Pret A Manger to serve alcohol in US for first time at latest New York site: Pret A Manger is to serve alcohol in the US for the first time when it opens its latest site in New York. The company’s Penn Station outlet will have a full-service 12-seat U-shaped beer and wine bar. It will feature beer in bottles and on tap and wine from California, Italy and New Zealand. The Penn Station site – at 5,968 square feet, twice as big at its standard location – will also feature communal tables as well as high-top cocktail seating. By adding alcohol to its menu, Pret joins a handful of other quick-service eateries – Shake Shack and Chipotle, for example, plus fast-food spin-off BK Whopper Bar in Miami. Joanne Brett, president of the company’s US operations, told the New York Post: “Our baristas make thousands of coffees every day for our customers, so we thought, why not offer beer and wine too.” If the Penn Station bar concept is a hit, Pret may expand it to other US locations, Brett added. At the Penn Station Pret, customers will have to buy their food separately and bring it to the bar, a Pret spokeswoman said. Pret is opening another 12 stores in the US this year, compared with nine new stores last year. It has 76 sites in the US, in New York, Boston, Washington, and Chicago.

Brighton-based craft brewer takes on Ei Group site for first pub: Brighton-based craft brewer Brighton Bier has opened its first pub after taking on a shut Ei Group site in the city. The company has launched the Brighton Bierhaus, on the corner of Edward Street and George Street, which was previously known as the Thurlow Arms. Brighton Bier supplies wholesalers across Britain and as far afield as France, Italy, Singapore and Japan. The pub sells the Brighton Bier range as well as a variety of guest beers. It also has wine on tap. Landlord Rhys Davies told Brighton and Hove News: “There are not that many free houses or independent pubs left in Brighton. So we’re really happy to bring one struggling pub back for the community to enjoy.” Brighton Bier was founded in 2012 by Gary Sillence, who was head brewer at the Kemp Town Brewery at the Hand in Hand pub, in Upper St James’s Street. Having been a “cuckoo” brewer, the Brighton Bier business has since merged with wholesaler WithSoul and since 2015 has had its own brewery on the Belltower Industrial Estate in Roedean Road. WithSoul owners Stephen Whitehurst and Ollie Fisher have stayed with the business and are the directors of Brighton Bier along with Sillence.

Oh You Pretty Things signs agreement to open 11 sites within John Lewis stores: Champagne and cocktail bar Oh You Pretty Things has signed an agreement with John Lewis to open 11 sites within its department stores. Oh You Pretty Things confirmed the partnership following the opening of the first of the venues at John Lewis in Oxford Street, London. It is the fifth site in total for the company, which is aiming to raise £750,000 on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to continue expansion. The concept is designed specifically for regional shopping centres and department stores, aiming to offer shoppers a “taste of the high life” with champagne, cocktails, coffee and indulgent treats served at the bar “with a sense of theatre, flair and personality”. It already has bars at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Metrocentre in Gateshead, Trinity Kitchen in Leeds and Intu Lakeside in Essex, with these locations generating circa £250,000 Ebitda in the preceding 12 months. The company, founded by Craig Ince and Norris Panton, is offering a 20% equity stake in return for the £750,000 investment. So far, 18 investors have pledged £416,000. The company reported revenue of £1,782,000 in 2016 and forecast it would grow to £2,499,000 this year and £13,275,000 by 2020. The pitch states: “We anticipate a trade sale in three to five years’ time. The buyer is assumed to pay six times profit before tax, which could be achievable given a scalable business model and predictability of earnings. Investors could generate a 60%-plus internal rate of return should the business develop as anticipated and the exit assumptions prove reasonable.”

Chipotle raises prices by 5% in hundreds of US restaurants: Chipotle has raised its menu prices by 5% in hundreds of its restaurants in the US. The increase amounts to a $0.34 rise on a chicken burrito bowl in Washington. The price rises have been brought in at about 440 of Chipotle’s more than 2,200 restaurants nationwide, or about 20% of the company’s locations. Spokesman Chris Arnold told Business Insider: “We had been on record saying that we may raise prices in some of our restaurants, and we have done that. Even with the increase, Chipotle pricing remains very competitive within the category.” Chipotle is still recovering from a year-long sales downturn triggered by an E.coli outbreak that affected its restaurants in 14 states. Like-for-like sales fell 4.8% in the most recent quarter, though the company said it expects that metric to rebound and be in the high-single-digit range in 2017.

