Pret A Manger to double reusable cup discount and launch own version, rejects idea of charging customers for paper cups: Pret A Manger is doubling the discount from 25p to 50p to encourage more customers to bring reusable coffee cups into its stores. The company said it had also considered charging customers for using paper cups but felt the move would go “against its instincts”. It also plans to explore offering more china cups in its sit-down stores and launching its own reusable cup next year. The move follows chief executive Clive Schlee’s tweet last week that the company was considering increasing the reusable cup discount and asking customers for their thoughts. Writing in his blog, he said: “I was inundated with suggestions, ideas and feedback. Here are five highlights – 96% of the 5,000 respondents to an Instagram Stories poll voted ‘yes’ to the 50p idea. A great many customers recommended we sell a branded reusable cup as well as launching the new discount. Lots suggested we turn the discount on its head and charge for cups instead. The economic theory of loss aversion was mentioned – this says people respond to loss or fear of a penalty much more than they do to a reward or discount. The success of the government’s 5p bag charge was cited as evidence of how effective this can be. A handful of people pointed out china cups ought to be available in more of our shops. It was suggested we set up a loyalty scheme tied to reusable cups. Some wanted us to implant chips into the cups themselves that could measure usage and automatically apply a discount. On the basis of this feedback, Pret is going to do three things – launch the 50p discount in the first week of 2018; source a well-designed reusable cup ready to launch later in 2018; and explore adding china cups to more of our shops with seats. We debated whether charging people for using paper cups felt right. We decided it goes against our instincts as we would prefer to be generous to our customers than tax them. Let’s see what impact the new discount has. Thank you for helping us move forwards!”

Whitbread shares jump 7% after activist investor declares stake, sparking further Costa spin-off suggestions: Whitbread shares jumped more than 7% after a notable activist investor revealed a 3% stake in the company, sparking further suggestions of a spin-off of Costa Coffee. US-based hedge fund Sachem Head Capital Management, which has previously pushed for the breakup of FTSE 100 biotech group Shire, has revealed a 3.4% stake in Whitbread. Suggestions that Costa, which is the largest coffee chain in the UK and is growing internationally, should be spun off from Whitbread have been repeatedly raised over the past two years. The revelation that Sachem, which is headed by founder Scott Ferguson, holds contracts for difference over 6.2 million shares in Whitbread has now put the possibility back on the table, according to analysts. While Ferguson shies away from being called an activist investor, the firm has taken activist positions and pushed for change at some companies it has invested in. Shares in Whitbread closed at 3,990p, up 7.55%.

Airbnb-style commercial kitchen space platform Kitchup hits £100,000 crowdfunding target to expand outside London: Kitchup, an online market place for restaurants in London to find and book commercial kitchens on demand, has hit its £100,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to expand the platform outside the capital. Kitchup, which was founded by Charlie and Emma Jones in 2015, is offering a 10% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 103 investors have pledged £107,451 and the campaign is now “overfunding”. Referred to as “driving an Airbnb-style revolution in London kitchen space”, Kitchup is already working with restaurants including Bill’s and barbecue street food concept Smokestak, as well as Deliveroo. The pitch states: “Kitchup is the UK’s first online managed market place for kitchen space, matching underused commercial kitchens with food businesses. Kitchen users can find and book affordable and flexible space on demand, while kitchen hosts get a secure and simple way to earn extra income from sharing their commercial kitchen. Our mission is to build a global network of kitchen spaces, encouraging a more collaborative and resourceful food industry. We believe we have managed to establish ourselves among some of the big hitters in the food industry as the go-to place for kitchen space. The focus now is to accelerate our growth, consolidate market dominance and expand to new cities in the UK and beyond. Specifically, we intend to use this investment to build a bespoke tech platform, grow our team, and invest in content marketing and paid digital channels to increase brand awareness and get more hosts and users on board.”

