line), we are aiming to double our brewing capacity to meet the demand for our beers, and introduce a new range of kegged products, where we anticipate our sales revenue to increase to £1.5m. We will develop a new range of keg products that will fit with the current beer trends and growth of the keg sector, to be promoted by a new national account manager. We will have increased operational efficiency due to the brewing and packaging all being in-house. We will develop sales throughout the UK by working with supermarkets and wholesalers as well as bring on a dedicated sales team. This will be achieved by working with wholesalers and the additional sales resource of a national account manager who will be based in London. We will be targeting national chains such as Mitchells & Butlers and Stonegate, as well as working with the Carlsberg sales team to promote our products via its pub estate. To date our funding has been from director investment, a £140,000 government grant, and loans from Finance Wales and HSBC. In terms of exit, Camden Town Brewery sold for approximately £85m to AB InBev (the world’s biggest drinks company) in 2015. Meanwhile, Meantime Brewing Company sold to SABMiller (the world’s second biggest brewer) in 2015. We are seeking an exit of this nature via a trade sale to a large multinational company within seven years.”
Lincolnshire theme park to close as visitor numbers continue to fall: A Lincolnshire theme park is set to close as visitor numbers continue to fall. The Pleasure Island Theme Park, near Cleethorpes, will shut at the end of the 2016 season. The park has been open since 1993 and was a subsidiary of Flamingo Land when it was acquired by Robert Gibb, Flamingo Land’s managing director. Gibb’s sister Melanie Wood took over the running of the amusement park in 2010. It was briefly closed, but opened again in the same year with all 200 staff re-employed. It is unknown how many staff this latest closure will affect. Wood told The Business Desk: “It is with deep sadness that I have made the very difficult decision to close Pleasure Island Theme Park at the end of this season. For the past seven seasons we, as a team, have tried very hard indeed to keep the business going but unfortunately there have been too many hurdles. Despite heavy investment over the years, the visitor numbers continue to fall and the good August weather this year sadly was not enough to sustain the business. In truth it has been a massive struggle from day one but I lived in the hope that with the support of such a loyal and dedicated team and some good weather we would get through. The team never let me down but over the years the weather, amongst other things, certainly has.”
Gourmet Goat grabs Urban Food awards: Street food trader Gourmet Goat has won two Urban Food Awards, with the judges stating the company is proof “street food does not need to be ‘fast’ food and can be truly sustainable and address a surplus issue created by an industry – while also tasting great”. Gourmet Goat, founded by husband and wife Nick and Nadia Stokes, won “best surplus food initiative” for its use of kid goat meat from UK dairy farms and vine leaves from Forty Hall Vineyard in Enfield. The company also picked up the “sustainable street food” award. Nadia Stokes said: “Winning these awards has made us even more determined to find new ways to incorporate by-products into our dishes and to expand our presence in London.” Gourmet Goat began trading at Borough Market in 2014, opening its first fixed site in Rochester Walk in January.
Corbyn & King launches Live at Zédel: London restaurant operator Corbyn & King has launched Live at Zedel at its Brasserie Zédel venue in Piccadilly. For the next four months, the 220-seater Parisian-themed brasserie in Piccadilly, with its Crazy Coqs cabaret space next door, will host a jam-packed programme of music, comedy, literature and theatre — with a line-up including celebs from Grayson Perry and Levi Roots to Doc Brown, Maria Friedman and the Philharmonia Orchestra. There will be up to three performances a night. Jeremy King told the Evening Standard: “A lot of culture-hungry Londoners don’t even know they’re culture-hungry, so people like us have to be the catalyst for them discovering it – especially in a screen-dominated society.” Live Zédel is an expansion of the cabaret acts that have been part of Zédel since it opened in 2012. “It’s what gives this place heart and soul,” King added. “At first, people couldn’t believe that you could go into a restaurant aimed as much at my children as at 70 to 80-year-olds, have a live band and not have to pay for it. It evoked another era and the atmosphere just lifted and lifted.”