Patty & Bun opens ninth site, in Notting Hill: Better burger brand Patty & Bun has opened its ninth site, in Notting Hill, west London. The company has opened the restaurant in Pembridge Road. The venue has seating for 60 diners with a large bookable table out back. It also has eight counter-dining spots where customers can watch the chefs at work. The restaurant features Patty & Bun favourites such as Ari Gold (beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, and smokey mayo); and Lambshank Redemption (lamb patty with coriander, chilli, lettuce, buttermilk baby courgettes, pickled aubergine, cumin aioli, and feta). There is also a new dish, just for Notting Hill – The Chicken Feast, which is a collection of all its fried chicken, served on one big plate with sauces and pickles on the side, reports Just Opened London. Patty & Bun’s other sites are in Soho, London Fields, Marylebone, Shoreditch, Fitzrovia, Hackney as well as two outlets in the City.

Chateau Margaux heiress opens Marylebone wine bar: Alexandra Petit, heiress of Bordeaux-based wine producer Chateau Margaux, and restaurateur Natsuko Perromat du Marais have launched Clarette wine bar in Marylebone. The multi-level wine bar has opened on the corner of Blandford Street and Manchester Street and features mainly French wine alongside sharing plates. Petit and du Marais have appointed Chateau Margaux ambassador Thibault Pontallier to oversee the standalone venture, which is independent of the wine estate. Located in a three-storey London townhouse, Clarette promises to introduce a “refined, chic and stylish drinking establishment” to the neighbourhood, Hot Dinners reports. There is a large bar on the ground floor complete with communal table, while the first floor features a fireplace. There is also an outdoor terrace.

Honest Burgers opens first outlet outside London with Cambridge launch on former site of PizzaExpress’ Reys restaurant: London-based Honest Burgers, which is backed by Active Private Investment, has opened its first site outside the capital, in Cambridge. The company, led by Tom Barton and Philip Eeles, has opened the restaurant in Corn Exchange Street on the former site of PizzaExpress’ chicken concept Reys. It is Honest Burger’s 21st site in total having launched its first restaurant in Brixton in 2011. The menu includes a choice of eight burgers with rosemary salted chips along with a brunch menu. Barton told the Cambridge News: “We wanted to go somewhere where we had a bit of a tie, Philip growing up locally was a big benefit, he knew the area well. I wanted to open somewhere where the building felt right. We looked at quite a few restaurants in other areas in the UK. We never thought we would be here today. When we started in Brixton, we didn’t think this was a concept people would go mad for. We just did what felt right.”

Surrey-based mobile pizza trader to open first permanent site, looking to launch further outlets: Surrey-based mobile pizza trader The Pizza Project is to open its first permanent site and is looking to launch further outlets. Owner Jonny McCoy, who has been running the venture for more than five years, is opening the site in High Street, Merstham. He is aiming to open the cafe and restaurant, which will operate as a coffee shop by day and a pizzeria in the evening, by the end of May. The pizzas will be cooked in a wood fired oven and be just like those McCoy has been serving from his van. He told the Croydon Advertiser: “The pizza is going to be served from lunchtime onwards. In the morning [it will be] a kind of generally very cosy, nice atmosphere where you can sit down and enjoy some really good coffee. We want this to be the first of a few shops. We don’t want to stop with one shop. We would like to grow the business in both the shop as well as mobile.” McCoy started The Pizza Project after seeing a similar set-up in America at festivals.

