Thaikhun, Comptoir Libanais and Absurd Bird set for Bath: Aviva Investors and British Land have secured three new restaurants at SouthGate Bath. All the operators are new to the city. Thai street food chain Thaikhun (3,700 square feet, 25-year lease), Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurant Comptoir Libanais (4,000 square feet, 20-year lease) and Absurd Bird (3,000 square feet, 20-year lease), which is taking its American Deep South specialities outside London for the first time, are set to take space in SouthGate’s newly redeveloped Little SouthGate restaurant quarter. Together they will form a new dining destination for residents and visitors to Bath, bringing more choice to further strengthen the existing SouthGate restaurant offer, which includes Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Prezzo and Graze. The three restaurants will open in September and October this year in Newark Street and St Lawrence Street. The new area will have glazed facades and canopies providing covered outdoor seating for diners. Simon Green, associate director for Aviva Investors, said: “The new restaurants will help further extend the already broad appeal of Bath, establishing SouthGate as a thriving destination in the city centre. The restaurants will offer diverse dining choices for local people and visitors, as well as creating new jobs for the city.”



Tapasya to open £1m site in Hull Fruit Market: Wykeland Group has announced that Indian restaurant and bar, Tapasya, will be launching a 3,400 sq ft site at the Fruit Market in Hull. The deal marks the latest stage in the extensive £80m Fruit Market development being carried out by Wykeland Group and Beal Homes in partnership with Hull City Council ahead of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017. Opening in September, ‘Tapasya @ Marina’ will be the second restaurant for Tapasya, following the success of their debut site on Beverley High Road in Hull. Owners Tapan Mahapatra and Mukesh Tirkoti, are investing £1 million in the new site, which is located in the former CatZero building overlooking Hull Marina. The launch will create 30 new jobs. The menu will cater for lunch and evening meals with a focus on seasonal ingredients. A unique take-away menu for boat owners in the Marina, which will be the first of its kind in the area, will also be available. Tapan Mahapatra, co-founder of Tapasya, said: “Our latest investment is a clear sign we are making a strong commitment to the regeneration of the Fruit Market area and the promotion of tourism in Hull ahead of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, of which we are strong advocates. We are excited by the vision for the renewal of the Fruit Market and the substantial investments that are being made to make the area a thriving place of culture, creativity and commercial activity. It will be the perfect home for our second restaurant.”




New gourmet burger concept opens in Nottingham, second site already secured: A new gourmet burger concept has opened in Nottingham with its owners already planning expansion having secured a second site. Brothers Tazz and Dan Butt have teamed up with Peter Paprocki to launch the Real Burger Company (RBCO) in Gregory Boulevard in the city’s Hyson Green neighbourhood. The restaurant has capacity for 37 diners with further seating available outside. The decor is purple, except for one wall that is used to record the names of people who successfully complete The Challenge – a burger containing four patties with large fries, gherkin, red-cabbage coleslaw and a milkshake. RBCO said it was the first gourmet burger specialist in Nottingham to use halal meat, with the burgers served on a locally baked brioche bun. Tazz Butt told the Nottingham Post: “We have been in the food industry for four generations, going back to my great-grandfather in Pakistan. We have put a lot of thought into this project – it was a journey of 18 months, but we think it’s an offer that will go down well in Hyson Green.” He said the concept was suitable for expansion and already had planning permission for a second restaurant at an undisclosed location.




Snug Bars reports 4.6% like-for-like sales growth in first quarter: Snug Bars, the group of neighbourhood-style bars and kitchens, has reported strong trading figures for the first quarter, with like-for-like sales growth of more than 4.6% year-on-year and total sales up 7.6%. The first quarter saw the company continue its refurbishment plan. New menu additions also provided guests with the chance to try a wider variety of dishes and cocktails. Owner Giles Fry said: “We’ve had a great start to the year and are feeling optimistic about the future with our Ebitda figures significantly up on last year. With the new Bedford site opening recently and with new openings in the pipeline, there’s much to look forward to at The Snug, as we continue to expand while relying on our much-loved drink and food offerings.” The Snug currently has eight sites across the south of England in Hertford, Hitchin, St Albans, Ware, High Wycombe, Cambridge Lensfield Road, Cambridge Grafton and the recently launched Bedford bar.




