Comptoir Libanais opens Soho restaurant, 14th site: Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes, has opened its 14th site, this time in Soho. The 398 square metre, 94-cover site in Poland Street offers a variety of dishes to eat in or take away. Breakfast offerings include pastries, granola, yogurt, egg dishes, and the signature Comptoir Full Breakfast, while lunch dishes feature hot and cold mezze, grilled halloumi and meat, and a selection of tagines. Drinks range from homemade lemonades and freshly squeezed juices to cocktails and Lebanese wine and beer. The venue also features the Comptoir Libanais Souk Shop, selling imported gifts, hand-crafted accessories, spices and sweets. The Soho opening is the first of three Comptoir Libanais restaurants to launch in London in the next few months. Later this month, the group’s first in-store restaurant will open in John Lewis’s flagship Oxford Street store, while the Gloucester Road, Kensington, site will launch in November. This week, the company opened its first site in the south west – in Exeter – with another to follow later this month, in Bath.



Italy’s oldest pizzeria to open first franchised UK restaurant after securing London site: L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, the oldest pizzeria in Italy, has secured its first UK site, in London. The company will open the restaurant in Church Street, Stoke Newington, having acquired the free-of-tie lease through agent Savills from a private vendor off a guide price of £115,000. The former craft beer bar and cafe will operate as a pizzeria under a franchise agreement with L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which was founded in Naples in 1870. The venue is arranged over basement, ground and first floors, extending to about 2,022 square feet (187 square metres) and is let on the remainder of a 16-year lease at a rent of £44,000 per annum exclusive. Serena Sarnatoro, of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele-London, said: “There are a lot of pizzerias in London but what sets us apart is our collaboration with the oldest and best-loved pizzeria in the world. Stoke Newington is renowned for its foodie culture – and discerning diners won’t be disappointed.” Chris Bickle, a director in Savills’ licensed leisure team, added: “Stoke Newington is a well-established location for independent food and beverage operators and the marketing process attracted a great deal of interest. We continue to see plenty of activity in the leisure sector, particularly outside London’s Zone 1, where opportunities tend to be more accessible.” The vendor was unrepresented.




7Bone secures Camberley and Reading sites, third and fourth restaurants: Better burger brand 7Bone, which is backed by private equity firm Kings Park Capital (KPC), has secured sites for its third and fourth restaurants – in Camberley, Surrey, and Reading, Berkshire. The Reading restaurant will be in St Mary’s Butts, at a site formerly occupied by Turkish restaurant Mangal. The council has granted 7Bone Holdings a licence to serve food and drink daily until 11.30pm. The Camberley site, for which the company is already hiring staff, will open in Park Street in the town centre, close to the train station. 7Bone’s menu includes corn dogs, cheese steaks and buffalo chicken, alongside burgers such as The Robert Johnston (aged beef patty with cheese, truffled garlic mushrooms and truffle mayo), and The Dirty Linda (chicken-fried halloumi with American cheese, dirty slaw and 7bbq sauce). The drinks menu includes imported beers and “dirty cocktails”, reports Get Reading. 7Bone’s other restaurants are in Bournemouth and Southampton. KPC co-founder Jason Katz recently said 7Bone had a pipeline of six sites “within a two-and-a-half-hour radius” of its existing outlets. He told Propel: “We think the management team has what it takes – it is focused on regional growth and has a product that can stand up to any other provider. The burger market is enormous and we are backing a brand we believe can take share in a competitive market.”




JW Lees reports record turnover and Ebitda: North west retailer and brewer JW Lees has reported turnover rose 0.2% to £64.1m, with Ebitda up 1.6% to £8.9m in the year to 31 March 2016. Operating profit was up 3.8% to £6.6m. The company said: “JW Lees strengthened its senior management team during the year by hiring Tony Spencer as director of retail and Nicola Waring as the company’s first director of people. 2016 has been a year of consolidation for JW Lees and, although we have not acquired any new sites, we have spent a record £5.3m on improving our pubs with the aim of building the best pub estate in the north west by raising quality, standards and service. Major refurbishments were carried out at more than 40 sites, including The Greyhound in Ashley, The Parrswood in Didsbury, The London Bridge in Stockton Heath and The Boathouse in Chester, where we not only added a floating beer garden in the form of a barge but also 21 bedrooms, which takes our managed estate to 185 bedrooms in total. JW Lees paid out a profit share of £317,000 to team members because the company has achieved its budgeted profits for the fourth year in a row.” Managing director William Lees-Jones added: “We are proud to be reporting a record year and our business is growing steadily. We remain hungry for acquisitions of both managed and tenanted pubs as well as hotels in the north west.” The company sold eight pubs in the year considered “not economically capable of being developed in the future” and some parcels of land in the year for a profit of £426,000.




