Rosa’s Thai Cafe aims for up to eight sites a year as it reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Thai restaurant group Rosa’s Thai Cafe is aiming to open up to eight sites a year as it looks to grow outside its main London heartland. The company revealed its plans as it reported a turnover and Ebitda boost in the full year before private equity firm TriSpan acquired a majority stake in the business. Turnover rose to £11,754,000 for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £8,198,000 the year before. Ebitda was up to £1,647,000, compared with £1,380,000 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down slightly to £705,375 compared with £722,496 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. During the period the company opened four sites – in West Hampstead, Seven Dials, Hackney and Tooting – and since the year end a further three sites have opened – in Ealing, Tower Bridge and Bluewater, Kent – taking the total to 15 sites. The company also has a site lined up in the Albert Docks area of Liverpool, which managing director Gavin Adair previously told Propel would act as a “bulkhead for a cluster of restaurants in the north west”. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The company’s strategy is to continue to invest in earnings-enhancing sites in London and across the UK, while investing in the teams and processes needed to support that growth. The group expects to continue its expansion plans by opening five to eight sites each year. Many of these are expected to be outside London and the recent opening in Bluewater has shown the concept is well received outside London.” Rosa’s Thai Cafe was founded by husband and wife Alex and Saiphin Moore, who opened their first site in Shoreditch in 2006 and remain involved in the business. TriSpan acquired a majority stake in Rosa’s Thai Cafe in June last year.
Street Feast welcomes more than one million visitors in 2018 as it seeks new venues for expansion: Street Feast, which is operated by London Union, has reported it welcomed more than one million visitors to its venues in 2018, while it is on the hunt for further sites around the capital. The company also held 400 corporate events with more than 100,000 guests in attendance, while its Winterville Christmas market returned for a second year on Clapham Common and saw more than 200,000 visitors. Street Feast added 20 traders to its line-up during the year. Regarding plans for 2019, Street Feast said it would host its first fully vegan street food party – Extraveganza – at Dinerama, its 1,000-capacity, year-round street food market in Shoreditch. The company said it would also expand its food offering with new street food traders added to its line-ups, while it has “big plans” to transform its venues in the summer. Hawker House, the company’s 2,000-capacity street food market in Canada Water, which also hosts conferences, will have its capacity extended to 3,000 in the summer. Street Feast also operates 700-capacity eating and drinking “rooftopia” Giant Robot in Canary Wharf and Model Market, a 1,000-capacity, 1950s-style market in Lewisham that operates from May to September.
Carluccio’s makes two more key appointments: Carluccio’s has made two new appointments as it continues to strengthen its senior management team to support the brand’s “Fresca” transformation programme. Bruce Craig has started in the newly created role of IT director, responsible for leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience and improve processes. Craig has a wealth of experience, joining from The Restaurant Group where he was head of IT operations. In addition, Carluccio’s has recruited Marco Barletta as operations manager from Fulham Shore’s Franco Manca. Prior to that, he held operational positions at Jackson & Rye and Strada. Barletta will lead delivery of the operational elements of the Fresca restaurant investment programme. Mark Jones, Carluccio’s chief executive, said: “2019 is set to be a transformational year for Carluccio’s as we redevelop the business and enhance the offering through our £10m Fresca roll-out. Our senior team is integral to its success and I am incredibly excited to be working with some real talent to drive the brand forward.” Carluccio’s recently brought in Graham Ford (from Bill’s) as its commercial director with Hilary Ansell joining next month (from Gordon Ramsay Group) as marketing director.
Crepeaffaire reports double-digit like-for-like growth over December and January period: Crepeaffaire, the crepe concept backed by BGF, has reported record growth during the 2018 festive period, with like-for-like sales up 18% and January 2019 sales to date up 22%, fuelled by new product initiatives and substantial organisational improvements implemented during the second half of 2018. Daniel Spinath, founder and chief executive of Crepeaffaire, said: “Our new product initiatives in the indulgent and savoury segments and notably our vegan and ‘free from’ ranges have been very well received by existing and new customers alike, and form the basis for further development in the months to come. Also, our recent organisational changes have greatly paid off, dramatically enhancing quality, speed of service and overall buzz.” The brand is on track to open a further five units in the UK during the coming two to three quarters and is working on a number of international projects to consolidate its existing business and open up new territories. Crepeaffaire’s airside launch at London’s Luton airport in December 2018, in partnership with The Restaurant Group, is exceeding expectations and paves the way for further expansion in travel hubs in 2019. Crepeaffaire serves freshly baked savoury and sweet crepes, also available as gluten-free and vegan options, made with organic flour and natural ingredients as well as high-quality waffles, organic coffee and soft drinks.