Harbour Hotels opens restaurant and cocktail bar at Brighton seafront site: Harbour Hotels, which operates boutique hotels across the south of England, has opened The Jetty Restaurant and separate cocktail venue HarBar within its Brighton seafront site. The Jetty has taken over the space formerly occupied by the Little Bay restaurant, and features locally sourced, seasonal produce with a seafood focus, an eclectic wine list and cocktail menu. Dishes include fruit de mer seafood platters and oysters, with meat options available from the grill. Next door, HarBAR is a destination bar, with stylish decor, contemporary artwork, seafront views and a marble-top bar. Mixologists serve innovative cocktails that can be enjoyed alongside Jetty bites and sharing platters, while DJs will play sets on Friday and Saturday nights. The 79 bedrooms at the hotel in King’s Road will become available to book from next month. In early 2017, the hotel’s spa will open, including the city’s first rooftop infinity pool. Harbour Hotels operates other Jetty restaurants at its venues in Christchurch, Dorset, and Salcombe, Devon. The Brighton site is the company’s 11th hotel, with further openings planned in Bristol and Southampton.




Marston’s applies to build hotel next to Staffordshire pub: Marston’s has lodged an application with South Staffordshire Council to build “lodge-style” accommodation next to The Spread Eagle pub and restaurant in Gailey, near Cannock. The 38-bedroom hotel would be built just to the side of the Marston’s venue in Watling Street, with the entrance remaining the same but car parking spaces cut to 108 from 135. The move has been welcomed by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson and councillors, who said it would be a huge boost for the area. Marston’s spokeswoman Lauren Smith told the Express & Star: “The Spread Eagle is a hugely popular pub on a busy arterial road, the proposed lodge would satisfy a demand for more quality accommodation in the area.”




Peel Hunt – ‘we’re encouraged by M&B remodels/conversion strategy but it will take time to make material impact’: Peel Hunt leisure analysts Ali Naqvi and Ivor Jones said they were encouraged by Mitchells & Butlers’ remodels/conversion strategy but it would take time to make a material impact. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 262p following the company’s quarter three trading update, Naqvi and Jones said: “The group saw like-for-like sales fall -0.7% in quarter three 2016 (-1.3% year to date), recovering from half one 2016 like-for-likes of -1.6%, a slightly better than expected outcome given the impact of poor weather and Euro 2016 in quarter three. Food sales recovered to -1.5% in quarter three 2016 (-1.8% year to date) from -2.0% at the half year (against a tough comparative of 2.5% in quarter three 2015). Drink sales grew 0.2% in quarter three 2016 (-0.9% year to date) from -1.5% in the first half (and quarter three 2015 comparative of -1.0%). Mitchells & Butlers has pursued a strategy of site reinvestment and conversions, with 294 sites reinvested since FY2015. These sites exhibited +10% like-for-like growth in half one 2016 and the trend continued in quarter three despite adverse weather and the impact of Euro 2016. Mitchells & Butlers aims to complete 250 remodels/conversion in FY2016. While we are encouraged by the strategy, it will take time to make a material impact to the circa 1,800 estate and margins will not be helped by rising input costs with half two National Living Wage headwinds of circa £7m. We maintain our ‘Hold’ recommendation and set our target price at 262p (from under review), valuing the group at seven times FY2017 price-to-earnings ratio, reflecting the near-term headwinds around input prices and the length of time required for the capex-led recovery strategy to take effect.”




London-based Angel Comedy Club completes crowdfunding campaign having raised more than £46,000: London-based Angel Comedy Club has completed its crowdfunding campaign to help fund a permanent home, having raised more than £46,000. The club, which has been operating in a small room above the Camden Head in Islington for the past six years, has secured the lease on a nearby Victorian pub, formerly known as The Mucky Pup. It launched the fund-raise on Kickstarter to fit out the site, aiming to raise £20,000. It has now closed the campaign having raised £46,643 from 1,049 investors. The team behind the venue said the money would allow it to finish work on the venue, build a training room and podcast studio and start developing community projects. Club director Dec Munro told the Islington Gazette: “We’re amazed and completely humbled. Now we’ve got the chance to make this place brilliant!” The club hopes to open its new site in September.