Analyst – Domino’s Pizza is a buying opportunity: Numis leisure analyst Richard Stuber has argued Domino’s Pizza is currently a buying opportunity. He said: “Shares in Domino’s have fallen 20% since its preliminary results (9 March). We examine whether this correction is justified – the answer is no – and address concerns identified by some investors. Despite slowing like-for-like sales, we retain confidence in the cash generative (80% free cash flow conversion) and high return on capital employed (44%) model. We do not expect like-for-likes to revert to double-digit growth, but we do expect system sales (the key signal of health) to remain in high single digit, in line with the growth for the wider delivery market. We think this share price fall offers an attractive buying opportunity. There are more online food delivery options than before (eg Just Eat and Deliveroo) but Domino’s system sales growth of 14% still outperformed the wider market (+11%), benefiting from channel shift from telephone (-6% year-on-year) to online. Domino’s 950 UK stores are more than Pizza Hut (430) and Papa John’s (350) combined and with double the sales per store, meaning Domino’s has more than triple the combined marketing budget to spend on a sustainable basis. Store splits continue to have a circa two percentage points negative impact on like-for-likes with circa 6% of stores (52 in 2016) impacted by circa 30% fall in sales once their catchment area is divided. As roll-out has accelerated, the difference between like-for-like growth including and excluding splits has increased from 1.6 percentage points in the first quarter of 2015 to 2.4 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2016. Excluding splits, FY16 like-for-like sales was +9.8%. Store splits benefit the consumer (quicker, hotter pizza) and the franchisee (lower delivery and marketing costs). The economics behind store splits remains compelling; Ebitda per store (including splits) rose 4% to circa £160,000 implying less than three years payback. The two major franchisees (representing 40% of Domino’s Pizza revenue) are committed to their share of the pipeline. Domino’s has a policy of passing on moves in commodity prices to franchisees. We therefore assume general managers on commissary sales per store remains flat. Whilst £19 for a pizza may appear rich with 5% food cost inflation in the pipeline, it is comparable with Pizza Hut or Papa John’s who will equally suffer cost headwinds. Crucially, this headline price should not be taken out of context – 80% of Domino’s sales are discounted (average transaction price £19.50). Domino’s is trading near a five-year price-to-earnings ratio low. Having reported 16% earnings per share compound annual growth rate (2012-17), we forecast a similar 12% compound annual growth rate for the next five years. Trading on 21 times price-to-earnings ratio, this is a discount of 44% to Domino’s Pizza Enterprises and 39% to Domino’s Pizza.”

Two Burger King franchisees enter administration: Two companies that run more than 30 Burger King outlets across the UK have entered administration, with the future looking uncertain for their 1,000-strong workforce. Nick Cropper, Ryan Grant and Catherine Williamson of business advisory firm AlixPartners were appointed joint administrators over Millcliffe and CPL Foods on 7 April 2017. The companies run 36 franchised Burger King stores throughout the country and employ 1,000 workers across their network. They are both registered to addresses in Ipswich. The administrators were appointed after the businesses experienced cash flow pressure, primarily due to delays in developing and opening new stores. All the outlets will continue to trade while the administrators explore “all possible options for a sale of all or parts of the business”. They will also work closely with the franchisor, Burger King Europe, in finding suitable interested parties. Cropper said: “Our priority now is to work closely with the business and determine the optimum route forward for the companies as we continue to serve our valued guests throughout the UK. We are confident the companies are an attractive proposition for a range of potential buyers and, as such, we expect and welcome contact from interested third parties.”

Hotcha opens 13th site with Bournemouth launch, plans five more stores in 2017: Hotcha, the Chinese takeaway franchise, has continued its expansion in the south of England by opening its 13th site, in Bournemouth and plans to open a further five stores this year. The company, founded in 2011 by James Liang and Andy Chan, has opened the outlet in Wimborne Road. The store, which has a 15-strong team, has seating for up to six customers. To standardise product quality, all core ingredients, including meat, fish, marinades and sauces, are prepared by Hotcha’s central production facility before being sent to stores where they are used to prepare dishes in line with Hotcha’s house recipes and presentation styles. Liang said: “Our ambition is to become the first national Chinese takeaway chain in the UK and the opening of our latest store in Bournemouth is a natural step as we continue our rapid growth from our beginnings in Bristol six years ago. Following our £7.5m funding round in 2016, we remain well positioned to deliver our pipeline of a further five stores openings across the UK in 2017.”

East Anglia-based Bed Restaurant Group secures Chelmsford site: East Anglia-based Bed Restaurant Group has secured a site in Chelmsford, Essex. The company, which is set to open a restaurant in Ipswich according to its Twitter account, acquired the lease of the former Waterfront restaurant in Wharf Road through agent Savills. Bed Restaurant Group has agreed to a 25-year lease on the ground floor restaurant space totalling 8,028 square feet and will pay an annual rent of £140,000. Mike Storrs, associate director in the business space team at Savills Chelmsford, told the East Anglian Daily Times: “Chelmsford’s stature as a restaurant and leisure destination has grown considerably in recent years, with the new Bond Street scheme dramatically raising the city’s profile and widening the range of offer for both day time and evening dining.”

