Levi Roots launches search for next big food entrepreneur: Reggae Reggae Sauce owner Levi Roots has launched a search for the next big food entrepreneur, ten years after receiving his Dragons’ Den investment. Roots has teamed up with Westfield for the competition to give budding food entrepreneurs the chance to get a similar head start in setting up their own business. Having won investment and mentorship through BBC television series Dragons’ Den in 2007, Roots has gone on to create a successful business, opening his first standalone restaurant – Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse – at Westfield Stratford City in 2015. Entrepreneurs have until Friday (2 June) to submit their entries at https://uk.westfield.com/leviroots. Applications will be shortlisted, with ten finalists invited to Westfield Stratford City to pitch their idea direct to a judging panel led by Roots. The winner will receive personal mentoring from Roots and a kick-starter financial injection from Westfield. Roots said: “Ten years on from Dragons’ Den, there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t value the opportunity I was given to take my idea to the world. I want, in turn, to be able to give someone with a good idea a platform from which to inspire us all.”


Greenwich Inc liquidator considers selling antiques and paintings after founder Frank Dowling fails to make any payment in a year: The liquidator of Greenwich Inc, the operator that ran three sites at the O2 and Madisons as part of its estate, is considering selling antiques and paintings in his possession after its founder Frank Dowling failed to make a single payment due in the past year. In his progress report for the year ending 17 March 2017, liquidator Stephen Hunt said Dowling had made no further installments to the £59,706.34 already paid in respect of antiques owned by Greenwich Inc’s sister companies. Hunt said he was now looking at selling antiques and paintings pledged by Dowling and with a value in excess of the total of £342,387.60 owed. The report stated: “Mr Dowling has failed to meet any further installments due in the year. I am currently holding pledged items with a value in excess of the total amount outstanding from Mr Dowling under the terms of the settlement agreement. My solicitors are currently liaising with Mr Dowling and his advisers in relation to the outstanding balance and whether it will be necessary to enforce the terms of the agreement by marketing the pledged items for sale. I have previously avoided this course of action due to the costs of realisation and the storage charges incurred. However, the failure of Mr Dowling to make any payments in this period causes enforcement action to be more likely.” The report also revealed secured creditor NatWest had so far received none of the estimated £18,612.93 it was owed. Unsecured creditor claims received to date totalled £5,529,863.79 but at this stage Hunt was unable to confirm whether a dividend would be paid. Remuneration during the period totalled £78,415.98 and disbursements £21,828. Last month, Dowling was acquitted of tax fraud charges after the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence after a four-year investigation into allegedly undeclared VAT and PAYE.

Veeno to make West Midlands debut after signing for Stratford-upon-Avon scheme: Italian wine cafe Veeno has agreed a deal to open a site at the £30m Bell Court complex in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. It will be the company’s 12th venue and first in the West Midlands. The unit will be handed over to Veeno for fit-out next week, with the aim of opening in the summer. Veeno, which is led by Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino, will be on the ground floor of the new Everyman cinema – due to open in a couple of weeks – adjacent to two new restaurants, Mitchells & Butlers steakhouse brand Miller & Carter and better burger brand Byron. Zecchino said: “We’re looking forward to expanding Veeno into the West Midlands and bringing a taste of Italian culture to Stratford-upon-Avon. Bell Court is the perfect market for us and represents a great opportunity to build our brand alongside national bar and restaurant operators.” John Stacey, asset management director at UK & European Investments, the developer behind Bell Court, added: “Veeno is a perfect complementary addition to Bell Court as we strive to create an exciting retail and leisure mix and a balance of national and independent brands.” The deal was completed by Time Retail Partners and Nashbond on behalf of UK & European Investments. PHLD acted for Veeno.

North east-based operator launches bar concept named after Newcastle Brown Ale founder: North east-based operator John Adamson has launched a bar concept in Newcastle designed to “bring the age of Victorian explorers and adventurers to life”. Colonel Porter’s Tavern, Botanical Garden and Rhum Bar – named after the creator of Newcastle Brown Ale – has opened in the former Canteen and Cocktails bar in Dean Street, which Adamson opened with fellow entrepreneur Barry Faulkner in November 2015. The new venue features a Victorian-style drawing room and a rum bar hidden behind a bookcase. About 25 jobs have been created, with an undisclosed sum invested in creating the concept. Adamson told Insider Media: “I honestly don’t believe the north east will have seen anything like this. Colonel Porter’s is a one-off and we’ve pulled out all the stops to create a unique bar that will offer a memorable experience. I’m convinced anyone who walks through the door will be blown away.” Faulkner and Adamson, who is director of Ramside Estates, which owns Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa and Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Durham, launched Canteen and Cocktails in Stockton-on-Tees in 2014, which continues to trade.