Tim Hortons to open four more sites in Greater Manchester area this month: Tim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, is to open four more sites in the Greater Manchester area this month. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of Tim Hortons, will launch at the Golden Square Shopping Centre, Warrington; Mill Gate Shopping Centre, Bury; Cross Street, Altrincham; and Sale. The openings are part of a nationwide roll-out plan with more locations across the country being revealed in the next couple of months. Last week, Tim Hortons revealed it would open its debut UK drive-thru and first site in England in Bury New Road, Manchester. Kevin Hydes, chief finance and commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “We’re delighted to be opening five Tim Hortons restaurants in quick succession in Greater Manchester and the surrounding area.” The first UK Tim Hortons restaurant opened in Argyle Street, Glasgow, in early June and the brand has since added two sites in the city – at the Silverburn shopping centre and Strathkelvin Retail Park. It has also opened a venue in Cardiff. Tim Hortons, which is planning up to 100 UK sites, was founded in 1964 by its namesake, a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create a space where “everyone would feel at home”.

Stonegate appoints new head of digital: Stonegate Pub Company has appointed Mark Hammond as head of digital as part of the company’s drive towards excellence in online marketing and e-commerce. Hammond brings a decade of digital marketing and programme management experience to Stonegate having most recently held the role for four years as chief digital officer at PetsPyjamas, the online website that sells dog-friendly travel, with previous roles held at and Associated Newspapers. Stonegate said Hammond’s experience in developing multi-awarding winning CRM campaigns, driving online revenue, and growing customer databases via social media was a boost to Stonegate’s recent investment in digital. This year, the company has designed new websites for all its formats, rolled out new CRM and online booking systems and innovated customer feedback through digital. Marketing director Nicola Pryce said: “Mark is a welcome addition to the team. His enthusiasm, knowledge and practical way of doing business is exactly what we need to translate our digital investment into consumer engagement and revenue via online. The achievements in his career to date are testament to his skill and commitment.”

Be At One has Brixton site plans rejected: Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar group, has been refused permission to open a site in Brixton, south London. The company applied to Lambeth Council to open the bar on the site of Club 414. However, the council has rejected the application on the grounds it was not in accordance with “policies seeking to support the vibrancy and night-time economy of Brixton”, reports Brixton Buzz. In his report, planning officer Gareth Ball said: “The club has been in operation for more than 30 years and operates as both a discotheque and live music venue hosting local and touring DJs and musicians. It should be noted that although there are other nightclubs in Brixton they are not as established, are of a different size, do not open as late or have a non music-related function such as a cocktail bar, making Club 414 unique among Brixton music venues. The proposed development would result in the loss of the existing nightclub use and the loss of that use without adequate replacement provision would result in the loss of a positive contributor to Brixton town centre’s viability, vitality, character and strategic importance as a night-time economy cluster and cause harm to London’s broader cultural offer.”

Burning Night Group reports food and drink sales double during live sporting events as crowdfunding campaign passes 75% mark: Bar company Burning Night Group has revealed live sport is its most valuable player – with food and drink sales doubling during big matches and tournaments. The company owns and operates six multi-venue Bierkeller Entertainment Complexes across the country, which include sports bar Shooters, Bavarian bar Bierkeller, and Around The World bar and restaurant. It also manages concept bar and grill brands The Potting Shed and FirePit Smokehouse & Sports Bar. Live sports shown on a huge HD screen is a major feature in all the bars, with Premier League football and boxing the biggest draws. Now Burning Night has confirmed its programme of live sports, which also includes golf, cricket, rugby and American football, has played a significant part in its growing profits – and was a key factor in the company’s decision to launch its latest concept – Sportskeller. Operations director Rebecca Eastwood said: “We see an increase in sales of 100% or more when there is live sport showing, depending on the fixture, so it has a very positive impact financially for us.” The sports-driven increase in sales prompted Burning Night Group to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support the roll-out of a new sports-themed concept, Sportskeller, which will combine the live sports elements of Shooters with Bierkeller. Four suitable sites for the first Sportskeller bars have been identified and the company has now raised more than 75% of a £750,000 initial target on Crowdcube. So far, 657 people have invested £566,060 with 11 days remaining. Burning Night Group chief executive Allan Harper said: “With live sports proving such a major sales driver for our bars, we believe the Sportskeller brand will capitalise on that success and offer customers even more by bringing in features from Bierkeller too. The World Cup is coming this summer and we plan to have the first venues open in time so fans who invest will be able to watch the matches in a bar they part-own!”

