MJR Group to reopen Birmingham nightclub closed following drugs deaths after licence reinstated: Paddy Whur, of solicitors Woods Whur, has succeeded in getting the licence reinstated for the former Rainbow Venues nightclub in Birmingham for live music venue operator The MJR Group. MJR, which operates Dingwalls in Camden as well as live music venues in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leamington Spa, Sheffield and Leeds, will now reopen the site in Lower Trinity Street as The Mill. The previous operator had its licence revoked by Birmingham City Council in November after a 19-year-old student died after taking ecstasy in the club the night before. It was the second death at the premises. Bristol-based MJR will bring its own management team and controls to the venue. The company recently took over the licence of nearby venue The Arena. The Mill will offer live music and DJs. Whur said: “I am pleased with the approach the authorities have taken towards us and with the extra effort my client has put into the application process. It is a live example of a partnership approach that has worked in bringing a quality operator into premises that previously had issues. Operators can only go so far and face an increased risk to their licences when the use of drugs is so prevalent. I have had these issues to deal with in many premises from Fabric in London to premises in Sheffield. The challenge continues for all operators and the arguments persist as to whether they should face the loss of their licence if there is no evidence of dealing and/or overt consumption of drugs. We have seen many operators become more vigilant and also employ agencies such as The Loop to provide education and welfare services should people, who may have consumed drugs away from the venue, become ill in them. This is a constant challenge and operators cannot take their duties likely.”
Three Cheers Pub Co to open second boutique hotel, in Shepherd’s Bush with spotlight on gin: Three Cheers Pub Co, led by Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox, is to open its second boutique hotel. The rooms will open above the company’s latest pub, The Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush. The opening of the hotel will coincide with World Gin Day on Saturday, 9 June in a nod to the pub’s history as one of the earliest gin palaces in London. The five new rooms at The Princess Victoria, which dates to 1829 and still serves more than 100 varieties of gin, have been named after gin cocktails – The Negroni, Bramble, Vesper, Gibson and Bronx. Each individually designed bedroom will take cues from gin botanicals featuring artwork from the Adam Ellis studio, while an in-room breakfast will be provided during the week and full breakfast served in the downstairs dining room at weekends. Every customer will receive a complimentary gin and mixer on arrival. Three Cheers Pub Co acquired the Uxbridge Road venue in November and operates the site in conjunction with Ei Managed Investments as part of its Managed Expert partnerships initiative. Three Cheers Pub Co launched its first rooms above The Tommyfield in Kennington in 2014. The company operates eight London pubs in total. Three Cheers Pub Co was formerly known as Renaissance Pubs.
Hickory’s to open eighth site, in Worcester: American-style smokehouse and barbecue brand Hickory’s, backed by Piper, will open its eighth site, in Worcester in late summer. The Pavilion in the Park pub, located in Tybridge Street, is set to be transformed into a Hickory’s Smokehouse, bringing the restaurant chain to the city and creating 80 jobs. The major revamp will see the pub, which is adjacent to Cripplegate Park, transformed with every aspect of the venue being redesigned. The restaurant will have a new open kitchen and chef’s bar, booth seating, a cinema room, along with dining areas for up 150 guests internally and more outside seating available. The outside area will also undergo a makeover, with a sheltered veranda and outdoor seating, together with children’s area and table tennis zone and firepit. Hickory’s Smokehouse owner Neil McDonnell said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be launching in the city and are really looking forward to meeting with local people and getting to know the community. Worcester has been on our ‘wish-list’ of locations for some time so we are delighted to have acquired a site so close to the city centre.” Hickory’s Smokehouse already has two other branches in the West Midlands, plus restaurants in Coventry, Chester, two in Merseyside and another in North Wales.
Halewood Wines and Spirits set for £200m sale: The family that owns Halewood Wines and Spirits, which produces Lambrini sparkling wine, Crabbie’s ginger beer and City of London Gin, is looking to sell the business, The Sunday Times has reported. Judy Halewood, who chairs Halewood Wines and Spirits, is seeking a buyer for the company she inherited from its founder, her late partner John. She has hired NM Rothschild to carry out a “strategic review” to explore options, including a sale, according to City sources. Most of Merseyside-based Halewood is owned by John Halewood’s executors, family trust and Judy Halewood, with small stakes held by senior management. John Halewood founded the business in 1978 as Halewood Vintners. Over the next 30 years the entrepreneur grew it into one of Britain’s largest alcohol distributors. Halewood turned over £216.7m in the year to July 2017, making a £4.8m pre-tax profit, according to Companies House. The move to consider a sale of the business comes seven years after John Halewood died of heart failure following an all-day drinking binge at his Cheshire mansion. The company could be worth as much as £200m.
