Bristol city centre area set to be transformed into £180m restaurant and bar quarter: A derelict corner of Bristol city centre is set to be transformed into a new quarter filled with bars, restaurants and a hotel. The £180m Redcliff Quarter scheme is expected to create at least 500 jobs and hundreds of homes. Disused warehouses in the area will be demolished to make way for the new quarter, which will include a covered food court. A deal has already been signed with the Rezidor Hotel Group for a 185-bedroom Radisson Red hotel, while the scheme will also include shops, stores and six or seven restaurants. The land has already been bought by Change Real Estate, which has lodged a planning application with Bristol City Council. If approved, work would start on the site next summer and take about two-and-a-half years to complete. Change Real Estate director Ron Persaud told the Bristol Post: “We are already in talks with some exciting food operators, chefs and restaurateurs who are keen to be part of this development. Redcliff Quarter will become a new destination in the heart of the city, close to excellent public transport networks and occupying a prime location close to the Harbourside, and Bristol’s business and retail quarters.”




BBPA – UK beer sales show encouraging signs of stability: UK beer sales have shown encouraging signs of stability, according to the latest figures from the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) quarterly Beer Barometer. The data showed sales in the first quarter of 2016 were down 1% on the same quarter in 2015. The fall was the smallest quarter one drop since 2008, giving “further signs of more stability in the market”, following years of decline accompanied by sharp rises in the tax on beer, which increased by 42% from 2008 to 2013. Three successive beer duty cuts since 2013, and a freeze in this year’s Budget, have helped to build confidence in the industry said BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds. The barometer showed greater sales stability was particularly noticeable in the on-trade, which fared relatively better than the off-trade, with a drop of 0.2% on quarter one 2015, whilst off-trade sales fell by 1.8%. The on-trade drop in volumes was the smallest decline in sales seen in quarter one since 2002. The BBPA said increased confidence in the sector was being spurred by innovation and investment, and through campaigns such as “There’s a Beer for That” by Britain’s Beer Alliance – a cross-industry group of brewers, pub companies and beer organisations working together to support a high-profile marketing campaign for the beer category as a whole. Simmonds said: “Beer sales are certainly doing better overall, and there are good prospects for quarter two, with Euro 2016 and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations a key draw for pubs. To avoid any return to the sharp declines in sales of recent years, we will need continued focus from the government on the tax burden, not just on beer, but also on pubs, through a fairer business rates regime and other burdens on small business.”


New Orleans-based Shaya named best new restaurant at James Beard Awards: New Orleans-based Shaya was named best new restaurant at this year’s James Beard Awards, known as “the Oscars of the food world”. The modern Israeli restaurant by Alon Shaya picked up the accolade at the ceremony in Chicago that honours the restaurant industry’s finest chefs, designers, architects and cookbook authors. Shaya’s menu features five types of hummus, including curried fried cauliflower with caramelised onions and cilantro, as well as small plates such as avocado toast with smoked whitefish and pink peppercorns on rye. Alinea in Chicago was named outstanding restaurant while Ken Friedman, who is behind The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and Tosca Cafe in New York City, was crowned outstanding restaurateur. The James Beard Foundation selected an individual committee to judge each category for the awards, now in their 26th year.




SSP wins £280m contract at Abu Dhabi International Airport: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP has won a £280m contract to operate three food and beverage units and a substantial food court featuring a range of brands, in the international departures lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new Midfield terminal building. The deal will run for between five and ten years, depending on the unit. It will see SSP introduce a total of, as yet unnamed, 17 brands, including a blend of local and international names as well as themed, bespoke, and uniquely designed concepts. Each unit is designed to fit the overall environment of the iconic new Midfield terminal building, and to help Abu Dhabi International Airport achieve its vision of offering passengers a world-class experience. Nick Inkster, chief executive, SSP WEMEAP, said: “We always aim to exceed passengers’ expectations and we thrive on being a part of the ever-changing culinary scene, adapting our offer to shifting tastes and trends. Having had the privilege of being a significant food and beverage provider at Abu Dhabi International Airport for nearly a decade, we are delighted to be building on this important partnership. This deal will also pave the way for further development of our business in the wider Middle East region.”


