JD Wetherspoon, Pret A Manger, Leon and Zizzi scoop Peta vegan food awards: JD Wetherspoon, Pret A Manger, natural fast food brand Leon, and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi have won awards for their vegan food from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). JD Wetherspoon’s sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry with pilau rice – one of only two vegan-friendly main courses on the pubco’s menu – was crowned the UK’s best vegan curry. Zizzi won the award for best vegan pizza, while Pret A Manger, which is eyeing expansion of its Veggie Pret concept, scooped the title of best vegan sandwich for its Indian-style chana chaat flat bread. Last year, Pret posted double-digit growth in its vegetarian food items. Leon was crowned as maker of the best vegan salad, for its vegan super clean quinoa salad, while Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien’s cocoa and pear cake was dubbed best vegan cake. The rise in popularity of avocado and other vegetarian offerings is partly linked to millennials, who are spurning meat and unhealthy foods. Peta UK special projects manager Dawn Carr told City AM: “From the corner shop to luxury restaurants, businesses are jumping to feed the public’s hunger for healthy, plant-based food.”
CPL Online wins award for use of big data in learning technologies: CPL Online, the provider of e-learning courses and online business system solutions for the licensed retail hospitality sector, has won an award for its use of big data in learning technologies. The company was named an honouree at the US-based Computerworld Data+ Editors’ Choice Awards, which recognise the top 20 organisations that have harnessed big data to deliver significant business value. As a joint submission with HPCC Systems, the award recognised within CPL Online’s e-learning courses how big data is utilised to track user trends, flag suspicious activity and identify the best performers. Since going live with the HPCC platform in 2012, big data has transformed CPL Online’s business operations – assisting in the delivery of more than 4.5 million e-learning sessions. David Dasher, managing director of CPL Online, said: “Computerworld is one of the most influential voices in the business technology sector, so it’s a great privilege to be announced as an award honouree. Over the past four years, we have developed a close working relationship with HPCC Systems, which has enabled us to flourish and exceed clients’ expectations. We’re doing things they never thought were possible. As we continue to develop with HPCC, we’re almost reforming ourselves as a data engineering company.”
Ravinder Bhogal opens debut restaurant Jikoni in Marylebone: Food writer and chef Ravinder Bhogal has launched her debut restaurant – Jikoni – in Blandford Street, Marylebone, after partnering with restaurateur Ratnesh Bagdai. Jikoni, meaning “kitchen” in Swahili, features flavours from the UK, East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The site comprises 1,733 square feet spread over two floors, with the menu split into snacks, small plates, big plates and desserts. Scotch eggs, a signature at Bhogal’s pop-ups, take pride of place, including quail scotch egg with banana ketchup and pickled cucumber. Small plates include an Indian take on the American “sloppy Joe”, made with Herdwick mutton keema, pickled onions and mint chutney, while big plates feature comfort food such as shepherd’s pie. There is also a daily changing rice plate celebrating curries from around the world. Bhogal said: “I am so excited to welcome guests to Jikoni and what I hope will be an extension of my home and kitchen.”
Five Guys lodges plans to open in Exeter: Better burger brand Five Guys has lodged plans to open a site in Exeter. The company has applied to the city council to open the restaurant in Queen Street on the site of the former Ruby’s Modern Diner. The venue is expected to open from 11am to 11pm daily, reports the Exeter Express & Echo. Five Guys has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013. Earlier this week, the company said it expected to expand its international footprint from eight countries to more than 30 during the next five years as results “outpace” its most “optimistic projections”.
Smashburger gets go-ahead for third UK restaurant, in Bath: Better burger brand Smashburger has been given the go-ahead for its third UK site, in Bath. The company has been granted permission by Bath and North East Somerset Council to move into the SouthGate shopping centre and take up space occupied by doughnut company Krispy Kreme and photographic shop Jessops. The existing tenants are due to relocate elsewhere in the complex, reports the Bath Chronicle. Smashburger, which has 335 restaurants in 35 US states and seven countries, was founded by former McDonald’s executive Tom Ryan. It signed a partnership with AL Ventures, part of the MSG Group, last year to launch in the UK. The company plans 35 restaurants in the UK in the next few years, with the first in Milton Keynes having launched in May and its second in Brighton due to open next month. It also has sites lined up in Glasgow, Newcastle and Wednesbury.
