Black Country brewer and retailer Bathams to open 11th pub: Black Country brewer and retailer Bathams is to open its 11th pub. The company, which was founded in 1877, has acquired two former office blocks in Hagley, Worcestershire, which it is converting into the new venue. The property deal was supported by Higgs & Sons, which also helped Bathams acquire a licence for the new premises. Richard Saxton, who led the Higgs team, told Insider Media: “We acted for Bathams in acquiring the property as a speculative pub development and naturally I am delighted to see the project come to fruition. It is an excellent result in securing this prime site and positive news in the current climate of pub closures.” The Hagley pub will be the company’s second in Worcestershire, while its other sites are in the West Midlands.

Burning Night Group to open Potting Shed on Trinity Leeds rooftop: Burning Night Group is to open a landmark site for its Potting Shed concept on the rooftop of the Trinity Leeds shopping centre. The company will launch The Potting Shed Bar and Secret Garden after plans for the rooftop development were given the go-ahead by the city council. Along with brand owner Ormsborough, Burning Night Group will make a multimillion-pound investment to transform the top-floor space into a large bar and restaurant able to cater for more than 600 customers internally with at least a further 100 on the rooftop. It will house three distinct but linked bars – The Potting Shed, Orchard and Secret Garden – that will each have an individual quirky retro design and serve locally sourced food created in a theatre kitchen. The new venue will have its entrance in Bond Street. Burning Night Group chief executive Allan Harper said: “The Potting Shed is a truly home-grown Yorkshire brand and signing this sought-after rooftop space at Trinity Leeds is perfect for us. Trinity is now synonymous with the city and we’re excited to be a part of, and expand on, the centre’s already illustrious reputation as a Leeds institution. Trinity’s customers and setting completely align with The Potting Shed’s stylish, sophisticated and hassle-free menu and best-of-Leeds experience. We know the city well because we already own a Bierkeller here, and the Potting Shed and Secret Garden will give people the chance to experience and enjoy a different side of our business. Our Potting Shed concept has been a big success since we launched the first in Bingley two years ago and the Leeds site, as our first city centre one, will have all the characteristic garden features plus the Secret Garden, which is something special we’re creating as a first.” The project is being backed by industry investor Downing LLP. Partner Steven Kenee said: “Trinity Leeds is an award-winning and, in many ways, trailblazing leisure and retail destination. It’s one of the most prestigious in the north of England and we are proud to be able to help take its development to the next level – quite literally!”

McManus Pub Group reports like-for-likes up 2.6% for current half year, full-year profit increases 16%: McManus Pub Group has reported like-for-like sales increased 2.6% for its current half-year. The continued growth comes on the back of the company revealing underlying profit before tax rose 16.4% to £1,885,000 for the year ending 30 July 2016. Like-for-like sales in the period grew £274,000 to £11,232,000, an increase of 2.5% on last year, while total sales were down £403,000 to £11,918,000 following the sale of two freehold pubs. The estate includes 17 trading pubs, of which 14 are freehold, with a further one planned for development in the current financial year. Finance director Chris Wright said: “We are encouraged by this strong and consistent growth in profit. There has been a significant focus placed on profit conversion, gross profit up from 71.5% to 73.1% and operating profit up to 19.4%.” Sales growth was seen across both the food-driven managed estate and wet-led sport and community pubs. Food sales grew to £3,410,000 – 28.9% of total sales – while food gross margin increased to 67.9% and wet sales were up 5.5% on a like-for-like basis. Since year-end, McManus Pub Group has seen continued growth, with like-for-like sales up 2.6% for the current half-year on FY15/16. Average spend per head in food pubs last year exceeded £15. The company stated: “Post year-end, the group has restructured its corporate structure to bring all its trading pub companies under the McManus Pub Group umbrella. The group has also invested significantly to enhance its IT and control systems. Trading pub Ebitda has remained constant at £2,490,000 for the year. Improved earnings stemming from sales growth, enhanced margin and lower operating costs has allowed the group to hold its earnings even after the sale of two contributing freehold pubs. Sale proceeds from the two non-core trading freehold pubs was used to reduce its term debt. Term debt at 30 July 2016 totalled £6,936,000, down £1,110,000 on the previous year, and total debt to group earnings reduced to sub three times. After a prolonged period of improved trading and strengthening of our balance sheet, we are in a strong position to move forward, undertake planned pub developments, and internally invest in our estate.”

