Tony Macaroni eyes UK expansion by expanding franchise model to England and Wales: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is looking to the “next chapter” by expanding its franchise model to England and Wales. The Glasgow-based brand – part of the Viva Italia Group which also includes Mozza, Nardinis, and Wine House 1821 – operates 19 sites across Scotland and Northern Ireland, with five more opening by the end of this year. Managing director Sep Marini now wants to partner with the “best operators” to bring the brand to towns and cities down south, fulfilling a long-held ambition to have a Tony Macaroni restaurant on every high street throughout the UK. He said: “While 2020 has proved to be challenging for many brands, we have continued to enjoy success. We’ll be standing at 24 Tony Macaroni restaurants in Scotland and Northern Ireland by the end of the year, and we are now ready for the next chapter. Our brand is much-loved throughout Scotland because we follow a formula that works. I firmly believe we can emulate this success the length and breadth of the UK with experienced franchisees who can build themselves a fantastic business.” Tony Macaroni opened its first restaurant in 2007 and now employs about 500 people across Scotland and Northern Ireland. Of the five new restaurants set to open, two are in Edinburgh, including one on the city’s Rose Street. Last year, Tony Macaroni enjoyed a 400% increase in takeaway sales. Marini added: “This is an exciting time for the industry, full of opportunity and there are some great deals to be done on desirable sites. The smartest operators are already taking full advantage of the current situation in the marketplace – including less competition, cheaper rents and landlord incentives. Those people acting now will be the big winners in five years.”
Kricket team to launch stand-alone bar Soma in Soho: Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell, founders of Indian small plates concept Kricket, are to launch a stand-alone bar called Soma in London’s Soho. The new bar, which is named after the Hindu moon god, will open in September in a site adjacent to the pair’s existing Kricket site in Denman Street. The 23-cover basement bar, which will open until 3am Tuesday to Saturday, will feature cocktails such as a gooseberry chaat margarita, made with tequila, triple sec, homemade gooseberry cordial and a splash of chaat masala, as well as a coconut and jaggery Old Fashioned, where bourbon is stirred up with the Indian unrefined sugar jaggery, along with toasted and desiccated coconut and bitters made from mace. The cocktail list has been overseen by Kricket’s head of beverage, Will Rogers, and bar manager Angelos Bafas, previously of Aqua Shard. A short menu of Indian snacks will also be available, including homemade crackers made using leftover rice from the adjacent Kricket restaurant. Bowlby and Campbell said: “It feels great to be emerging from such a challenging period with a project that we’re so excited about. People have always loved the cocktails we offer at Kricket and we’ve always talked about launching a stand-alone bar, but it’s the space that gives Soma its modern speakeasy feel, with a backstreet underground setting in Soho and seemingly nondescript entrance. We see Soma as the latest addition to people’s Soho ‘stumblings’ and we can’t wait to offer the hospitality we’ve become known for at Kricket in a new context.”
Taco Bell lines up first drive-thru site in Wales: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is lining up its first drive-thru site in Wales. Propel understands franchisee Campana is set to open the drive-thru site on the Dragon Retail Park, Cardiff. The company has also recently lodged plans with Gloucester City Council to open a drive-thru restaurant at St Oswalds Retail Park in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group-owned brand Frankie & Benny’s. Campana currently operates three Taco Bell sites in Wales, two in Cardiff and one in Swansea. Taco Bell operates more than 50 sites in the UK in total. The company has more than 7,500 restaurants across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first in Downey, California, in 1962.
Pret expands grocery range with two new ketchups: Pret A Manger has further expanded its grocery range with two new ketchups. Available from more than 700 Tesco stores and online nationwide, the two new products are chipotle ketchup and Korean-style ketchup. The two ketchups continue Pret’s expansion into consumer-packaged goods as part of the business’ transformation programme, following its bake-at-home croissants and granola ranges that launched earlier this year. Sophie Chow, UK head of commercial at Pret, said: “With summer now upon us, it’s the perfect time to be launching our first sauces into the supermarket aisles, with two ketchups, loved by customers in many of our shop recipes. We’re excited we can offer a famous ‘Pret twist’ to customers’ favourite condiment, bringing even more Pret joy to people’s homes, helping to liven up their meals. These sauces are an exciting development in Pret’s consumer-packaged goods range and I am proud to be launching them first to market with Tesco, nationwide.” Alongside the launch of the new ketchups, Pret has joined forces with MOB Kitchen – an online cooking and content platform helping people prepare restaurant-quality meals at home – to give customers the opportunity to win a year’s supply of Pret’s new bake-at-home croissants, granola and ketchup ranges.
