YO! Sushi and Kungfu Buffet sign for Worcester scheme: YO! Sushi and Kungfu Buffet have signed to open at Worcester’s £20m Cathedral Square redevelopment. YO! Sushi has signed to take a 2,750 square foot unit until 2032 on a rental starting at £107,500 per year. Kungfu Buffet, which operates 21 Asian-fusion buffets around the UK, has agreed a 6,673 square foot unit at a starting rent of £145,000. Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers brands All Bar One and Miller & Carter, better burger brand Byron and Loungers brand Cosy Club have already signed up to open at Cathedral Square. Nick Webb, of Salmon Harvester Opportunity Fund, the company behind the redevelopment, said: “We’re looking forward to launching a revitalised Cathedral Square and delighted by the level of occupier interest in the scheme. We’re on programme for completion at the end of April for a spring or summer opening. The scheme is well over 90% pre-let, with only two units remaining.”

Canaccord Genuity downgrades M&B shares: Leisure analysts at Canaccord Genuity have downgraded Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) shares to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and cut the price target to 285p from 350p. The brokerage said M&B’s reasonable return on invested capital and balance sheet strength rankings were not enough to offset poor free cash flow conversion and earnings growth scores, which result in a bottom quartile ranking on its investment screen. It stated: “Nascent recovery could get blown away by rising headwinds. It is the most food-led of the pubcos, which leaves its profit before tax and ambitious capex plans vulnerable to rising costs and competition. Accordingly, we move our recommendation to hold.” Canaccord pointed out M&B was in the first year of a plan to reduce the investment cycle to six to seven years/pub from the current ten to 12 years. It will spend £200m a year refurbishing 300 sites a year. It added: “The catch-up is essential to becoming competitive again. The capex should also rebalance the estate towards more premium segments, with Miller & Carter (premium steakhouse) and Stonehouse (pizza/carvery) receiving the most capex.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen secures Nottingham site: Brewhouse & Kitchen, led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has secured a site in Nottingham. The company has bought Riverbank Bar & Kitchen in Trent Bridge through agent Christie & Co. Gavin Webb, of Christie & Co’s Nottingham office, said: “The Riverbank Bar & Kitchen established itself as a landmark venue in Nottingham following its opening in April 2010. While sad to see it go, I’m sure Nottingham residents will welcome Brewhouse & Kitchen into the city with its exciting new plans for the premises. The Riverbank contains a bar, restaurant and banqueting suite, with a large riverside terrace.

G1 Group bids to launch community deli in Dundee under Forgan’s brand: Scotland’s biggest independent managed operator G1 Group, led by Stefan King, has submitted plans to create a community deli and cafe in Dundee under its Forgan’s restaurant brand. The company has applied to convert a vacant site in Brook Street in the suburb of Broughty Ferry, where it also operates one of its two Forgan’s restaurants. The planning permission statement said the development would “allow greater interaction with Brook Street, improving the overall pedestrian experience of the high street”. The Forgan’s concept was launched in St Andrews and features four private dining rooms – known as “bothies” – that can be combined to create one larger space. The venue offers brunch, roast, main and “wee” menus, all championing Scottish produce such as salmon, Arbroath smokies, Orkney beef and Ayrshire pork. The drinks menu features whisky, craft beer and gin, alongside wine and cocktails. At the opening of the second site, manager Aylin Sulo said: “We are beyond delighted to continue the story of Forgan’s in Broughty Ferry. This isn’t a case of ‘mass expansion’ but a careful and considerate decision to bring something truly special to somewhere we feel is a natural fit for the brand.”

Caffe Nero opens eighth site in Boston, Massachusetts: Caffe Nero has opened its eighth site in the Boston, Massachusetts, area with an opening in Brookline’s Washington Square. The launch comes two months after the company opened in nearby Brookline Village in the midst of strong competition – a couple doors down from Starbucks and across the street from Dunkin’ Donuts and Clover. Privately owned Caffe Nero first opened in Boston about two and a half years ago. Jay Gentile, director USA at Caffe Nero, said: “Washington Square is similar to where we would build in Europe. It’s a little centre and public transportation trains are right. It became a bit of a no-brainer when you looked at social media and the requests from people to come to Brookline. I think we’ll do quite well there.”