Mystery takes hospitality approach to rebrand English language school sites: Restaurant and brand design agency Mystery has applied its approach to hospitality design by transforming branding and interiors for English language school operator Stafford House International (SHI). Following its purchase of international sites, SHI asked Mystery to redefine branding for the business as it transitioned from a UK operation to an international group. Mystery said SHI recognised an opportunity in the market to differentiate itself through a hospitality-led design scheme rather than a corporate educational space. Mystery created a new brand identity, marketing material and messaging, as well as designing interiors for sites in San Francisco, San Diego, Calgary and Toronto. Talking about interior design at the San Francisco site, a Mystery spokesperson said: “The result is a warm, welcoming and fun space that both excites and inspires students to socialise in English and celebrates the possibilities the future holds.”
Pint Shop opens second site, in Oxford: Pint Shop, the award-winning Cambridge beer house, has opened its second site, in Oxford. The concept, co-owned by Rich Holmes and Benny Peverelli, has opened in a building in George Street that dates to the 1930s and was formerly a building society. The decor has been designed with this in mind, anchoring it in the 1930s but with modern touches and lots of wood and tiling throughout. The food at the Oxford site is an extension of the Pint Shop offer – simple, seasonal British dishes with an emphasis on meat and local ingredients. The bar snack offering has been enhanced, with dishes including a slicing pie, trays of roasted vegetables, and hot chipped potatoes with curry sauce poured over them from a flask. Pint Shop has also developed a stout-based beer bread to be sold at the bar. In addition, Pint Shop has brewed a beer – “Hoog and Doog” (High and Dry) – with Netherlands-based De Molen brewery to celebrate the opening. It is a pale ale, “dry hopped” with grapefruit. Holmes told the Oxford Mail: “We’re so excited about opening in Oxford. It’s a beautiful, vibrant city we can’t wait to be part of, and the site we have chosen is perfect.”
New Mexican taqueria concept Corazón to launch in Soho: New Mexican taqueria concept Corazón is set to launch in Soho in November. The new restaurant will open at the former Posini’s site in Poland Street and feature tortillas made in front of customers. The brainchild behind the concept is Laura Sheffield, who hails from Texas but has spent the past ten years working in London restaurants such as Fischer’s and The Riding House Cafe. Chef Paul Daniel’s menu will feature ten signature tacos alongside a variety of daily specials. Fillings will include chorizo verde (house-made green chorizo with confit onions, coriander and salsa verde), and barbacoa (12-hour slow-roasted lamb rib, neck and shoulder with pasilla rub, new potatoes, mint and tomatillo salsa). The menu will also feature ceviche, tostadas and salads, Hot Dinners reports. The drinks list will revolve around margaritas, agave and rum-based cocktails, alongside Mexican and American beers and house-made tepache (lightly alcoholic, fermented pineapple juice) and hibiscus iced tea. Corazón will also offer a dedicated brunch menu, which at the weekends will include a selection of breakfast tacos.
