Tattu co-founder – 15% like-for-like sales growth giving confidence to forge ahead with expansion: Adam Jones, co-founder of contemporary Chinese restaurant group Tattu, has told Propel its like-for-like sales are up 15% so far in 2018, which is giving him the confidence to forge ahead with expansion. Tattu, which has venues in Manchester and Leeds, is to double its portfolio after acquiring sites in Birmingham and Edinburgh. Jones, who founded the company with brother Drew in 2015, said the company’s immediate focus had been to offer a quality product and dining experience rather than growth. However, he admitted demand and support from customers was now driving a period of growth for the company. He said: “We had 23% sales growth in 2017 and Leeds, which opened in June last year, has traded 30% above budget in the first 12 months. We’re currently operating at an increase of 15% on a like-for-like basis in 2018 and we’re still attracting new customers, which is great. Between 87% and 91% are first-time diners.” Jones said the company had been actively looking for a third site “after the fantastic reception in Leeds”, with Birmingham the “logical next step”. The restaurant will open in the Colmore Row district towards the end of the year. Jones added: “Birmingham has really diversified its offer and is attracting incredible operators. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to be part of. As for Edinburgh, the tourism sector is what really attracted us to the city alongside a strong corporate element. The St Andrew Square development is the perfect location.” The Edinburgh venue is expected to open next summer. Having developed its offer, Tattu is in the process of doing the same with its team. It moves into a dedicated head office in Manchester this week and has just taken on a finance manager. Jones said the company wasn’t looking beyond its next two venues but admitted he would like to eventually open a site in London. He added: “Every restaurant we open is unique and at this stage we are keeping growth in-house – we’re not going to develop into a chain. Obviously the next step for us is to head south and we would love to open in London if we can find the right opportunity as there is a market for our style of food. After Manchester, most of our bookings – about 25% – come from London, most likely from people coming to Manchester or Leeds for business. We have nothing else in the pipeline at the moment – Birmingham and Edinburgh are going to keep us busy for the time being. We are open to further opportunities – but only when the time is right.”
Pret A Manger chief and co-founders in line for bumper payouts following JAB deal: Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee is in line for a £30m payout when Bridgepoint’s £1.5bn sale of the company to JAB goes through. Sinclair Beecham, who co-founded the company in 1986 with Julian Metcalfe, stands to gain more than £200m from deal, while Metcalfe stands to earn a significant sum, according to The Sunday Times. Beecham retained a large holding in Pret when a majority stake was sold to private equity firm Bridgepoint for £364m a decade ago. His total return from the sale would have been significantly more due to interest payments and further share options under Bridgepoint’s ownership. As previously reported, each member of staff has been promised a £1,000 windfall when the deal goes through. JAB is a global investment firm with a proven track record of investing in premium brands. The transaction is expected to complete during the summer. When the deal was announced JAB partner and chief executive Olivier Goudet said: “Management’s proven track record and commitment to customer service, investment in innovation and approach to freshly prepared food positions Pret well as it capitalises on evolving consumer taste and lifestyle preferences. We look forward to working with Clive Schlee and his management team.”
Wasabi tops hospitality ranks in Sunday Times international track list:London-based sushi and bento business Wasabi is the highest-ranked hospitality operator in The Sunday Times’ latest International Track 200. The list ranks the fastest-growing overseas sales among Britain’s mid-market private companies, measured from firms’ last two years of accounts. Wasabi entered the list for the first time at 109th, with its percentage of international sales growth listed as 45.59% at £6.1m from total sales of £98.0m. Other companies on the list include Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog (129th from 193rd last year), management training company Mind Gym led by Octavius Black (131st from 151st), and coffee chain Caffe Nero (177th from 169th). In March, Wasabi secured a £30m revolving credit facility from HSBC to support its expansion plans. Founded in 2002, the company currently operates 55 UK sites and five in New York under its Wasabi and Bento brands. It also operates Korean restaurant brand Kimchee and Asian-inspired bakery Soboro.
Liverpool-based Pub Invest Group to launch RuPaul-inspired drag club: Pub Invest Group is to add to its wide-ranging Liverpool portfolio by launching a drag club in the city inspired by US television celebrity RuPaul. The former Lomax live music venue in Cumberland Street will be transformed into Out! Showbar & Club. The three-story space will host cabaret nights and drag acts seven nights a week, with an official launch scheduled for the weekend of 29 to 30 June, BDaily reports. Pub Invest Group’s other venues in Liverpool include McCooleys, Rubber Soul, Brooklyn Mixer and Blind Tiger. Earlier this year, the company turned the former First National wine bar in James Street into gastro-pub The Old Bank, while it is set to launch Einstein, a Bavarian bierhaus concept, in Concert Square this month creating more than 90 jobs. The company’s website states it operates more than 30 sites across the north west.