Pattiserie Valerie interim CFO – it may be six more months before invoice payments are back to normal: Patisserie Valerie’s interim chief financial officer has admitted he is having to contend with a large backlog of unpaid invoices and that it could take six more months before the system is back to normal. In a letter to Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee chairman Rachel Reeves, Nick Perrin revealed he had inherited a system in chaos from the previous executive team, which meant he has been unable to produce data on the group’s payment practices. “The group recognises its responsibilities to suppliers and is determined to correct the historical position,” he wrote. “This is a complex and time-consuming task. We are gradually ensuring overdue payments are made and that terms agreed with suppliers are adhered to, but there remains much to do to complete the task.” Perrin was responding to a request from Reeves demanding to know why Patisserie Valerie had failed to publish any reports on its payment practices and asking for information about its payment terms.
St Austell Brewery buys Bristol pub: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has acquired riverside pub The Lamplighters in Bristol, which was saved from the brink of closure five years ago when a group of friends took it over. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall said: “St Austell Brewery has an ongoing acquisition strategy to strengthen its award-winning estate of pubs and hotels across the south west. Set in a terrific location overlooking the river Avon, The Lamplighters is a classic community pub with a great food offering featuring excellent outdoor areas, including a south-facing beer terrace. With more than 160 years’ experience of championing the pub as the focal point of the community, we look forward to maintaining the character of the pub while at the same time developing the offering.” On its Facebook page, Friends Of The Lamplighters stated: “We would all like to pass on our gratitude to our brilliant customers, who helped make The Lamps what it is today.”
Bebo founders reopen 17th century Devon pub as part of village rejuvenation project: Technology entrepreneurs Michael and Xochi Birch, who co-founded social networking site Bebo, have reopened The Farmer’s Arms in the village of Woolsery, north Devon, as part of a wider rejuvenation of the village. The grade II-listed thatched pub dates to the mid-17th century and has been transformed into a pub restaurant offering two bars, a dining room, an upstairs lounge and garden with outside seating. There are also four open fireplaces, flagstone flooring and contemporary art. The pub’s executive chef is Ian Webber, former head chef of Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park Hotel in Devon. Guests can also order takeaway food from Woolsery fish and chip shop, which the couple bought in 2015, the same year they acquired the pub. The couple’s Woolsery Project also includes the village post office, which is set to undergo a renovation, and four guest cottages and a manor house hotel that will reopen in 2021. A 70-acre farm will be at the heart of the project, supporting all food and drink outlets. Michael Birch, whose grandmother was born in the village, said: “We want this village to thrive and our long-term goals are to preserve the historical architecture of the village, bring back its energy and vitality, and in turn create employment opportunities. We’re extremely excited to open The Farmer’s Arms, offering a warm and friendly pub celebrating the best of British tradition with a few unexpected surprises.”
Craft Beer Co secures Hammersmith site for eighth London venue: The Craft Beer Co, which operates seven sites across London and one in Brighton, has secured a site in Hammersmith. The company, founded in 2011 by Martin Hayes and Peter Slezak, has signed a lease for a pub at Hammersmith station, opposite the Apollo Theatre. Hayes said: “This is a very exciting new venue for us in a prime location. We are thrilled the landlord approached us to take over this highly desirable site. 2018 was a game changer for us due to the purchase of our first freeholds but this starts 2019 with a bang. It was ground-breaking for Peter and myself to have kicked off the UK craft beer pub revolution and it is immensely rewarding to still be going from strength to strength ten years later without taking external investment.” The venue will be reopen in March after a major refurbishment to create a “modern pub with old-school pub values and real hospitality at its core”.
Britannia Hotels reports turnover and profit rise: Britannia Hotels, recently named Britain’s worst hotel chain for the sixth year running by consumer group Which?, has reported sales were up 4% to £96.9m, while pre-tax profits rose from £19m to £20.6m in the year ending 31 March 2018. Last June, the company was fined £265,000 for seven breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations at the Adelphi in Liverpool – once the subject of a hit BBC fly-on-the-wall series. Britannia Hotels, which has bought six more properties, increasing its portfolio to 61, said its strategy was to “offer increasing levels of comfort and service while maintaining its highly competitive prices”. Alex Langsam founded the company more than 40 years ago, building an estimated £240m fortune.
East London Pub Co reopens The Gun in Spitalfields: East London Pub Co has reopened The Gun in Spitalfields almost four years after the venue closed because of redevelopment work. The company shut the pub, which had been around in one guise or another since the 16th century, in February 2015 prior to the demolition of the London Fruit and Wool Exchange in Brushfield Street. The pub has now resurfaced – opening in the ground floor of the redeveloped building. It’s not the first time the pub has moved or rebuilt. It began life as a tavern serving the soldiers of the Artillery Ground in the 16th century. At one point it moved from 31 to 54 Brushfield Street when Spitalfields Market was redeveloped in the late 1920s. East London Pub Co, which owns the Ten Bells in Spitalfields and The Lock Tavern in Camden, is running the pub as an all-day venue. Executive chef Jimi Tegerdine, previously group executive chef at LeVeL33 Restaurant, Craft Brewery & Bar in Singapore, has produced a standard pub menu of locally sourced dishes, reports Hot Dinners.