Vapiano launches Bankside breakfast takeaway and delivery services: Vapiano, the Italian fresh casual dining brand, has launched a breakfast takeaway service at its site in Bankside, south London, alongside a delivery service via Deliveroo. The breakfast range consists of four freshly made-to-order juices, homemade breakfast pots, hot croissants and coffee. Vapiano said it would consider expanding the breakfast service in the future but planned to start gently and assess sales and feedback. A new kitchen has been built in the Bankside restaurant to accommodate demand for deliveries and takeaway orders to avoid a negative impact on the busy restaurant’s pasta and pizza stations, the company said. In August, Vapiano UK reported Ebitda in the UK rose to £1,126,451 in the year to 31 December 2015 (2014: £699,644). Turnover rose to £11,418,638 from £9,160,629 the year before. The company stated that sales in its Bankside site “continue in double-digit sales growth”. Vapiano has four restaurants in the UK – three in London and one in Manchester.




Costa Coffee hires new group HR director: Whitbread’s Costa Coffee brand has hired Kate Seljeflot as group HR director, replacing HR director Jo Bennett, who retired at the end of September. Seljeflot joins Costa after 14 years at Diageo, where she was most recently global talent director, responsible for senior appointments and succession planning, as well as overseeing Diageo’s diversity and inclusion strategy. In addition, Seljeflot oversaw key brand initiatives, including Diageo’s global graduate programme. In her new role, Seljeflot will harness her years of experience of working with global markets and her proven track record for effectively driving significant change, to lead the global HR team and Costa’s international expansion. She is responsible for all employee-related issues, including executive talent appointments, organisation effectiveness, resource planning, recruitment and training. She reports into new managing director Dominic Paul, who said: “We are delighted to announce Kate as our global HR director. She will be a driving force in the continued expansion of our workforce at a highly progressive time. Costa is an incredibly people-centric business and we want to retain our heritage and DNA while continuing to grow.”




Domino’s Pizza multi-site franchisee secures 24-hour licence for Chester city centre site: AKS Partners, a multi-site franchisee that operates a large number of Domino’s Pizza stores in England and Wales, has secured a 24-hour licence for a site in Chester city centre. Nottingham-based law firm Fraser Brown helped AKS Partners secure the licence for its new store in Foregate Street – in the heart of the council’s saturation zone. Police were concerned the extended hours would have a detrimental effect but Fraser Brown licensing specialist Walaiti Rathore worked with AKS Partners to obtain a premises licence allowing the store to operate between 5am and 3am the next day, with a 24-hour delivery service. Rathore said: “The key was to meet with police to discuss and address concerns and agree a proposal that allowed them to support these hours in a saturation zone, which is very rare. This case is an excellent example of parties working in partnership, even in the most challenging circumstances, and achieving a result they can all work with.” AKS Partners operates 27 Domino’s Pizza sites, with another 14 planned to open in the next three years.




Calabrese brothers to launch poultry restaurant and cocktail bar concept Holy Birds in the City: The Calabrese brothers, who founded acclaimed bar The Hoxton Pony in 2008 and 250-cover bar and restaurant Wringer & Mangle in London Fields last year, are set to launch a poultry restaurant and cocktail bar concept in the City. The Holy Birds, in Middlesex Street, will take inspiration from Sixties music and art, offering free-range birds from chicken, duck and grouse to wood pigeon, quail and pheasant. For the downstairs bar, the brothers are teaming up with their father, cocktail legend Salvatore “The Maestro” Calabrese, for the first time. Calabrese senior, who started in the industry in the 1960s, has pulled together a list of authentic cocktails from the time, Hot Dinners reports. Gerry Calabrese has won a multitude of awards, including Best Bar UK and Best Bar London, and worked as a consultant for major global beverage companies in product development, as well as launching award-winning Hoxton Gin. He also opened cabaret-themed bar Baroque in Mayfair and Ink nightclub in Leicester Square in 2013. Gerry’s brother Jon is head of operations at their company Calabrese House. In 2014, Salvatore Calabrese’s bar Salvatore’s – at The Playboy Club in Mayfair – was named London’s favourite nightspot out of 1,176 different venues in the city on ratings website TripAdvisor.