Center Parcs reports Ebitda boost as revenue grows towards £450m mark: Holiday park operator Center Parcs has reported an Ebitda boost as revenue grows towards the £450m mark. The company, which operates self-catering cottages and lodges in forest settings at five locations in England, saw sales of £440.3m for the year ending 20 April 2017, compared with £420.2m a year earlier. Adjusted Ebitda jumped 7.5% to £213m, while operating profit rose by more than £14m to £165.1m. However, occupancy levels fell by 0.4% to 97.3% as more of its rooms were closed for refurbishment, reports Insider Media. Founded in 1968 in the Netherlands, Center Parcs opened its first village at Sherwood Forest in July 1987. It has since opened four more at Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire. In August 2015, Center Parcs UK was acquired by commercial real estate company Brookfield Property Partners.

The Original Bierkeller to start expansion by opening second site next week, at former JD Wetherspoon pub in Lincoln: The Original Bierkeller, which operates a Bavarian-style beer hall in Sheffield, is to start expansion with a second site, this time at a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Lincoln. The company has invested £400,000 to refurbish The Forum in Silver Street, which will have capacity for 300 people. It will open on Thursday, 8 June creating 150 jobs, reports The Lincolnite. The concept offers seven draught German beers by the half, pint or stein, alongside hand-pulled guest ales and cocktails. The food menu includes 100% Bavarian hotdogs, plus burgers, pizzas, pork knuckle, schnitzel and platters.

Caffe Nero to continue Irish expansion as it lines up two Cork sites: Caffe Nero is to continue its expansion in Ireland as it seeks to open at least two outlets in Cork. Having arrived in Dublin in 2014, where it now has nine sites, Caffe Nero is lining up new venues in Cork. It has applied to open a cafe in Patrick Street while it is close to securing the former Ovens Bar site in Oliver Plunkett Street, reports the Irish Examiner. In 2014, Caffe Nero founder Gerry Ford said the company planned to open eight to ten Irish stores per year, in locations such as suburban Dublin, as it looked to build a 40-strong estate. He added the company would also look at partnering with other retailers and transport hubs. It now has a cafe in Louth, two in Northern Ireland in Bangor and Belfast, as well as nine in Dublin.

Restaurateur Arjun Waney to launch Greek concept Meraki in Fitzrovia: Restaurateur Arjun Waney, who has majority stakes in noted London venues Roka, Zuma and The Arts Club, is to launch Greek restaurant Meraki in Fitzrovia. Meraki – a Greek term for the love and soul someone puts into their work – will open on Monday, 12 June with a main entrance in Great Titchfield Street leading to a 100-cover restaurant and another in Foley Street leading to a 30-seater bar. Both will feature an outside terrace. The kitchen will be led by Dimitrios Siamanis, with his menu celebrating Greek produce such as bottarga from Mesologgi, graviera cheese from Naxos, and galotiri cheese from Crete. Dishes will include slow-cooked ox cheek with hilopites, artichokes and graviera, and baked cod wrapped in vine leaves, as well as seasonally changing mezze dishes, chargrilled meat and whole fish dishes. The drinks list will feature Greek wine and craft beer. A dedicated cocktail bar will offer drinks that include Greek herbs and citrus fruit. Waney opened Zuma in Knightsbridge 15 years ago, followed by Roka and La Petite Maison. More recently, he acquired members-only The Arts Club in Dover Street while openings include Oblix at The Shard, Coya in Piccadilly, and Coya Angel Court in the City.

Loungers lodges plans to open Beeston site: Cafe bar group Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, has lodged plans to open a site in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. The company has applied to Broxtowe Borough Council to convert the Betel charity furniture shop in High Road into its latest venue, reports the Nottingham Post. The new site will feature eclectic artwork, pop art-inspired table tops, vintage sofas and school benches. Loungers, which was founded in 2002 in Bristol by friends David Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop, has just opened its 100th site, in Mansfield. Reilly told the recent Propel Finance and Investment Conference the company expected to hit 200 sites in the next four years and would love to “have a crack” at floating the company.