Thai Leisure Group secures Epic Group site for £1m Chaophraya restaurant in Aberdeen, second venue in city: Thai Leisure Group is to invest £1m to bring its high-end Chaophraya brand to Aberdeen – its second site in the city. The company has secured a 20-year lease with Epic Group to open the restaurant on the site of the Monkey House pub in Union Street. The pub will close in a fortnight before reopening as Thai Leisure Group’s seventh Chaophraya at the start of August, creating 40 jobs. The company already runs Thaikhun in the city and managing director Ian Leigh said it was looking forward to bringing its most high-end brand Chaophraya to Aberdeen. He told the Press and Journal: “A lot of people have questioned how strong Aberdeen is in light of the oil price drop, but we believe in it and have had a good experience with Thaikhun. We have confidence – otherwise we would not be doing it.” Epic Group owner Mike Wilson said the 30 staff at the Monkey House would be given jobs in the other company’s bars in the city. Wilson also confirmed he had no plans to lease out any of the other bars or restaurants in Epic’s portfolio, which includes Espionage, the Priory, Prohibition and the Pearl Lounge. He added: “I had plenty of approaches in the past to lease out the premises and have declined them, but when an operator as healthy as Thai Leisure Group comes along it’s a good move for me.”


Dunkin’ Donuts to make first foray into north west England with Liverpool site: US doughnut company Dunkin’ Donuts is set to make its first foray into the north west of England with a new restaurant in Liverpool. The company is opening a store in the food court at the St John’s Shopping Centre on Tuesday, 17 May. It will open seven days a week and serve the company’s full menu of doughnuts, coffees, lattes, baked goods and breakfast snacks, reports BDaily. Massachusetts-headquartered Dunkin’ Donuts operates a global network of more than 11,400 restaurants. Founded more than 60 years ago, the company sells about 1.8 billion drinks and 2.8 billion doughnuts every year.


Zing Zing passes £750,000 mark in crowdfunding campaign to expand across capital after receiving six-figure investment: Zing Zing, the north London-based Chinese takeout concept, has passed the £750,000 mark on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand across the capital after receiving a six-figure investment. The company, founded by Josh Magidson, who sold his start-up business to Just Eat in 2010, was aiming to raise £350,000 in return for an 8.51% equity stake. It hit that target last week and so far 405 investors have pledged £786,490 – including the single largest investment of £100,000 – and it is “overfunding” with seven days remaining. Its backers include Michael Sherwood, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs and co-chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, who has invested £20,000. The pitch states: “Zing Zing is revolutionising the £1.4bn Chinese takeout industry over time. We offer Chinese cuisine with a modern and healthy twist, cooked fresh to order and delivered fast. We have two units in north London, which together generated £1.05m of net turnover last year. We are currently raising equity finance to fund the next stages of our store roll-out plan. We are looking to raise a minimum of £350,000 for a new store in east and/or west London and other exciting business improvements. We target a near 50% pre-tax return on capital whenever we open a new store – a target far beyond most traditional restaurant models.”


City Pub Company opens Cheltenham and Cambridge sites: City Pub Company has opened a venue on the site of an Edwardian fire station in Cheltenham and another in a former bicycle shop in Cambridge, its third in the city. The Fire Station in St James Square has opened following a £600,000 refurbishment and features a robata grill, which influences the menu, offering “meat cooked over English oak with an open flame”. The venue features a main bar area with a private dining room upstairs. City Pub Company has also converted what was formerly the oldest bicycle shop in England into The Old Bicycle Shop in Cambridge, an all-day craft beer bar and brasserie. Decor at the venue in Regent Street includes a number of quirky features to reflect the site’s heritage, such as a vintage-style delivery bike mounted at the front of the site. The bulk of the space available to drinkers and other customers is on the ground floor, with a private dining space on the first floor. Cheltenham was among key towns and cities City Pub Company targeted late last year as it announced plans to build a 30-strong portfolio by the end of 2017. It currently has 23 sites across its two companies – City Pub Company (East) and City Pub Company (West) – with a second outlet in Winchester due to start trading this year.