Cabana launches new loyalty scheme: Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana has launched a new loyalty scheme. The company has partnered with European loyalty programme provider Coniq on the initiative. The new data-driven loyalty programme delivered by Coniq further rewards Cabana’s most loyal customers, enabling it to incentivise existing customers and recruit new members to the Cabana Club Card. This will enable Cabana to better understand its customers by tracking their journey from online and mobile channels using unique tracking codes. Via a built-in automated communication programme, the Cabana Club loyalty scheme will offer a monthly changing reward reflecting seasonal and cultural events. Cabana head of marketing Lizzy Barber told BDaily: “We have spent a great deal of time assessing a solution that was appealing to our customers and yet easy to understand and use from a customer and staff perspective. At Cabana, we promote an ethos of surprising and delighting our customers and so a loyalty scheme that rewarded regular customers seemed a natural fit. The Cabana Club Card will give us a greater level of insight into our customers, enabling us to make their brand encounter at each touchpoint much more personal so we can continue to meet and exceed their expectations each time they visit.” The roll-out of the Coniq loyalty scheme will be implemented across all of Cabana’s estate this month. Cabana, which was launched in 2011, has ten sites with its 11th due to open in Southampton before the end of the year.
Pub Solutions takes on fifth and sixth Beacon sites taking Enterprise total to 12: Plymouth-based Pub Solutions has taken on its fifth and sixth sites under Enterprise Inn’s Beacon managed tenancy concept, taking its total number of pubs with the company to 12. Pub Solutions directors Richard Ing and Ian Brierley have added The Duke of York in Exeter and The White Heather in Ferndown, near Bournemouth, to their growing portfolio of more than 40 pubs. Five of Pub Solutions’ Beacon sites are on long-term tenancy agreements, with the intention to convert a further three in its portfolio to long-term tenancies in the coming months. Pub Solutions was founded nine years ago by Ing, a former operations director at Ushers of Trowbridge, and Brierley, a business development manager at Ushers and Innspired. Ing said: “We incorporate our well-trained managers into the right premises, working closely with leading pubcos such as Enterprise. We like its Beacon model because it gives us the freedom to run a pub business our way, with the dedicated support of a large company behind us, and we find it fits perfectly with what we specialise in, which is wet-led pubs.”
Vegetable-focused restaurant concept Spinach to launch in London next month: New vegetable-focused restaurant concept Spinach is set to launch in London early next month. The all-day venue in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, promises an ever-changing seasonal menu, with ingredients sourced as locally as possible and dishes ranging from lunchtime salads to sharing plates in the evening. Meat and seafood will, however, still feature strongly on the menu, with dishes including tempura courgette flowers with goat’s cheese and orange blossom honey; smoked bacon quiche with sautéed leeks, parmesan and thyme; and Cromer crab with peas and coriander. Spinach is the first solo project from Melissa Harwood, reports Hot Dinners, with the venue split into two with a bar at the front and restaurant at the rear.
More than 900 pubs sign up for Punch free pint promotion to support Cask Ale Week: More than 900 Punch pubs will take part in the company’s free pint promotion this year in support of Cask Ale Week. Each pub will give away 70 pints of any cask ale they stock, with the promotion starting on Thursday (22 September) and running until Sunday, 2 October. Consumers can redeem their free pint by registering on Punch’s website – www.freedrinkspubs.co.uk – after which they will receive an email and be able to redeem their free pint using a smartphone or tablet. Punch is also encouraging pubs to support Cask Ale Week by sending more than 1,000 of its venues a point-of-sale (POS) kit containing bunting, posters, a cask ale quiz and a “how to” guide on promoting the event. Punch category manager Stephen Martin said: “This will be our third free pint promotion, following our huge success last year, where more than 12,000 pints were redeemed across 850 pubs that took part. The event, free pint offer and supporting POS should attract customers to participating pubs, where additional events such as ‘Meet the Brewer’ nights, beer festivals and cellar tours are taking place.”