Bocca di Lupo co-founder launches Louisiana concept at Islington pub he saved from demolition: Bocca di Lupo co-founder Jacob Kenedy has reopened a demolition-threatened Islington pub he acquired last year for £2.3m. The Prince of Wales, on the banks of Regent’s Canal, looked set to be converted into luxury flats after it closed in 2014. However, the pub on the corner of Sudeley Street and Vincent Terrace was saved after Kenedy discovered it while walking along the canal looking for a place to live. Kenedy, who was born nearby, has reopened the venue as Plaquemine Lock, named after the Louisiana city in which his grandmother – the late actress, painter and socialite Virginia Campbell – was born. The pub offers “uncomplicated” Cajun and creole food, including oysters, boiled crawfish, po’boys and gumbo. The drinks menu features “mostly British beers” and Louisiana cocktails. Kenedy, who lives above the pub, said: “Cajun and creole is the most amazing cuisine. I always dreamt of opening a Louisiana-themed restaurant but this has given me an opportunity to take a more realistic approach to it – and it is very compatible with a traditional British pub.” As well as Bocca di Lupo, Kenedy also operates West End Italian restaurant Vico with fellow co-founder Victor Hugo.

London Pizza Festival champions Made of Dough to open first bricks and mortar site next month: London-based pizza concept Made of Dough, which operates at street food markets and at Pop Brixton, will open its first bricks and mortar site next month. The reigning London Pizza Festival champion is launching the restaurant in Bellenden Road in Peckham. Due to open on Friday, 9 June the 50-cover site will feature a chef’s table, cocktail bar, and a wood-fired pizza oven. The menu will feature Made of Dough favourites, created with signature 60-hour fermented dough, alongside some new toppings just for Peckham, including a merguez sausage collaboration with local butcher Flock & Herd. Cocktails will include Amalfi lemon bellinis and Cointreau espresso martinis, alongside gelato milkshakes. The restaurant will open seven days a week from midday until 10.30pm, with monthly live music and wine-tasting nights planned, reports the Evening Standard.

Essex-based Italian restaurant Olio starts expansion by opening second site: Essex-based Italian restaurant Olio has started expansion by opening its second site. The business, which was launched in Chelmsford by the Gremi family, has opened the new site in the nearby village of Writtle. It has transformed the former Fulton’s restaurant in The Green. Manager David Everett told Essex Live: “For the past three years our customers have been asking us to open another restaurant. We think Writtle is a great fit for Olio – it’s a lovely location. It is nice to grow a bit and we are so excited about our second restaurant.”

Chopstix eyes first Suffolk site: Noodle brand Chopstix plans to open its first site in Suffolk. The company has submitted a planning application to Ipswich Borough Council to open a venue at the Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich at a unit formerly occupied by Total Mobiles. The plans are in the consultation phase and are due to be decided in July. A spokeswoman for agents Pegasus Group told the Ipswich Star: “Chopstix is expanding its presence in the Suffolk and East Anglia region. We also worked with the company on a successful application for a further venue in Cambridge. Sailmakers has been identified as a suitable site as it’s a centre that has received significant investment recently.” Chopstix Group operates about 60 sites across the UK and Ireland.