Bon Pan Asian Buffet opens third site: Bon Pan Asian Buffet has opened its third site, a 12,500 square foot outlet at the Merry Hill shopping centre in the West Midlands. The all-you-can-eat restaurant is based on a fixed price buffet and offers more than 150 pan-Asian dishes. Managing director Fiona Chen said: “Merry Hill’s popular shopping destination is the perfect location as we open our third Bon buffet restaurant in the UK and was the stand-out choice for our first site in the West Midlands.” Bon is located on the upper mall near TK Maxx.
Redemption Roasters signs for Covent Garden site: The world’s first prison-based coffee company, Redemption Roasters, has signed for its first location in the West End of London, occupying a Mercers Company site at 40 Drury Lane, Covent Garden. Using coffee to change lives, Redemption Roasters runs barista training academies across eight prisons, and its industrial-scale roastery sits within the walls of HMP the Mount, Hemel Hempstead. Redemption Roasters co-founder Ted Rosner said: “It has been proven that prisoners are 50% more likely to re-offend if they leave prison without skills and employment, while only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of release. As part of our goal to help previous offenders successfully reintegrate into society, we train them in professional roastery and barista skills. On release, we help our graduates find work, either in our own coffee shops, or within our network. It is imperative to work with like-minded people who believe in our mission, and the Mercers Company’s impressive history of philanthropy, paired with its high-quality property portfolio, makes for the ideal opportunity. We can’t wait to bring Redemption Roasters to the West End for the first time.” Meanwhile, Italian gelato brand Badiani has officially opened on the estate for its first central London store.
Mooboo and Terra Brazil sign for Addlestone sites: Bubble tea company Mooboo and Brazilian rodizio restaurant Terra Brazil are to open sites in Addlestone. Surrey. Both have signed for outlets at the AddlestoneOne mixed-use development in the town. Mooboo, which was founded by Eric Khaw in 2012, operates 37 sites across the UK while the Addlestone opening will mark the second outlet for Terra Brazil, adding to its restaurant in Watford. Terra Brazil has agreed to take 2,750 square foot of pace at AddlestoneOne in a deal that was brokered by AS Retail. AddlestoneOne is already home to operators including Nando’s and Smith & Western, the south east-based US-style restaurant chain.
Glastonbury’s Shangri-La to open new venue in Bristol: The team behind Glastonbury Festival’s Shangri-La district is set to open a new venue in Bristol. Billed as “a creative playground for the iconic festival district”, Lost Horizon HQ will showcase art, live music and performance throughout the summer. With an initial capacity of 240 – 120 inside and 120 in its beer garden – it will officially launch as a bar and arts centre at 1-3 Elton Street in the city from Thursday (1 July). Once restrictions are lifted, artists and DJs will perform to a total capacity of 350 people. Lost Horizon creative director Kaye Dunnings said: “At last, a lifelong dream of ours is being realised – a creative headquarters where our culture and community can thrive year-round – and can be experienced by everyone. With inclusivity at our core, we will raise the bar with our new venture, forging collaborations and partnerships within the city and beyond on our ever-evolving exploration into human connection.”
