Bella Italia launches leadership programme to encourage internal career progression: Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia has launched a “leadership academia programme” with the aim of filling 70% of its restaurant managerial positions internally. The scheme will enable a clear career path from team member to general manager. The programme is divided into three tiered stages – Stepping Up, for staff looking to become managers and chefs to sous chefs; Emerging Leaders for sous chefs and supervisors looking to step up to head chef and assistant manager; and Future Leaders for assistant managers and head chefs looking to become general managers. Each stage has bespoke learning modules with participants required to attend external workshops away from the restaurant, with the onus on individuals driving their own learning. Bella Italia HR director Wayne Morgan said: “Attracting and retaining quality people in an ever-shrinking pool of talent is a challenge all operators currently face. We want to promote a career in hospitality and show it’s possible to work your way up from floor to management.” Bella Italia already has more than 170 employees training in the programme.

Hakassan Group closes Michelin-starred HKK to focus on global expansion: UK-based nightclub and restaurant company Hakkasan Group has closed its Michelin-starred restaurant HKK in London with immediate effect. Having originally opened in 2012, the venue has been an outlet for executive head chef Tong Chee Hwee to experiment and evolve through a series of seasonal tasting menus. Hakkasan Group said as it continued to focus on its global expansion with imminent projects in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and across Europe, Hwee and his team would be prioritising this growth and “ensuring global consistency of all brands within the Asian Luxury Collection (Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Ling Ling)”. Therefore, Hwee would be unable to dedicate as much time to HKK in London. Hwee said: “HKK has been an incredible experience for me and my team. We are immensely proud of everything we have achieved and while we are sad to see it close, we understand the business need and look forward to continued success with Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Ling Ling in new and exciting markets.”

Adil Group to open first Taco Bell site in Scotland, plans ‘double-digit’ stores in five years: The Adil Group, which operates more than 120 KFC, Burger King and Costa Coffee sites across the UK, is to open a first site for Taco Bell in Scotland, with plans for “double-digit figures over the next five years”. The debut Scottish restaurant will open in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow city centre in December. The Adil Group chief executive Raja Adil said: “We are incredibly excited to open the first Taco Bell in Scotland. We have big plans for expansion across the country, hoping to increase the number of Taco Bell stores in Scotland to double-digit figures over the next five years.” Taco Bell Europe general manager Nick Dawson added: “Glasgow is the perfect place to start our march north and we look forward to welcoming Glaswegians through our doors to experience delicious Mexican-inspired food.” Taco Bell, which is part of Yum! Brands, currently operates 18 sites in England and last week announced it would open a restaurant in York. Taco Bell has more than 6,000 restaurants across the US and continues to grow, with over 250 restaurants internationally. The Adil Group also owns and operates four hotels under its own brand, Maitrise Hotels.

London-based Cuban restaurant Cubana launches second crowdfunding campaign to fund further growth: London-based Cuban restaurant Cubana, which hit its £107,000 fund-raise target on Crowd2Fund in August in only two days, has launched a second campaign on the crowdfunding platform. Cubana is looking to raise a further £200,000 and, as with its previous campaign, the company is offering a 10% interest-paying mini-bond to fund expansion. The bond term is 36 months. So far, the campaign has raised £16,000 from 47 investors with an estimated 29 days to run. Cubana, led by Phillip Oppenheim, operates a restaurant in Waterloo. Its pitch states: “We are developing a new facility close to the forthcoming Crossrail station at Farringdon, which will have the ability to prep dishes and bake bread and pastries for several potential new sites, with a view to a steady build-up of the Cubana brand – staying close to our roots in offering great-value, original and authentic freshly prepared food and drink with a strong sustainability ethos. New Cubanas will be in high footfall areas where we can develop sales across the day and into the evening. We also have a strong focus on management. Many of our key employees have been with us for several years and we have spent the past year overhauling our financial management systems and working on costs to ensure we are a tightly run and closely controlled business – something crucial in the bar and restaurant sector and central to our expansion plans. The core bar and restaurant business we love has been growing strongly for years. Now we want to push on to grow the business with another round of funding to ensure we can entertain more people for years to come.”

Chopstix to open 75th site today: Oriental brand Chopstix will open its 75th site today (Wednesday, 11 October) at Belfast International Airport. The company is launching the outlet within Ireland’s first unmanned Emo Express fuel forecourt. The store is located beside Park and Fly in Airport Road and forms part of the new £3.5m forecourt and retail development within Belfast International Airport. Chopstix chief operating officer Max Hilton Jenvey said: “In recent times, Chopstix has become increasingly visible in the country’s high streets and motorways, however as a relatively new brand, to be selected as part of the retail offering within the first unmanned Emo Express forecourt in Ireland is very special for us, as it demonstrably underlines the increasing popularity of our brand.” Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie added: “Chopstix is now a well established brand in Northern Ireland and we are delighted it is part of the food offering at the new forecourt and retail development at Belfast International Airport. The investment is most welcome and Chopstix gives more choice to those travelling through or passing by the airport.”