JD Wetherspoon to close Dorset pub on Sunday after property company acquires site: JD Wetherspoon will close the Sir Percy Florence Shelley in Boscombe, Dorset, on Sunday (14 May). The freehold pub in Christchurch Road has been sold to developers Culverdene Properties. It was one of 33 pubs JD Wetherspoon put on the market in May 2016. A JD Wetherspoon spokesman told The Daily Echo: “The final day is 14 May. All staff at the pub will remain with Wetherspoon so no-one is losing their job as a result of the pub being sold.” Wetherspoon instructed agents CBRE and Savills to handle the disposal of the pubs almost a year ago. The properties were considered for sale individually, in small packages or as a portfolio.

Loungers to open Evesham site this month: Cafe bar brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, will open a site in Evesham, Worcestershire, this month. The company is opening The Orto Lounge in Market Place, replacing the ImaGine meeting place that closed earlier this year. It will launch on Wednesday, 24 May and will be the second venue the group has opened in Worcestershire recently following an opening in Kidderminster last month. Loungers has invested £529,000 to transform the site, with eclectic artwork, pop art-inspired table tops, vintage sofas and school benches. Operations manager Mike Roscoe told the Evesham Journal: “We’re really looking forward to throwing open the doors at Orto Lounge and showing the locals how to lounge in style. We’re in an enviable spot in Market Place – in the heart of Evesham.” Loungers, which also operates the Cosy Club brand, intends to open a minimum of 20 sites in 2017. The company was founded in 2002 in Bristol by friends David Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop.

Red Dog Saloon expands into north with Liverpool launch, sixth site: Red Dog Saloon has continued its expansion by opening its first site in the north of England, in Liverpool. The £1.2m restaurant in Bold Street is the sixth Red Dog Saloon in total. The American barbecue-style concept offers ribs, wings, pulled pork and burgers using aromatic hickory wood in its US-imported smokers. However, the Liverpool restaurant offers a new menu featuring cocktails, bottled beer, tequila, bourbon, bottomless brunch and belly-busting food challenges. Red Dog Saloon owner Tom Brookes told the Liverpool Echo: “We feel we offer something different to other barbecue restaurants in the city. We are a family-run business that is passionate about the food we serve and the fun, unpretentious party atmosphere we create.” The company operates three London restaurants – in Soho, Clapham and Hoxton Square – and others in Southampton and Nottingham.

Loughborough-based Tex-Mex restaurant Plan Burrito opens third site, in Leicester: Loughborough-based Tex-Mex restaurant Plan Burrito has opened its third site, in Leicester. Owner Stephen Hopper launched the concept in Ashby Road, Loughborough, in May 2015 and added a second site in the Leicestershire town six months later, in Baxter Gate. Now Hopper has added to his portfolio with a 65-cover restaurant in Granby Street, Leicester, on a site previously occupied by Formal Affair. The menu features burritos, tacos and nachos while, similar to its Loughborough branches, the restaurant features Mexican-themed artwork. Hopper told the Leicester Mercury: “I want to build a community atmosphere. It’s not just somewhere to eat, it’s a place to relax and meet new people.”

Primeur owners open Westerns Laundry in Holloway: Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, owners of Primeur in Stoke Newington, have opened their second restaurant. The new concept – Westerns Laundry – has opened in Lower Holloway, north London. The dining room features communal tables and banquettes, an open kitchen with ten counter seats and a 14-cover private dining room. Western Laundry works with day boats from Devon and Cornwall to source seafood, which is at the forefront of the menu. Dishes include sea bass and seaweed tartar, and pork loin with chopped greens, basil and capers. An exposed cellar houses a selection of more than 200 bottles of wine, with a focus on low-intervention, small-scale producers that hand-harvest their grapes. Gingell said: “Westerns Laundry is lighter and more delicate than Primeur, rooted in British flavours but influenced by our favourite aspects of southern Europe, with the occasional nod to Asia. Working so closely with our suppliers means we can create dishes that let the ingredients shine.”