Deltic Group to relaunch Gloucester nightclub following £450,000 rebrand: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, will relaunch its Liquid nightclub in Gloucester on Friday, 30 June as an Atik and Vinyl venue following a £450,000 rebrand. The new club will offer two distinct rooms. The main dance room, Atik, will showcase the best in light and sound technology, while Vinyl will feature an illuminated dance floor and glitter balls with a soundtrack of pop classics. The venue will also offer 17 pre-bookable VIP booths with table service. General manager Simon Wilson told Gloucestershire Live: “Liquid has been a big part of the city’s nightlife for a long time and many people have happy memories of fun times here – but it’s time to bring something new to Gloucester. We’re really looking forward to transforming the place and reopening as Atik and Vinyl to deliver a fantastic venue. We have exciting plans for our launch and beyond, attracting top DJs and celebrities.” Deltic Group operates 58 clubs and bars in the UK and employs 3,000 people.

TGI Friday’s launches first Snapchat filters: TGI Friday’s is working with image messaging and multimedia mobile app Snapchat to launch its first branded filter. Snapchat filters allow users to add a colourful border or frame to their snaps before they share them with their online community. The filters are a location-specific type of filter called “geo-filters”, which can only be used by those in TGI Friday’s restaurants. A total of five filters are being introduced this year by the company in partnership with Snapchat. TGI Friday’s chief executive Karen Forrester said: “At Friday’s, we’re always looking for innovative and exciting ways to engage with our guests, and we know how popular Snapchat is with our younger visitors. This will allow them to personalise their snaps like never before and share their Friday’s visit with their online community. We can’t wait to see their reaction to how this enhances their restaurant experience with us.”

Bao team launches upmarket concept in Soho: The team behind Taiwanese restaurant Bao has launched upmarket concept Xu in Soho. Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung and Wai Ting Chung, who operate Bao restaurants in Soho and Fitzrovia, have opened Xu in Rupert Street. The menu offers dishes such as crab with chilli egg drop sauce, and Mangalitza rib rice. The Taiwanese street food menu includes pan-fried dumplings, filled pancakes and sho pa chicken (a whole bird, including head, stuffed with Chinese spices and herbs, for which diners are supplied gloves). The drinks list focuses on Taiwanese tea, with an expert serving drinks at a ground-floor tea counter. Cocktails are also on offer. Bao launched its Soho restaurant in 2015, offering Chinese snacks, steamed buns and sharing dishes, followed by its second site, in Fitzrovia, in July the following year. The enterprise is backed by JKS Restaurants, whose venues include the Michelin-starred Gymkhana in Mayfair.

Belfast operator to open latest city bar on Saturday: Belfast bar and nightclub operator Paul Langsford is to open his latest venue in the city on Saturday (3 June). Langsford, who is also director of a host of other Belfast bars, including the Albany, El Divino and Filthy McNasty’s, is launching The Bear And The Doll in Little Donegall Street on the site of the former Titanic Bar. He is thought to have paid more than £4m to acquire the Frames Complex building from brothers Gerard and James Magee, of Gracemount Enterprises. Langsford has submitted a planning application for a proposed mixed-use commercial and leisure scheme with The Bear And The Doll on the ground floor being the first phase of the scheme. A rooftop bar is also part of the proposed project, reports the Irish News. Langsford’s portfolio also includes the Chinawhite nightclub and Rita’s in Franklin Street, while he is also sole director of Gravity Holdings, which is creating a 63-bedroom hotel in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.

Former Gordon Ramsay chef Clare Smyth to open debut restaurant in Notting Hill in July: Former Restaurant Gordon Ramsay chef Clare Smyth is to open her debut restaurant in Notting Hill in July. The 54-cover Core by Clare Smyth will open in Kensington Park Road offering “modern fine dining with a strong British ethos”. Food will focus on a central tasting menu of ten to 12 constantly evolving dishes, with Smyth sourcing ingredients from British farmers, fishermen and producers. There will also be a selection of more than 400 wines and champagnes, while the entrance cocktail bar will seat 18 guests. Smyth has also sourced products from British manufacturers for the dining room, including crockery from Royal Crown Derby and silverware from Carrs of Sheffield. Smyth said: “Brought up on a farm you understand from an early age just how good our ingredients are and how important it is to support local producers. As chefs, we have access to some of the finest native produce in the world in Britain, and I want to continue to celebrate that in every menu.”