JD Wetherspoon ‘disappointed’ after £3m Conwy plan rejected: JD Wetherspoon has voiced its “disappointment” at the rejection of its bid for Conwy’s Civic Hall and revealed it had planned to spend £3m on the site. The company was hoping to buy the historic property for a new pub – and said it would create 50 jobs. But Conwy Council has rejected the offer, which was the only bid on the table for the site. The council is going back out to market with an enhanced prospectus. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are very disappointed with the council’s decision. We have a proven track record of converting wonderful buildings, many of them listed, across the UK. We believe the pub would be a great asset to the town and bring the building back to life as well as act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the town. Our aim was to spend £3m and create 50 jobs.”
M&B signs to open Miller & Carter steakhouse at Durham development:Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has signed to open a site for its Miller & Carter steakhouse brand at the Milburngate development in Durham city centre. The 5,200 square foot restaurant will be set across two floors including a mezzanine, with views of Durham’s riverside, cathedral and castle. The opening will create 30 jobs. Miller & Carter will join an Everyman boutique cinema and a Marston’s Pitcher & Piano site at the development, alongside a 92-bedroom Premier Inn that will feature a first northern venue for Whitbread’s Bar + Block all-day casual dining brand. Milburngate is being developed by Arlington Real Estate and the Richardson family to create a “regionally significant destination” that will create more than 1,000 jobs. M&B acquisitions manager Ginny Uttley said: “We are delighted to be a part of this new development in Durham and look forward to another successful Miller and Carter opening.” A CGA report published last month revealed Miller & Carter is currently one of the brands with the most momentum in the out-of-home eating and drinking sector. It has more than 100 sites in the UK with the next one to open in Burton on Friday, 1 June.
Marston’s appoints interim chairman: Marston’s has appointed Carolyn Bradley, currently the senior independent director, as interim chairman of the board with effect from Friday, 1 June. The company stated: “As previously announced, Roger Devlin will step down from his role as chairman of the board at Marston’s with effect from 31 May 2018. A search process to find a successor is under way and a further announcement will be made in due course.”
Innspired Leisure applies to open fifth Players Bar: Innspired Leisure has applied to open a fifth Players Bar, in the former Loveshack nightclub in Durham – it has existing sites in Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds and Birmingham. The club, which is part of the Walkergate complex, has been empty since last August when Loveshack closed. MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has now called for Durham County Council to refuse the licensing application because of her concerns over the concentration of premises at Walkergate. It follows her call for a review of licensing at the complex in the light of the death of Durham University student Olivia Burt, who died of head injuries after a crowd surge outside Missoula, in February. She said: “Given the complex and interwoven issues the tragic events outside Missoula in February have raised, including the management of the night-time economy, the suitability of the Walkergate complex for a concentration of late licences and the local authority’s licensing policy as a whole, I really hope the licensing committee will consider the impact another bar in the Walkergate complex will have on public safety and associated issues in Durham, and reject this application.” Innspired Leisure, which is led by Jonathan and Gordon Codona, runs amusement arcades, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and bingo halls.
Pure wins food-to-go innovation award for the second year in row: Pure’s Halloumi Super Bowl Salad has been named as the most innovative food-to-go product at the 2018 British Sandwich and Food-to-go awards, known as “The Sammies”. Pure also won this award in 2017 for its deli pot, A Bit Moorish. Both of these products are vegetarian and although 30% of Pure’s range contains meat or fish, it is its “commitment to food that is not only delicious but sustainable, that keeps Pure as the market-leader in the food-to-go sector”. Pure co-founder Ed Bentley said: “We are delighted by this award and would like to thank all of our team for its continued hard work and skill in keeping Pure at the very top of the food-to-go market. Food-to-go is the highest growth and, therefore, the most competitive part of the eating out market. So to be recognised by our peers as the most innovative of everyone is very pleasing. Next year we will go for the hat-trick!”
Newcastle-based operator lodges plans for second site: Newcastle-based operator Viehard, which is behind Quayside eaterie Uno’s, is planning to open a second restaurant and bar, in the city’s Bigg Market. The company, run by Uno’s owner Stevie Pattinson and fellow director Richard Nellis, has applied for a licence to open Hibou Blanc. It proposes to breathe new life into a building that has been empty for more than a year following the closure of cocktail bar and eaterie The Gentleman, reports Chronicle Live. The application to the city council states: “The premises will trade primarily as a restaurant and sale or supply of alcohol will be ancillary to the premises’ main use as a restaurant.” Pattinson has operated Italian restaurant Uno’s on the Quayside since 1989.