Gaucho appoints new executive chef: Steak brand Gaucho has appointed Max Castaldo as executive chef. He will research and develop the brand’s menus while coaching and training its chefs. Born in Argentina, Castaldo was most recently head chef and interim executive chef of The Lanesborough, overseeing the hotel’s food and beverage outlets including Michelin-starred restaurant Céleste. He began his career at Nobu Berkeley Street in 2010 before moving to three Michelin-starred restaurant Lasarte in Barcelona. He has also worked for Sushisamba and as head chef of W London hotel in Leicester Square. Gaucho reported its first signs of recovery since exiting administration with an 8% year-on-year rise in covers during November. Martin Williams, M Restaurants founder and a former managing director of Gaucho, was brought in to lead the brand as it exited administration in October after its acquisition by Lomo Bidco, an entity owned by Investec Bank and SC Lowy.
Yorkshire theme park reports turnover and profit boost following investment in facilities: The company behind Yorkshire theme park Flamingo Land has reported a turnover and profit boost following further investment in its facilities, including its restaurants and cafes. The theme park, holiday village and zoo is based in Malton, North Yorkshire, and employs almost 400 staff. It saw turnover rise to £29,141,024 for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £27,821,949 the previous year. Pre-tax profit increased to £1,766,850 compared with £1,335,504 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Flamingo Land invested £3.72m in tangible fixed assets during the year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors put the growth down to “further improvements in general park admissions and the success of the holiday village area”. Key projects completed included The Hub entertainment centre, with £1.08m spent finalising the kart racing circuit, and £328,000 on the Atrium. A further £729,000 was spent on updating restaurants and cafes around the site. The Peter Rabbit-themed area of the park was completed at a cost of £531,000, with investment also made in the holiday village and replacing parts of the caravan fleet. The company also invested in researching planning opportunities for an area of land in Scotland acquired the previous year. The report added: “The directors plan to invest in new rides and attractions as and when necessary to keep the theme park at the forefront of the sector.”
Dutch-inspired artisan chip shop concept Chip’d to open debut permanent site, in Chester next month: Dutch-inspired artisan chip shop concept Chip’d is to launch its first permanent site, in Chester’s Northgate Street in early February. Founder Andrew McKechnie has taken inspiration from “twice-fried” chips and sauces served in the Netherlands. He said: “On a recent visit to the Netherlands we found a few cool shops. The interiors were more like coffee shops – they didn’t sell fish or vinegar and the ingredients were really high quality. There was a buzz and everyone was smiling and having fun. I instantly fell in love with what they were doing and wanted to do the same thing back home. We want to be known for serving the best chips in Chester and are already in discussions about rolling out the brand and opening sites in New Brighton and Liverpool.” Chip’d has been operating at food and music festivals across the north west. It uses a “chip, flip, dip” cooking process. Each portion of chips is made to order using fresh potatoes that are chipped by hand. Once fried, they are flipped in sea salt and served in a cone with a range of dips.
Cornish events company passes halfway mark in £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand offering: Cornwall-based events company The Wyldes has passed the 50% mark in its £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for phase two of the development of its 10,000-capacity concert venue. The company is offering 4.76% equity in return for investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £5m. So far, 96 investors have pledged £168,450 with nine days of the campaign remaining. The 150-acre, eponymous venue near Bude overlooks an area of outstanding beauty and has hosted more than 50,000 visitors. Founded in 2008, the venue hosts its own festival and has seen a “6,313% increase in annual ticket sales between 2006 and 2018”. The pitch states: “The Wyldes has three permanent stages, eight bars, catering facilities, and a team and infrastructure in place. We are producing two or three large-scale music-based events per year during summer and we’re ready to improve our infrastructure and assets to bring a larger, more diverse range of increased-capacity shows throughout all seasons. These improvements will also increase the profitability of each event by reducing hire costs and enabling new revenue streams, including options for luxury accommodation on-site.”
Dakota to open fifth site, in Manchester this spring: Boutique hotel brand Dakota will open its fifth site, in Manchester this spring. The company will open the 137-bedroom hotel in Ducie Street in May. It will feature a brasserie, bar, champagne room and custom-designed “cigar garden”. Dakota is a partnership between hotelier Ken McCulloch and Evans Property Group. McCulloch said: “Great cities deserve great hotels and I am excited to bring Dakota to Manchester.” Dakota has sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds with future sites in the pipeline as the group continues to target key cities in the UK.