Cooking Collective launches ‘sunshine food’ concept near London Bridge: Catering company The Cooking Collective has launched “sunshine food” concept Lupins in Flat Iron Square, near London Bridge. The menu features British ingredients infused with global flavours and a drinks list focusing on natural, organic and biodynamic wine from Suffolk-based Smashing Wines. Snacks from Cooking Collective co-founders Natasha Cooke and Lucy Pedder include sumac lamb scrumpets with pomegranate molasses, while the small plates collection includes polenta-crusted anchovies with wild garlic and onion salad. Desserts include rhubarb with ginger, vanilla yogurt and shortbread. The restaurant maintains the exposed brickwork of the railway arch surrounded by light wood panelling. Cooke and Pedder stated: “We named Lupins after the English garden flower. We wanted it to sound friendly and informal, emulating a neighbourhood feel. Lupin seeds are also a snack in the Mediterranean and Latin America so the name perfectly showcases our fusion of British and global flavours.”

Lorraine Angliss starts expansion of Little Bird concept with second site, in Battersea: Restaurateur Lorraine Angliss has started expansion of her bar and restaurant concept Little Bird by opening a second site, in Battersea, south London. The venue, which serves cocktails alongside Asian-inspired cuisine with a Mediterranean twist, has opened in Battersea Rise. It is the fifth site for Angliss, who also operates Rock & Rose in Richmond, Annie’s in Barnes and Chiswick, and Little Bird in Chiswick. The new bar’s design features bright and striking prints, hanging foliage and large palms, with features such as hand-painted wallpaper depicting birds of paradise alongside mirrors and original artwork. Angliss said: “We are delighted to be opening Little Bird in Battersea. Our aim is to bring some stylish fun to the area.”

Fever Bars to open nightclub at former JD Wetherspoon pub on Isle of Wight: Fever Bars, led by managing director Mark Shorting, will open a nightclub in Newport on the Isle of Wight next month. The twin-themed club will open at former JD Wetherspoon pub The William Coppin in Coppins Bridge on Friday, 16 June. The venue will feature two rooms catering for different tastes in music – one offering a retro-chic discotheque with colour-changing floors for pop and party, while the boutique room will pump out the latest house and R&B music. Guests will be able to pre-book booths, which include waitress service. The club will open Wednesday to Saturday, from 9.30pm to 3am, as well as on bank holiday weekends, the Island Echo reports. The premises operated as Chicago Rock until its closure in 2009. JD Wetherspoon took over but closed the pub at the end of January 2016 as a commercial decision. Fever bars operates more than 30 clubs, with the nearest to Newport in Fleet and Basingstoke, both in Hampshire.

Ziferblat launches fourth UK pay-as-you-stay cafe, in Manchester: Ziferblat, the coffee shop concept that charges by the minute, has opened its 4th UK site and second in Manchester, this time at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays. The cafe, which has a branch in the Northern Quarter as well as others in Shoreditch and Liverpool, has taken the ground and mezzanine floors of the Tomorrow building. The venue charges 8p per minute for unlimited tea, coffee, cake and snacks, plus access to Wi-Fi, board games, magazines and newspapers. Ziferblat also offers its takeaway Ziferblend coffee on an honesty box basis, where guests pay what they feel. Ziferblat MediaCityUK also has four meeting spaces and two sheds, which are available for community events and private hire. Ziferblat business development manager Simon Kaye told Manchester Evening News: “The pay-as-you-stay concept is an alternative to a cafe or co-working space, offering more comfort and flexibility for guests than conventional venues. In the Northern Quarter, Ziferblat welcomes more than 10,000 guests per month.” Kaye said a third Manchester site would open before the end of the year. Ziferblat was founded in 2011 by a group of Moscow poets led by Ivan Meetin. Its “tree house for adults” developed into a pay-per-minute concept that now has branches around Europe.