Halal dining app to launch second round of funding at end of 2017: The founder of a halal dining app, which raised more than £200,000 from a Crowdcube pitch last year, has told Insider Media the company is set to launch another funding round at the end of 2017. Siddika Jaffer said she developed the idea for The Halal Dining Club while living in Singapore and studying for a Masters degree. She found almost one in two diners were affected by some sort of dietary restriction, while a further 1.6 billion customers were unified by one dietary need – to dine halal. She said: “Being a halal diner myself, I experienced this problem on a fairly regular basis, especially when I was travelling not knowing what was halal and what wasn’t amid a lack of transparency and good information. We felt the solutions out there weren’t good enough and we decided to do something about it.” Jaffer said The Halal Dining Club was a platform that allowed customers to see reviews and book a table and would save them having to “flit around multiple different apps”. The Halal Dining Club closed its first round of funding within one week and achieved overfunding from its target of £150,000 to £200,550, offering investors 16.7% equity in the business.

US fast casual seafood concept Slapfish signs UK franchise deal, plans 25 sites: Slapfish, the largest fast casual seafood restaurant brand in the US, is set to expand into the UK this year through a franchise agreement. The “modern seafood shack” plans to open 25 restaurants in the UK during the next ten years. The agreement also grants the franchisee rights to develop Slapfish in the United Arab Emirates and Ireland, countries for which the unnamed franchisee is “reviewing real estate options”. The California-based “boat to plate” concept was founded by US celebrity chef Andrew Gruel in 2011, originally serving from a food truck. Slapfish now operates eight sites in the US with another four sites in the country marked as “coming soon”on its website, a list that also includes London and South Korea. The company said it had “100 more in development domestically and internationally”. Gruel told Franchising.com: “Having the opportunity to take Slapfish into the UK is something we are extremely excited about. The Slapfish family is looking forward to getting to know new customers and introduce them to some of our favourite foods. We believe our lobster fries and lobster grilled cheese will be a hit!” Slapfish said it was looking for “experienced multi-site food service operators to develop franchise territories in major markets across the US and internationally”. Fransmart is Slapfish’s exclusive franchise development partner.

Bosco Pizzeria starts expansion with second Bristol site: Bristol-based Bosco Pizzeria has started expansion by opening a second site in the city. Owner Miles Johnson, who launched the concept in Whiteladies Road in 2014, has opened the new restaurant in Clifton Village. The former Pizza Provencale site in Regent Street has been revamped and features a stripped-back monochrome look, including a black-and-white tiled floor and marble-topped tables, reports the Bristol Post. There is a mix of high tables and stools and a more traditional dining area at the back, beyond the wood-fired pizza oven and a second open kitchen. The menu features about a dozen pizzas as well as pasta dishes and a few meat and fish options, while the Italian wine list offers 20 varieties by the glass.

Deltic Group appoints head of IT: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has appointed Tim Jones as head of IT. Jones has been brought in to manage the business’s IT team, with overarching responsibility for all IT services, projects, infrastructure, systems and policies across its head office in Milton Keynes and 59 bars and clubs in the UK. Having worked in the IT sector for more than ten years, Jones’ prior roles include IT infrastructure manager at global printing developer Domino Printing Sciences, and technical IT manager at European speciality packaging and envelope manufacturer Bong AB. He said: “The average clubber may not realise the incredible technological precision that goes into every night out. From strobe lights and sound systems in venues to our office computers, phones and laptops, there is a high demand placed on the technology that holds Deltic and its locations together. This is a great time to make this move and I’m really looking forward to meeting the challenge.” Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks added: “It’s great to have Tim on board as he leads a team that is so enthusiastic and dedicated to its ‘behind the scenes’ role, striving to connect the dots and maintain a consistent level of quality across its venues.”