Plans revealed for waterside restaurant terrace as part of Lowery Outlet redevelopment at Salford Quays: Plans have been revealed for a waterside restaurant terrace as part of a £13m redevelopment of the Lowry Outlet at Salford Quays. Owner Peel has launched its new Lifestyle Outlets brand, which reflects a move to offer a greater proportion of food and beverage within outlets as a destination rather than just food-on-the-go for shoppers, and a greater emphasis on entertainment to lure more premium brands to the malls. Peel said it wanted the Lowry Outlet to reflect the “where brilliance happens” slogan of nearby Media City. Reconfiguration of the 300,000 square foot outlet centre has already started, with Marks & Spencer’s relocated 15,000 square foot store opening last month as part of a strategy to vacate retailers from waterfront units facing the quays. These units will make way for half a dozen restaurants in an aim to boost footfall along the ship canal waterfront, while more entrances to the cinema will be created. The group’s outlet centre in Gloucester is two years ahead of Salford and has attracted All Saints, Jaegar and restaurant chain Bill’s. Jason Pullen, managing director of Lifestyle Outlets, told Place North West: “Shopping has become a major leisure activity and people expect more from a centre than just background music – they want an experience. That’s why great brands and entertainment are an integral part of our appeal. Our innovative approach means our retail schemes are twice the size of traditional outlets, with leisure and food and beverage added to the outlet core.”
Caffe Nero set to open third Hull site next month: Caffe Nero is set to open its third site in Hull next month. The company is opening the outlet on the former site of the Hull City FC ticket office outside St Stephen’s shopping centre. The 1,200 square foot, 50-seat cafe is due to open on Monday, 31 October. The area around the new building will be landscaped with granite planters and outdoor seating, along with better lighting. Cycle parking will also be provided. A Caffe Nero spokeswoman told the Hull Daily Mail: “We are delighted to be opening in Hull in the near future.” Caffe Nero’s other sites in Hull are within the House of Fraser department store in Paragon Square and in Savile Street.
Police deny Fabric closure was part of vendetta: Police have denied closing iconic London nightclub Fabric as part of a vendetta to “get the club back” for a previous incident. The Farringdon superclub was permanently shut earlier this month after a review sparked by the drug-related deaths of two teenagers. The club had maintained police carried out a vindictive campaign to see it closed down. Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie said the club had “put some noses out of joint” when it won a previous decision over licensing restrictions in 2015. But the Metropolitan Police, which argued that keeping Fabric open would cause more drug-related deaths, denied there was any vendetta against the club. Ryan Browne and Jack Crossley, both 18, died after taking drugs at the club on 26 June and 6 August. Commander Nick Davies, of Islington Police, told a BBC Radio 1 documentary: “I have only been working in Islington since May, so for me to say it’s a vendetta, I don’t think so. I had no knowledge of Cameron [the co-founder of Fabric] before this period. But there have been two deaths on my watch, which makes me have to do something.” Last year, a judge ruled in the club’s favour over restrictions related to the use of sniffer dogs and ID scanners. Leslie told the documentary: “If I am honest, I think we came out of that and put some noses out of joint and that is why we are here today. It is my very firm belief it was a feeling that ‘nobody does that to us’ and they got us back.” But Islington Council leader Richard Watts said: “Nobody at Islington Council takes any pleasure about what happened to Fabric. We completely understand Fabric’s cultural importance. The decision our licensing committee took was based on evidence Fabric wasn’t meeting the conditions of its licence.”
Nottingham-based operator to open new bar and restaurant concept in city on Friday: Brown and Brown Industries, the family-run company behind Nottingham restaurants and cafes such as Curious Manor, The Parlour, Cured, and Brown’s Cafe and Bistro, will open a new bar and restaurant concept in the city centre on Friday (23 September). Curious Townhouse, a sister outlet to Curious Manor in Trinity Square, is moving into the former Loom bar and restaurant in High Pavement in the Lace Market area of the city. A statement on the company’s website said: “We are proud to create unique and unusual establishments in the Nottinghamshire area. We also aim to showcase locally sourced fresh products and jolly good food ideas. Our ambition is to be daring and to be that little bit different, occasionally throwing caution to the wind and pushing ourselves to the brink of madness!” The Loom closed in June after its owners ran out of cash. It was opened last October by Vesper TPG, headed by Poseidon Kumar and his father Pradip Kumar. It doubled as an entertainment venue, with live shows on a purpose-built stage so guests could listen to music or watch a show.