Esquires Coffee continues expansion with 35th UK site, in Hanley: Esquires Coffee has continued its rapid expansion by opening its 35th site in the UK, this time in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The new store is next to the Intu Potteries shopping centre and features communal tables, downstairs seating and work-friendly tables. The store is open from 8am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 4pm on Sundays. Esquires offers ethically sourced coffee, tea and chocolate alongside healthy, vegan and locally sourced food options. The opening has created 13 jobs. Esquires Coffee opened two stores last month, in Yate, near Bristol, and Liverpool’s. Esquires Coffee was founded in Delta, British Columbia, in 1993.

Caprice Holdings launches premium casual concept Harry’s Dolce Vita in Knightsbridge: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, has launched premium casual concept Harry’s Dolce Vita in Knightsbridge. The restaurant has opened in Basil Street offering seasonal Italian plates and “all the elegance and glamour of 1950s Italy” in a nod to the namesake Harry’s Bar in Mayfair. The menus by chef director Diego Cardoso are “full of unfussy Italian classics bursting with flavour”, with ingredients sourced from Italian suppliers and importers. Copper pans are used to deliver most of the hand-made pasta dishes, while fish and meat dishes include bistecca di manzo ribeye, and chargrilled sea bass fillet with fennel, zucchini, lemon thyme and olive oil. The venue also offers a range of pizzas made using 72-hour proved dough alongside an extensive Italian wine list and classic cocktails.

Veeno to open 18th site, at former Carluccio’s site in Sheffield next week: Italian wine cafe Veeno is to open its 18th site, this time in Sheffield next week. The company, led by Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino, will launch the venue on Thursday, 14 December in Ecclesall Road at a former Carluccio’s site, reports the Sheffield Star. Veeno was founded in Manchester in 2013 and plans to have expanded to 80 sites by the end of 2020.

Other Side Fried to open site at Peckham Levels development: Chicken burger concept Other Side Fried will open a site at the new Peckham Levels development on Friday (8 December). The company is opening the venue on the sixth level of the car park, which is seeing the inner levels transformed into a creative space. Other Side Fried will be joining seven street food traders, a cafe and bars that are all set to launch this month. New dishes created specifically for the site include The OSF (fried chicken topped with brown butter mayo, parmesan, garlic and lettuce) as well as the vegetarian celeriac (fried celeriac, cheese and chive sauce served with a fried egg, pickles and lettuce). Other Side Fried was originally born from the back of a converted British ambulance, still used at its site at street food business Kerb today, alongside permanent sites at Pop Brixton and Dirty South in Lewisham.

Tokyo-style noodle cafe Koya opens second London site, at Bloomberg Arcade: Tokyo-style noodle cafe Koya has opened its second London site, in the new Bloomberg Arcade in the City. Koya closed its Soho restaurant in May 2015, leaving only the adjacent Koya Bar open. Now Koya In The City has launched at Bloomberg’s new headquarters, offering new dishes, a breakfast menu and a saké bar. The main seasonal menu features rotating specials such as sardine tempura, with new dishes including breaded, aged pork loin with cabbage and fruit miso sauce, and crispy fried prawn heads. The bar offers wine and seasonal cocktails created by the Drinks Factory. Koya In The City joins other restaurants at the new dining destination including Brigadiers, a new concept by JKS Restaurants; Hawaiian poké specialist Ahi Poké; Bleecker Burger; restaurant, bar and coffee roasting concept Caravan; better pizza brand Homeslice; and wine bar, restaurant and wine shop Vinoteca.

