Former Nando’s and Geronimo Inns directors launch Middle Eastern concept Bababoom in Battersea: Two former Nando’s directors have teamed up with ex-Geronimo Inns food director Jono Jenkins to launch Middle Eastern restaurant concept Bababoom in Battersea, south London. Jenkins has opened the new restaurant in Battersea Rise with Eve Bugler, who was interim commercial director at Nando’s India, and former Nando’s regional managing director Travis Fish. The short menu focuses on kebabs cooked on a Mangal grill and served with Persian flatbreads or salad. A concise drinks list includes wine, craft beer and cocktails. On the Bababoom website Bugler, Fish and Jenkins state: “Together, we’ve spent more than 30 years working in food and along the way we’ve become rather opinionated. We love real food, big flavours, cooking over fire, outdoor adventures and doing things the right way. Our pillow-y Persian flatbreads are topped with hearty portions of higher-welfare, charcoal-grilled meat and their punchy vegetable sidekicks. We love combining Middle Eastern flavours with quality British produce and serving you generous plates of food all day long, from downright delicious brunch to late-night feasts.”
American barbecue brand Bodean’s to open eighth site as part of London roll-out, in Muswell Hill: American barbecue diner-deli brand Bodean’s is set to open its eighth site, this time in Muswell Hill in October. The venue is opening in Muswell Hill Broadway on the former site of Giraffe as part of the restaurant’s ongoing roll-out across London. The 75-cover restaurant will specialise in the brand’s home-smoked meats, bourbon and all-American dining. Plates of Jacob’s Ladder rack of ribs and burnt ends will sit alongside an extensive drinks list of cocktails, bourbon and craft beer. Open for lunch and dinner, Bodean’s said the average spend was £21 per head. Founder André Blais said: “We are delighted to continue our roll out of Bodean’s across London. Muswell Hill is perfectly positioned in a high footfall location with a great local crowd and lots of families. North London is an area we’ve wanted to explore for a long time and we are looking forward to bringing authentic Kansas City barbecue to Muswell Hill.” A further two sites are planned to open in London during the next 12 months.
Wales-based coffee company Hi Coffee to launch new concept as it opens first high street site, in Newport: Wales-based coffee company Hi Coffee is launching a new concept as it prepares to open its first high street site, in Newport. The company is opening the 650 square foot unit on Friday (26 August) in Millennium Plaza at the City Vizion development. The cafe/bar will also include a selection of wines and beers to complement the menu. The first Hi Coffee outlet opened three years ago at Newport railway station and the company has since embarked on an expansion programme, securing opportunities to open additional units across north and south Wales at a number of mainline stations. Hi Coffee managing director Jonathan Hill told the Free Press: “We have been working hard to develop our brand and offering during the past three years and have come a long way since we began. Although it remains a strong intention of ours to continue to roll out our national presence throughout rail and travel sectors in Wales, particularly with our marked expansion into North Wales stations later this year, it has been a strong desire of ours to branch away from the railway line. Opening our first full-format outlet has been particularly close to my heart – not only because I’m a proud resident of Newport, but because Newport is where my business started three years ago, on platform four.”
New World Trading Company to open tenth Botanist site, in Sheffield city centre in October: New World Trading Company, which was acquired by mid-market private equity firm Graphite Capital in a £50m deal in June, will open its tenth site for The Botanist brand, this time in Sheffield city centre. The 10,000 square foot bar and restaurant will be arranged over the ground, first and second floors of a grade II-listed building in Leopold Square. The venue will also feature a large outside seating area and offer a private dining room catering for events, business meetings, and cocktail and ale masterclasses. The opening in October will create up to 100 jobs. New World Trading Company chief executive Chris Hill told BDaily: “We are incredibly excited to bring The Botanist concept to Sheffield. The character and atmosphere of Leopold Square is the perfect location for our brand and we look forward to making Sheffield our next home.” Founded in 2011 by the owners of Living Ventures Group – the late Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts – New World Trading Company now operates 14 pub/restaurants nationally under five sub brands: The Botanist, The Oast House, Smugglers Cove, The Trading House and The Club House. The other Botanist sites are in Manchester, Chester, Alderley Edge, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Marlow, Farnham and, most recently, Knutsford. There are also plans to open venues in Reading and York.