Subway revenue drops as it closes hundreds of US restaurants: Subway revenues fell in 2015 for the second straight year, while the ratio of store openings to closures narrowed significantly. Revenue dropped 4.3% to $1.11bn last year, according to the company’s franchise disclosure document filed with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Subway owner Doctor’s Associates is also slowing its pace of restaurant openings and shutting hundreds of underperforming locations, the Washington Post reports. Founded in 1965, the sandwich concept expanded quickly by aggressively franchising. It now has more than 44,000 locations worldwide. However, while Subway opened 911 locations in the US last year, it closed 877 – a difference of 34 restaurants, compared with 313 the year before. Net income declined 87% to $1.15m from $9.19m in 2014. Last year, the company said it was putting new store development on the back burner while it focused on making its restaurants more profitable. “That hasn’t changed,” Subway said in a statement, adding: “The outlook for 2016 is more optimistic based on the terrific feedback we received from our guests about our culinary improvements and exciting new menu offerings.”




JD Wetherspoon gets go-ahead for £1.5m pub in Ramsgate: JD Wetherspoon has been given the go-ahead to transform the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent, (population: 38,624) into one of its largest pubs. The company has been granted permission by Thanet District Council for the £1.5m project, creating about 50 jobs. JD Wetherspoon’s plans include refitting some original features and creating a community space capable of staging food markets and other events, reports the Thanet Gazette. The pub itself would be set over two floors spanning a total of more than 600 square metres and includes a sun deck with sea views. JD Wetherspoon signed a deal to take on the grade II-listed former casino and dance hall in November 2014. The pavilion in Harbour Parade has been derelict since 2008 and was seriously damaged by a blaze in 2011. It was listed on The Victorian Society’s “at-risk register” in 2013.


New £40m boutique hotel opens in former magistrates’ court in Shoreditch, cells where Kray twins held converted into ‘VIP booths’ in bar: A new £40m boutique hotel has opened in a former magistrates’ court in Shoreditch, east London, with the cells where the Kray twins were once held converted into “VIP booths” in the bar. Girish Sanger has launched the 128-bedroom justice-themed Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch. Five of the grade II-listed building’s cramped five-foot by 15-foot cells have been preserved at the former magistrates’ court where the notorious East End gangsters appeared at their first criminal hearing in 1965, reports the Evening Standard. They retain their heavy metal reinforced doors and one even has the original hard bench and commode that were prisoners’ only facilities. Three have been named after local felons, the Krays and highwayman Dick Turpin, while a fourth is dedicated to street artist Banksy. One of the former courts has been converted into a restaurant dining room and the other a bar for a private members’ club. The bar serves cocktails with a range of crime-oriented names including “slammer”, “clink” and “nick”. The theme continues throughout the hotel with plates in the dining room handcuffed together and dishes on the menu including “Death sentence by chocolate”. It is Sanger’s second courtroom hotel in London following the original Courthouse Hotel in Soho’s former Marlborough Street magistrates’ court.


North east multi-site operators to open fifth Spanish restaurant: The team that operates a string of Spanish restaurants in the north east is opening a fifth venue in the region. Claire Elwell and Toni Almiron operate four venues – El Torero, El Coto and Dacantus in Newcastle, and a second El Coto site in Durham. Since their first opening 15 years ago, the couple have grown sales to about £2m and now employ 50 staff. New venue The Continental, an informal restaurant and bar in Newcastle’s Collingwood Street, will create another 15 jobs when it opens in June. Elwell told Chronicle Live: “If you go out in Spain, eating and drinking in a relaxed atmosphere go together hand in hand – food is always part of drinking – and that’s what we want to bring here.” The couple also plan to roll out the Dacantus brand. Elwell said: “The concept will work in lots of cities. Edinburgh would make a great location. After that we’d look at Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham – but we’re waiting to see if there’s a potential Brexit before we do anything. We import a lot of wine and food from Spain so if we leave the EU that would put the prices up and reduce our sales. It could affect us, so we want to wait until after the referendum.”




