Yummy Pub Company site suffers fire: The Somers Town Coffee House, operated by Yummy Pub Company suffered a large fire on Friday (22 June). The London Fire Brigade said it was called to a blaze in Chalton Street, a few hundred metres from Euston, King’s Cross and St Pancras, at 8.06pm. Witnesses reported seeing flames and plumes of smoke coming from the pub. There were at least 72 firefighters tackling the blaze at one stage, the brigade said.
Authentic Alehouses passes £6m mark in £10m crowdfunding campaign:Leeds-based Authentic Alehouses, led by Burning Night Group boss Allan Harper, has passed the £6m mark in its £10m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker. The company launched its funding bid in July last year to revive the fortunes of underperforming pubs by attracting a new generation of customers with a menu of “quality artisan food and drink, updated decor and a variety of entertainment”. It opened its first venue in November by relaunching The Albert Hotel in Hull following a £1m refurbishment. Its other venues are The Fountain Inn in Barnoldswick, Lancashire; The Countess Of Rosse, near Bradford; and the Albert Hotel in Southport. Authentic Alehouses is offering investors a 6.5% per annum interest rate through a peer-to-peer loan. Backers are also given the potential to earn income tax-free by investing via Crowdstacker’s Innovative Finance ISA. Authentic Alehouses’ campaign has so far raised £6,144,815. The next closing date is Monday, 23 July. Authentic Alehouses plans to use the capital to refurbish sites in prime locations, streamline and modernise its operation to cut waste, and introduce higher-quality food, a broader range of drinks, and more family-orientated entertainment.
Jamie’s Italian opens sixth Royal Caribbean site: Jamie’s Italian has opened its sixth restaurant with Royal Caribbean – this time on the newly refurbished boat, Mariner of the Seas. The ship arrived in its home port of Miami on Friday (22 June) before setting sail with guests on board next week, bound for the Bahamas. The restaurant will offer customers on board Italian antipasti planks, fresh pasta made every day, fresh salads, grills, a healthy kids’ menu, a complete drinks menu and more. Nick Schapira, chief operating officer of the international side of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of yet another exciting Royal Caribbean venture, hot on the heels of our restaurant opening on board Symphony of the Seas. The refurbishment of Mariner with a new Jamie’s Italian on board is a testament to our successful partnership with Royal Caribbean, the dedicated service and incredible food we provide to customers, even while at sea. We look forward to exploring many more opportunities with Royal Caribbean in the coming years.”
Brighton tea business sees revenue top £2m: Revenue has topped £2m at a Brighton tea business that was set up by a couple from their bedroom six years ago. Bird & Blend Tea Co was founded in 2012 by Kristina Smith and Mike Turner. It now has seven stores, including a flagship site in Brighton. Smith told Insider Media: “Although I’d worked for a tea blend company previously, Mike and I wanted more flexibility over our working hours and knew starting our own business would allow us to do this. We noticed a growing demand for alternative tea blends but spotted a gap in the market for tea mixologist boutiques in the Brighton area. Once we established our flagship Brighton store, we decided to expand our network across the country.” The business gained the backing of the Start Up Loans Company, securing £12,500, and now employs a 75-strong team. Start Up Loans Company managing director Joanna Hill said: “It is fantastic to see the amount of progress Bird and Blend Tea Co has made within the past six years. Generating £2m in turnover is an impressive achievement for any startup and it’s tantamount to the hard work and commitment Mike and Kristina have for their business.”
Soho House to open Amsterdam site next month: Soho House will open a site in Amsterdam next month. Soho House Amsterdam will have 79 bedrooms, a rooftop pool, a floor of club space, and a Cecconi’s restaurant and Cowshed spa on the ground floor that will be open to the public. In addition, the property will include 75 bike racks and a small workshop for repairs. Soho House Amsterdam will be housed in the six-storey Bungehuis building, previously part of the University of Amsterdam. On the fifth floor, the main members’ area will overlook a canal. The public area will feature a large open fire, while the adjacent library will have its own bar and workspace area. On the other side, House Kitchen will serve food and drinks throughout the day, with an open kitchen and deli counter. A performance and members’ events space will have its own lounge and bar. The House Gym will be on the fourth floor overlooking the canal. The 79 rooms will be spread across three floors, reports Hotel Designs. Soho House was founded by Nick Jones in 1995 in Greek Street, Soho. It has since expanded to have “houses” around the world.
