Living Ventures co-founder Danny Fox eyes sub-brand spin-offs following £1m Cheshire restaurant launch: Living Ventures co-founder Danny Fox said he is eyeing sub-brand spin-offs following the opening of his £1m eponymous gourmet restaurant in Cheshire. Fox is a 120-cover, 4,000 square foot restaurant in Hale Barns, near Altrincham, offering meat and fish from an open grill, alongside pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven. Fox, who grew up locally, is making use of his surname, using it for playful effect in the venue with “Look Foxy” messages on mirrors in the ladies’ bathroom and sugar sachets stating: “You’re a Fox.” He said: “Short, punchy names always work well for restaurants. The idea is that, as the brand grows, there are lots of sub-brands that might come off it, like Vixen and Cub.” Fox founded Living Ventures with Jeremy Roberts and the late Tim Bacon. Fox said: “Everything we built with Tim over the years was this principle of creating the ‘third place’, a place to socialise after work and home. It seemed we could carve a niche here and create a city centre feel in the suburbs.” Fox helped grow the Living Room bar chain before selling it to Premium Bars and Restaurants. He was also operations director at Individual Restaurant Company, which operates 32 sites nationally.




Tokyo Industries operations director Nigel Holliday steps down: Nigel Holliday, operations director of Tokyo Industries, the 32-strong bar and nightclub company led by Aaron Mellor, has stepped down. In a Facebook post, he stated: “I will be starting a new role and some new projects in the north east. I have had an amazing time and am extremely proud of the venues we have opened over the years. The driving just takes its toll and I won’t miss the drive back up at 5am and A1 road closures. I wish Aaron Mellor, Rob Halliday and Caroline Halliday the best of luck and will miss working with you guys. A big thank you to all my brilliant managers past and present. We could not have done so much without the hours of work and dedication you all have put in. I continue to own Tup Tup Palace (Newcastle) with Matthew Smyth, James Jukes, Nick Woodhead and Aaron Mellor.”




Time Well Spent pub group signs free-of-tie deal for historic Surrey pub: Agent Savills, on behalf of a private family estate, has let the Punchbowl Inn, near Ockley, Surrey, to independent pub group Time Well Spent on a new free-of-tie lease agreement. The grade II-listed, 17th century pub comprises a three-section bar and restaurant on the ground floor and a first-floor function room, with additional seating in an external terrace and beer garden. The pub on the Surrey and Sussex border retains many original features, including an inglenook fireplace and flagstone floor. Time Well Spent was established in 2002 by husband and wife Marc and Maureen Jones. The business operates a number of leased and freehold pub restaurants in Surrey and Sussex, with a focus on good-quality drinking venues with food offers in semi-rural locations. Its pubs include the Sportsman in Mogador, the Black Horse in Reigate, and the Plough & Furrow in Smallfield, all in Surrey. Marc Jones said: “Time Well Spent is very happy to secure this beautiful Surrey pub. It is a fantastic example of a wonderful British public house and, with some gentle refurbishing, it will provide a great asset for the local community and surrounding area.”




Dark Star Brewing set to open its fourth Sussex pub: Sussex-based Dark Star Brewing Co is set to open its fourth pub in the county, this time in Haywards Heath. The Lockhart Tavern will open on Tuesday, 1 November in The Broadway, joining its sister sites The Evening Star in Brighton, The Partridge in Partridge Green, and The Anchor Tap in Horsham. In June, Dark Star director Nick Pyle told Propel he was looking to take the company to the “next level”, citing acquisition as a potential route to solving its production constraints. Having moved to a 16,400 square foot site in Partridge Green in 2010, the brewery quickly chewed up the capacity and the company has been searching for another site to match demand. Pyle said: “We’ve invested a great deal of time looking at new sites, both leasehold and freehold, without success. While that search will continue, we’ll also be looking to explore the acquisition route to fast-track our progress. In 2010, we thought we had ‘future-proofed’ ourselves, but we got it wrong and the demand for beer has far outstripped what we can brew and has meant we’ve been unable to pursue some interesting brewing ideas and developments.” Pyle added that further pub openings were in the pipeline.