Stonegate to roll-out new Shoreditch-inspired menu across 18 late-night sites: Stonegate Pub Company will roll-out a new Shoreditch-inspired menu across 18 bars in its late-night Venues brand on Monday (10 May). The offering takes its influences from the “trendy vibes of Shoreditch combined with the natural ingredients of street food markets”. The menu will feature beers and ciders from across the globe, including DeVasa Tropical lager from Brazil. Summer flavours such as rhubarb, elderflower and passion fruit have all been introduced to the drinks menu, including Lychee and Rhubarb Martini and Blushing Mimosa. Consumers can also order a bottle of premium spirit and Red Bull delivered to their table with the V6 Party Engine. New food items include Tapas Planks, a selection of Cumberland sausages and crispy breaded prawns, while the Burger Town offering has also been developed. Alan Armstrong, head of marketing for Venues at Stonegate Pub Company, said: “A lot of time and energy has been spent scouring street food markets and independent operators around the UK to pick out the key trends that meet the tastes of our customers.” The new menu will be on offer at Venues sites in Durham, Solihull, Romford, Piccadilly, Colchester, Chelmsford, Cardiff, Birmingham, Chester, Bolton, Brighton, Leeds, Croydon, Manchester, Wimbledon, Peterborough, Doncaster and Newcastle.




Xavier Rousset to launch first solo restaurant in Marylebone at end of May: Wine expert Xavier Rousset, who co-founded Michelin-starred restaurant Texture with chef Agnar Sverrisson, will open his first solo concept Blandford Comptoir – an informal restaurant showcasing Mediterranean cuisine with Italian influences – in Marylebone at the end of May. The 40-cover restaurant in Blandford Street will focus around a bar where guests can enjoy an extensive range of 250 wines, 50 champagnes and home-brewed cocktails. Open seven days a week from midday to 10pm, the menu will feature a selection of small and large plates. Guests can order three separate courses or select a few plates to share in a group. Dishes include carpaccio of fassone beef and 36-month-old parmesan, and duck breast with tortellini of leg and figs. The wine list will feature quirky grapes from south west France, Campania and many other regions as well as the classics. Rousset will also host monthly wine tastings. He said: “I am really excited to launch Blandford Comptoir in Marylebone, which remains my favourite area of London. It has managed to retain its village and independent feel, which is so unusual in the capital nowadays! ‘Comptoir’ dining and the casual yet professional approach to restaurants is very much the way I like to dine out, focusing on ingredients and a relaxed atmosphere.”




Square Pie nominated for business of the year at inaugural Evening Standard Business Awards: Gourmet pie company Square Pie has been nominated for SME Business of the Year in the inaugural Evening Standard Business Awards. The company is on a shortlist that includes premium carbonated mixer suppliers Fever-Tree and gourmet healthy snacks company for the event, which takes place at Tobacco Dock, London, on Thursday, 30 June. Square Pie founder Martin Dewey said: “2016 has so far been a great year for us, with sales up 35% so far on last year, our gluten-free pie range launched into the restaurants, lots of exciting new product development in the pipeline and a growing wholesale business with our frozen bake-at-home range now in over 400 Sainsbury’s stores nationwide.” The Evening Standard Business Awards celebrate excellence and innovation within the business sectors in which London exerts influence on a global scale. Square Pie operates six shops in the UK, including in Old Spitalfields Market, Westfield London, The O2 and most recently Birmingham Grand Central. Its chefs use only natural ingredients without artificial additives or hydrogenated fats.


Olympics Stadium licensed for ten large music events per year: The London Borough of Newham, advised by Paddy Whur of Woods Whur, has granted a new premises licence for the Olympic Stadium. The stadium is now licensed in readiness for West Ham when they take up occupancy next year and also for other sporting events such as the annual athletics meet. The new premises licence allows up to ten large music events per year and kicks off in June with AC/DC. Whur said: “This is a fantastic addition to the number of iconic London venues able to host a multitude of live events. There has been a new acoustic roof and importantly the playing area can hold nearly double Wembley’s capacity. Also, there will be more than 1,000 security staff and 1,000 bar staff on duty for major events, 70% employed directly from the borough.”