BrewDog’s US fund-raise sees 24% increase in daily amount invested and 755% return on investment following social media campaign: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog’s Equity for Punks US fund-raise saw a 24% increase in the average daily amount invested as well as a 755% return on investment after introducing a new social media campaign. BrewDog appointed Leeds agency It Works to help amplify the number of investors for the campaign throughout its closing stages in June and July. BrewDog was seeking an agency to elevate the final 60 days of its US campaign using paid social media tactics and It Works had to devise a strategy in less than 48 hours. Using a series of metrics to target a range of audiences across the US, including lookalike audiences as well as engaged audiences, the agency implemented its paid social media campaign within the timeframe. It Works managing director Steve Pritchard told Prolific North: “Being a small agency really played into our hands as we were able to react very quickly to the brief and maintained a hands-on approach throughout the campaign. The upshot being the ongoing optimisation really helped to drive relevant traffic and conversions resulting in the campaign’s overall success.”

Carluccio’s to launch first vegetarian pop-up this month: Carluccio’s is to launch its first vegetarian pop-up this month. The Cucina Verde will be appearing on the first floor of its flagship restaurant in Garrick Street, Covent Garden, for four consecutive Mondays from 23 October. It will feature more than 20 Italian veggie and vegan dishes from founder Antonio Carluccio in collaboration with cook, food blogger and writer Anna Barnett. The Cucina Verde marks the arrival of Carluccio’s autumn/winter menu, which features a large selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Choices include crostini al funghi, sautéed mushrooms and kale in garlic and chilli on toasted ciabatta; and the zucca con verdure arrostite – roasted butternut squash and vegetables with pine nuts (served with or without goat’s cheese). Carluccio chief executive Neil Wickers said: “We have seen a huge demand for more vegetarian and vegan dishes, many from our millennial diners who are giving up or reducing their meat intake, either for environmental and/or health reasons. Our new menu firmly puts the spotlight on vegetables and the Cucina Verde has been created to further highlight the variety of delicious meat-free dishes we now have on offer across all our restaurants every day.”

UK’s first permanent dedicated shufflebard bar set to open in Shoreditch: The UK’s first permanent dedicated shuffleboard bar concept is set to open in Shoreditch, east London. London Shuffle Club is launching The Little Shuffle Club in Ebor Street. As well as shuffleboard, the bar will offer a range of craft beer, wine, cocktails and American-inspired pizza from food partner Voodoo Rays as disco tunes are played. The Little Shuffle Club follows on from two sell-out pop-up seasons of The London Shuffle Club, which featured both deck and table shuffleboard. The 60-capacity venue will have two classic shuffleboard tables and one snapback table, which The London Shuffle Club said was the first of its kind in the country. In table shuffleboard, players push metal-and-plastic weighted pucks down a long and smooth wooden table into a scoring area at the opposite end of the table. Shooting is performed with the hand directly, as opposed to deck shuffleboard, where cue sticks are used. Shuffleboard originated on cruise ships at the beginning of the 20th century as a popular on-deck activity and similar bar concepts have been opened in Brooklyn and Miami in the US.

Galway Bay Brewery to take over Belfast bar for first UK site as Brewbot goes bust: Galway Bay Brewery, which operates 12 pubs in the Republic of Ireland, is to take over Belfast bar Brewbot for its first UK site. The Ormeau Road bar is owned by technology company Brewbot, which is due to hear a winding-up petition brought against it by HMRC on Thursday (12 October), the Belfast Telegraph reports. Brewbot intended selling its wood and stainless steel “smart” beer-making machines across the globe but following months of problems, the business could now close completely. The business has been going through tough times in the past 12 months, with the workforce now largely consisting of just the company’s bar staff. The company operated its head office from the pub’s top floor. The business began after raising more than £114,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. It also secured £1m from a range of investors as part of a round of seed funding and £82,000 in funding from Invest NI. Brewbot’s concept centred on making the brewing process easier via a smartphone app. Galway Bay Brewery is one of Ireland’s leading craft beer brewers. Its bars also stock a large range of beers from around the world. It is thought staff at the Belfast bar will be retained.

G1 Group launches apprenticeship programme: Scotland’s biggest managed operator G1 Group has launched its own modern apprenticeship (MA) programme, which will give young adults a chance to develop their skills and gain a recognised qualification. The programme can be completed in any of the company’s 50-plus bars, restaurants, casinos and hotels across Scotland. Courses range from five to 12 months, with all those who complete the qualification gaining an SVQ. G1 Group head of talent and development Rachel James said: “We believe it is extremely important we provide all employees with as many opportunities as possible to achieve their potential – access to additional qualifications and training play a vital role in this. Our MA programme will enable us to develop and direct those young people with an interest in a career in the food and drinks industry. We employ more than 1,800 individuals across Scotland. Through this programme we are giving young people a chance to harness their potential.” Last week, G1 Group gave pupils at two Glasgow schools a taste of working in hospitality, with candidates coached by G1’s HR team in preparation for interviews and successful applicants going on to train at the company’s Corinthian Club.

