Byron appoints Sophie Michell as food and drink director: Better burger brand Byron has appointed chef and food writer Sophie Michell as food and drink director. In her new role, Michell will use her extensive experience to develop all of Byron’s food and drink recipes, driving the brand’s menus in an “exciting new direction”. She joins Byron, which is backed by private equity firm Three Hills Capital, having worked in professional kitchens for more than 20 years, including executive chef of Belgraves Hotel and Home House. Michell is also part of the team behind Gorgeous Kitchen at Heathrow Terminal 2. Michell has also forged a career as a food writer and television presenter, publishing eight cookbooks and hosting television shows such as Cook Yourself Thin. Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “Sophie’s appointment is the first key strategic initiative in our overall plan to position the brand to be the best in what is a rapidly changing market. Sophie has forged an impressive career and we’re delighted she will join Byron as food director. Sophie’s expertise, passion and enthusiasm for food will put new ideas and energy into Byron’s recipes and menus as we drive the brand forward.” Michell added: “I am really looking forward to working with Byron’s passionate team to develop and expand the food offering, injecting some new flavours while retaining that familiar Byron taste.”
Wagamama outperforms UK market every week for five consecutive years:Wagamama reported it has now outperformed the market every week for five years. The company’s sales have been ahead of the Coffer Peach Tracker for an unprecedented 260 consecutive weeks. Wagamama, which has outperformed the market by 9.5% over the past five years, saw sales grow 9.7% in the 40 weeks ending 3 February 2019, compared with the same period the year before. The Coffer Peach Business Tracker is the industry sales monitor for the UK managed pub, bar and restaurant sector. It collects and analyses performance data from about 50 operating companies, representing large and small groups, on a weekly and monthly basis and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. Wagamama chief executive Emma Woods said: “The Wagamama team is unbelievably chuffed to have reached the five-year milestone of outperforming the tracker (that’s 260 weeks)! We love the restaurant sector and our guests and admire all our restaurant business friends who also serve them tirelessly, day in, day out. There are plenty of commentators who will happily tell you this sector is doomed but today we stand proud and say this needn’t be the case. Discerning customers will always choose brands and businesses that have a real passion for what they do, starting with happy teams who deliver great food and great service. We’re very proud Wagamama is in great company in delivering that.” The Restaurant Group bought Wagamama last year for £559m.
Morso to expand with direct investors after unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign: Barak Peled, commercial director of pasta and grappa concept Morso, has told Propel he is working with a number of private investors to support the company’s expansion plans after it was unsuccessful in its bid to raise £250,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Peled said Morso was now working with startup fund-raising platform SeedLegals to convert the majority of the money pledged in the Crowdcube campaign into direct investments. Morso’s own community of customers and existing investors had pledged the majority of the sum, believed to be about £100,000, and converting these pledges to investments would enable the Morso team, which Propel understands is close to signing for a second site, to build on the restaurant it launched in St John’s Wood in June 2018 following a series of pop-ups. Peled said Morso was in talks with another investor, which didn’t want to invest via the crowdfunding campaign, to operate that second site under a joint venture. He added: “We have a lot of faith in our concept, as do our existing investors, so we intend to push on. We have learned a lot from the crowdfunding campaign, especially when it comes to going through the due diligence process, and we’ve also been able to raise our profile. It’s disappointing we weren’t successful with the campaign but we’re putting that behind us and moving on.” As reported by Propel last month, Morso aims to build a 20-plus estate by targeting London suburbs.
Caring in talks to sell minority stake in Annabel’s: Richard Caring is in talks with Middle Eastern investors about the sale of a minority interest in his Annabel’s private clubs empire. Caring, who made his first fortune in textiles before moving into restaurants, is understood to be in talks with Qatari investors over a stake of about 25% in Mark Birley Holdings, which owns Annabel’s in London’s Mayfair, as well as George, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club, reports The Sunday Times. The potential move comes after the hugely expensive renovation of Annabel’s. Caring, who owns The Ivy Collection and Bill’s Restaurants, spent about £65m moving the club — opened in 1963 by Mark Birley and named after his wife — to an extravagantly refitted grade I-listed townhouse two doors down in Berkeley Square. Mark Birley Holdings’ most recent accounts, for the year to December 2017, showed debts of £89.8m, including £32m of bank loans and £41.4m owed to sister companies. The bank loans appear to have been refinanced in February, according to other Companies House filings. Mark Birley Holdings made a pre-tax loss of £6.6m on sales of £23.4m for the year. Caring bought Annabel’s from the late Mark Birley for almost £100m in 2007. The new Annabel’s charges a joining fee of up to £1,250 and an annual sum of up to £2,750. Corporate clients are charged £1m apiece for six members.