Azzurri Group opens Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury following ASK Italian conversion: Azzurri Group has converted its ASK Italian restaurant in Salisbury to its Zizzi brand. The company has reopened the site in Castle Street following a refurbishment, creating 15 jobs. Zizzi stated on its website: “Our Salisbury restaurant features an open pizza oven, comfy seating and our signature birch trees. It also features an illustrated mural created by Saroj Patel, which has been inspired by the local gothic architecture of the cathedral and crop.” Zizzi has about 140 restaurants across the UK, with the Salisbury site being its first in Wiltshire.
Leon moves to 100% renewable energy: Natural fast food brand Leon has switched to a green energy deal made up of 100% renewable energy. The company is working in partnership with Opus Energy, based in Northampton and Oxford, which purchases renewable energy from more than 2,000 independent generators. Sources include wind turbines and solar panels, as well as hydro and anaerobic digestion. Leon marketing director Kirsty Saddler said: “At Leon we want our food to taste good, do you good and make you feel good. But more than that, we want to bring it to you in a way that is kind to the planet. We are a company driven by positivity and purpose. We constantly challenge ourselves to see if we can do better and have moved to a 100% renewable energy contract, even though it wasn’t the cheapest offer on the table. We are determined to invest in the future, rather than just the bottom line.” Steve James, director of corporate solutions at Opus Energy, added: “Partnering with a company with such a clear ambition on its renewable policy, making a conscience choice in a highly competitive market, is refreshing for the industry. Leon is based on natural products and by using our 100% renewable tariff, Leon is tapping into a sustainable, clean energy source that lives up to its reputation as a fair and ethical business.” The contract covers all Leon-owned stores where the energy contract is not managed by a third party.
MOD Pizza gets go-ahead for Nottingham site: Fast casual artisan pizza brand MOD Pizza has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Nottingham. The company, which launched in the UK earlier this year, has been granted permission for the restaurant in Old Market Square on the site of the former Schuh unit, creating about 15 jobs. Co-founder Ally Svenson told The Business Desk: “Launching MOD in the United Kingdom feels, in many ways, like we are bringing it home. While we are very proud of the incredible pizza we serve, the MOD movement is about so much more. We judge our success not by the number of stores we open but the number of lives we can impact, which is why we are so excited to continue our growth. Our product may be pizza, but our purpose is people.” MOD Pizza currently has two sites – in Leeds and Brighton – with restaurants also due to open in London and Newcastle by the end of the year.
Prezzo becomes first restaurant brand to open in new-look Ipswich shopping centre: Prezzo has become the first restaurant brand to open at the new-look Buttermarket Centre in Ipswich. Wagamama, Loungers brand Cosy Club, better burger brand Byron, and The Restaurant Group-owned Coast to Coast are all set to open later this month at the town centre complex. The Buttermarket’s former food court is being converted into a Pure Gym and work is under way to fit-out a 12-screen Empire Cinema that will include several smaller screens which could be used for specialist films or second-run showings. The centre’s owners – Capital & Regional and Drum Property Group – have invested £35m in the redevelopment. Capital & Regional executive director Ken Ford told the Ipswich Star: “We are now well advanced in our plans to expand, modernise and reposition Buttermarket as a retail and leisure destination in the heart of Ipswich. A compelling family dining offer is integral to this, and we are very pleased with the mix of national, quality brands.”
Norfolk-based operator converts pub into wine bar after JD Wetherspoon arrival: Norfolk-based operator Suzy Fowler is converting her pub in Gorleston into a wine bar following the arrival of JD Wetherspoon in the town. Fowler is reopening The Three Tuns, an ale house since 1835, under the new format on Saturday (27 August). She said Wetherspoon’s decision to come to Gorleston had been a factor in her decision to make the changes after running the pub for 18 months and “throwing good money after bad”. Bar snacks will be replaced with sharing treats such as a cheese board. She told the Eastern Daily Press: “It means it will be something completely different, where you can have a bottle of wine, low lighting and personal service at your table.”
