Shoreditch bar McQueen to launch steak restaurant with Richard Sandiford: Shoreditch bar McQueen will launch a new steak restaurant next month with the menu specially created by Richard Sandiford. The former Hawksmoor head chef is set to play an integral consultancy role at the venue in Tabernacle Street, encompassing everything from devising the dishes to training the kitchen team when The Grill at McQueen opens on Tuesday, 4 October. Taking its name from the iconic Hollywood star, the new 50-cover restaurant will take its cues from the US, with diners able to choose from an extensive selection of steaks. Hawksmoor’s Richard James will be head chef at the restaurant. Sandiford said: “I’m really excited to be part of this new venture at McQueen and have created a menu that highlights the very best of the seasonal produce in the UK. Each ingredient comes from suppliers I have worked with over the years, and all are locally sourced – even the bread comes from just around the corner at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Hackney. Guests can expect some really special cuts of meat at The Grill.” Earlier this year, McQueen launched “posh dog” pop-up Rockadollar, the brainchild of Sandiford and events manager Emma Jerrard, in its new outdoor space.




Macellaio RC to open third London site next month featuring theatrical in-house butchery and Ligurian bakery: London-based Italian restaurant Macellaio RC will open its third site next month featuring two new concepts – a theatrical in-house butchery and a Ligurian bakery. The company, founded by Roberto Costa, will open the venue on Saturday, 1 October in the recently refurbished Union Yard Arches in Union Street, Southwark. The beef will be dry-aged on-site for five to seven weeks and hung behind glass. Inspired by the numerous theatres in the area, a stage will extend into the restaurant between two large banquet tables on which the Macellaio RC team will showcase the best cuts of the day. A white marble butcher’s block will be framed by curtains in the ground-floor dining hall, where butchers and chefs will prepare steaks, carpaccios, tartars, and cured meats in front of diners. It will also be the first restaurant by Genoa-born Costa to feature his take on a Ligurian bakery or “pizzeria secondo me”, where hand-made dough, which takes 48 hours to prepare, will be produced daily using only water, natural yeasts and Italian flour. The bakery will serve a range of traditional Ligurian breads, vegetable tarts, fresh pasta and pastries. The restaurant menu will feature Fassona beef from small artisan farms in north west Italy. The dishes will be prepared simply, seasoned with rock salt and Tuscan olive oil to allow the natural flavours to take centre stage. Macellaio RC’s other sites are in South Kensington and Exmouth Market.




Daniel Thwaites agrees deal for historic Chester building: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has agreed a deal to redevelop a historic building in Chester city centre. The company has agreed a 150-year lease with Cheshire West & Chester Council to revamp Dee House despite objections from residents who campaigned for it to be restored as an amphitheatre. Daniel Thwaites’ proposal is understood to include a hotel and visitor centre and is subject to planning permission. Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing at Cheshire West & Chester Council, told Place North West: “We can confirm that Daniel Thwaites is the successful bidder for the development of Dee House. We are currently still within an EU procurement exercise and will be able to provide further details in the next few weeks.” Dee House is 300 years old and a listed building that has been vacant since 1993. Historic England wants it retained. A council report published this month into the leasing decision argued “only fragments of the amphitheatre survive as most of the stonework had previously been removed for re-use elsewhere”. The part of the amphitheatre Dee House sits on was covered in the 1960s. Dee House has been previously used as a convent and an office.




Tasty gets go-ahead to open Wildwood restaurant in York: Tasty has been given the go-ahead to open a Wildwood restaurant in York. The company has been granted permission by City of York Council to convert the Timberland clothes shop in Low Petergate into its latest site, reports York Press. Planning agency Bidwells said in a written statement with the application that Wildwood was an “expanding group of restaurants that serve freshly prepared food, sourced locally”. It added: “Principal meals comprise grilled dishes, pizzas, pastas and burgers at affordable prices aimed at all ages. It will also provide an outlet for locally grown produce used in the creation of the meals. This local sourcing will be of benefit to local suppliers and traders and the company looks to work with the local community.” Bidwells said the building was ideally located for Wildwood and said it would offer increased choice for local residents and workers and would boost the local economy with about 40 jobs. Wildwood currently has 36 sites in the UK.




MeatLiquor opens East Dulwich restaurant, ninth UK site: MeatLiquor, co-founded by Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis, has continued its expansion by opening its ninth UK site and tenth overall, this time in East Dulwich. The new venue in Lordship Lane will feature the company’s signature burgers, barbecued chicken wings, fries and desserts, as well as a “triple chilli challenge”, which is free if you eat it in fewer than ten minutes. It also offers shakes, cocktails, beer and, of course, spirits. MeatLiquor’s other London sites are in Covent Garden, Islington, Marylebone and Hoxton Market, with regional sites in Brighton, Bristol and Leeds as well as an international site in Singapore. The company also operates a ChickenLiquor store in Brixton. The next MeatLiquor site to open will be in Croydon Boxpark.