Pure sees 810% rise in reusable cup usage following discount move: Pure, the healthy food-to-go concept in which Whitbread has a 51% stake, has seen usage of reusable cups at its 20 London stores increase 810% since it introduced a 50p discount. The company said more than one-tenth of its hot drinks were now sold in a reusable cup. The announcement follows the company’s move to double its reusable cup discount to £1 until Sunday, 26 May to celebrate the tenth anniversary of opening its first store, in Soho. Pure co-founder Spencer Craig said: “We set an ambitious target of getting 10% of our customers using a reusable cup. Within a year we’re at almost 11% and aiming for 15% by the end of 2019. All the Pure team use reusable cups and this year alone our business will save more than 350,000 hot drink cups.” Last month, Pure said it was looking to open four to five sites a year, including further units in transport hubs. Founded by Ed Bentley and Craig in 2009, Whitbread acquired its 51% stake in the company in 2016 and has an option to acquire the remaining stake in two years’ time.
Jamie Oliver opens debut site in Finland: Jamie Oliver has opened his first site in Finland. The chef has partnered with UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group to launch Jamie’s Deli at Helsinki airport. The restaurant has opened in the new West Pier development. Jamie’s Italian is one of two restaurants SSP has launched at Helsinki airport, with the company also opening Moomin Coffee. The restaurant brands were chosen by the airport’s operator, Finavia, through a public tendering process. SSP already operates 11 restaurants, cafes and bars at Helsinki airport. Moomin Coffee is inspired by Finnish fictional character Moomin, with Helsinki its first airport site.
Dessert restaurant trio join Chinatown London line-up: A trio of dessert restaurants are joining the line-up at Chinatown London after agreeing deals with landlord Shaftesbury. Japanese fusion dessert concept Kova Patisserie has signed for a 240 square foot unit in Newport Court, which will open this month for its third London site. In addition to Kova’s mille crepes, the Chinatown venue will introduce Kova Patisserie’s new tea and fruit drink lines. The concept places a focus on “embracing and adapting elements of Japanese culture and French patisserie to create its own identity”, incorporating ingredients sourced directly from farmers in Japan and France. Kova Patisserie currently has sites in St Anne’s Court in Soho and within Selfridges in Oxford Street. Neighbouring the new Kova Patisserie unit, Taiyakiya has signed for a 200 square foot unit. The concept comes from the team behind Cuppacha Bubble Tea, which has a site three doors away. Taiyakiya will offer a range of traditional taiyaki, savoury croissant taiyaki and taiyaki fish-shaped cones with soft-serve ice cream and creative toppings. Completing the trio is Taiwanese dessert brand Meet Fresh, which has signed for an 1,800 square foot unit in Shaftesbury Avenue. The location will be the brand’s debut UK site and run by UK master franchisee Alex Xu, who also owns Happy Lemon in Newport Court. The space will cater for about 55 covers. It will serve healthy desserts including Taro Q balls, herbal jelly and smooth tofu pudding. Established in 2007, the brand has more than 300 sites across China as well as locations in America. Julia Wilkinson, head of group restaurant strategy at Shaftesbury, said: “Kova Patisserie, Taiyakiya and Meet Fresh are all brands that offer a fusion of modern trends with traditions from the Far East, perfectly reflecting our vision for this iconic area of London’s West End.”
Snackbar to launch permanent site, in Dalston: Snackbar, the pop-up concept by Freddie Janssen and former Nuala chef Anais van Manen, is to open a permanent site in east London. Janssen and van Manen are set to take over the old Farmshop Cafe in Dalston Lane, beside Dalston Junction station. They are launching a fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to support the project. The cafe will offer a “globally inspired, seasonal and creative sandwiches, salads, rice bowls and snacks”. Janssen and van Manen are working in partnership with urban farming hub FARM:shop. Using the farm’s high-tech indoor allotments and an outdoor polytunnel, the cafe will grow its own vegetables, herbs and mushrooms, reports Hot Dinners. Snackbar first set up shop in 2016 and has held residencies at Borough Market, The Laughing Heart and Legs.