Judy Joo opens second Seoul Bird site with Canary Wharf launch: Seoul Bird, the fledgling Korean concept from chef Judy Joo, has opened a second site, in Canary Wharf. As revealed by Propel in April, the concept, which launched last summer in Westfield London, has launched in the former Radio Alice site in Jubilee Place. The concept specialises in crispy, double-fried, Korean-style chicken inspired by Joo’s Korean-American heritage. Chickens are brined for 24 hours before being double fried and served with Asian slaw. Making their debut on the menu are mixed buckets with double-fried tenders, wings and thighs, as well as the tender bucket filled with tenders and the grilled bucket with thighs and wings cooked over charcoal, all served with a choice of Seoul Bird’s signature sauces for dipping. Seoul Bird also offers bibimbap bowls (steamed rice with vegetables, pickled daikon, edamame beans, onions and poached egg). Also joining the menu are frozen Seoul Shakes. Joo said: “[Chef] Andy [Hales] and I have spent a lot of time developing some exciting dishes. Growing up in America, buckets of chicken were a special treat that I looked forward to. I wanted to recreate that sense of sharing and abundance at Seoul Bird.” Joo left the business she founded, Jinjuu, in 2019, after launching the Korean street food concept in Kingly Street, Soho, six years ago. Jinjuu grew to three sites, including one in Mayfair, but only the original in Soho remains.
Team behind London-based burger concept Four Legs to open pub in Finsbury Park: The team behind London-based burger concept Four Legs are set to open a pub in Finsbury Park. Founders Jamie Allan and Ed McIlroy have spent the past two years serving their dishes at The Compton Arms in Islington. Now they are planning to set up home at the former the Auld Triangle pub in St Thomas’ Road to showcase “a much wider repertoire of food”. The pub will relaunch under its former name of The Plimsoll. Allan and McIlroy said although the building is a “proper pub and we intend to leave it that way” they do want to make some changes. To help fund the transformation, they will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which, among other things, will create space the kitchen team can use for curing meat, making cheese and brewing beer.
Tim Hortons opens debut Yorkshire drive-thru restaurant: Canadian quick-service restaurant brand Tim Hortons has opened its first drive-thru restaurant in Yorkshire, in Sheffield. Located at the Crystal Peaks Village Retail Park, the new venue offers dine-in seating for up to 118 guests and drive-thru services. Delivery options are also available to those in the local area. The restaurant, which has created more than 50 jobs, forms part of the brand’s plan to create more than 2,000 jobs across the country, bringing Tim Hortons restaurants to every major town and city by 2022. Tim Hortons has 28 sites in the UK. Professional ice hockey player Tim Horton founded the brand in 1964 to create a space where “everyone feels at home”. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “As we continue our expansion across the UK, we knew it was only a matter of time before we found the perfect location to bring our first Tim Hortons drive-thru to Yorkshire. We’ve had huge demand to bring the brand to Sheffield and it really excites us to be launching in a city famed for its ice hockey and presence within the Elite League.”
The Burger Shop Co doubles up: The Burger Shop Co, the West Sussex-based concept, has opened its second site, in Horsham. The company, which was founded in 2015 by father and son, Ian and Oliver Fricker, has launched the outlet in the town’s Piries Place scheme. The Burger Shop Co launched its first site in Arundel in November 2016. The concept specialises in burgers, craft beer and cocktails.
£70m ‘east meets west’ leisure and shopping development opens: The developer of a £70m leisure, shopping and living destination has described its food and beverage offer as “dynamism and energy” from the east meets the best of the west. The New Era Square development at St Mary’s Gate in Sheffield features restaurants, street food kiosks, the city’s largest oriental supermarket, shops, 650 student residences, apartments and penthouses, an office building and gym – all located around a modern public square. Developer Jerry Cheung said of the 430,000 square foot destination: “New Era Square blends the dynamism and energy of modern China and south east Asia with the best of western culture. We’ve completed the development only two months later than planned and the site is now almost fully let.” Sheffield Asian restaurant brand Oisoi has opened a venue at the development, as has Yum Yum Bites, which serves Taiwanese street food. Other operators, which are slated to open between now and September, include a burger restaurant, sports bar, a Japanese restaurant called Doki Kagoshima and Scandinavian-style cafe, Lykke. Kiosks will house a breakfast restaurant, a barbecue restaurant, hair salon and travel agent.