Harry Ramsden’s shuts Oldbury site a year after opening: Fish and chip restaurant brand Harry Ramsden’s, which is owned by Boparan Restaurant Holdings, has closed its site in Oldbury, West Midlands, only a year after opening. The company has closed the site in Wolverhampton Road barely 12 months after buying independent fish and chip shop Chamberlains. Boparan Restaurant Holdings chief executive Tom Crowley told the Birmingham Mail: “As a business we are always reviewing our formats, locations and sites and it has been decided this outlet is no longer viable for Harry Ramsden’s as the brand evolves. We are, however, continuing to look for other great locations throughout the UK and overseas.” Chamberlains founder Simon Shaw sold his family-run business to Harry Ramsden’s in December 2015 after deciding to return to his roots in bingo and gaming.

Scottish ice cream manufacturer Crolla’s seeks franchisees to continue gelateria expansion: Crolla’s Gelato, the gelateria arm of The Crolla Ice Cream Company, one of Scotland’s oldest ice cream manufacturers, is on the hunt for more franchisees as it looks to expand its business across the UK. The family-run company aims to continue expansion of its franchise operation following openings in Aberdeen, Dundee and Preston as well as its company-owned parlour in Glasgow. Crolla’s director Peter Crolla said: “For more than 120 years the Crolla’s recipe for success has been simple – great customer experiences, hard-working employees and mouth-watering gelato. We decided to franchise the business as it is a proven growth strategy that works. We are looking for people with a passion for building the Crolla’s brand and we offer several unique ways to become a franchisee based on their passion and financial resources. We have all the strategies and operations in place to assist a franchisee in every aspect of their business, and also provide first-class training and support.”

Starbucks lines up fourth site in same Cardiff street: Starbucks is planning to open its fourth site in the same street in Cardiff. The company has been given permission by The City of Cardiff Council to convert the former Santander branch at 4-6 Queen Street. The company already has three outlets in the street – one at Unit 1, 125-139 Queen Street, one inside the Next store at number 82-88, and another at 46-48 Queen Street. In total, it would be its 15th store in the Welsh capital.

The ONE Group to open STK restaurant in Doha after signing fourth Middle East licensing deal: The ONE Group will open a site in Doha for its international steak restaurant brand STK after signing a licensing deal with Qatar-based hotelier, developer and operator Katara Hospitality. STK Doha will be on the top floor of the Qatar city’s newly renovated Ritz-Carlton hotel, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and featuring exceptional city views. The 150-cover restaurant will feature STK’s classic menu along with the brand’s signature decor. The partnership with Katara is The ONE Group’s fourth licensing deal in the region and sixth in total, reinforcing its growth strategy to increase expansion through licensing and management deals. The ONE Group chief executive Jonathan Segal told Business Wire: “We are delighted to be partnering with Katara Hospitality and to be building our presence in the Middle East with our fourth licensing deal in the region. As our first Ritz-Carlton location, STK Doha will retain the elegant dining experience our customers have come to know and love.” Katara Hospitality’s portfolio includes 34 owned or managed hotels in 12 countries across three continents through its standalone operating arm Murwab Hotel Group. Additional STK restaurants currently in development include Edinburgh, Austin, Boston, Dallas, Denver, San Diego and Puerto Rico.

New high-end coffee and cocktails concept Roc & Rye to launch in Manchester city centre: New high-end coffee and cocktails concept Roc & Rye is set to launch in Manchester city centre after redevelopment plans for grade II-listed 60 Spring Gardens was given the go-ahead. Roc & Rye will launch in the ground-floor unit of the vacant building in Upper King Street. The concept is the brainchild of an “award-winning bar tender, a highly experienced operator and a corporate marketing consultant”, according to The Business Desk. The directors named on Companies House under Roc & Rye are Matthew Bonner, Sean Finnegan and Maritza Haydon. Designed by architects Pickard Design, the fit-out and style of the bar will be “in keeping with the surrounding uses and complement other leisure units in the area”. The venue has been granted a 10am to 3am alcohol licence, seven days a week.

Surrey-based pub operators acquire second site: Surrey-based pub operators Waine and Donna Hetherington have acquired their second site. The couple, who run the Dog and Duck in Outwood, have taken on The Jolly Farmer in the village of Horne. The pub in Whitewood Lane, which closed in December, is undergoing refurbishment ahead of reopening in early March. The menu will start out as light bites but the couple plan to reconfigure the kitchen to make use of the restaurant space. Donna Hetherington told the Surrey Mirror: “We’re ex-police officers but we had enough of that and wanted a career change. We were both detectives – Waine did 17 years and I did 15. We were in hospitality prior to joining the police and planned on returning to it at some point. We just did it earlier than we thought.”