Brunning & Price reopens Warwickshire village pub: Brunning & Price, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned pub business, has opened The Crabmill in the Warwickshire village of Preston Bagot. The pub, which is a former cider mill with its roots dating to the 17th century, has reopened after an extensive refurbishment following its acquisition in March. The bar has been rebuilt while there is a new private dining room that can seat ten people. In March, Propel reported Brunning & Price had secured three sites for its 2019 openings pipeline, including the former Cafe Rouge near Kew Bridge. At its full-year trading update this month, TRG said it expected at least seven openings for Brunning & Price in 2019. Brunning & Price currently operates 71 pub restaurants across the UK having opened its second site with rooms – the Highdown in Goring-by-Sea in West Sussex – in March.
Taco Bell opens at former Wok&Go in Chatham for first Kent site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has opened a site in Chatham, Kent. The company has opened the restaurant in a former Wok&Go premises in The Quays at Chatham dockside for its first venue in the county. Taco Bell UK brand manager Lucy Dee told Kent Live: “We are really pleased to open a Taco Bell in Chatham – it’s a place we’ve had our eye on for a while. The Quays has a high footfall of those looking for entertainment and, of course, a bite to eat, providing us with the perfect spot to expand our portfolio in the area.” Taco Bell operates about 40 restaurants in the UK.
Portsmouth-based hotdogs and beer brand branches out into burgers: The team behind Bangerz ‘n’ Brewz in Portsmouth has started expansion by opening a sister site in the city focusing on burgers. Burgerz ‘n’ Brewz has launched at a site in Osborne Road, Southsea, that formerly housed wine bar Cheese & Cheers. Burgerz ‘n’ Brewz offers classic US-style and British burgers, with options such as the BLT and a huge burger called The Undertaker. It also offers an extensive vegan and vegetarian range. Co-owner James Stone told The News: “It has been tough and there have been a lot of early mornings and late nights – but it’s looking great. We’ve been working hard to create our menu – working with chefs from as far away as America. We are proud of our vegan and veggie range. It means everybody gets the same amount of options. We think Osborne Road is going to become a city hot spot this summer – there are some great independent guys.”
BrewDog opens Inverurie bar: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened a site in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. The company has launched the venue in Market Street in the former Mitchell’s Dairy building. It features 22 taps of craft beer alongside BrewDog’s menu of pizza, burgers and wings. The company has also unveiled a new-look taproom for Hawkes Cider at its home in Druids Street, London. BrewDog invested in the cider producer last year.
Subway UK appoints Above & Beyond as it seeks ‘fresh set of eyes’: Subway UK and Ireland has appointed Above & Beyond as its retained creative agency as it looks for a “fresh set of eyes” to help the brand drive traffic and boost market share. The win follows a competitive three-way pitch run by AAR. Subway worked with McCann London for more than ten years but called time on the relationship in April. Subway country director Colin Hughes told Campaign: “We have had a very positive and effective relationship with the McCann team for more than ten years, during which time they have produced some excellent work for us. We are, however, operating in a constantly changing market place and feel we will now benefit from a fresh set of eyes on our brand and target audiences.” McCann continues to work on Subway’s European business, which it picked up in 2017. MediaCom handles the brand’s media planning and buying.
Rose Thirteen reveals more details of fourth Leeds site: Leeds-based operator Rose Thirteen, led by Ash Kollakowski and Simon Stevens, has revealed further details of its fourth site, which will open on Saturday (25 May). The company will launch the Beck & Call having refurbished a former Mitchells & Butlers pub, the True Briton, in the city’s Meanwood area. The Beck & Call will feature a menu of locally sourced traditional pub food curated by Ben Davy, the group’s food development chef. It will also feature a new children’s play area, beer garden and open kitchen. Stevens told Insider Media: “We are really looking forward to opening the Beck & Call. It’s close to north Leeds, where we both live, and to have somewhere we can walk to and enjoy a pint and a proper roast with friends and family while the kids play is going to be awesome. It has been our biggest project yet in terms of the work we’ve carried out but we’re really pleased with how it’s all coming together.” Rose Thirteen also runs Leeds city centre venues Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, Headrow House and Water Lane Boathouse.
West Midlands-based Italian restaurant operators shut Birmingham site seven months after opening: The team behind a trio of Italian restaurants in the West Midlands has shut one of its Birmingham sites just seven months after launch. It launched Pinocchio at The Mailbox, the city’s canal-side leisure complex, at a former Strada site in September. The restaurant, spanning 4,500 square feet, showcased “authentic Italian cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere”. The venue initially closed in March “for a refurbishment” but The Mailbox bosses have confirmed the closure is permanent. A spokeswoman told Birmingham Live: “Pinocchio has closed its restaurant at The Mailbox and we are in discussions with other potential new occupants for the space.” Pinocchio was operated by the team behind La Galleria in Birmingham and Cafe Casita in Sedgley.