Anatolian concept Rüya opens Mayfair restaurant for first UK site: Turkey-based Doğuş Restaurant Entertainment and Management, led by Umut Özkanca, has launched its first UK venue – Anatolian concept Rüya in Mayfair. The restaurant has opened in Upper Grosvenor Street offering “sophisticated, contemporary dishes from the various Anatolian regions”. The 136-cover restaurant also features a private dining room and lounge. Colin Clague, who has worked at Knightsbridge restaurant Zuma, heads the kitchen at the venue, which is a second site for the Rüya brand. Dishes include 24-hour slow-cooked short rib with Turkish chilli barbecue glaze, and two-cheese Black Sea pide with slow-cooked egg. The drinks list includes cocktails and raki. Özkanca said: “We have taken authentic traditions I retain a deep personal connection to and interpreted modern details for the sophisticated London audience.”
The Ivy Collection launches Thames speedboat trip and dining experience: The Ivy Collection has partnered with Thames Rockets, London’s first speedboat tour operator, to launch a speedboat experience on the Thames followed by a three-course meal at The Ivy Tower Bridge. The deal, which will run throughout the summer until Friday, 31 August, will include a 40-minute, high-speed round trip, boarding at St Katharine Pier and jetting past the Docklands, Greenwich, the O2 Arena and beyond the Thames Barrier. The trip will be accompanied by a soundtrack rather than commentary. Last week, The Ivy Collection teamed up with the National Cookery School Guide to host a “restaurant recipes” experience. Executive chef Gary Lee hosted the event at the Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley Road, north London, followed by dinner at The Ivy.
Loch Lomond Brewery launches £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to double production: Loch Lomond Brewery has launched a £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to double production and bring packaging in-house. Co-founders Euan and Fiona MacEachern are offering 10.36% equity in return for the investment. So far, 100 investors have pledged £108,880 with 30 days remaining. The Scottish company’s beers are stocked in major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Co-op, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl, while it exports to Europe, Asia and the Nordics – selling more than 415,000 pints last year – and has just entered the Canadian market. It also plans to build a brewery, taproom, restaurant and visitors’ centre on the shores of Loch Lomond. The pitch states: “In 2011 we set out as a husband-and-wife team to create a brewery. Fast-forward seven years and we’ve gone on to win multiple awards (31 to be precise). We have on-boarded Brakes as a wholesale partner and we’re exporting 20% of production to Europe, Asia and the Nordics. Due to the increasing popularity of our beers we are near production capacity. We also outsource our packaging adding extra mileage to our beers before they reach our customers. Investment will enable us to purchase equipment to double production and bring our packaging operation in-house, enabling us to meet demand. We are in the planning stage with developers to open our first combined brewery and taproom on the shores of Loch Lomond, aiming to open by 2020. The footprint of the building will be 1,200 square metres, with a third of that space dedicated to a restaurant, visitors’ centre and store. We want this to become a key attraction for the loch’s annual four million visitors.”
Jamie Rollo – Merlin Entertainments’ Midway division is ‘attractive roll-out story’: Morgan Stanley analyst Jamie Rollo has said he believes Merlin Entertainments’ Midway division is an “attractive roll-out story with a long runway of potential expansion”. Midway is the division responsible for concepts that include Sea Life, Madame Tussauds, Legoland Discovery Centre, Dungeons, and the Eye as well as new brands Peppa Pig World Of Play (PPWOP), The Bear Grylls Adventure (BGA), and Little Big City. Rollo said: “Together these concepts cover 110 mainly indoor entertainment centres around the world. Expansion has been accelerating and the company expects to open a record nine sites this year, including its first PPWOP and BGA. There has been a changing geographical mix of openings, with Europe responsible for 75% of openings in the 2000s, North America responsible for half the openings between 2010 and 2018, and Asia responsible for an estimated 60% of openings during the next three years. This week, Merlin hosted a new brands event at the first site planned for BGA in Birmingham (UK), and outlined the potential for its three new Midway concepts to add at least 100 new sites and roughly £140m Ebitda over time, potentially circa 60% to Midway Ebitda (about 30% to group Ebitda). One of each of these will open later this year and, if successful, could lead to a step change in the division’s expansion profile. Merlin was clear that expansion of its existing Midway brands would continue and these new sites should boost growth, with PPWOP in particular potentially “transformational”. At around half group profit, we think Midway is an attractive global roll-out story, with a long runway of potential expansion. However, we expect subdued profit growth this year due to weak like-for-like sales as the company laps tougher London comps in the first half. We also note high single-digit percentage unit expansion does not mean high single-digit sales or profit growth as Midway generates about half its Ebitda from only five sites. In addition, its growing Asia weighting, where the brands are less well known and where there are fewer clusters, means new sites may take longer to reach target returns than in previous years. We forecast Midway Ebitda of minus 2% in FY18 compared with minus 6% in FY17 (both constant currency), before improving to 8% in FY19 as like-for-likes turn positive and the recent openings mature.”