Crowdfunded vegan artisan food stall ends talks over permanent Fulham site: Vegan artisan food stall Pomodoro e Basilico, which has just raised £163,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open London’s first Italian vegan deli-bistro, has ended talks over a site in Fulham. Founder Sara Mittersteiner said: “As you might know, I have been checking a restaurant in Fulham with the hope I could take over and open the deli sooner than I was expecting. The opportunity was very appealing, especially because this previous business was vegan too and the timing seemed perfect. Unfortunately the landlord of the premises needs to find a tenant by next week and this obviously doesn’t give me enough time to make this happen due to the course of the legal procedure on Crowdcube. This doesn’t worry me, though, as I’m sure I’ll find something at the right time. My research hasn’t stopped in the meantime so hopefully it will be sooner rather than later!” Mittersteiner was offering a 20% equity stake as she looked to raise £150,000 towards opening the vegan deli-bistro.

Former Porky’s BBQ operations manager opens cocktail bar and restaurant in Loughborough: Former Porky’s BBQ operations manager Rebecca Garratt has opened a cocktail bar and restaurant in Loughborough, Leicestershire. Rebecca Garratt and husband Tim, who have more than 28 years of combined experience in the food and drink industry, have launched Slider Town in Clay Pipe Jitty. The venue, which draws inspiration from street food across the world, offers sliders (small burgers) that vary from cheeseburgers to fish and chip butties, and Vietnamese-style pork belly. Tim Garratt told Insider Media: “Sliders and cocktails are a great combination and we are constantly playing around with ingredients to create new ideas and flavours. As for the location, we really wanted to create a secretive, speakeasy feel to the place as we are tucked off the beaten track. We have added frosted glass and limited signage to create that experiential style of visit for customers.”

Sophie’s Smokehouse launches speakeasy bar below new Soho site: Sophie’s Smokehouse has launched a speakeasy bar in the basement of its newly opened bar and grill in Great Windmill Street, Soho. Jack Solomons Club is named after a Soho character whose boxing gym was located on the site in the 1940s and 1950s and features pewter-metal bar counters, shaded velvet furnishings and red leather walls. Customers enter through a hidden door in an after-hours deli and descend the stairs past a glass wall with views of the Sophie’s Smokehouse butchery. In the basement they discover a speakeasy cocktail club on one side and a dance floor on the other. The club specialises in scotch and contemporary cocktails alongside bar snacks and small plates with a focus on seafood. The 390-capacity venue has seating for 150 and features live bands, DJs, one-off events and guest appearances. Sophie Bathgate and Rupert Power launched the Sophie’s Smokehouse concept in Chelsea 15 years ago inspired by New York City steakhouses. The Soho site has just opened in the former Moulin Cinema. The company closed its Covent Garden site in June.

Paskin siblings reopen Soho pub: Siblings Layo and Zoë Paskin, founders of London restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary, have reopened Soho pub The Blue Posts as a three-storey venue that features a kitchen counter and cocktail bar. The ground floor of the Georgian building in Rupert Street houses the main pub while the beer cellar has been transformed into Evelyn’s Table, which seats 11 diners who receive meals directly from the kitchen counter. Cocktail lounge The Mulwray is on the first floor and features marble, brass and a wood-burning stove, Hot Dinners reports. Nacho Pinilla, former executive chef at The Barbary, heads the kitchen. The Paskins launched coffee shop concept Jacob The Angel in Seven Dials in August.

Covent Garden restaurant and wine bar owners launch sister site: Ian Campbell and Will Palmer, who operate The 10 Cases restaurant and wine bar in Covent Garden, have opened a fish restaurant in the same street for their second site. Campbell and Palmer have launched Parsons – in honour of their mothers, who share the same maiden name – in Endell Street offering 32 covers with room for a further 18 outside. The menu includes two catches of the day alongside squid, clams, oysters, sardines, sea bass and turbot. The drinks list focuses on white wine to accompany the fish dishes, while there is standing space for customers who simply want wine and snacks before moving on. Campbell and Palmer opened The 10 Cases in 2011, expanding next door to open a wine shop and launching the Drop Wine app – a wine delivery service.