Yorkshire-based Ambiente Tapas to open fourth site, in Hull: Yorkshire-based independent tapas restaurant Ambiente Tapas is to open its fourth site, in Hull. The company, which offers “gourmet Mediterranean tapas with a Yorkshire twist”, is opening the venue in Humber Street. It said its restaurants have been inspired by traditional Spanish “tabancos”, while its menus provide a wide range of tapas delivered with its own “Ambiente twist”. The opening marks the first of many new businesses that will soon start to operate in Humber Street, as part of the area’s £80m regeneration, which has been unveiled as part of an “urban village” vision for the area. Ambiente Tapas has two sites in York and one in Leeds.
Good Food Society founders launch Turkish street food concept in Marylebone: Yosma, a Turkish meyhane and mangal concept serving Istanbul-inspired street food, has launched in Marylebone. The 150-cover venue comes from restaurateurs Levent Buyukugur and Sanjay Nandi, founders of The Good Food Society, which operates Ristorante Frescobaldi London in Mayfair with Italy’s oldest wine dynasty, the Frescobaldis. For the group’s second project, the menu at the 4,814 square foot venue in Baker Street is divided into cold meze, hot starters, mangal, clay oven dishes, and sides. The venue also features coal pits for roasting lamb and cooking fish delivered daily from Cornwall. Dishes by head chef Hus Vedat, previously of Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, include Pancar (pit-roasted golden beetroot with garlic, olive oil and dill), and Dana Kaburga (short rib of beef wrapped in caul fat with pickled cucumber). The venue also features a lounge bar with a raki-based cocktail list. Yosma is open for lunch and dinner, with breakfast launching at a later date.
York-based coffee shop to start expansion with second site in city: York-based coffee shop Spring Espresso is set to start expansion by opening its second site in the city. Steve Dyson, who launched the concept in Fossgate five years ago, is opening the new venue in an empty unit in Lendal, creating 20 jobs. The site is being refurbished with the original awning – dating from the start of the last century – undergoing restoration. Dyson said the shop would be about the same size as the Fossgate site but he expected to attract more commuters because it was on the main route to the train station. He told York Mix: “I don’t know if I would (open another) in York after this, because there are a lot of coffee shops in York – you can have too much of a good thing. We might look somewhere else – but it depends how much this takes out of me!”
Punch spends £1.2m on Scarborough and Whitby pubs as part of £45m UK investment: Punch has invested more than £1.2m in pubs in the Scarborough and Whitby area since last year. The Dolphin Hotel in the centre of Whitby and the Dickens Bar and Inn in Scarborough town have both benefited from the investment. The Dickens Bar and Inn, which was previously known as the Pickwick, has been transformed with everything replaced and redecorated, including floors, walls and ceilings alongside new lighting and fixtures and fittings. The spend is part of Punch’s £45m investment in its pubs throughout the UK. Punch has already spent nearly £800,000 this year alone in the Highlands in Scotland and a further £1.2m in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. Punch said it planned to continue to invest throughout the UK during the next financial year. Chief executive Duncan Garrood said: “Competition for customers in the leisure and hospitality industry has never been fiercer and pubs have to keep up to remain relevant. Our investment in our pubs is designed to place them at the centre of their communities and give them every advantage against their competitors. I’m delighted we have had the opportunity to invest so heavily in the Scarborough and Whitby area and hope our customers reap the benefits.”
PizzaExpress to open site at Gretna shopping centre: PizzaExpress is set to open a restaurant at a shopping centre in Gretna, Scotland. The company is opening the venue at the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village early next year. It has submitted a licensing application to Dumfries and Galloway Council for the proposed restaurant, reports the News & Star. PizzaExpress opened its first restaurant in 1965 and has more than 400 branches in the UK and overseas. This would be its first site in Dumfries and Galloway.