‘Fast casual lunch’ firm Zucla closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £160,000 above target: Zucla, which creates “fresh and healthy tailored lunches cooked in front of you” at its Fleet Street theatre kitchen, has closed its fund-raise campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising £250,000 – smashing its £90,000 target – with almost two weeks still to run. The company, founded by Dev Shah, was offering a 20.83% equity stake in return for the investment to raise funds to launch more sites. It has now closed the campaign, with 148 investors pledging £250,000. The largest investment was £35,000. Zucla said it had served more than 40,000 lunches since launching in January and seen 14% monthly revenue growth. The pitch stated: “Within 12 months of closing this funding round, we aim to open two more sites. With two sites up and running we see sales projections for year-end 2017 of more than £1.1m having served over 200,000 lunches. Our three-year outlook is to create eight sites in total. The funds will be used to open a second site. The third site and onwards we aim to fund from retained earnings and either lease financing or bank loans. To date, the directors have invested more than £215,000, plus an interest-free loan of £30,000 from family and lease financing (less than £50,000). Zucla serves “real food” to people who care about what they eat! Fresh, healthy food cooked right in front of you in our theatre kitchen. Each of our dishes can be tailored and served in minutes. Fleet Street London, our first site, is where we offer a large variety from three distinct zones – wok/stir-fry, curry and salads. Customers have thousands of permutations to bespoke their lunch. Zucla aims to create a new segment – fast casual lunch.”




Ultracomida to launch tapas restaurant, bar and deli concept in Cardiff at firm’s third Welsh site: Spanish deli and restaurant Ultracomida will launch a new concept – The Curado Bar – in Cardiff city centre next month, the company’s third site in Wales. The Curado Bar is due to open by Saturday, 5 November – in time for the Wales versus Australia rugby union test match in the nearby Millennium Stadium – at a 3,000 square foot former Burger King site in Westgate Street, creating 20 jobs. The Ceredigion-based company operates restaurant-delis in Aberystwyth and Narbeth as well as operating an online mail order service for Spanish food and drink. The Curado Bar will offer dishes such as warm goat’s cheese on toast with apple chutney, and rosemary torta topped with blue cheese and honey. The deli’s shelves will be full of Spanish cured meat, cheese, wine and sherry. The expansion into Cardiff has been supported by £400,000 in debt finance from Barclays Bank, Wales Online reports. The Curado Bar describes its offer as: “Combining the bustle and flair of the traditional Basque country pintxos bar culture with modern craft beers and traditional skills of ham carving, cheese selling and wine tasting.” The venue has also struck a supply contract with a Spanish brewery.




Benito’s Hat launches table service: Benito’s Hat has introduced table service at all its sites apart from King’s Cross. The Mexican group is also launching a new evening Fiesta menu. A spokesman said: “This is a significant milestone in Benito’s growth, which currently has six sites in London.” Dishes on the Fiesta menu include a pulled-pork Mexican sandwich with home-pickled red onions and chipotle mayonnaise, the enormous El Presidente Burrito, and Churros con Chocolate.




Liverpool multi-siters to open third site for Japanese restaurant and bar concept Mr Miyagi: A group of Liverpool multi-site operators is set to open a third site in the region for its Japanese restaurant and bar concept Mr Miyagi. The brand already has two sites in Liverpool, its debut venue in Bold Street in the city centre, which launched in May 2015, and a second site in Allerton Road, which opened in March. The new restaurant will open in Derby Street in Ormskirk, near Southport, early next year at a site formerly occupied by the Cafe Bar. The brand describes itself as “Japanese soul food that meets ghetto Asian with Asian comfort food served to a Motown soundtrack”. It offers Japanese-style food with buns, skewers, fried chicken, small plates and ramen, alongside bespoke cocktails. It recently launched a late-night menu to accompany its late-night music lounge events – “Soul, Beats, Liquor & Eats”. The multi-siters also operate Mexican restaurant Lucha Libre in Wood Street, Liverpool, as well as Berry and Rye, Jenny’s Bar and Aloha in the city.