Former Norn chef patron returns to Edinburgh for new Scottish dining concept: Scott Smith, a protégé of Michelin-starred chef Geoffrey Smeddle, is to launch new concept Fhior in Edinburgh city centre next month. Smith, former chef patron of Norn restaurant in the city, will launch the venture in Broughton Street on Wednesday, 6 June. Fhior, which means “true” in Gaelic, will feature members of the Norn team including Smith’s wife Laura. It will be a “refreshed and refocused take on Norn”, offering modern Scottish food. Fhior will be divided into a 32-cover dining room and a combined cafe, bar and shop area seating 12 and offering coffee, pastries, drinks and bar snacks. Smith plans to introduce his own produce, including his signature beremeal bread, for customers to purchase. Smith said he intends to build on the experience he gained as guest chef at London’s Carousel to use Fhior to host events featuring “some of the best chefs from across the UK”. He said: “I want to create a place with vibrancy that is fresh, bright and light with service informed yet casual, and cooking that is honest and clean.”
Liverpool-based Japanese restaurant Izakaya to start expansion with Wirral site: Liverpool-based Japanese restaurant Izakaya is to start expansion by opening a site in the Wirral. The new venue will open in New Brighton at Marine Street Social – a multi-use venue set to launch in the seaside resort later this month. Izakaya co-owner Kurt Wilson said the new venue would offer a wider, more Pan Asian-led menu including several duck dishes. He told YM Liverpool: “We’ve been looking for a site on the Wirral for some time as many of our customers have expressed a huge interest in us opening there. When we saw the Marine Social site we jumped at it given the demand and we know Wirral is crying out for more variety, especially Japanese cuisine.” The new site will open on Friday, 25 May alongside other operators that will include Chutney Street Food and Wallasey-based dessert-maker Yog Time. Izakaya’s Liverpool site is in Castle Street.
Shortlist revealed for best multiple operator as part of Ei Group national awards: Ei Group has revealed the shortlist for the best multiple operator award as part of its national awards scheme. The six operators are Chris Bulaitis (Ever So Sensible Restaurants), Robert Thompson (north east England), Mark Oldfield (north west England), Joy Cooke and Adam Edmeades (Wales and the West Midlands), Matt Bonilla (north west England) and Bruno Nunes (Creative Hospitality Group). The best multiple operator category is one of 11 categories at the Ei Group Awards for Excellence – the company’s revitalised awards programme. Ei Publican Partnerships managing director Nick Light said: “This award scheme is a fantastic opportunity not only for us to celebrate our outstanding operators across the estate, but also for our publicans to learn from the best and inspire others to continue raising their business profile.” The winners will be announced on Tuesday, 10 July at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire.
Chester boutique hotel brought to market for £2.9m: Agent Christie & Co has brought boutique hotel Edgar House in Chester to market off an asking price of £2,950,000. The Georgian house overlooks the River Dee and features direct access from the city walls. It offers seven bedrooms across two floors, with a guest lounge, cinema room, commercial catering kitchen, and a one-bedroom apartment with private access. Also included in the sale are riverside restaurant Twenty2, off-street parking for 12 cars, and a two-bedroom detached house next door with private parking and garden. Owners Tim Mills and Mike Stephen have gained numerous awards for their venue since acquiring it in 2010, including TripAdvisor’s best small hotel in the world and The Sunday Times’ number one UK city hotel. Tom O’Malley, senior agent at Christie & Co, said: “There is a gap in the market for luxury wedding and celebration venues in Chester. In the first quarter of 2018, Edgar House received 82 enquiries for wedding functions to be held in the hotel, without them even marketing events as one of their services. Architectural drawings have been completed for an orangery-style extension overlooking the river to create an additional 75 covers. Edgar House presents a terrific opportunity to acquire a thriving business and wedding venue.”