Belfast-based pub operator to open second site in city: Belfast-based pub operator Pedro Donald is to open his second site in the city. Donald, who owns the Sunflower in Union Street, has acquired The American bar in Sailortown, which closed in 2013 after 140 years. The American features a downstairs public bar with an upstairs lounge and Donald hopes to reopen the site, which he said would retain its original name, by October. He told Sunday Life: “The Sunflower has worked, so the staff and myself were keen to do something else. I fancied a new challenge and I’ve always liked that part of town. It will probably lean towards Americana but the whole lot, from the bottom of Argentina to Alaska, not just the US. The American won’t just be a Sunflower II – it will very much have it’s own identity and do it’s own thing. It will, of course, have the same ethos as Sunflower though – a decent pub with good music and good beer.”
Thai Leisure Group to bring Thaikhun brand to Wales with Cardiff opening: Thai Leisure Group is set to bring its Thaikhun brand to Cardiff – its first site in Wales. The company has applied to the city council for a premises licence to open the restaurant in the Grand Arcade at St David’s shopping centre, reports Wales Online. Thaikhun aims to bring authentic Thai street food from the streets of Bangkok to the UK. The brand currently has eight sites, with restaurants also lined up for Bath and Southampton as part of expansion plans. Thai Leisure Group, which is jointly owned by Thai chef Kim Kaewkraikhot and British entrepreneur Martin Stead, also operates the Chaophraya, ChaoBaby and Yee Rah brands.
Papa John’s launches lower-fat cheese topping following customer feedback: Papa John’s has launched a lower-fat cheese topping following feedback from a recent survey that revealed its customers want a lighter option. The lower-fat cheese contains one-third less fat than regular cheese. Gareth Davies, regional vice-president for western Europe and Papa John’s UK, said: “We’re always tinkering with new menu items and recipes, and this is a great option for people who prefer pizza on the lighter side. You won’t find any processed, low-calorie ingredients because our menu items are made from the same better ingredients our customers expect. This means customers can now enjoy lower-fat cheese pizza, combined with other lighter options on Papa John’s menu, such as Snog frozen yogurt or new chargrilled corn on the cob.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has more than 4,800 stores in 40 international markets and territories, including 300-plus in the UK.
Brighton chef to turn pop-up restaurant into permanent venture: Brighton chef Isaac Bartlett-Copeland is to turn his pop-up restaurant into a permanent venture in the city. Bartlett-Copeland launched his eponymous pop-up Isaac At in Gloucester Street 18 months ago, offering diners set menus on a Friday and Saturday. Now the pop-up has closed with the venue being refurbished in preparation for its permanent launch on Friday, 9 September. The revamp includes expanding the open kitchen so guests can feel part of the action. Bartlett-Copeland and his team have also been working on a new four-course set menu alongside the full tasting menu. He told The Argus: “I’ve always been very ambitious but in a way that’s helped me push myself. To help build the formula for my perfect restaurant, I took inspiration from my old college tutor in London – he had a Michelin star when he was younger. He told me to get a book and go to all the best restaurants in the world and write down what I love and hate about them. It seems simple but I started doing that, which is why I eat absolutely everywhere. The impact that has is quite astounding as you really start to understand what makes a restaurant fantastic, on top of the food you’re creating.”
Harviestoun enters cans market following record sales driven by craft lager: Harviestoun Brewery said record sales, driven by its multi-award-winning craft lager Schiehallion, had led the company to expand into the cans market for the first time. Harviestoun, which has achieved an increase in turnover of more than 50% in the past two years, said Schiehallion and golden ale Bitter and Twisted were the first of its core range to enter the new format, with Scottish listings in 80 Tesco and 95 Sainsbury’s stores. The first batch of 41,500 cans have been launched into stores, with a UK-wide roll-out expected in the coming months. Harviestoun’s production has also doubled in recent times, to 4.5 million pints a year. Harviestoun managing director Toby Knowles said: “The past 12 months have been an incredibly exciting period of growth for Harviestoun. During this time we have never lost sight of our commitment to consistency, flavour and quality, which is why we believe Harviestoun continues to grow in popularity.”