Swansea-based Gower Brewery fails to reach crowdfunding target: Swansea-based Gower Brewery has failed in its bid to raise £350,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to double capacity. The company, which was founded in 2011, was offering a 12.28% equity stake in return for the investment. However, it failed to secure the investment it was looking for. A message from Crowdcube stated: “Unfortunately, Gower Brewery did not reach its funding target before the closing date.” The brewer has grown from a back-of-the pub startup to an award-winning brewery, which has sold more than 700,000 pints of beer across five countries in the past 12 months. The pitch stated: “Over the next 12 months, using the funds raised (plus a £750,000 investment to install the new bottling line), we are aiming to double our brewing capacity to meet the demand for our beers, and introduce a new range of kegged products, where we anticipate our sales revenue to increase to £1.5m. We will develop a new range of keg products that will fit with the current beer trends and growth of the keg sector, to be promoted by a new national account manager. We will have increased operational efficiency due to the brewing and packaging all being in-house. We will develop sales throughout the UK by working with supermarkets and wholesalers as well as bring on a dedicated sales team. This will be achieved by working with wholesalers and the additional sales resource of a national account manager, who will be based in London.”




London Shell Co to launch floating restaurant at Paddington: The London Shell Co, which operated a number of pop-ups around London, is set to launch its first permanent site – a floating restaurant in Paddington. The restaurant will open on Regent’s Canal on Thursday, 3 November, with dinner served either moored or on the move. The menu will focus on seasonal seafood and game, with dishes including Morecambe Bay oysters with mignonette of cucumber, celery, chilli and Moscatel vinegar; smoked cod’s roe and burnt leek on toast; and blood cake with queen scallops and pea puree. The drinks menu will feature wine and spirits, with five, London-focused cocktails using sherry, fortified wine and British vermouth, Hot Dinners reports. The London Shell Co will be open for lunch and cruising dinners from Wednesday to Friday, the cruising dinner leaving from Paddington at 7.30pm, with welcome drinks available from 6.30pm. The two-and-a-half-hour cruise will take guests along Regent’s Canal to Camden Lock and back again.




Oldham’s £37m Old Town Hall development opens with 800-seat cinema and restaurants: Oldham’s £37m Old Town Hall development has opened, featuring a multiplex Odeon cinema with 800 seats and seven screens, and seven family-friendly restaurants. Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has opened its site, with other brands including Nando’s, and Gourmet Burger Kitchen to follow as well as cafe bar brand Loungers, which will open Molino Lounge at the complex later this year. Work to transform the grade II-listed Old Town Hall has taken three years and the multiplex is the first cinema in Oldham town centre for more than 30 years. The property was named in Britain’s top ten most endangered buildings in 2009 and had lain empty since 1995. Over the years it became riddled with wet and dry rot and inhabited by hundreds of pigeons. Work to preserve the building’s heritage included a magistrates’ court room, which has been converted into the cinema while retaining original features. Oldham council contributed £26.3m towards the project. Council leader Jean Stretton told Manchester Evening News: “It is straightforward to build a cinema on an industrial estate but to do it in an old building like this is completely different. It is already having an impact because we have 230 new jobs and 80% of those people live in Oldham, plus it will contribute more than £5m a year to Oldham’s economy.”




Former L’Enclume chef launches first venture, in Stockport: Samuel Buckley, a former chef at the two Michelin-starred L’Enclume restaurant in Cumbria, has launched his first venture in his home town of Stockport, Greater Manchester. Buckley, who has also worked for Gary Rhodes, has opened That’s Where The Light Gets In on the site of a former Victorian coffee warehouse in Rostron Brow. There is no published menu at the 50-cover restaurant, instead there is an eight-course menu that includes homemade bread and a pre-dinner cocktail. The venue features a fine dining restaurant on the top floor, a cafe-cum-grocers below it, and a gin parlour in the basement. Made from scratch, dishes are a celebration of fresh local food as well as the traditional techniques used to store and age it. Buckley told the Manchester Evening News: “Cooking at L’Enclume rubbed off on me – the natural approach rather than the modernist approach. (I like to) encourage people to embrace the food they have in their area and to remember what people did before fridges and artificial flavours.”