Sushimania to open ninth site in Cambridge: Sushimania is to open its ninth site this week, this time in Cambridge. Sushimania is opening the branch in Christ’s Lane, replacing the closed Giraffe eatery on the corner next to Drummer Street bus station. The upmarket city centre street has boarded-up shops but is finally set to see new businesses open – a year after being hit by a sudden spate of closures. A Sushimania spokeswoman said: “We opened our first branch in 2011 at Golders Green, London and expanded to a total of four London restaurants. We also have branches in Nottingham, Brighton, Reading, Oxford and our newest branch in Cambridge. We offer fresh and affordable Japanese cuisine with more than 200 dishes to choose from. Unlike a traditional buffet of pre-made food, we take customers orders from our easily designed sheet and make the food fresh to order.”
Inn Collection Group makes pair of senior appointments: Pub operator The Inn Collection Group, acquired by Alchemy Partners last week, has made a duo of senior appointments. Expansion plans across the group’s north east of England stronghold have led to the promotions of Paul Brown as operations manager and Gary Turner as commercial and compliance manager as the company develops its senior team. Brown, an experienced operations manager who has worked in the sector for 25 years having held roles at Shearings Holidays and JD Wetherspoon, joined the group in 2014 to head up its Cleveland unit, The King’s Head Inn at Newton under Roseberry. He will spearhead operations and drive performance at the seven-strong group, which is set to open an eighth unit in Northumberland later this year. Turner, who joined the group to manage its 53-bedroom operation, The Hog’s Head Inn in Alnwick, Northumberland, five years ago, has been promoted to take up the new company role of commercial and compliance manager. He brings with him 17 years’ leisure and travel tourism industry experience, working in the sector with Bourne Leisure and Haven. The Inn Collection Group managing director Sean Donkin said: “Both Paul and Gary have been tremendous assets to the company since joining and have been involved in operations that have had significant impacts on our performance. Their appointments come at a pivotal time for the group as we begin to roll out strategic ‘buy and build’ growth plans as part of the company’s continued evolution journey. Both Paul and Gary will play an integral role in our expansion while maximising trading operations at our existing sites.”
Social Entertainment Ventures opens first Puttshack site, in Westfield London: Social Entertainment Ventures has opened a first site for its mini-golf concept Puttshack as part of Westfield London’s £600m expansion. The company, which is also the parent of Bounce ping-pong bars, has opened a venue comprising four nine-hole courses that are based on computer, arcade and fairground games. One hole features an interactive quiz, while a pinball-themed hole sees the ball activate light and sound to help players achieve a higher score. A patented ball-tracking and scoring system, Trackaball, unlocks new levels while mini-computers inside the ball record video highlights from each round. The food offering includes popcorn chicken, pizza, tacos, salads and burgers alongside cocktails, The Handbook reports. Further Puttshacks are due to open at No1 Poultry in the City and Intu Lakeside, with the intention to roll out further sites in the next five years. In March, Social Entertainment Ventures appointed former D&D London chief operating officer Toby Harris as chief executive as it enters a “new phase of expansion in the UK and US”. Founded by Adam Breedon, the company also holds the licence for Flight Club in North America.
Two Heads Beer Co further extends £350,000 crowdfunding campaign:Independent craft beer retailer Two Heads Beer Co has further extended its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to open four stores. The company, which is led by former BrewDog head of retail acquisitions James Hickson, increased its equity offer to 14.9% last month from the original 10% and extended the campaign. This has now been pushed on a further two weeks and so far 210 investors have pledged £312,500 with 14 days remaining. Hickson said: “Following a strong day of investments, with £12,000 pledged in a single day and with momentum behind our campaign, we have agreed with Crowdcube to extend our pitch for another 14 days. This allows us to continue building that momentum, with a steady stream of investments arriving every day. It also lets us continue a couple of important conversations with potential investors. We have also been working on some exciting plans that would enhance our customer experience and generate a significant chunk of new revenue.” Earlier this month, Two Heads Beer Co made offers on outlets in Surbiton, Surrey, and Herne Hill, south London, as it looks to add to its six-strong portfolio. Two Heads Beer Co trades as The Beer Boutique and We Brought Beer brands. The company generated revenue of more than £958,000 in 2017. Hickson founded We Brought Beer in 2014. It merged with fellow bottle shop business The Beer Boutique in January, with founder Jon Kaye becoming executive chairman of Two Heads Beer Co.