Douglas Jack – Ei Group’s strategic plan is paying off: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued that Ei Group’s (EIG’s) strategic plan is paying off. He said: “For the interim results, due on 16 May, we forecast profit before tax being down 1% at £56m. In the first quarter, the company posted its 13th consecutive quarter of positive like-for-like net income. We expect this trend to have continued and our full-year forecast (profit before tax £121m; consensus £116m) to be maintained. We view updates on the impact of the Market Rent Only (MRO) option legislation and the execution of the strategic plan as potential positive catalysts. Ei Publican Partnership’s like-for-like net income grew by 1.6% in the first quarter versus a 1.6% comparable. The comparables toughen in the second quarter (first half: 2.0%) and second half (FY: 2.1%), but we believe EIG’s tenant financial health measures are better now than at any other time in the company’s history. It is benefiting from 57% of total capex being growth-orientated versus 10% in 2009. In 2009, unplanned business failures affected 7.3% of the estate versus 1.6% in 2016. In first-half 2017, EIG has added new areas of licensee support: pub partners can now access preferred rating advisors, which can only earn a success-based fee if business rates are reduced; the Publican Channel provides existing publicans with advice, training, point-of-sale items and deals, as well as allowing them to place orders online; a new online ‘applicant dashboard’ allows prospective publicans to search for suitable pubs and manage their application process; and a discounted rate to use Live&Loud, which has access to 10,000 live acts nationwide. The company should provide an update on the MRO’s impact. In our view, licensees should choose to remain tied and, rather than choose the high-risk alternative, use the possibility of the alternative in negotiations. In September 2016, only 20% of EIG’s estate was vulnerable to the MRO, and we estimate this ratio is falling by 2% per annum due to disposals, conversions and the company not awarding long leases. We expect the managed estate’s expansion plan to be on track, all through conversions. We believe EIG has developed its first, simple food offer for Craft Union, the largest managed format by number of outlets. Our forecasts are above consensus, yet our estimate of 2.6% growth in average tenanted pub profitability assumes no growth in like-for-like net income after tail-end disposals (last year, the average disposal multiple was 24.5 times Ebitda). We forecast Ebitda falling by 1% this year, outpaced by net debt falling by 4%, creating 12% annual growth in equity value. EIG’s EV/Ebitda rating is in line with its ten-year historical average, and well below the 12.2 times it averaged in 2002-06, when the company last generated strong earnings growth. Subject to clarification on the MRO impact, we believe the political/regulatory barrier to the company’s growth has gone, improving its long-term prospects. We will host a site visit with management in London on 3 August.”

Jamie’s Italian partners with Deliveroo: Jamie’s Italian is partnering with Deliveroo to trial delivery pizza at four of its restaurants – two in London, plus one in Oxford and another in Cambridge. A further 23 locations are set to follow in the summer with 15 pizzas on offer – nine exclusive to the trial.

South west London-based operators open second site, in Putney: South west London-based operators Durga Misra and Uttam Tripathy have opened their second site, in Putney. Misra and Tripathy, who operate Indian market food restaurant Polti in Hammersmith, have launched Bistro Vadouvan in Putney Wharf, overlooking the Thames. The new venue mixes classic French cuisine with “subtle elements” of Middle Eastern and Asian spice, reports Putney SW15. Bistro Vadouvan has four dining sections. The main dining area features stripped beams and an open wine cellar as well as an electric-blue banquette. At the centre is a block wood communal dining table. There is also a kitchen bar, a semi-private balcony for groups and parties up to 16, and an outside terrace. Misra, who has previously worked under Eric Chavot, and Tripathy launched Polti in 2011 having met at hospitality college.