Indian street food restaurant Chai Street to start expansion with second Cardiff site: Indian street food restaurant Chai Street is set to start expansion by opening a second branch in Cardiff, this time in the city centre. The diner launched its debut restaurant in Cowbridge Road East in the Canton suburb and recently extended the venue because of its popularity, Wales Online reports. The new all-day venue in High Street will offer Chai Street’s signature thalis alongside other street food dishes such as Indian rolls, poricha kozhi, Cochin-style fried chicken fillets coated with aromatic spices, and keema bhatura, a Punjabi recipe featuring thick leavened fried bread served with spiced mince. Desserts include Gulab jamun, an Indian version of a doughnut immersed in sweet syrup.




JD Wetherspoon eyes Bourne opening: JD Wetherspoon is eyeing Bourne in Lincolnshire (population: 11,933) for a £1.5m opening. The company has submitted a planning application to South Kesteven District Council to transform the former Jenny May and Wands shops in North Street, Bourne, into a pub. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are keen to open a Wetherspoon pub in Bourne and have submitted a planning application for a site in North Street. We will await the outcome of the planning application and, at this stage, there are no on-site or opening dates. We have enjoyed great success with our pubs in the region and believe one of our pubs will be welcomed by local people and also act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the town. If the pub were to get the go-ahead, we would be looking to invest around £1.5m and also create 45 jobs.”




Agent Davis Coffer Lyons offers Stoke pub for £350,000: The sale of The Woodman public house in Stoke-on-Trent has been relaunched this week, with a price tag of £350,000. The move follows the announcement that two of the UK’s biggest retailers, Marks & Spencer and Next, are lined up to become anchor tenants at Realis Estates’ Unity Walk – a 435,000 square foot mixed-use scheme, which would be developed on a site immediately adjacent to the public house. The Woodman is a period public house located in Old Hall Street and boasts extensive trading space at ground-floor level, along with seven-bedroom living accommodation on the upper floors. It is available either on a leasehold or freehold basis through leisure property agent Davis Coffer Lyons. Paul Tallentyre, executive director, pubs and bars at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “Unity Walk will transform the southern end of the city centre and it is great to see this commitment from M&S and Next to relocate to the scheme. The development will significantly increase the retail footfall and the new cinema, restaurants and hotel will create a vastly improved night-time economy. This is excellent news for the future of the Woodman pub, which is in a prime location, and presents potential new owners with a fantastic opportunity to deliver a great pub for those who will be visiting the scheme and the increased number of visitors to the city centre.” Realis Estates also secured planning permission last year to redevelop Parliament Row – which almost directly adjoins The Woodman and is opposite the northern entrance to Unity Walk – with up to five new stores covering more than 58,000 square feet of space.




Senior NatWest leisure executive joins Metro Bank: NatWest leisure sector executive Steve Crosswell has joined the hospitality and leisure team at Metro Bank. Matt Walton, head of hospitality and leisure at Metro Bank, said: “We are very excited to welcome Steve to the hospitality and leisure team at Metro Bank. Steve’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge has already made him a key addition to Metro Bank. We view his appointment as a sign of our commitment to lending into the hospitality and leisure sector. I’m confident that Steve will play a key role in the development of Metro Banks’ hospitality and leisure book.”




Plans for £1bn Whitehall hotel complex is submitted: Planning permission has been submitted for a new £1bn hotel complex at The Old War Office in Whitehall which previously housed Winston Churchill’s war office during the Second World War. Plans for the proposed 580,000 sq ft hotel, which has been masterminded by Indian owners Hinduja Group and Spanish firm OHL Desarrollos, have been submitted to Westminster Council. Designed by London architects EPR, the proposed hotel and apartment will encompass 125 bedrooms and 88 flats, along with a ballroom, wine cellar, 25-metre swimming pool and a rooftop bar. Built in 1906, the vast grade II listed complex has formerly housed secretaries of state including Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, but in 2014 was sold off for £350m after being deemed surplus to requirements by the Ministry of Defence. According to The Evening Standard, the planning documents said: “Our vision is to convert this historically important building in one of the most important conservation areas in the country, into an international landmark, mixed use luxury hotel and residential development of exceptional quality, with corresponding amenity, public access and heritage benefits.”