Duck’N Roll to launch third permanent site: Duck’N Roll, the street food venture from Michelin-starred chef Pascal Aussignac and business partner Vincent Labeyrie, is to launch in Camden Market on Thursday (6 October). It already trades at Street Feast’s Dinerama and Trinity Kitchen Leeds. Aussignac said: “Duck links all of Gascony and south west France – it’s everywhere. We started Club Gascon as the first French restaurant to serve just ‘small plates’ and, for me, Duck’N Roll is a natural progression – to take duck, to take the smaller plates concept, and to present this beautiful ingredient in a more interesting way and to a wider audience. The Camden Market launch will be the biggest and best Duck’N Roll yet, offering full counter-service and an adjacent bar-seating area, and will be open seven days a week.”





Boss Burgers rebrands Harrogate restaurant following ‘market saturation’: Independent restaurant company Boss Burgers has rebranded its Harrogate site as a pizza concept following an influx of burger chains in the North Yorkshire town. The venue in King’s Road has relaunched as The Secret Pizza Co following “saturation” of the burger market. The company said it had taken the decision to rebrand as a “pre-emptive” move following the recent arrivals of Five Guys and Byron. Adam Kettering, managing director of Boss Burgers, said independent restaurants in Harrogate were under increased pressure following the emergence of “several large chains”. He told the Harrogate Advertiser: “With the recent influx of chain restaurants in Harrogate, what’s the point of sitting around and waiting to get swallowed up? Very good restaurants have gone under because of a lack of footfall. From a business perspective, this a pre-emptive move.” The Secret Pizza Co pop-up began in the company’s Hyde Park restaurant in Leeds delivering “hand-made, quality pizzas using the freshest ingredients”. Kettering said the company had been looking to turn the successful pop-up into a restaurant and the Harrogate site appeared to be the “perfect opportunity”. He added: “I know Boss Burgers was very popular in Harrogate but I think there’s a gap in the market for what we have changed the business into. I’m surprised so many burger places have opened up here. There were other independent burger restaurants before us but the chain openings have diluted the market place. There’s nobody really doing what we’re doing now and, from a customer perspective, we will still be making fresh products at a decent price.”




Pear Tree Café concept launches overlooking Battersea Park boating lake: Pear Tree Café, a new concept by former sous chefs Annabel Partridge and Will Burrett, has opened overlooking the boating lake at Battersea Park, south London. Mainly a daytime cafe, it offers breakfast and a seasonal all-day lunch menu until dusk on weekdays, brunch at weekends, and regular pop-up supper clubs on winter evenings. There is room for 100 diners inside and 350 outside. Breakfast dishes include six-grain porridge with hazelnuts, Jersey butter, heather honey and apple; and smashed avocado with wood sorrel, pickled cucumbers, feta, chilli, spring onion and za’atar. Lunch dishes include grilled onglet steak with borlotti beans, chard and salsa verde; and chickpea pancake with grilled aubergine, mint and labneh, Hot Dinners reports. Weekend brunch includes buttermilk pancakes with roasted figs, blueberries, borage honey and Jersey butter; and baked eggs with chorizo, preserved lemon yogurt, crispy kale, and sourdough. There is a short, regularly changing wine list along with English beers, classic cocktails and bar snacks.





Wagamama to open Colchester site: Wagamama will open a site in Colchester High Street in time for Christmas. The new restaurant will open on a site formerly occupied by Coffee Aroma and William H Brown estate agents. The cafe has been closed since earlier this year, while the estate agent is relocating. Wagamama has lodged a licensing application with Colchester Borough Council for the venue to open from 10am to 12.30am, Monday to Saturday, and 10am to midnight on Sundays. Colchester councillor Darius Laws told the Daily Gazette: “Wagamama is a great brand to welcome to our historic town and will offer more choice for everyone. Colchester is the sleeping giant of the east and ensuring top retail and restaurant brands are here is critical to our future as a leading destination.” Wagamama will open its latest restaurant next week, which will also be in the east of England. The 130-cover restaurant in Ipswich will open in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre on Monday (10 October).