Valary Hotels acquires Warwickshire property following £9m funding deal: Hotel company Valary Hotels has acquired and refurbished a Warwick hotel after securing a £9m loan from OakNorth Bank. The hotel, formerly known as Hilton Warwick/Stratford Upon Avon Hotel in Warwick, will be rebranded in September under the Delta by Marriott brand. In addition to its 181 bedrooms, the four-star hotel has a 200-cover restaurant, an 80-cover lounge bar, 14 meeting and function rooms that can accommodate up to 450 delegates, a gym and parking for 200 vehicles. It is currently operated as a “white label hotel” utilising Marriott distribution, but post-refurbishment of the lobby and 40 of the 181 rooms, it will be operated as a Delta by Marriott hotel managed by Countrywide Hotels. Valary Hotels chief executive Rajiv Nathwani said: “OakNorth Bank was able to put together a facility that captures the acquisition and refurbishment of the hotel, allowing us to focus on repositioning and refurbishing the site, resulting in us being able to go from a Hilton to a Delta by Marriott in under six months and will allow us to undertake the heaviest part of the refurbishment while the hotel is not yet running at full capacity. This was crucial to ensure we’ll be ready to rebrand in September just in time for the start of the post-summer conference season.”
North east bakery business launches first store: A north east bakery business has launched its first store as demand for its homemade goods booms. Eli’s Bakery, established at home during lockdown, has been supported by the North Tyneside Business Forum in setting up its first physical store. The company, along with North Tyneside Business Forum and The Business Factory, found a unit in Killingworth to create the venue. It comes following increased demand for its Portuguese speciality bread and pastries. Sylvester Spinelli, co-founder of Eli’s Bakery, said: “Working from home was great in the sense that we were close by for Eli (his son) but it was difficult to produce the quantities of food needed from our small kitchen. We decided to do two things – firstly to name the business after Eli and then find a suitable premises to upscale our work.”
Leaf Hospitality secures sixth hotel: Hotel management company Leaf Hospitality has secured its sixth site. The company has been chosen to operate the DoubleTree by Hilton Sheffield City, which is set to open later this year following a franchise agreement between Hilton and Sheffield United FC. The hotel, which was built in 2008, was reacquired by the club in July 2020 after Prince Abdullah secured sole ownership. The 155-bedroom hotel will include a penthouse suite, fitness facilities and banqueting options for up to 400 guests. United World chief executive Abdullah Alghamdi said: “At the point that the assets, including the hotel, returned to the club, Prince Abdullah committed to upgrading the club’s portfolio and this is a sign of that pledge. It has been a difficult time with the covid-19 pandemic but we are delighted to partner with two established names in the industry and look forward to opening the doors of the hotel at Bramall Lane once more.” Nick Smart, vice-president, development, north and west Europe, Hilton, added: “We are pleased to be building on our market-leading presence in some of the UK’s top sporting stadiums.” Leaf Hospitality also operates Hilton hotels in Blackburn, Grimsby, Hull, Humberside airport and Lincoln.
Peterborough chef finds new home for fine dining restaurant: Prévost, the Peterborough-based fine dining restaurant by Lee Clarke that serves modern British cuisine, has reopened in a new home – the Haycock Manor Hotel in the city. The 40-seat restaurant, in the orangery, occupies part of the multimillion-pound restoration of the grade II-listed buildings at the hotel. Guests are able to select a tasting of either five or eight courses, each comprising seasonal dishes. These are complemented by wine, champagne and sake. Clarke said: “The revitalisation of the Haycock Manor Hotel has provided me, with my expanded team, the opportunity to redesign and elevate what we offer to a whole new level.” Clarke launched the restaurant in Peterborough city centre in 2016.
New pasta concept opens in Wolverhampton: A new pasta concept has opened in Wolverhampton. Pronto Pasta, which is the brainchild of Baiant Nota, has launched at the i10 office and retail development. The concept offers hot pasta, paninis, pizza slices, wafflepops and Italian coffee for takeaway, and there is also a small seating area in its ground floor unit. The i10 building next to the railway and bus stations forms part of the city’s £150m Interchange. Nota said: “When I see this part of the city it reminds me of places such as Birmingham and Manchester – and I think Pronto Pasta will enhance the offer. Pasta is a huge cuisine but I don’t see many places where you can get hot pasta takeaway. When covid restrictions are lifted further we will also be offering a breakfast bar and extensive salad bar.” City of Wolverhampton Council deputy leader Cllr Stephen Simkins added: “These have been tough times for small businesses and I am delighted to see a new one springing up in our city centre as we look to relight after the impact of the pandemic.”