Red Mist Leisure unveils new commis chef and chef de partis apprenticeship schemes: Pub operator Red Mist Leisure has partnered with Farnborough College of Technology for two new apprenticeship schemes targeting commis chefs and chefs de partis. The company is offering apprenticeship opportunities from September that involve working four days a week in one of its pub kitchens, combined with one day attending Farnborough College of Technology. The college work will be a mixture of theory and practical assignments and the course will take just over one academic year to complete, to also include the time needed to take the end assessment. In addition, each apprentice will have an assigned tutor who will visit them in their kitchen to check progress and assist in any areas they may need further guidance. Red Mist Leisure managing director Mark Robson said: “Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for people to gain the skills they need for the pub jobs of the future and for pubs like ours with a strong emphasis on fresh, seasonal and local food, a good and reliable chef is critical to the operation, so we hope through launching our new apprenticeship scheme, we can continue to focus on attracting, retaining and developing these sought after professionals. The Red Mist Leisure commis de chef and chef de partis apprenticeships provide a real opportunity for someone that is passionate about quality food and for strong team players who are ambitious and enthusiastic to learn, progress and achieve.”
Bottles & Battles co-founders to open Italian wine bar in Spitalfields Market: A new Italian wine bar is opening in Old Spitalfields Market in London next month. Franco Mancini and Daniele Marano, co-founders of Bottles & Battles in Mercato Metropolitano in Borough, have teamed up with pop-up restaurant Sood to launch Bottles. The focus at Bottles, which will open on Friday, 6 July, will be on quality wine made by independent producers and small farms, showcasing regional and indigenous varieties and often exploring forgotten grapes. While distinctly Italian, the wine list will also feature international varieties among its 180 labels. Sood will lead on the food offer as it makes Bottles its new home after a year-long residency at Kitchens in Old Spitalfields Market. The menu will include wild sea bass crudo with a spicy cantaloupe sauce and octopus tortelloni. The venue, which will be spread over two floors with entrances to Brushfield Street and Old Spitalfields Market, will accommodate up to 50 covers. An outside terrace with heaters and additional seating for up to 25 will lead on to the market. The first floor will feature a refrigerated display of cured meat and cheese, while there will be a bespoke mozzarella bar at the market entrance.
Japan House London opens with restaurant headed by former Engawa head chef: Japan House London has opened featuring an eatery headed by Akira Shimizu, former head chef of Soho restaurant Engawa. The site in Kensington High Street is one of three locations the Japanese government is launching to offer insights into the country ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – the others are in Los Angeles and São Paulo. Akira offers Japanese-style omotenashi hospitality with ingredients cooked over a Robata grill. Dishes include sushi specialities and chargrilled kushiyaki skewers made from wagyu beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables. Rice is prepared in a donabe (clay pot), complemented by cocktails including rare sake, yuzu and shiso. Spread over three floors, Japan House London also offers exhibition and events space, a library, shop, and snack bar The Stand, which offers Nel Drip coffee. London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The Japanese community in London makes a huge contribution economically and culturally to the capital.”
Ei Group launches open morning initiative for suppliers: Ei Group has launched an open morning initiative that gives industry suppliers an opportunity to pitch their products and services to the business. The first open morning takes place today (Monday, 25 July) at Ei Group’s head office in Solihull, with the event to be repeated monthly. Prospective suppliers will be allocated a 20-minute slot in which to pitch their product or service to key members of Ei Group’s procurement team. Ei Group procurement director Miles Selby said: “We are always on the lookout for the next product or service that will add additional value and give our publicans the edge when it comes to driving footfall. This new initiative will allow us to discover fresh and innovative products while also giving new suppliers the opportunity to build relationships with Ei Group through driving our retail excellence agenda forward. In turn, this will further enhance the support we offer to our publicans and enable them grow their business.” The initiative was launched following Ei Group’s annual Retail and Supplier Conference. Addressing delegates, Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend said: “Our new mantra is ‘better, not more’ allied to a relentless focus on consistently delivering quality across everything we do. My challenge to suppliers is to think differently about how they can help us drive sales for our publicans, reduce costs and use their expertise to deliver a better customer experience.”