Sugar Dumplin and Lost Rivers Brewing Co join LDO’s Wembley line-up: Sugar Dumplin, the Caribbean barbecue restaurant and bar, and London-based brewer The Lost Rivers Brewing Co will join the restaurant line-up at London Designer Outlet (LDO) in Wembley. Sugar Dumplin has signed for a 2,340 square foot site set across two levels, with views of Wembley Stadium. The 100-cover flagship restaurant is set to open next month, the company’s fourth site, and will feature an on-site rum distillery and candlelit beach huts. The Lost Rivers Brewing Co has signed for a 2,650 square foot bar and kitchen and will offer its own craft ales such as The Wallbrook, Neckinger and Silkstream, named after London’s “lost rivers”. Executive chef Matt Reuther has produced an individual modern British menu to pair with the large selection of beers. Sugar Dumplin co-founder Norris Panton said: “Wembley will be the largest of our restaurants and will be the only one in that location serving Caribbean food. It is also ideally located close to such an iconic venue so we expect the traffic to be good.” LDO features 265,000 square feet of retail and leisure space, including a nine-screen Cineworld and restaurants operated by Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana, Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas, Ping Pong, PizzaExpress, Wagamama, Prezzo, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, TGI Friday’s, Nando’s and Handmade Burger Co.




London-based restaurant chain Sahara Grill opens first Dubai site: London-based restaurant chain Sahara Grill has opened its first site overseas. The new restaurant has opened in The Mall in Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai. Sahara Grill operates three restaurants in the UK – in Leyton and Whitechapel in east London, and Ilford in Essex. The restaurant is known for serving the first halal steaks in England and also offers burgers, flame-grilled chicken, wings, fish dishes and a range of Mediterranean-focused sharing platters and salads. Sahara Grill venues do not serve alcohol but offer a range of mocktails, alongside soft drinks, juices and smoothies. All dishes are cooked to order and the restaurant stops serving during prayer times. Sahara Grill chief executive Tye Razzaq told Hotelier Middle East: “Opening in Dubai is a dream come true and is an exciting leap for our business.”




Admiral partners top chef to reopen Devon pub following £300,000 refurbishment: Admiral Taverns has reopened The Trehill Arms in Ivybridge, Devon, following a £300,000 renovation project. Formally known as The Bridge Inn, the pub will be operated by chef and new licensee Alex Tempest, who developed local restaurant My Kitchen and is the creator behind a successful line of hand-made ready meals. The pub is in the heart of Ivybridge, a busy commuter town for Plymouth on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. The newly refurbished bar and lounge offers a broad range of regional craft ales and lagers, as well as all-day dining with Tempest’s twist on a traditional pub menu inspired by seasonal, local produce. Tempest said: “I stumbled on the pub shortly after moving my family to the town and couldn’t believe the potential this place had to offer. From the start, Admiral Taverns has bought into my vision and were quick to offer substantial support.” Admiral Taverns chief executive Kevin Georgel added: “In Alex, we have found a dedicated licensee who has a brilliant vision for the future for The Trehill Arms as a great local pub sitting at the heart of this busy Devon town. This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to supporting great community pubs across the UK and the dedicated entrepreneurial licensees who run them.”