South London licensees take on second Star Pubs & Bars site: Licensees Wing Yip and Mansi Patel have taken on their second south London site with Star Pubs & Bars. They will transform The Goat in Mitcham into a family pub restaurant called The Crown & Pepper. Yip and Patel’s other site in Bromley has the same name. The Goat will close on Sunday, 18 June for a five-week, £250,000 refurbishment to refocus on food – a fusion of Indian and Chinese sharing dishes alongside traditional pub classics. The pub will be redecorated inside and out, with separate bar and dining areas and eight 50-inch screens showing live sports. Cocktails will be introduced alongside a range of single malts, premium spirits, and cask, draught and bottled beer and cider. The pub garden will be relawned and feature a bouncy castle in the summer months. Patel said: “We could see the potential the moment we saw The Goat and can’t wait to turn it around and broaden its appeal.” Star Pubs & Bars operations director Tim Galligan added: “The Crown & Pepper in Bromley consistently gets high rankings online, which is testament to the great job Wing and Mansi have done turning around a previously troubled pub.” The Crown & Pepper in Croydon and Caterham are not related to the Crown & Pepper in Bromley.

Stonegate reopens former JD Wetherspoon pub in Finchley: Stonegate Pub Company has reopened former JD Wetherspoon pub the Tally Ho in Finchley, north London. The pub in North Finchley High Road has undergone a £750,000 refurbishment to offer cask ales, a new menu, and live entertainment, with the opening creating 53 jobs. Restored to its original character, contemporary finishes across two floors zone the pub into traditional bar and relaxed dining areas, while the “Bolt Hole” offers a refined upper third floor. For the first time in more than 20 years, music and sports across 20 screens have been reintroduced. The Tally Ho was one of Wetherspoon’s original pubs, first owned by Charrington brewery when it opened 90 years ago. It was one of 33 sites Wetherspoon put on the market in May last year.

Venners restructures sales and marketing departments as David Fitzgerald leaves: Stocktaking and audit expert Venners has restructured its sales and marketing departments following business development director David Fitzgerald’s decision to leave the company to start his own public service consultancy firm. Venners has appointed two separate heads of departments. Tony D’Acanto, who has worked with the company for four years, has been appointed head of commercial partnerships and will be adding to the team. Tom East, who worked closely with Fitzgerald for the past five years, has been named head of marketing. He will be supported by a full-time marketing executive, Elyske van der Pol, and is already working on a refined marketing strategy. Venners managing director Trevor Heyburn said: “It is incredibly exciting to see the company thrive and expand as much as it has done these last years. Although we are sad to see David go, the restructure has meant members of the team have been recognised for the invaluable success they have already achieved for the company.”

Experienced head chef opens debut pub after taking on Ei Group site on outskirts of York: Experienced head chef Peter Brown has opened his first pub after taking on an Ei Group site on the outskirts of York. Brown and Ei Publican Partnerships have jointly invested £200,000 to add new kitchen facilities and renovate the inside of the White Horse in Upper Poppleton. Brown has 35 years’ experience in the industry, working as head chef at a number of restaurants and hotels such as The Dean Hotel in York. He has repositioned the White Horse as a food-led pub championing local produce. He said: “I’m passionate about cooking and wanted to give something back to the community I grew up in. Ei Publican Partnerships shared my vision for the pub and helped invest the money needed to put the White Horse on the map as a gastronomic destination.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Greg Smith added: “Peter is a great example of the calibre of publicans in our estate and demonstrates you don’t need to have a background in running pubs to take on a pub and turn your dream into reality.”

Dorset-based Chocolate Brownies bids to turn former Wetherspoon pub in Boscombe into dessert parlour: Dorset-based Chocolate Brownies has submitted plans to turn former JD Wetherspoon pub the Sir Percy Florence Shelley in Boscombe into a dessert parlour. Kent-based Architecture Design has submitted paperwork on behalf of new company Chocolate Brownies, run by the Brown family, to convert the premises into an operation making and selling gelato, crepes and waffles. JD Wetherspoon closed the pub on Sunday, 14 May after the freehold site was sold to developers Culverdene Properties. It was one of 33 pubs that JD Wetherspoon put on the market in May 2016, with agents CBRE and Savills charged with handling their sale either individually, in small packages or as a portfolio.