Covent Garden bar and bistro founders to launch wine delivery app: Ian Campbell and Will Palmer, the team behind The 10 Cases wine bar and bistro in Covent Garden, will uncork their own wine delivery app – Drop – on Monday (10 October). Drop enables wine to be delivered anywhere in London Zones 1 and 2, with no minimum order and only a nominal delivery charge if you require it within the hour. Wine, cheese, bread, smoked salmon, and charcuterie will be delivered via an electric bicycle, with app users choosing from more than 150 wines, entering their preferred colour, price range and style. Wines will be delivered from Drop HQ, opposite The 10 Cases in Endell Street, with the space featuring a small wooden bar amid the bottles. Campbell said: “Our firm belief with wine has always been that quality and enjoyment don’t have to mean spending a lot of money, but rather on taking time to root out the diamonds in the rough.” Palmer added: “With Londoners taking a greater interest in what they’re drinking, without wanting either to spend a fortune nor waste money on a Herculean hangover-inducing wine from the corner shop, Drop is the ideal wine app.” The Drop app is available on iPhone and Android devices. Drop HQ will open to the public in early November.




McDonald’s nears $400m deal to sell Singapore and Malaysia franchise rights to Saudi Arabia’s Reza Group: McDonald’s is nearing a deal to sell 20-year franchise rights for its Singapore and Malaysia outlets to Saudi Arabia’s Reza Group, in a transaction estimated at up to $400m, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Reza Food Services, which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the western and southern regions of Saudi Arabia, has tapped Malaysian bank CIMB to finance the deal, said two of the sources, who declined to be identified as the deal has yet to be publicly announced. The deal was expected to be completed by the end of the year, a source said. McDonald’s has about 120 restaurants in Singapore and 260 in Malaysia. The move is in line with the company’s reorganisation of its Asian operations, bringing in partners as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model.




Caprice Holdings to open The Ivy in St John’s Wood this month, seventh London site: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, will open its latest site for The Ivy, this time in St John’s Wood, on Wednesday, 19 October. The new restaurant will open in the high street at a site formerly occupied by Megan’s Grill & Bar, The Handbook reports. The venue will comprise a main bar, restaurant and two outdoor dining terraces. As its sister sites, The Ivy St John’s Wood will feature interiors by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio and offer all-day dining, including brunch, afternoon tea and cocktails. Last week, Propel revealed Caprice Holdings had applied to open a 150-cover site for The Ivy in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, which would open in spring 2017. A Caprice Holdings spokesman said: “Each (Ivy) location is carefully hand-picked to value, reflect and add to the local area.” Last month, Caprice Holdings opened Ivy Clifton Brasserie in Bristol, the first venue for the brand outside London. The other Ivy sites in London are in Wimbledon Village, the West End, Kensington, Chelsea, Covent Garden, and Marylebone. The company also owns The Ivy restaurant, bar and lounge in Dubai.




Fabric fund-raise passes £250,000 in fortnight, boss calls for Licensing Act changes as appeal date fixed: A fundraising campaign to save Fabric nightclub has passed the £250,000 mark in its first two weeks, while its managing director Gary Kilbey has called on the hospitality and music industries to unite behind his push to “change guidance under the Licensing Act”. The iconic Farringdon nightclub had its licence revoked last month following the drug-related deaths of two teenagers, with Islington Council claiming Fabric had a “culture of drug use” its staff were “incapable of controlling”. In an effort to save the nightclub, Fabric’s owners launched a crowdfunding campaign on its own website to fund a legal appeal. The fund-raise has now passed the £250,000 mark and Fabric managing director Gary Kilbey revealed the club has been given a court date for their appeal, reports the Evening Standard. In a statement published on Facebook, Kilbey revealed the club had hired industry experts in a bid to save Fabric. He wrote: “Words cannot express how humbled we all are at the overwhelming support.” Kilbey added that as well as appealing against the revocation of Fabric’s licence, the club was also appealing to change the guidance under the Licensing Act. He wrote: “We have put this to a number of trade and music industry organisations and associations to seek their opinion, advice and support. We want to ensure this is something the industry as a whole is able to get behind.” Fabric’s appeal will be heard at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 28 November.




Crussh launches new autumn menu: Crussh, the healthy food and juice brand with 26 sites across London, has launched its new autumn menu. It features two new drinks that use raw-pressed turmeric – a latte and a juice – along with four super grain hot pots and a coconut milk porridge for breakfast. Crussh head of marketing Helen Jones said: “We’re really excited with the new products we’ve developed for customers to enjoy this autumn. Keeping our menu fresh, with innovative products, is something Crussh has always been known for and we want to keep that up. With turmeric’s current press coverage, it’s a great time for us to offer drinks that incorporate its celebrated health benefits. We use fresh turmeric over powder as it gives a much cleaner, smoother taste and texture. A turmeric latte or a juice with turmeric, ginger, apple and pear are great for this time of year to help keep colds at bay.”