Newcastle Gin Company receives licence to start distilling from city’s only working in-house gin still: Newcastle Gin Company, part of Vaulkhard Group, has received its licence from HM Revenue and Customs to start distilling from the city’s only working in-house gin still. It means Bealim House can now legally start to distil its Newcastle Gin on-site under duty suspension, where previously it had been distilled at Durham Distillery, which Vaulkhard Group partnered with earlier this year to create Newcastle Gin Company. The 400-litre, eight-foot custom-built Bealim House gin still is encased behind bulletproof glass and has a specially constructed bonded warehouse in the basement for the back-of-house distillery. Harry Vaulkhard, director of Vaulkhard Group and Newcastle Gin Company, said: “The application process has been incredibly lengthy and challenging, which I believe is largely due to a spike in applications for craft distiller licences across the UK. The idea was to offer our customers something a bit different to other popular ‘gin bars’. Instead of simply compounding gin we wanted to create our own unique taste and brand of gin, as well as providing a visual and unusual talking point within the venue. We have seen increasing demand to produce Newcastle Gin, which has been challenging for Durham Distillery. However, now we can distil on-site we’ll aim to produce up to 400 litres a week, which will allow us to sell the product to the public and other leisure outlets.” Newcastle Gin will also be available to buy by the bottle in a number of Vaulkhard Group’s other venues, including Barluga bars in Newcastle and Morpeth, and Perdu in Newcastle city centre. The on-site distillery will also offer guests a chance learn about distilling and take part in specialist masterclasses.




Iraqi cuisine concept Juma Kitchen secures extended residency at King & Co in Clapham: Iraqi cuisine concept Juma Kitchen will launch an extended residency at independent Clapham pub The King & Co following a successful series of supper clubs and pop-ups across London. The residency will launch on Monday, 3 October and run daily throughout the month, showcasing an array of Iraqi small and large plates ideal for sharing, plus regularly rotating specials and weekend brunch dishes, when the venue will also offer a meal option featuring bottomless spicy bloody Marys. Juma Kitchen founder and head chef Philip Juma has worked in well-known London kitchens including The Savoy and, most recently, Ottolenghi’s NOPI. He founded Juma Kitchen in 2012. The King & Co in Clapham Park Road has collaborated with a number of London pop-up chefs and street food traders during the past few years, including Tem Ban, Allihopa, The Bell & Brisket and Fowl Mouths.




Heavenly Desserts gets go-ahead for sixth site, in Coventry: Artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts has been given the go-ahead to open its sixth site, in Coventry. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert an empty unit in Trinity Street into its latest venue. The restaurant will be open between 9am and midnight on weekdays, from 9am to 1am on Saturdays, and 11am to 1am on Sundays and bank holidays, reports the Coventry Telegraph. Established in 2007, Heavenly Desserts focuses on “quality and variety, which extends to both take-out and eat-in menus”. The brand has sites in Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Preston.




Tootoomoo opens Islington restaurant, fourth north London site: Healthy pan-Asian restaurant group Tootoomoo has opened its venue in Islington, the company’s fourth north London site. Tootoomoo Islington, which is in St Paul’s Road, also offers takeaway, collection and delivery services and is described as a “relaxed, vibrant and fun Asian tapas restaurant, transporting hungry Islingtonians from London to the authentic, open and honest ‘shophouses’ of Vietnam and Malaysia, cooking up quality street food inspired by Asian street markets”. Named after an Indonesian folklore story about a hungry giant, Tootoomoo is the brainchild of Philip McGuinness and executive chef Ricky Pang, where sharing plates take centre stage. Pang’s menu combines a fusion of Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese influences to create a unique Asian tapas. Dishes include shichimi squid, sushi, Thai green curry, duck with pancakes, lemongrass tiger prawns, and popcorn shrimp. There is also an array of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes, while cocktails have a distinctive Asian twist, including the Caipirinha, which comes in a choice of lychee, mango, passion fruit, pineapple or chilli flavours. Tootoomoo’s other venues are in Crouch End, Whetstone and Highgate.




JD Wetherspoon plans roof terrace at Leeds train station pub: JD Wetherspoon is seeking permission to refurbish its pub at Leeds train station, adding a roof terrace as part of the proposal. The company has applied to the city council to revamp and extend the venue. Alongside a reconfigured basement area and revamped ground floor, approval is sought for a new roof terrace and seating area, reports Insider Media. The single-storey flat-roof building the pub is located in was constructed in the late 1990s as an extension to the northern concourse of the station. The station, its northern concourse, 1 Aire Street, and the Queen’s Hotel are all grade II-listed buildings, as is the Wetherspoon premises by virtue of its integration with these structures. As well as allowing the site to achieve its full potential, Wetherspoon said the scheme would maintain continuing employment for at least 50 full and part-time jobs.




Papa John’s franchisee opens second site, targets four stores in West Midlands: Papa John’s franchisee Harry Johal has opened his second store, this time in Aldridge, near Sutton Coldfield, as he aims to run four sites in the West Midlands. Johal has opened the venue in Anchor Parade, creating 20 jobs, having launched his first outlet in Walsall last summer. He said: “Before joining Papa John’s as a franchisee, I worked as a store manager for a rival pizza firm for six years. However, Papa John’s pizza is simply better than the competition!” 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.