Casual Dining Group opens 53rd Las Iguanas site, in Braintree: Las Iguanas, the Latin American restaurant brand owned by Casual Dining Group, has opened its 53rd site, in Braintree, Essex. The venue is in the Freeport Designer Village dining zone, nestled between the cinema and the prime shopping district. The decor takes its inspiration from the Las Iguanas team’s recent travels in South America and features comfortable booths and leather banquette seating against a backdrop of sunshine shades of yellow, sky blue and turquoise. As well as a variety of classic South American and Mexican dishes, Las Iguanas has launched a limited edition, authentic Brazilian menu for the summer inspired by Cariocas, the inhabitants of Rio. These include mini picanha churasco, coconut chicken, xinxim, and chocolatey brigadeiro. There is also a selection of new cocktails, including “Hombre Bombre” (Chivas Regal, Las Iguanas Magnifica cachaça, pineapple juice and ginger syrup) and “Pisco Power” (ABA Pisco, guava purée, agave, and apple and lime juice).
Northern Ireland-based social enterprise cafe operator opens third site in Lisburn: Lisburn-based social enterprise cafe operator Stepping Stones NI is to open its third site in the city after partnering with a leading chef. Stepping Stones NI will team up with Paula McIntyre to launch The Courtyard Cafe in Seymour Street on Monday, 12 September. McIntyre ran her own restaurant in Manchester before returning to Northern Ireland in 1998, where she worked as head chef in several venues including Ghan House in Carlingford and Fontana in Holywood. She told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am delighted to be partnering with Stepping Stones NI for the launch of the Courtyard Cafe. The staff team is extremely talented and I am amazed at their passion and motivation. Together we have developed new breads, soups, salads and meals for Lisburn diners to enjoy.” Stepping Stones NI also operates The Avenue Coffee House and Stepping Stones Coffee Shop in Lisburn.
Former Tennent Caledonian chief executive Brian Calder joins Inverarity Morton board: Brian Calder, former chief executive of C&C Group-owned Tennent Caledonian, has joined drinks distributor Inverarity Morton as a non-executive director. Inverarity Morton managing director Stephen Russell said Calder would look at ways to improve the product offering and operational productivity. Russell added: “Brian is an incredibly astute businessman and knows the trade (and) the market place inside out. He made a very bold, but canny decision to completely reshape (Wallaces Express) and then steered it over a relatively short time to become the most successful wholesaler in Scotland. At the time of the C&C acquisition, Wallaces had a turnover of £90m and employed more than 300 people. We have asked him to conduct a full audit of the business, looking into every nook and cranny – from the product range to systems and policies.” Calder joined Wallaces in 1975 and, alongside David Cosh, helped build the pub and retail business before it moved into drinks wholesaling as Wallaces Express in the mid-1980s. Calder became managing director of Wallaces in 2000 and staged a management buyout of the company with Chris Cosh in 2003, which was then sold to C&C in 2014. He stepped down as chief executive a year later.
Whitbread submits plans for 61-bedroom Premier Inn in Penzance: Whitbread has submitted plans for a 61-bedroom Premier Inn in Penzance, Cornwall. The company has applied to Cornwall Council to convert Branwells Mill into a hotel and restaurant, creating 16 jobs. If approved, the Premier Inn is expected to open in late 2017/early 2018. Paul Smith, acquisition manager for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, told the West Briton: “We have taken a lot of time to design an excellent hotel building and I am certain our proposals will make a positive, long-term contribution to the success of Penzance.”
Provenance Tapas opens all-day tapas bar in Nottingham: Provenance Tapas, which is based in Nottingham and owns the Iberico World Tapas concept, has opened a new all-day tapas bar in the city. The company has launched Bar Iberico in Carlton Street, Hockley, on the former site of restaurant Pico. It offers a “relaxed, tapas bar-style atmosphere” serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as Spanish draught beer and sherry. Provenance owns Iberico World Tapas sites in Nottingham and Derby and is also behind the World Service Restaurant, which is based in Nottingham’s Castle Gate. Provenance Tapas director Dan Lindsay told The Business Desk: “It is very exciting to be launching a new tapas bar in Nottingham, bringing a different experience for those who love tapas and Iberico. While Bar Iberico will still incorporate the great-quality food and dining experience Iberico has become renowned for, the bar will have a much more laid-back atmosphere.”