Dundee entrepreneur to open Game of Thrones restaurant: A Dundee entrepreneur is set to open luxury restaurant Dynasty, featuring a Sistine Chapel-inspired ceiling and props from television show Game of Thrones. Malik, who also owns Japanese restaurant Oshibori in the city, hopes to open the Perth Road restaurant in the summer. There will be a smart-dress code for evening meals, which will feature food from around the world. Lunch and high tea will also be offered, as well as an outdoor bar where the Game of Thrones props will be displayed. Malik told The Courier: “The concept of Dynasty is to create an ambiance of the renaissance and neo-classical periods, where people can enjoy their meal from different dynasties of the world. I think this will be a success. When I opened Oshibori in 2014 people said there wouldn’t be much demand for sushi in the city, but it has been very popular.” Malik said he didn’t plan to have Game of Thrones features but stumbled across the props by accident. He said: “I was in Northern Ireland, shopping for furniture for the restaurant, and they told me they had some of the original features from Game of Thrones – clocks, a gazebo, a fountain and others. I love the show so I decided to buy them.”




Punch to again run free pint promotion: Punch has teamed up with Stella Artois and Carling to give UK drinkers the chance of a free pint in its pubs. The company is again running its free pint promotion with up to 900 pubs expected to take part. The promotion, which runs from May 16-29, has been offered to Punch Buying Club pubs that stock Stella and/or Carling and show live sport, with the aim of encouraging footfall and sales in their venues. Publicans will be supported with social media content to raise awareness of the promotion in their local community. Customers receive their free pint by going to, searching for their chosen Punch pub, and then redeeming their digital voucher at the bar. Punch category manager Stephen Martin said: “We are pleased to announce the launch of the 2016 free pint promotion and envisage this being the best to date! The interest from our publicans so far has been really encouraging and demonstrates their forward-thinking entrepreneurial skills. This promotion is a useful tool for publicans to engage with their local community and attract new customers. The timing of this promotion also complements the business-end of the sporting season so we see this going down particularly well with sports fans; whether they’re celebrating or commiserating!”




Analyst Simon French issues ‘Sell’ note on JD Wetherspoon shares following ‘mixed but in line’ quarter three: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has issued a ‘Sell’ note on JD Wetherspoon shares with a target price of 680p following a “mixed but in line” quarter three. French said: “Like-for-like sales outperformed our expectations at +3.8% (total sales 5.5%) but Ebit margin of 6.4% (down 110bps year-on-year) undershot once again. Year-to-date like-for-like sales are up 3.2% and total sales are up 5.9%. The group continues to aim for a reasonable outcome to the year and therefore we expect no material change to consensus expectations of £70.6m profit before tax (excluding £3.8m property profit). The group has also provided guidance around share buybacks for FY17 (up to £60m) and year-end net debt (circa £650m). The group has opened eight pubs and closed 19 (of which eight were sold). Full-year guidance is for 16 pub openings so the estate will shrink this year. Our full-year forecast is in line with consensus expectations (although our sales growth estimate looks on the low side and our margin estimate on the high side) to leave the stock trading on a CY16E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 8.1 times, which appears expensive relative to the peer group, ‘Sell’.”




St Austell Brewery appoints Tahola to help enhance managed estate: St Austell Brewery has appointed business analytics company Tahola to enhance sales analytics and drive performance insight across its managed estate. Tahola will deliver bespoke dashboards enabling St Austell Brewery to collate and analyse data from various sources. The initial phase of the solution will focus on integrating data from EPOS with the aim of introducing more relevant and valuable products, services and experiences to its customers. In addition to evaluating the product offering mix, the technology provided by Tahola will help managers identify efficiency improvements in stock levels and food wastage, with the aim of increasing average spend per head and promoting upselling. St Austell Brewery technology director David Viqueira said: “The solutions that Tahola provide are set to enhance all areas of our managed estate. As the results begin to impact the business we will look to expand the technology further in future phases to take on more data sources.” Tahola commercial director Simon Blackbourne added: “To be able to work with such a successful and iconic brand as St Austell Brewery is very exciting for Tahola. The work we have undertaken will be able to guide their product offering to the next level and further develop the managed estate.”