Japanese restaurant Dinings to start expansion this month with second London site: Japanese restaurant Dinings is to start expansion, ten years after its debut in Marylebone, by opening a sister site in Knightsbridge on Monday, 22 May. Dinings SW3 will open in grade I-listed Walton House in Lennox Gardens Mews featuring a ten-seater sushi bar and 24-cover private dining room. The restaurant will offer a similar menu to the Marylebone site – focusing on izakaya-style sushi and sashimi using seafood landed from Cornish day boats – alongside additional robata-style dishes cooked on a Josper grill. New dishes will include reel-caught Scottish lobster with yuzu kimizu sauce, sweet soy-marinated Chilean sea bass with sansyo pepper, and cabbage steak sakamushi style with fresh truffle, Hot Dinners reports. Dinings SW3 will offer its own-label sake, with variations for spring/summer and autumn/winter. Dinings, which is led by executive chef and managing director Masaki Sugisaki and business partner Nick Taylor-Guy, also operates a residency at The Norman Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Former Great British Menu chef launches debut venture, in Cheshire: Former Great British Menu chef Mark Ellis has opened his debut venture – in Cheshire. Ellis left his role as head chef of Peckforton Castle in Tarporley, where he earned three AA rosettes, to open Allium by Mark Ellis in Tattenhall, near Chester. The venue, which is in the former village shop in High Street, is a restaurant and bar with five bespoke rooms. The restaurant serves “modern food that has been given an old-school twist”, while there are almost 30 varieties of gin at the bar. Ellis told The Chester Chronicle: “Our dishes use a blend of modern cutting-edge techniques mixed with classic old-school processes to produce an outstanding plate of food.” Before joining Peckforton Castle in 2007, Ellis undertook a “cook’s tour” of the UK, where he worked in some of the country’s finest restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus.

Atul Kochhar hosts pop-up restaurant at Barcelona hotel: Two Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, who has been at the forefront of Indian fine dining, is hosting a pop-up restaurant at the Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona for the next three months. Kochhar has designed three menus, a different one for each month. The pop-up, which will run until Monday, 31 July, will present a dinner menu with seven dishes on offer and a selection of cocktails and Indian-inspired tapas available throughout the day. The hotel, which formerly hosted the Fundación Textil Algodonera (Cotton Textile Foundation), has selected Indian cuisine for this pop-up because of India’s cotton industry, one of the world’s largest. Kochhar operates four restaurants in the UK, including Michelin-starred Benares in Mayfair, as well as venues in Spain and Dubai, and two in Mumbai.

Salcombe Brewery releases first beer from new facility: Salcombe Brewery has released the first beer – Devon Amber – from its new 20bbl (300,000 litre) purpose-built brewery. Since Salcombe Brewery was acquired by a consortium led by city insurance specialist John Tiner and wife Geraldine, the company has undergone substantial growth. The new brewery, which overlooks Salcombe beach, has tripled brewing capacity and the company now has five ales available alongside seasonal special brews. Salcombe Brewery managing director Gavin Hogg said: “Since my arrival six months ago, we have been at full capacity with every brew selling out from local demand alone. We are delighted to have the new brewery on stream, which gives us 300% more capacity and we look forward to seeing our beers reach an even wider audience. Our beers use our own well for water and the recipes have gone through the most important of all taste tests – consumers! We are exceptionally proud of our roots and how our brewery has come to employ seven local people and we are actively recruiting at the moment. The team has almost 60 years of experience in the brewing and hospitality sector and we want to use that experience to create beers that would be perfect on a sunny day in Salcombe or a wet windy day on Dartmoor.”

BaxterStorey secures Scotland’s Rural College campus contract: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has secured a contract with the Oatridge campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in West Lothian. The two-and-a-half year contract will see 500 students and staff at the campus served with a variety of freshly prepared meals from locally sourced produce. The contract will run alongside BaxterStorey’s existing commitment at three other SRUC sites. Regional managing director Jeremy Wood said: “Providing staff and students with the option to make healthier choices is becoming increasingly important. Sitting at a desk all day can encourage mindless eating of food chosen for ease rather than their nutritional content. We have developed a menu for SRUC’s Oatridge campus that provides quick, on-the-go options alongside more substantial healthy meals.”