Bespoke Hotels takes over management of Devon hotel: A luxury hotel and golf course in Devon is set to be operated and managed by Bespoke Hotels under a new agreement. The Highbullen Hotel Golf & Country Club can trace its history to 1879 and is set within a 127-acre estate with views across the Mole Valley and Exmoor. The Victorian gothic manor house features 12 bedrooms, including the Loft Suite complete with its own steam room and infrared sauna, with a further 30 bedrooms across The Courtyard, Gardener’s Row, Sportsman’s Lodge and Stable Cottage. The hotel’s facilities also include an 18-hole USGA specification golf course, golf simulator, seven LTA-standard tennis courts with access to professional coaching, a pavilion, an outdoor and 20-metre indoor swimming pool with sauna, steam-room and jacuzzi, and the two AA Rosette Devon View restaurant. Under the new agreement, Bespoke will provide management and operations services while the hotel will retain its family ownership. Nick Turner, managing director of Bespoke International, said: “We are delighted to have entered into this arrangement with Highbullen, a property of huge potential in a fantastic location.”

Adam Simmonds to open year-long pop-up in Soho: Chef Adam Simmonds, who has previously worked under Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White, will launch a year-long pop-up in Soho next month. His debut London opening, The Test Kitchen, opens in May. Agent Restaurant Property, brokered the deal for the 702 square foot unit in Frith Street. The lease runs until summer 2018 with a rent of £75,000 per annum. The relaxed and informal pop-up will be a pre-curser to a permanent site and will give Simmonds the opportunity to explore and trial new flavours, practice cooking techniques, as well as evaluate service and presentation. All seating is at the chef’s counter meaning any questions about the dishes can be directed straight to Simmonds. Diners will be invited to appraise their experience so at the end of the residency, a test-proof menu will have been created and can then be implemented at Simmonds’ permanent site, which is set to open in early 2018. The Test Kitchen will be a celebration of Simmonds’ culinary journey to date, including working in award-winning kitchens such as Le Gavroche, The Halkin under Gualteiro Marchesi, and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The site was occupied by tapas bar Barrafina. Metrus was the other agent involved in the property deal.

Oakman Inns launches Ban the Straw day: Oakman Inns, led by Peter Borg-Neal, has launched its own Ban the Straw campaign for Earth Day on Saturday (22 April). The company currently uses more than 100,000 plastic straws a month across its 17-strong estate. While the company is highly rated by The Sustainable Restaurant Association for its many green policies including plastic, glass and container recycling, the sheer number of straws consumed had begun to be a concern. Borg-Neal said: “Our monthly straw consumption sounds enormous, but compared with the estimated 500 million straws that are used and discarded in the US every day, it’s still a hugely dangerous and an everlasting drop in the ocean. And that is rather the point. It sounds ridiculous, but it is entirely accurate to say, every plastic straw that was ever made, still exists today. They pollute landfills, rivers, roadsides, sewers, beaches and of course oceans and this relatively small amount this pub group is taking out of circulation, needs to be repeated by every one of my colleagues across the hospitality industry. At Oakman we try to live by our values every day, and we hope those values and our commitment to sustainability means that everyone here is contributing to a better future for us all.”

Ei Group roadshow set to be biggest to date: EiLive 2017, the new name for EnterpriseLive, is set to be the biggest yet with thousands of Ei Group publicans and more than 170 suppliers attending the six trade shows, held across the country during April and May. National “Pub Fortnight”, a new Ei Publican Partnerships campaign supported by Heineken and VisitEngland, will also be launched. The national initiative, which champions the traditional British community pub, will drive footfall to participating pubs between Saturday, 22 July and Sunday, 6 August by running a series of bespoke activities and giving away 15,000 free pints via an online app. Sales and marketing director James Armitage said: “We’re dedicated to developing our publicans and supporting them with the latest trends that will enhance their businesses. This show gives publicans valuable face-to-face time with their peers and the industry’s best suppliers to help enhance their offers.”

Zonal completes roll-out at SA Brain: Welsh brewer, pub, hotel and coffee shop retailer SA Brain has completed the roll-out of new Zonal technology in its 110 managed houses. The installation of Zonal’s core Aztec EPOS software took three months to complete and follows on from the roll-out last year of 73 Coffee#1 shops. The technology is fully integrated and encompasses loyalty programmes, Feed It Back guest feedback and gift cards. In addition, 57 sites have also gone live with Zonal’s handheld, digital order pad, iServe. SA Brain is also piloting Zonal’s Kitchen iQ, which is expected to be deployed into more sites later this year. Zonal’s sales and marketing director Clive Consterdine said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the SA Brain team, which has embraced the new technology and the training we have provided, which has helped make this such a smooth and successful transition.”