Smoking Goat founder to open Kiln concept in Soho this month: Smoking Goat founder Ben Chapman will open his new restaurant concept Kiln in Soho on Friday, 30 September. Chapman describes Kiln as a side-of-the-road restaurant, with a short grill menu and a daily noodle dish. His menu has been inspired by the rural simplicity of the Thai borderlands and dishes will combine British produce with Burmese and Yunanese spices – grilled or cooked using a wood-burning kiln. The restaurant in Brewer Street will feature high stools at a long, stainless-steel counter curving around the room and in front of the open kitchen, which will work with whole animals bred specifically for the restaurant. Chapman said: “Many of Kiln’s recipes have been developed while travelling with the team in the northern Thai regions, particularly villages near the Myanmar border, where the Chinese influence is most prevalent. As with Smoking Goat, our aim with Kiln isn’t to replicate these dishes in London but to base what we do around the most flavourful, well-sourced ingredients we can get here rather than import.”




Punch reopens Leyton pub as ‘21st century London local’ following £300,000 investment: Punch has reopened a pub in Leyton, east London, following a £300,000 investment. The company has transformed the former Shoe Laces sports bar in High Road into a “quintessential, 21st century London local”. It is called Pepper’s Ghost in honour of Leyton illusionist John Henry Pepper, and is run by new publicans Jeff Ginsburgh and Victoria Saunders. The pub has been remodelled and redecorated to create a more spacious bar and dining area. It also boasts an updated look and feel with new furniture, fixtures and fittings. Punch area operations manager Tom Langridge said: “This marks an exciting new era for the pub, with Pepper’s Ghost proudly offering all the ingredients that go into making a great London local – fantastic food, real ale and live entertainment, all within a welcoming setting. Under Jeff and Victoria’s leadership, I am certain the pub will have a very prosperous future ahead.”




Tim Barrett – ‘fall in free cash flow per share means JD Wetherspoon stock is overbought, switch to The Restaurant Group’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said the fall in free cash flow per share at JD Wetherspoon means the stock is overbought and he believes investors should switch to The Restaurant Group. Issuing a ‘Reduced’ note on the Wetherspoon shares with a target price of 745p, Barrett said: “Like-for-like growth of 3.4% was well ahead of the market (Peach +0.7%) and was price-led. Encouragingly, management believes the price increases have stuck, although it is not promising further increases in the short term. Cost pressures resulted in 55 basis points of margin attrition, albeit weighted to the first half. The main driver was staff costs, which increased by 12% versus a 1% increase in average pub numbers. Importantly, the sale of 80 smaller sites could add circa 40 basis points to group margin and this may have been one factor explaining the better fourth-quarter margin performance (8.2% versus 6.9% in the first nine months). The free cash flow fell by 15% to 85p per share. The working capital inflow was lower than in recent years, reflecting fewer openings, but maintenance capex fell by £10m to £34m (2.5% of sales), which may not be sustainable. Most of the £54m share buyback was funded by debt, meaning lease-adjusted net debt/Ebitda is now 4.4 times, versus 3.9 times three years ago. Note that with a 25% payout ratio, the first £14m of annual buybacks is in effect matching the 50% payout of Wetherspoon’s peers. For FY17 we assume like-for-like sales of 3.1%, a small moderation from fourth quarter 2017’s 4% but still sufficient to cover the anticipated cost inflation (2.5% to 4% in wages, 1% to 2% in other costs). Helped by a £4m reduction in interest costs from swap expiry, this drives underlying earnings per share growth of 7% and broadly flat free cash flow. Wetherspoon has outperformed the FTSE All-Share Index by 17% year to date and now trades on a CY17 stable free cash flow yield of 7.8%. With maintenance capex at 3% of sales this yield decreases to 7.0%. While there may be upside risk if Wetherspoon can push prices further, this is not our base case assumption. In addition with leverage at an all-time high, we do not expect share buybacks to continue indefinitely. Our top pick in pubs/restaurants is The Restaurant Group, where the potential turnaround under new management is not reflected in the free cash flow yield (2017E) of 9.2% in our view.”




Britvic competition helps festival-goers clean up their act: Britvic Soft Drinks partnered with plastics recycling organisation Recoup to launch a competition to encourage the 25,000 people attending Liverpool’s Fusion Festival to recycle their empty bottles. Large recycling bins were sited near Britvic’s soft drinks bar and consumers who returned to recycle their bottles were rewarded with a goody bag containing an entry form for a prize draw. Every hour during the festival, which featured Olly Murs, Busted and Jason Derulo, a winner was awarded a pair of Golden Circle wristbands, giving them access to the VIP area. During the course of the two-day festival, 10,000 bottles were recycled. Britvic corporate social responsibility manager Lauretta Lamont said: “As a business we have committed to making our packaging more sustainable and have a responsibility to ensure the environmental impacts from such a critical component of our products are minimised. Promoting recycling is just one of the ways we are making a difference and educating consumers for the future.