Irish chip restaurant company Chipmongers opens third Northern Ireland site: Irish chip shop company Chipmongers has opened its third site in Northern Ireland. Chipmongers, a franchise owned by retail and wholesale company Musgrave, has opened the restaurant in Ballymoney Road in Ballymena. There are also franchises in Lisburn and Belfast. Gareth Montgomery, who runs Patton’s Bar in Cloughmills, and Katrina Fox are behind the new venture. Montgomery told the Irish News: “I think the time is right in Ballymena for a fresh, modern twist on a traditional favourite.” Chipmongers has ten sites across the Republic and Northern Ireland with restaurants “coming soon” in Portlaoise and Limavady, according to its website.
PizzaExpress launches summer menu: PizzaExpress has launched its new summer menu. Additions include a prawn and tomato seafood starter served with dough balls, a gluten-free artichoke and spinach risotto, and three new pizzas. The Vegan Giardiana pizza is the lightest on the menu at 491 calories, while chicken-breaded escalope Pollo Milanese returns to the menu and can be paired with a rocket and roasted tomato salad or a Caesar salad. The other new pizzas are Quattro Carni Romana, which combines “everything Italy is renowned for”, and Barbacoa Romana, which features pulled beef and a spicy chipotle salsa. New desserts are a limoncello and blackcurrant semifreddo and a raspberry honeycomb slice, while the drinks list sees five new summer-inspired drinks including Sicilian still lemonade.
Heavenly Desserts to open Bradford site next month: Artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts is to open a site in Bradford next month. The company will launch the venue on Saturday, 14 July in Great Horton Road, creating 20 jobs. The menu includes pancakes, waffles, fondants, cakes and slices as well as an artisan tea range, coffee and soft drinks. Heavenly Desserts regional manager Simon Robinson told Insider Media: “Our new team will undergo intensive artisan dessert training ahead of our opening so every waffle, pancake and sliced cake is picture perfect.” Heavenly Desserts was founded in 2008 and has 13 sites, while seven more are listed as “opening soon” on its website, including Cardiff, Coventry and Sheffield.
Swiss cheese specialist Jumi to open debut bricks and mortar site, in Stoke Newington: Swiss cheese specialist Jumi, which trades at Borough Market, is to open its debut bricks and mortar site, in Stoke Newington, east London. The new venue will launch in Newington Green on Sunday, 8 July and host raclette evenings and a cheese school while featuring a “cheese cave”. The venue will also bake its own bread, including zupfe from Switzerland’s Bernese region, and has applied for a licence to sell wine. Many of the cheeses on offer will be perfect for raclette. Manager Marcello Basini told Hot Dinners: “People really enjoy our cheese because it’s something unusual. Looks-wise it will remind you of Switzerland. We’ve turned a gigantic cheese pot into a fridge that will be in the middle of the shop. People can come in and choose the type of raclette they want for their meal and pair it with wine and bread. It’s a pretty small area – no more than five tables. It will be an intimate, cosy experience.”
Plant-based restaurant concept CleanSlate fails in £150,000 crowdfunding bid: Plant-based restaurant concept CleanSlate has failed to hit target in its £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to launch and grow the brand. Founder Zoey Henderson, who has previously opened juice bar and coffee shop ventures in London, was offering a 16.67% equity stake in return for investment but the campaign has now closed. The pitch stated: “CleanSlate will bring plant-based eating into the London cafe culture – a creative menu and an inclusive environment that champions the ingredients used, not the ones left out. From your morning coffee and a gooey brownie to flavourful pasta and a glass of wine, CleanSlate will be a destination for all. Due to ethical, environmental and health benefits, we feel adopting a plant-based diet is not a fad or trend that will go out of fashion. We see this as the beginning of a more sustainable lifestyle movement that is here to stay. I have started two businesses in the artisan coffee and fast casual sector and wish to develop into the plant-based market by showcasing an all-day dining concept that puts plant-based eating into the mainstream using artisan products and innovative twists on healthy, delicious and familiar food.”