Cotswolds Distillery secures £145,000 grant towards new visitors’ centre:The Cotswolds Distillery, which produces artisan gin and whisky, has secured a £145,000 grant from the Rural Development Programme for England towards the launch of a visitors’ centre. The company has already passed its £2m fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to “build brand awareness and long-term growth”. The company is offering 6.23% equity in return for investment. So far, 642 investors have pledged £2,192,880 and the campaign is overfunding with 17 days remaining. A company spokesman said: “The new visitors’ centre is one of the key pillars of our brand development strategy. It will allow us to diversify our tour offering, including the opportunity to run more in-depth tastings and evening events. Serving as our brand home, the centre will include tasting rooms, an expanded shop, exhibition space and a cafe. The centre will also have interactive exhibition spaces and a viewing area to allow drop-in visitors to see our team in action when tours are fully booked. This is a huge vote of confidence from the UK government, which will allow us to truly enhance our visitor experience at the distillery.” Last week the company signed a lease on a site in Bourton-on-the-Water to open its first off-site shop.
Boxpark Croydon named world’s most innovative food and beverage concept: Boxpark Croydon has been named the world’s most innovative food and beverage concept at this year’s RLI Awards. The global awards recognise leaders in the retail and leisure sectors. This year the ceremony was held at the Natural History Museum in London. Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade said: “This is a special award. Congratulations to the entire Boxpark team and special thanks to Croydon Council, Schroders, Boxpark tenants and, most of all, the people of Croydon for their support. Croydon we did it!” Last week, Boxpark Wembley revealed it had agreed terms for 75% of its units, with a three-month waiting list for applications. The third Boxpark will open later this year and will be its largest venue to date. Boxpark is also seeking open land or vacant plots within mixed-use development schemes as it gears up for further expansion.
Hollywood Bowl switches to paper straws: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator, is to phase out serving drinks with plastic straws and use biodegradable paper variants instead. The paper straw roll-out will see all 59 Hollywood Bowl Group centres migrate from plastic straws by 31 July. The new straws are made from 100% virgin wood pulp from renewable sources. Unless customers specifically request them, the company has opted to only serve straws with milkshakes, cocktails and slushies. Hollywood Bowl Group product director Mark Francis said: “Our removal of all plastic straws from our 59 bowling centres across the UK marks our commitment to looking after the environment and is a change we hope to see across businesses nationwide.” George Frangeskou, director of Global Procurement Services, Hollywood Bowl’s straw supplier, added: “The call for action in ending the use of plastic straws is one we take very seriously indeed.”
Brewhouse & Kitchen launches summer menu: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has launched its summer menu. New dishes include British farm assured “beer-can” chicken and West Country crab cakes. The menu includes 23 vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian dishes with options such as soft shell tacos filled with Panko breaded tofu, vegan-friendly loaded nachos, falafel and beet burgers, rosemary focaccias, mac and cheese melts with chilli jam, and Sri Lankan vegetable curry.
AB InBev launches Stella Artois on-trade ‘beer and bites’ campaign:Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has launched an on-trade campaign for its Stella Artois brand in a bid to harness the trend for premium experiences and food and drink pairings. The Beer and Bites campaign is being trialled at 50 UK venues, with Greek olives offered for every Stella Artois purchased. In-trial pubs also feature branded jars on the bar alongside olive dishes and toothpicks. Stella Artois senior brand manager Chris Johnston said: “For our on-trade partners, Beer and Bites will help to deliver an authentic, premium experience to their customers, ensuring their bars stay busy over the coming months – helping to increase dwell time, drive rate of sale, and boost perceptions.” Meanwhile, AB InBev has also launched a global advertising campaign for Budweiser aimed at this summer’s FIFA World Cup that has gone live in more than 50 countries. The campaign, Light Up the FIFA World Cup, will have a significant television presence through Budweiser’s partnership with ITV, which has exclusive broadcast rights to half of all matches. The campaign will involve a chatbot called Bud Bot, which will allow fans to vote for the official man of the match, enter competitions and win prizes. Budweiser will also produce noise-activated cups, which light to the sound of cheering and clapping. They will be official cups at World Cup stadiums and on sale in Asda stores in the UK. The brand will also moor a boat on the Thames that will screen matches live.
Birkenhead-based brewer plans Highland return for second site:Birkenhead-based Glen Affric Brewery has unveiled plans to build a craft beer bar and brewery in a small village in the Scottish Highlands. The company plans to demolish the derelict Glen Affric Hotel in Cannich and open a new-build brewery by spring 2019. Co-founder and head brewer Craig McCormick’s family bought a bar next to the Glen Affric Hotel in 2011, with the aim to open it as a brewery. However, the plans were put on hold amid an ongoing eviction saga at the hotel, with the facility built near Liverpool instead in 2016. If given permission, the company’s new craft bar and brewery will offer 16 draught beers as well as cans. McCormick told The Press and Journal: “Glen Affric is definitely the birthplace of the whole idea. I think it will be huge for the area. The new site we are proposing will be geared towards tourists.”