Individual Restaurants to open £3m 400-seat Opera Grill in Chester next week: Individual Restaurants will open its new £3m venue Opera Grill in Chester next Thursday (4 August). The restaurant, which will be the flagship for the company’s Restaurant Bar & Grill brand, will launch the 400-seat site in the Chester Dining Quarter in Pepper Street to complete the complex’s line-up. Housed in a former Methodist chapel, it is reported to be the biggest restaurant in the city centre. It is sandwiched between Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas and The Restaurant Group-owned Coast to Coast, which opened last year along with Prezzo’s Tex Mex brand Chimichanga. In a statement, the company said: “Following a painstaking restoration of the listed building to restore it to its former glory, a further £3m has been invested to create a 400-seater restaurant, which boasts a ground-floor restaurant and bar, first-floor restaurant and bar, along with a south facing, all-year roof terrace that is sure to be a hit with Chester sun seekers.” Individual Restaurants founder Steven Walker told the Chester Chronicle: “The building has played an important role throughout its history, originally as a Methodist church and then contributing massively in the war effort when it was used as a garage to manufacture wings for Spitfires – so it was only right we made the building something special again for Chester.” Individual Restaurants’ other brands are Piccolino, Bank Restaurant & Bar, and its collaborations with celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo.




Carlsberg UK launches latest ‘Crafted’ beer and cider range: Carlsberg UK has launched its 2016/17 “Crafted” portfolio of world, craft and speciality beers, with an extended range, a new craft cider section, and a focus on British products. The portfolio is complemented by the “Crafted Handbook”, a guide to trends among producers and consumers, featuring category insights and recommendations from industry influencers such as award-winning beer writer Pete Brown and The Thinking Drinkers, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham. The handbook provides information on each brand, including tasting notes and range positioning tips. The new range has added 14 draught beers, 17 packaged beers and an extended seasonal range. Responding to market trends, it also offers an up-weighted canned beer selection and a craft cider section for the first time. Paul Waller, director of third-party brands at Carlsberg UK, said: “This year we have a balanced range from the US and Europe and greater emphasis on the UK, recognising the quality of innovation from home-grown brands and products. The handbook is an entertaining and educational tool, suitable for publicans who want to venture into craft beer for the first time as much as it is for aficionados looking for inspiration on the latest innovations from the category.” Now in its third year, the Crafted portfolio is sourced from Carlsberg UK’s third-party partners and the Carlsberg Group global portfolio.




Birmingham-based brewery gets go-ahead to launch restaurant, bar and takeaway venture: Birmingham-based The Indian Brewery has been given the go-ahead to launch a restaurant, bar and takeaway in a vacant unit at Queensway Arches in the Jewellery Quarter. The brewery, which is based in Great Barr and makes a small range of craft beers, has been granted permission by the city council to convert arch 16 in Livery Street, which was previously occupied by coffee shop Brewsmiths. The venue will open daily between 7.30am and 1am and is expected to create up to ten jobs, including four full-time roles, reports Insider Media. Council planners said the scheme would bring the unit into economic use “without harming the character or quality” of the area. Livery Street, part of which lies under the platforms of Snow Hill Station, is currently home to The Tunnel nightclub and grade II-listed Victorian toilets. A cafe and jazz club has received permission to open at arch 24.




Shepherd Neame reopens historic Kent hotel following £650,000 refurbishment: Shepherd Neame, the Kent-based brewer, pub and hotel operator, has reopened the Royal Albion hotel in Broadstairs following a £650,000 refurbishment project, including a major restaurant expansion. Built in 1760, the 21-bedroom hotel is in the heart of the Kent coastal town, with a commanding position on the clifftop overlooking Viking Bay. The four-month programme included building a conservatory with spectacular sea views to accommodate 40 diners. The a la carte restaurant has also been remodelled, with new decor and furniture throughout. New equipment has also been installed in the kitchen, while the gardens have been landscaped, including a new decking area. Shepherd Neame director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting said: “We are thrilled to unveil this exciting new refurbishment project, which represents a massive investment, not just in the hotel but the local area. We are confident the new-look Royal Albion will prove a popular destination for leisure and business guests, providing a boost for the town.”