Linda Lee launches Korean ‘table and market’ concept in Soho: Restaurateur Linda Lee has launched a Korean “table and market” concept in Soho. Mee Market has opened in Archer Street in partnership with Code Hospitality. The venue is split over two levels and offers a poké rice and salad bar, and a hot counter for stews, hot pots and side dishes. The venue also sells Asian dry foods, fresh vegetables and frozen food, while signature dishes are available from Lee’s fine dining restaurant Koba and her street food brand On the Bab. Downstairs, the venue offers branded homeware, accessories and stationery, as well as an 18-cover dining space. Lee launched Koba in 2005 in Fitzrovia before opening Japanese restaurant Nizuni nearby and Nizuni Go in Marylebone. Deciding to focus on the cuisine of her native Korea she launched On The Bab, which currently has four London sites.

Street food operator launches aviation-themed cafe bar concept in Beverley: Lucie Mountain, who operates street food business Crêpe Lucette at major music festivals across the UK, has launched a 1950s-style aviation-themed cafe bar concept in Beverley, Yorkshire. The former air hostess has opened The Cockpit Cafe in Wednesday Market at a site formerly occupied by The Beehive restaurant. The venue offers cocktails from international destinations such as Paris and New York served from authentic aircraft trolleys by staff in air hostess-style uniforms. Vintage suitcases have been turned into tables, while a propeller-style clock sits above the bar. Crepes appear on the daytime menu, while evening offerings include sharing platters with Mediterranean, Greek, Spanish and Mexican food. Mountain told the Hull Daily Mail: “I wanted to create a unique destination for people to escape to. It’s quirky and fun and we’re really excited about it. There are a lot of restaurants in Beverley where people can eat and drink but not many nice cafe bars.”

Greene King wins apprenticeship award: Brewer and retailer Greene King has won the best apprenticeship category at the Training Journal Awards, which celebrate and recognise the best in learning and development practices. The awards, now in their 12th year, recognise the “ingenuity, creativity, passion and hard work of learning and development professionals from around the world”. Greene King was the only company in the pub industry to feature on the shortlist. Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised and celebrated for our apprenticeship programme. We passionately believe in apprenticeships and the role they play within our business and the wider industry. We’re proud to represent the pub industry through being recognised by the Training Journal Awards.” Greene King launched its apprenticeship programme in 2011, with 9,000 apprentices completing the programme so far and a further 2,600 apprentices currently in training.

Serani Hotels acquires Peak District hotel for debut site: Serani Hotels has acquired its first site – The Derbyshire Hotel in the Peak District – from US-based Starwood Capital for more than £10m. The venue will undergo a £3.2m refurbishment in the next 12 months to be rebranded as a Holiday Inn, including a signature restaurant and new Starbucks lounge. Countrywide Hotels has been appointed to manage and develop the four-star, 157-bedroom hotel, which previously operated under the Principal Hotel Company’s De Vere collection. The hotel currently offers a restaurant, bar, leisure club with pool, gym and treatment rooms, and 14 flexible events spaces catering for weddings, celebrations and conferences of up to 250 guests. Ravi Ruparelia and Rajiv Nathwani founded Serani Hotels in May and said they have further acquisitions planned for 2018.

BaxterStorey to introduce street food-style pop-ups in Newcastle offices: Contract catering company BaxterStorey is introducing street food-style pop-ups at manufacturing specialist TechnipFMC Umbilicals after being appointed to supply its new offices in Newcastle. The pop-ups will include Kansas-inspired barbecue meat from Rib Shack, gourmet hotdogs from Hound Dog, and customisable burritos from Mexican Kitchen. The new offices house a specially designed restaurant and cafe where BaxterStorey offers freshly prepared meals and snacks made from locally sourced produce. BaxterStorey also provides hospitality services such as lunches and barista-served drinks from its in-house brand Down To Earth Coffee. BaxterStorey regional managing director Jeremy Wood said: “Our chef development teams worked closely with Technip FMC to build a bespoke package and introduced the company to the well-being benefits a tailored service can bring to the workplace. We believe our innovative approach to foodservice, local sourcing and seasonal ingredients will make a real difference to their staff.”