Scottish ice cream manufacturer Crolla’s to continue gelateria franchise expansion with Dundee opening: Crolla’s Gelato, the gelateria arm of The Crolla Ice Cream Company, one of Scotland’s oldest ice cream manufacturers, will open a site in Dundee. The 120-year-old, family-run company is continuing expansion of its franchise operation following openings in Aberdeen and Preston as well as its company-owned parlour in Glasgow. Local entrepreneur Jamie Shankland is set to open the franchise in Perth Road in the next two months. Peter Crolla, fifth-generation owner of the franchise, said the redevelopment of the city meant it was a prime location. He told the Evening Telegraph: “I was looking at Dundee as a potential site – it was always our plan to open shops in all the major cities in Scotland. Dundee is a city that is on the up with a lot of development going on. I think there will be a lot more people coming to the area in the future. Jamie approached us saying he was looking to open a franchise in the city. We held various meetings with him and we are excited about the future.”




Cairn Group secures Birmingham site, first Midlands venue: Bar, restaurant and hotel operator Cairn Group will open its first Midlands venue after securing a site in Birmingham. The Newcastle-based company is launching Lobby in Hill Street as part of its £50m expansion strategy. It said it was opening the venue to “capitalise on the development of the Grand Central shopping centre as well as the increased footfall to New Street station”. The bar, which Cairn Group said will involve “significant funds”, is scheduled to open this autumn following extensive construction and development work, reports The Business Desk. Lobby will offer cocktails and street food-style tapas dishes and feature a heated terrace. Earlier this year, Cairn Group revealed plans to invest £50m into growing its nationwide portfolio of venues, which currently stands at more than 50 hotels, bars and restaurants, including the Jalou, 97 & Social, Juniper, and Columbus Bar.




Tennent’s reveals trade show dates: Scottish beer brand Tennent’s, which is owned by C&C Group, will host its annual trade shows on Monday, 31 October at Hampden Park, Glasgow, and Tuesday, 1 November at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. More than 1,000 brands will be represented at each show from 45 suppliers, together with the full range of Tennent’s-owned brands. Tennent’s on-trade sales director Alan Hay said: “Our shows provide a great way for licensees to secure the best deals ahead of the critical festive trading period. We know our customers and suppliers truly value these events. Last year’s trade shows were a real success and we’re striving to make sure this year’s will be the best yet.”




Peel Hunt – Domino’s Pizza Poland making ‘steady progress’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ivor Jones has said Domino’s Pizza Poland is making “steady progress” after the company announced it was raising £3.2m via a placing to accelerate the roll-out of new stores. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 75p, Jones said: “The group has sufficient cash to meet our previous forecast of 80 stores by 2020. The placing announced provides funds for an additional 20 stores, driving a three-fold increase in the estate in four years. New stores require capital of circa £125,000 and the placing should therefore comfortably provide funds to add 20 stores. Eventually there may be sub-franchisees with capital of their own to invest in further accelerating growth. However in the near-term, we believe Domino’s Pizza Poland will either build corporate stores itself or lend capital to sub-franchisees. Management says Domino’s Pizza Poland has continued to trade strongly in the third quarter and is on track to ‘meet market expectations’ for FY2016. 20 additional stores should add £1m to £1.5m of Ebitda to forecasts for 2020-21, and we expect the placing announcement to support the share price in making progress towards our 75p target price. We are not changing our near-term forecasts. The group is making steady progress towards critical mass in terms of store count, geographical coverage of Poland, and sub-franchisee base. The announcement confirms it will have the funds to get to critical mass and then press on to circa 400 stores using self-generated capital and through sub-franchised store expansion.”




Easyhotel gets go-ahead for new-build Barcelona hotel: Easyhotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has got the go-ahead to build a hotel in Barcelona. The group, which last week made a conditional placing of up to 38 million new ordinary shares at a price of 100 pence each to raise £38m, revealed planning permission had been granted for the property. The company plans to build a 204-bedroom hotel in Gran Via, the main avenue of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat in the Spanish city. The group told Travel Weekly: “Easyhotel’s acquisition of the land for the new-build hotel is expected to complete in the coming weeks and the hotel to open in early 2018.” The company also plans new owned hotels in Birmingham, Ipswich, Liverpool and Manchester, together with franchise properties across Europe and Dubai. Easyhotel’s three owned hotels in the UK comprise 390 rooms and it has a further 17 franchised hotels with 1,405 rooms.