Plans lodged for mixed-use development in Lincoln: Plans have been submitted to bulldoze a shopping park in Lincoln and replace it with a development comprising restaurants, bars, shops, homes, student accommodation and a hotel. St Marks would consist of a shopping centre and retail park divided by the River Witham. The site earmarked for development by Standard Life Investments would comprise 34 retail units. Under the proposals, which have been submitted to City of Lincoln Council, a number of buildings would be demolished to make way for almost 355,000 square feet of retail space, 82,500 square feet of space for restaurants and bars, and up to 150 homes. A maximum of 1,100 student accommodation units could be developed at the site, as well as a 130-bedroom hotel and a multi-storey car park with 1,100 spaces. Provision has also been made for a potential cinema. The existing retail park on the west of the St Marks site is home to companies including Toys R Us, Pizza Hut, Topps Tiles and Homebase, while the shopping centre to the east is occupied by Mamas & Papas, Mitchells & Butlers’ Toby Carvery, Multiyork and Pure Gym. Most of the existing units in St Marks Shopping Centre will be retained, including the shop behind the listed facade of the former station and the units leading from Debenhams to the high street. A planning statement said: “The application proposes a new, high-quality development to complement the existing city centre provision.”

Birmingham-based coffee shop to start expansion with second site, in Nottingham: Birmingham-based independent coffee shop The Old Boston Coffee Shop is to start expansion by opening its second site, in Nottingham. Owners Colin Benham and Christopher Heaney have been given the go-ahead by the city council to open the outlet in Middle Pavement, opposite the entrance to the Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre. The Old Boston Coffee Shop, which promises “coffee, live music and cake”, currently has a site in Edgbaston, reports The Business Desk.

Blues, jazz and cocktails concept Bootlegger Bar to start expansion with Cardiff opening: Blues, jazz and cocktails concept Bootlegger Bar is to start expansion by opening a second site, in Cardiff. The concept is the brainchild of brothers Lee and Gary Miller and friend Shaun Bundy, who opened their debut bar in Cheltenham Road, Bristol. Now the team is to open a second site in Womanby Street, Cardiff, on Friday, 3 March on the former Moon Bar site. Bootlegger Bar’s website states: “Our liquor, our service and our music are inspired by prohibition-era traditions but also offer the best of contemporary modern America. We believe a bar is what its patrons and community make it, which is why we serve true, well-crafted cocktails, beers and ciders within a live music environment. We build on the best of the 1920s and 1930s swing and jazz scene and also offer more modern-influenced blues, jazz, soul and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Bidvest Foodservice to change name: Bidvest Foodservice has announced that from 3 April it will trade under the name of Bidfood. The change follows the separation of the global Bidvest Foodservice businesses from the Bidvest Group when it listed independently on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in May last year. The listing means Bidvest Foodservice UK, along with the other Bidvest Foodservice businesses around the world, will all change their name to Bidfood to reflect this. Chief executive Andrew Selley said that in choosing the new name it had been important to retain a link to the company’s heritage, as well as to reflect what is at the heart of the business. He added: “It’s no secret that, as our business has evolved over the years, so too has our name.”

Plans submitted for restaurant and whisky bar with views over historic Dundee graveyard: A proposal has been submitted to Dundee City Council to open a restaurant and whisky bar overlooking the city’s historic Howff cemetery. The proposal, put forward by architects Brunton Design on behalf of West One Residential, includes a glass box seating area attached to the side of the listed building looking directly into the graveyard. The Bank Street restaurant would have capacity for about 70 people, alongside a private dining space and whisky bar. An upper seating area would be created on the north side of the building projecting out over the cemetery, The Tele reports. The Howff, which opened in 1564, is classed as an A-listed building by Historic Environment Scotland. It consists of 1,750 stones and is generally considered to be one of the most important collections of tombstones in Scotland. The last burial there took place in 1857.