Nando’s to open its first restaurant in Northumberland, next week: Nando’s will open its first restaurant in Northumberland – at Manor Walks shopping centre in Cramlington, near Newcastle, next Wednesday (3 August). Nando’s will join a host of other restaurants already resident at Manor Walks, including The Restaurant Group-owned Frankie & Benny’s, Greene King’s family-friendly chain Hungry Horse, and Italian brand Prezzo, as well as Northumberland’s only multiplex cinema. Sarah Turnbull, of Manor Walks shopping centre, told Chronicle Live: “Not only are we welcoming a fantastic new type of cuisine that further adds to our great restaurant credentials, we’re also giving something new and exciting to our customers. We are looking forward to a busy and successful summer and, of course, welcoming a bit of peri peri into Manor Walks.” Nando’s operates more than 350 restaurants across the UK and Ireland.




Portuguese food and wine concept Bar Douro to launch at London Bridge: Portuguese food and wine concept Bar Douro will launch at London Bridge in September. The new restaurant in Flat Iron Square will offer a contemporary take on Portuguese cuisine alongside a wide range of regional wines. The concept is the brainchild of Max Graham, whose family business, Churchill’s Port, has been making wine in the Douro Valley for two centuries. Graham created eight-month pop-up Churchill’s Port House in Soho in 2013, followed by a series of sold-out supper clubs in London and a three-month residency in Porto with head chef Tiago Santos. Graham and Santos have spent the past year travelling around Portugal discovering culinary secrets and sourcing produce. Bar Douro’s small-plate focused menu will include suckling pig, octopus with sweet potato and favas, and bísaropork ribs with ruby port glaze. Traditional desserts will include fondants, tarts, cinnamon ice cream and Portuguese cheeses with tomato jam. Graham will work closely with independent winemakers to import a selection of wines not currently available in the UK market. Regular wine tastings will be held in the first-floor private dining and events space.




Beds and Bars venue The Dugout named best sports pub in London: The Dugout Sports Bar, operated by pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, has won a prestigious award. The venue at London Bridge was named Best Sports Pub in London in the Matchpint Best Pub Awards. The Dugout opened in March 2014 in Borough High Street and shows all international sports on multi-screens and projectors, as well as offering beer pong, table football, gaming machines, and a menu including burgers, bar snacks, sharing plates, wings and wraps. Beds and Bars managing director Murray Roberts said: “We are all extremely excited to receive the award. Everyone is very proud of what we have achieved in creating the ultimate sports bar in The Dugout and we will continue to strive for the best in showcasing sports from all over the world.”




Halewood buys significant stake in Irish whiskey maker: Halewood International, which is headquartered in Huyton, has bought a significant stake in independent Irish whiskey distillery West Cork Distillers. The company already distributes West Cork Distillers products in eight markets and has plans to expand the company’s global reach. Stewart Hainsworth, chief executive of Halewood Wines & Spirits, said: “This purchase reflects our commitment to working with West Cork Distillers to develop a long-term partnership for the distillery, Skibbereen and the beautiful county of Cork. West Cork Distillers has a great brand story to tell, and their innovation and passion for whiskey will help to deliver further success. Halewood continues to grow its spirits portfolio with craft products that offer the trade and consumers a point-of-difference from the mainstream brands. West Cork Distillers reflects our entrepreneurial attitude to develop new products and increase distribution both in the UK and internationally.” John O’Connell, managing director and co-founder of West Cork Distillers, said: “This partnership offers a great opportunity to take the business forward. It strengthens our offering in new markets while supporting our existing and greatly valued distribution partners to greater degree through the development of a cohesive marketing strategy. We are looking forward to the future; Halewood is a great partner to have in your corner.” Halewood’s brands include Lambrini, Crabbie’s, Red Square and Whitley Neill.