Retro cafe Poppins bids to turn Dorchester amusement arcade into 37th site: Retro cafe Poppins has submitted plans to turn an amusement arcade in Dorchester into its 37th site. The arcade, part of the Forum Centre, has been closed for more than a year. Dorchester Town Council planning committee has decided not to object to the application, which will be ultimately decided by West Dorset District Council. If approved, the restaurant would open from 10am to 6pmduring the week and from 10am until 4pm on Sundays and bank holidays, Wessex FM reports. Poppins serves breakfast and lunch with an extensive menu that includes grilled dishes, fish, steak, omelettes, salads, jacket potatoes, burgers, snacks, sweet treats and desserts. The company, which was founded in 1979, currently has 36 independently owned sites, the majority in the south of England. The closest site to Dorchester is in Yeovil, Somerset.
Background Bars opens Bluecoats following Tottenham takeover: Jamie Rule and Louis Hymans, of Background Bars, the events management company behind gastro pop-up series Night Tales, has relaunched a Tottenham pub in partnership with Tom Gibson, who operates Ruby’s Bar & Lounge in Dalston. The partnership took over The Pride of Tottenham pub, near the north London football club’s stadium, and have now reopened it as The Bluecoats, with the kitchen run by independent burger restaurant Lucky Chip. The pub has been renamed after the 18th century building’s previous existence as The Blue Coats School For Girls and offers more than 20 lines of beer and cider – a mixture of craft, keg and cask – including brews from local companies such as Beavertown, Redemption and Pressure Drop. Rule said: “Opening a pub has always been a dream of mine and, being a local boy, when the opportunity came to take over this amazing building I couldn’t turn it down. I’ve walked past and admired it since I was a child so I’m really excited to give it a new lease of life.” Gibson also owns the Cat & Mutton in Broadway Market.
Camerons opens 15th Head of Steam site, in Birmingham: Camerons Brewery has opened its 15th Head of Steam site, in Birmingham, creating 35 jobs. The company has opened the 504 square foot venue in Somerset House in Temple Street offering locally brewed beer, including ales from Birmingham Brewing Company and Dig Brew Co. In total, it offers more than 100 craft beers, real ales and world beer from 43 keg lines and fridges. Last week, Camerons launched beer-tasting experiences at its Head of Steam pubs, with the aim to get more people trying and talking about beer. Camerons’ estate consists of more than 70 venues. It acquired The Head of Steam brand in 2014.
Bears to turn Wokingham Wetherspoon into its second restaurant: Bears, which operates a restaurant in Farnham, Surrey, is to reopen a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Wokingham, Berkshire, as its second site. Wetherspoon closed The Gig House on Sunday (10 June) having previously served a break notice with the landlord. The pub in Erftstadt Court was originally launched as a Lloyds No 1 venue. Bears owner Rupert Butcher will reopen the venue in early July offering craft beer and a range of freshly cooked dishes and pub classics such as fish and chips, steak and burgers alongside sharing platters. The menu will also include breakfast options, while live gigs will take place on Friday nights. Butcher told the Wokingham Paper: “’I am extremely excited to be bringing my experience and restaurant background to Wokingham. It’s a great town and I look forward to reinvigorating The Gig House to make it the must-visit spot to meet with friends, catch up over lunch or enjoy a fun night out.”
Belfast building housing barbecue brand Bubbacue brought to market: A building in Botanic Avenue, Belfast, which houses barbecue brand Bubbacue has been brought to market. The 4,200 square foot space is let in its entirety to Bubbacue on a ten-year term. The restaurant is on the ground floor, with office and storage space above. Offers are expected to reach in excess of £800,000. Neil McShane, director of capital markets at Lambert Smith Hampton, told Insider Media: “Botanic Avenue has continued to increase its popularity for eateries, targeting the young demographic. Investment opportunities such as this one, with a secured ten-year lease and no tenant break options in the sub-£1m market in Northern Ireland, are hard to come by. We anticipate a high volume of interest.” Bubbacue, led by managing director John Blisard and wife Karen, operates two sites in Belfast, with the other restaurant in Callendar Street. Blisard also founded burrito restaurant Boojum, selling the then five-strong chain in 2015 to David and Andrew Maxwell for an undisclosed sum.