Cornish Oven lodges plans for first drive-thru pasty shop: Pool-based Cornish Oven has lodged plans for its first drive-thru pasty shop. The company has applied to Cornwall Council to open a site with 32 parking spaces in Penzance, near the Chy-An-Mor roundabout, at the western edge of the Long Rock industrial estate, reports Cornwall Live. Cornish Oven was founded in 2000 and has four shops – in Pool, Camborne, Illogan and Helston – as well as a fleet of vans delivering fresh sandwiches to offices across Cornwall.
Hampshire-based distillery launches £375,000 fund-raise to expand production and move into rum and whisky markets: Hampshire-based Winchester Distillery has launched a £375,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand production and move into the rum and whisky markets. The company, founded by Paul Bowler in 2014, is offering 8.11% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £4,250,000. The pitch states: “With an average sales growth of 82% year-on-year to £714,085 in November 2018 (profit: £68,055), the business has grown organically over five years – with no external finance – from just one gin brand to a portfolio of more than ten premium gins and a Hampshire wasabi vodka. Production is up to 1,000 bottles per week and brands are sold throughout the south of England, online and nationally. UK trade customers include Majestic Wine, Fuller’s and Matthew Clark, plus a vast portfolio of independent retailers. Winchester Distillery’s distilling equipment is now at capacity and investment will allow us to increase production, install a brewhouse, develop whisky and rum, increase UK marketing, explore export opportunities and open an on-site gift shop.”
Hotel Chocolat to open site at Cardiff shopping centre: Hotel Chocolat is to open a site at the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff. The company has agreed a deal with the complex’s owner, the St David’s Partnership, a joint venture between Landsec and Intu, for a 1,874 square foot store in St David’s Way. Hotel Chocolat co-founder Peter Harris said: “We can’t wait to share our passion for world-class chocolates with the diverse shoppers and strong footfall that St David’s commands.” Speaking on behalf of the St David’s Partnership, Colin Flinn, Intu regional managing director – west, added: “Hotel Chocolat is a well-loved British brand, which we have no doubt will be warmly welcomed by visitors to St David’s.”
Crest Group to partially reopen Shropshire hotel it acquired out of administration with new tea room: Birmingham-based Crest Group is set to partially reopen a Shropshire hotel this week with a new tea room, having bought it out of administration after it suffered trading difficulties following an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease. The company acquired The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow in November and as part of an extensive refurbishment, the first phase is nearing completion. The former bar area has been transformed into a 34-cover tea room, which will be open on Friday (24 May), serving fresh homemade produce using locally sourced ingredients. Crest Hotels group operations director Jason Hiley told the Shropshire Star: “The decision to create a tea room felt like the natural choice when looking at the target demographic of both our hotel and Ludlow as a destination.” With the tea room opening, the management team is now turning its attention to the remainder of the hotel, which is still undergoing renovation. This includes a major refurbishment of all 40 bedrooms and the creation of an experience-focused destination restaurant. The legionnaires’ disease outbreak hit the hotel in 2017, leading to an investigation by Public Health England. The hotel subsequently went into administration and was closed in August. Crest Group, which is controlled by the Singh family, runs the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport along with Holiday Inn Express Liverpool/Knowsley and two hotels in Bristol.
Nando’s shakes up sides and salads on menu: Nando’s has shaken up the sides and salads on its menu with a range of healthy options. The new side additions include roasted sweet potato and butternut squash; and long stem broccoli. Meanwhile, new salads feature a watermelon and feta salad. Its grains ’n greens offer, which is also available as a main course, features mixed grains, beans and corn, served on a bed of baby spinach and topped with long stem broccoli. Nando’s has also added watermelon slices, sweet potato and butternut squash chunks and long stem broccoli to its children’s menu. Meanwhile, Nando’s is set to relocate its Plymouth restaurant to the new £53m Drake Circus leisure development. The company has applied to the city council to join the scheme that will feature a 12-screen Cineworld multiplex cinema and 14 new restaurants. The development at Bretonside is now being fitted out ready for opening in October. Nando’s will join The Restaurant Group-owned brands Frankie & Benny’s and Wagamama, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi and better burger brand Byron at the development. The existing Nando’s in Old Town Street – just around the corner – is set to close as part of a multimillion-pound revamp for the area, reports Plymouth Live.