Poppie’s Fish & Chips to open Soho restaurant, third London site: Poppie’s Fish & Chips, the music, nostalgia and chippie concept owned by Pat “Pop” Newland, will launch a restaurant in Soho in June, its third London site. The new venue in Old Compton Street will open on the site of the former 2i’s Coffee Bar, the “birthplace of British rock ‘n’ roll”. Fresh fish will be delivered daily from Billingsgate – to be served from 11am to midnight with hand-cut chips, wallies and mushy peas – while the restaurant will also feature live music. Newland said: “Hopefully Poppie’s can bring a bit of East End charm and a bit of 1970s Soho to Old Compton Street. I love live music and I’m really excited we’ll have a stage in the Soho shop like we do in Camden, with music and dancing.” The restaurant will also offer cod or haddock (in edible-inked newspaper if taking away), battered or classic sausages, fishcakes, saveloys, jellied eels, and bottled wine and craft beer. Newland started in the fish and chips business in the 1950s at 11 years old, cutting newspaper to wrap the portions as they were dished out. Poppie’s Fish & Chips’ other venues are in Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, and Hawley Crescent, Camden.


Background Bars to launch pop-up rooftop dining space at John Lewis flagship store: Background Bars, the team behind gastro pop-up series Night Tales, will launch three residencies at a new restaurant and garden space on the roof of John Lewis’ flagship store in Oxford Street. The Gardening Society will launch on Friday, 27 May and run until Sunday, 4 September. Residencies will begin with Robin Gill, who will bring acclaimed Clapham restaurant The Dairy to central London for the first time. B.O.B’s Lobster will be second, followed by Brad McDonald closing the series with his take on British barbecue food. Each chef will serve signature dishes alongside new and exclusive offerings for the pop-up, accompanied by a concise cocktail menu from Background Bars. The rooftop will be transformed into a garden with games and boules tournaments, and blooms designed by RHS national young garden designer of the year Tony Woods. The lawn will offer an all-day venue for lunch, as well as coffee and fresh juices, with a covered area in case of bad weather. The roof garden and restaurant will open all week from midday until 11pm on Thursdays to Saturdays, 8pm Mondays to Wednesdays, and 6pm on Sundays.


Signature Living ends zero-hours contracts: Aparthotels developer and operator Signature Living has said it has ended zero-hours contracts. The Liverpool-based company, founded and run by Lawrence Kenwright, said it would offer a minimum of 16 hours’ work to the 10% of its 440 staff currently on flexible contracts. Kenwright, who is planning European expansion for his predominantly Merseyside-based company, told the Liverpool Echo: “We want to provide security and stability in work for all employees by offering a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours work per week. From today, all future Signature Living employees will be employed with the certainty that they have these set hours. We are doing this because we believe in our people and want to invest in them. There is no legal requirement for us to do this and currently less than 10% of the workforce is employed on flexible contracts, but we think it is right to give people a minimum guarantee of work.” In January this year, the company announced ambitious plans to recruit 600 employees during the course of 2016. The jobs will be spread across Signature Living’s existing portfolio and new developments, including Daniel House, the Shankly Hotel, Eden, and 60 Old Hall Street, as well as other locations the company has identified across Merseyside and throughout the UK.


Peel Hunt – Domino’s Pizza Poland continues positive momentum: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ali Naqvi has said Domino’s Pizza Poland has continued its positive momentum into 2016. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 35p following the company’s quarter one trading update, Naqvi said: “Like-for-like system sales grew 23% in quarter one 2016 against increasingly tougher comparatives (+17% in quarter one 2015), representing the 14th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth. New stores outside Warsaw continue to perform well and the group has three stores under construction, planned for opening in half two 2016. The potential addition of a new franchisee was announced at the prelims, and the group announced their appointment. Ewa and Remy Szutkiewicz, the new franchisees, opened a Domino’s Pizza in Szczecin in April, taking the total store numbers to 26 sites (17 corporate and nine sub-franchised). We understand they are in discussion with the group to open a second site; a trend we expect to continue as the group establishes itself further. There is still much to be done and a few years to wait until Domino’s Pizza Poland achieves profitability at group level. However, every update over the past few years has shown real progress and has built confidence that Domino’s Pizza will establish itself as a national brand. The store model, operational structure, marketing and site development, now look fully formed and primed to exploit what is a considerable opportunity in one of Europe’s strongest economies.”