Aktar Islam opens fine dining restaurant in Birmingham: Aktar Islam, former chef director of Birmingham-based group Lasan, has opened a fine dining restaurant in the city. Islam has launched Opheem in Summer Row celebrating the culinary heritage of India. The restaurant, within the former Mechu nightclub, aims to emulate the work of chefs attached to the royal court, with the menu’s inspiration from India going as far back as the 13th century. Islam said he was inspired by a cookbook he came across a few years ago based on 14th and 15th century cooking for the sultan of Delhi. The interiors of the 70-cover venue feature grey decor laced with materials such as stone, wood and metal. There is also a 14-cover private dining room. Aktar told Birmingham Live: “This is my first solo restaurant and it is very much my life’s experience on a plate. I wanted the interior to reflect the unique approach I’m taking with the food.” Islam stepped down from his role as chef director of Lasan in September last year to pursue other opportunities in the industry. His former business partner, Jabbar Khan, launched Lasan in the Jewellery Quarter in 2002 with £11,000 in his pocket. Since then, the group has expanded into an £8m business that includes Fiesta del Asado and Raja Monkey Cafe.
Team behind Glasgow cafe to launch restaurant for second site: The husband-and-wife team behind Glasgow cafe North Star will open an Italian restaurant for their second site. Maurizio and Ester Rossini will launch Rossini in Hyndland Street, reports Glasgow Live. No launch date has been set for the opening but North Star posted on its Facebook page: “We will keep you all updated soon on opening date and menus.” The Rossinis took over North Star, which is in Queen Margaret Drive, in 2011.
Nando’s adds to Liverpool presence: Nando’s has added to its presence in Liverpool by opening a site at New Mersey Retail Park in Speke. The restaurant is the second to open at the redeveloped complex following TGI Friday’s launch last month, while Wagamama is set to join the line-up later this summer, reports the Liverpool Echo. Nando’s currently has two sites in the city centre and one in Aintree, while another is set to open near Liverpool Shopping Park.
North east-based hotel group to turn Sedgefield pub into £1.5m restaurant with rooms: North east-based hotel group Ramside Estates is turning a Sedgefield pub into an upmarket restaurant with ten rooms. The Hope Inn is undergoing a £1.5m refurbishment to become The Impeccable Pig, which will also feature an upmarket brasserie, bar and beer garden. The bedrooms will span two levels, some with outside saunas and hot tubs on their own patio. The 125-cover restaurant will include a private dining room and a smart bar offering more casual options. Ramside Estates director John Adamson told Insider Media: “The Hope Inn is a local landmark and we are transforming it into something that will not only be a huge asset for the residents of Sedgefield but will attract visitors from far and wide.” Ramside Estates also owns Ramside Hall Hotel, Hardwick Hall Hotel and Bowburn Hall Hotel, all in County Durham.
Yorkshire Ventures gets go-ahead for £31m coastal development with destination restaurant overlooking North Sea: Plans for a £31m development on the North Yorkshire coast that would include a destination restaurant overlooking the North Sea have been given the go-ahead. Richard Jackson’s Harrogate-based property business Yorkshire Ventures, supported by Holder Mathias Architects and NTR Planning, has been awarded planning consent for the development on the 80.3-acre Raithwaite Estate, near Whitby. The estate currently comprises an 80-bedroom hotel, spa and restaurant, 100 acres of grounds and seven luxury cottages. The southern end is within the North York Moors National Park. The scheme proposes additional tourist accommodation comprising 82 luxury apartments, 71 cottages and 37 forest lodges. The restaurant would be built into a hillside, Insider Media reports. A “welcome hub” featuring a cafe and shop is also proposed, together with additional car parking, new roads and an extension to the footpath network. The project would support 269 jobs when complete. Yorkshire Ventures acquired Raithwaite Estate from administrators KPMG in March 2016 with the backing of secured pension lender Grosvenor Financial Consultants, which held ownership of the land and assets.
North east-based fish and chip shop Freddie’s opens second site, in Durham: North east-based fish and chip shop Freddie’s has opened its second site, in Durham. Founder Jolyon Fenwick, who launched the concept in nearby Stanhope in September last year, felt the county town was the natural choice for his next shop. Freddie’s uses homemade beer batter while sides are freshly made each day using local ingredients. The brand uses recyclable paper and paperboard packaging for its fish and chips, and sustainable fish. Fenwick told BDaily: “It occurred to me the great majority of young men killed on the Somme came from four places – London, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north east – places, as it happens, that were the ‘cradle’ of the British institution of fish and chips. It set me thinking it was therefore more than likely local, newspaper-wrapped fried fish and chipped potatoes were one of the last home comforts these men enjoyed before their departure for France. In homage to this, Freddie’s is named after a private from the north east who was killed on the Somme. His full identity will remain unknown.” Fenwick, who has published three books covering different tales from the war, added: “I opened Freddie’s because writing history books sadly won’t continue to maintain the roof on my rapidly dilapidating house. I’ve always loved fish and chips. I wanted to do them as well as I think they can be done.”