Luxury Family Hotels management team buys brand and five-property portfolio: The management team of south west-based Luxury Family Hotels and its backers have acquired the brand and five of its hotels from investment firm Patron Capital. The hotels are Woolley Grange in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire; New Park Manor in Brockenhurst, Hampshire; Moonfleet Manor in Weymouth, Dorset; Fowey Hall in Cornwall; and The Ickworth, a manor set in 1,800 acres of parkland near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. Patron Capital, which focuses on property-backed investments, has retained Thornbury Castle Hotel in Bristol, which is said to be the only Tudor castle hotel in the country. Luxury Family Hotels chief executive Nigel Chapman told Insider Media: “These are exciting times for Luxury Family Hotels and we look forward to further developing and enhancing our collection of individual family hotels. In the meantime it is very much business as usual, with the five hotel teams preparing for a busy last quarter of 2017.” Patron Capital partner and investment director Camil Yazbeck added: “We believe in backing management teams and, having developed the Luxury Family Hotels brand, invested in the hotels and staff, and improved the estate, we are pleased to sell this portfolio of five hotels.”

Plans for second floating restaurant in Lincoln given go-ahead by government inspector: Plans for a second floating restaurant on the Brayford in Lincoln have been given the go-ahead by a government inspector. Permission has been granted by the planning inspectorate for the £1m building, which would sit on stilts, in a similar fashion to the city’s Wagamama restaurant, in place of a former viewing platform. It comes after the City of Lincoln Council refused the scheme in September last year, stating the design would not be in keeping with the area and views would be harmed, reports the Lincolnite. The Brayford Trust and Investors in Lincoln, which are behind the plans, made an appeal to the secretary of state against the council’s decision in June. Chief executive of the trust David Rossington argued at the time the objective of the project was to preserve the Brayford, with income from the business used to maintain the pool. He added the trust faced the potential pulling of the funding for the project if permission was not granted.

Rochelle Canteen opens second London site: Rochelle Canteen, founded by Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold, has opened its second London site. The concept, which launched in Shoreditch in 2006, has opened a new cafe, bar and restaurant at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall. Rochelle Bar & Canteen offers a daily changing menu to reflect the brand’s “honest, classic cooking style”. Head chef at the venue is Ben Coombs, while Fin Spiteri has designed the drinks list and is in charge of the bar and front of house. The new menu includes pumpkin soup, and pheasant and trotter pies.

ETM Group reopens Chelsea bar and restaurant with new look and menu: ETM Group, the 14-strong gastro-pub operator led by brothers Ed and Tom Martin, has reopened its Chelsea bar and restaurant The Botanist with a new look and menu. The company closed the Sloane Square site for ten weeks for the extensive refurbishment. Following significant investment, the venue, which has two distinct spaces, features a new look and offers an all-day brasserie-style menu of “refined” modern European dishes from newly appointed executive chef Ameya Bhalekar. There is a strong focus on champagne, wine and botanical cocktails as well as a range of craft and premium beers and ciders, bottled or on tap. The new design features a focal 45-seater bar complete with expansive brass overhead display. A colour palette of navy, green and rose has been introduced, while the site’s heritage is acknowledged through Sir Hans Sloane-inspired prints and bespoke botanical tiles.

Saltaire Brewery invests more than £1m to double brewing capacity: West Yorkshire-based Saltaire Brewery has invested more than £1m in a new brew kit, which has doubled its brewing capacity to more than 100,000 pints per week. The investment follows continued and growing demand for Saltaire beer, particularly from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Co-op, which have increased distribution both in terms of new lines listed and increased store availability. Saltaire Brewery managing director Ewen Gordon told The Business Desk: “We’ve enjoyed year-on-year growth since the business was founded 12 years ago and the rise in the popularity of craft beer has almost certainly played a significant part of that. The new brew kit will be instrumental in allowing us to grow more ambitiously over the next year, we’ve got our sights set on a number of other significant developments and additions to the business, which will also support our growth plans and enable us to get our beer out there to more and more people.” The brewery, which was founded in 2005 and sits next to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saltaire Village, has developed more than 60 different beers to date.

Rockfish co-founder Mitch Tonks hands back menu development for Pullman services to Great Western Railway: South Devon multi-site operator and chef Mitch Tonks, the co-founder of seafood restaurant group Rockfish, has handed back the menu development for Great Western Railway’s (GWR) Pullman services to the train operator. GWR will unveil a new menu in the coming weeks following the end of the five-year partnership with Tonks. Tonks said: “It has been a great experience working with the team at GWR and I am delighted that, together, we have really progressed the Pullman offer by sourcing local ingredients from farms and fisheries on the GWR routes so that guests look out over the sea and land from where their meal was from.” GWR sales and marketing director Phil Delaney added: “Mitch has been a tireless advocate of the Pullman over the years, and it wouldn’t be where it is today without his knowledge, guidance and passion. It is a passion that is felt by every member of Pullman team and I know they are excited about taking our unique Pullman product forward.”