St John’s Wood pub threatened by developers to reopen: A pub in St John’s Wood that was saved from developers is to pay tribute to its royal past when it reopens this year. The Clifton Hotel in St John’s Wood was closed in 2013 and its owners sought planning permission to turn it into a mansion with basement extension, gym and media room. Brothers Ed and Ben Robson signed a 20-year lease earlier this year to turn it into a gastro-pub – with plans to host Edwardian feast nights and on-site brewing to honour its history when it reopens in December. Ed Robson said: “We want to pay homage to the history of it but, at the same time, give it a modern lease of life. We are thinking about doing various nights, and one of those is an Edwardian feast – we’re working with a chef to design that. We’d like to have a brewery where there will be nods to the history, whether it’s named after royalty or people who visited. There’s definitely going to be lots of history there. We’ve got the old swing sign and we found out there was an even older one underneath. We’ve got a historian looking into it so we’re going to get something written up about it and put it on the wall.” He said the menu would be “fresh, seasonal, British, locally-sourced if we can – following the current trend for healthier eating, gluten-free and vegan dishes, all of that”.




Mavericks opens third site: Bar and nightclub brand Mavericks has opened its third site, this time in Bingley, near Bradford, Yorkshire. Mavericks, which already has 80s-themed sites in Huddersfield and Horsforth, has opened its third venue in Main Street in the town’s former Midland Hotel. Khoa Van, who is in charge of Mavericks’ acquisitions and new business, told BDaily: “This is an exciting time in the development of the Mavericks brand and we are proud to have secured our third outlet in Bingley in five years of operation. We have big plans for the future development of the brand and hope to continue with a successful roll-out of our popular drink, dine and dance concept. Hentons provided first-class advice throughout the transaction and operated as if they were part of the Mavericks team.”




Salt Yard Group launches Venice restaurant concept Veneta in St James’s Market: Simon Mullins and Ben Tish, of London restaurant company Salt Yard Group, have launched their Venice restaurant concept Veneta in the new St James’s Market development in central London. Inspired by the “timeless magic of Venice”, the 110-cover restaurant features a menu by chef director Ben Tish and head chef Jamie Thickett, featuring dishes such as kid goat ragu with fresh pappardelle, and charcoal-grilled monkfish with anchovy sauce and salsify. A raw bar offers a changing selection of British and Venetian seafood, while the venue also features a bespoke trolley carrying artisan charcuterie and cheese. There is also a changing menu of hand-made pasta dishes, while Veneta is the first Salt Yard restaurant to offer all-day dining. Mullins has curated wines from northern Italy, as well as an exclusive range of Italian vermouths and bitters, alongside Italian cocktails. Veneta’s main dining area features handcrafted ironwork chandeliers, specially commissioned oil paintings and glasswork that reflects the “distinctive hue of water surrounding Venice”. It also has a terrace. Salt Yard Group operates London venues Salt Yard in Camden, Dehesa in Carnaby, and Ember Yard in Westminster.




Chapel Down wins planning consent for new brewery: Wine and beer producer Chapel Down has reported that Ashford Borough Council has granted planning consent for the development of the Curious Brewery on the 1.6-acre site in Ashford town centre. Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “We are delighted that we now have planning consent for the development of the Curious Brewery in Ashford. Situated next to the International station and just 38 minutes from King’s Cross, the Curious Brewery will be an icon for Ashford, for Kent and for contemporary British brewing. We are looking forward to creating something exciting and exceptional.”




CP Food buys controlling stake in Foodfellas: CP Foods (UK) has acquired a controlling interest in The Foodfellas, a UK-based foodservice supplier specialising in supplying the growing casual dining market. The acquisition sees the directors of Foodfellas retain a significant shareholding in the new business. Clive Britton, commercial director of CP Foods, said: “This is a great move for both businesses. From the beginning of the discussions, it was clear we had a shared heritage in and passion for the food industry and that we were jointly committed to doing better business and bringing great tasting products to all our customers – and their consumers.” Marc Werter, director of The Foodfellas, added: “We are delighted to be able to join the extended family of such a dynamic and exciting global business. We’ve spent the last decade working tirelessly to ensure The Foodfellas is the best possible business it can be – sharing a range of targeted products with some of the biggest names in UK foodservice. Our product ranges complement each other perfectly and ensure our combined portfolio is now not only comprehensive in its scope and scale, but also best-in-class in terms of performance, taste and customer service.” The move will see the current CP Foods (UK) foodservice team merged with The Foodfellas team.