Jamie Oliver – I spent £25m trying to save restaurant business: Jamie Oliver has revealed he ploughed £25m of his own money into his restaurant group in a failed attempt to save the business from collapse. Oliver admitted there had been no “plan B in case it goes down the toilet” as he described the devastating experience, which he said he took full responsibility for. He called rental costs, business rates and the cost of labour “our worst enemies”, adding the business had not responded quickly enough to changes in the industry. Speaking for the first time about the collapse in an interview with The Times magazine, Oliver said poor advice meant the “wool had been pulled over his eyes” over the extent of the crisis that began in 2017. The group, which included Jamie’s Italian, Barbecoa and Fifteen, collapsed into administration in May, making about 1,000 staff redundant. At the time it was believed Oliver spent £12.7m of his own money trying to save the business, but he revealed it was twice that amount. He said: “When it was all going wrong it felt like a colander – the business was full of holes and there was nothing we could do to plug them. I did believe I could turn it round. I put in £3m, another £3m, then another £3m, however the numbers went. But there was no good news. The restaurants as such weren’t doing badly. We were having to close the restaurants that were taking the most cash. Rent, business rates and the cost of labour were our worst enemies.” In the end, administrators at KPMG closed 22 of the chef’s 25 restaurants after investment could not be secured to keep them trading. Three outlets at Gatwick airport – Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Jamie’s Italian and Jamie’s Coffee Lounge – were bought by SSP Group, saving 250 jobs. Overseas, there are still about 60 Jamie Oliver restaurants, including 25 Jamie’s Italian, all run by franchisees.
Barber among bidders for Cabana: Jamie Barber is among the bidders for Cabana, the Brazilian barbecue group he founded with David Ponte, which has been placed on the market. The seven-strong company appointed advisers KPMG last month to reviews its options to secure new investment. Barber, who also operates the Hush and Hache businesses, is thought to be one of a handful of parties looking to acquire some or all of the Cabana business. However, Propel understands Barber is currently locked out of the process because of the obvious conflict of interest. It is thought the business could undergo a company voluntary arrangement as part of the sales process. Other operators thought to have shown an interest include the backer of Handmade Burger Company, which itself was acquired out of administration in July 2017. Cabana closed three sites last year – in Islington, Brixton and Newcastle, and shuttered its site at the Trinity Centre in Leeds earlier this month after deciding not to renew the lease. Propel understands the company spent last year doing a lot of “heavy lifting”, including speaking to landlords and rebalancing its offer to ensure the business was more robust. According to The Sunday Times, Barber is looking to raise circa £1.8m from his existing investors to acquire some of the remaining Cabana sites and he has had an offer for his Hush Mayfair site. Speaking to Propel earlier this year about changes to the concept’s offer, Barber said: “There was obviously a significant bias towards meat but we have rebalanced that to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian dishes and taken a more flexitarian approach. It has paid off and we have seen an uplift in performance.”
Loui Blake to launch £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to take Erpingham House to Brighton: Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant, is launching a £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to support an opening in Brighton. Founder Loui Blake launched the concept in Norwich last year within grade II-listed Erpingham House in Tombland. Now Blake has set his sights on a launch in Brighton and is planning a fund-raise on Crowdcube to support the project. Blake aims to raise £250,000, which is 15% of the overall funds required for the venture. The funds will also be used to improve the Norwich site. The crowdfunding campaign will initially open to private investors on Thursday (1 August) before launching publically on Sunday, 1 September. The new Erpingham House, while still specialising in vegan food, will have a refined offer to appeal to a more general audience. Like its debut site, the new Erpingham House will be entirely free from single-use plastic as well as being almost 100% carbon-neutral once operational. Blake said: “Five years ago I was working in the city in a fast-paced marketing role when I suffered what many in a similar situation do – I burnt out. It was then I decided to adopt a plant-based diet and travel the world before bringing the foods and drink I fell in love with to my home city. Since opening in early 2018 the response has been phenomenal, which is why we feel there’s an appetite to take it further and look to pastures new. While our Norwich site will always be close to my heart we have big plans for the Erpingham House brand and I’m excited to see what the future brings.” Shareholder Russell Martin added: “I have known Loui for many years and was incredibly excited when he came to me with the idea of opening a vegan restaurant in Norwich. Now I have an opportunity to help take the fantastic plant-based food team at Erpingham House to my home city of Brighton and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.” Building work on Erpingham House Brighton will begin once funds have been raised, with an aim to open in early 2020. Blake also operates all-day vegan cafe concept Kalifornia Kitchen.
M&B opens first Miller & Carter in Germany: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has opened its first Miller & Carter steakhouse in Germany. Located at the back of the new Sofitel hotel in Frankfurt, opposite the Alte Oper concert hall, the 200-cover restaurant is split over three levels. Bernd Riegger, managing director of M&B Germany, which comprises 41 Alex restaurants and three brasseries in the country, said three Miller & Carters should be online in Germany by mid-2020. Meanwhile, a nationwide roll-out of three to five restaurants a year is planned in cities with populations of 200,000 or more.
Administrators raise almost £3m from sale of Mitchells of Lancaster pubs:Administrators of brewer and retailer Mitchells of Lancaster have raised almost £3m from the sale of the company’s ten pubs, allowing its secured creditors to be paid in full, a new report has revealed. In a progress update, administrators Steven Muncaster and Catherine Sheard, of Duff & Phelps, said £2,786,000 had been realised from the freehold estate and £101,501 from the leasehold sites. This included £1,665,000 from Punch for four freehold pubs – The Royal Hotel in Bolton-le-Sands, the William Mitchell in Morecambe, The Owd Tithe Barn in Garstang, and the Duke of Rothesay in Heysham – and £576,000 from Trust Inns for The Station Hotel in Caton, near Lancaster. The funds raised have allowed secured creditors Assetz and Resolve, who were owed about £890,000 and £910,000 respectively, to be paid in full. Preferential claims from employees made redundant as a result of the closure of two pubs – Fibber McGees and 1725 Blue Anchor, both in Lancaster – and Mitchells of Lancaster’s head office by the administrators have yet to be received, but are expected to be paid in full. Staff at the other pubs were transferred when they were sold. Non-preferential creditor claims received to date total £5,285,466. The administrators said it was anticipated a distribution would be made but the level and timing was still to be determined. Mitchells of Lancaster went into administration after directors failed in their bid to source a new refinancing package or investment to address an estimated funding shortfall of £500,000. The company, which suffered cash flow issues due to high head office costs and ongoing trading difficulties, was also facing enforcement action from HM Revenue & Customs over unpaid VAT and outstanding PAYE balances.
Auditor chokes on Mayfair dining mogul’s accounts: The restaurant empire of Mayfair mogul Marlon Abela is under fresh scrutiny after its auditor revealed it could not reconcile its bank statements with cash. According to accounts for Marc – the parent company of Morton’s Club, Umu, The Square and The Greenhouse – auditor haysmacintyre was not handed sufficient evidence to give an opinion on the financial statements. The accounts, for the year to December 2017, also reveal Abela is owed £47.7m by the company, which made a loss of £5.8m on sales of £12.1m. Last year, Abela was forced to plough more of his wealth into Marc after it fell into liquidation. He described the episode as a “small and forgettable chapter in the company’s history”. Marc blamed the auditor’s report on the “failure” of banks to provide the “necessary information in the time frame needed”. A spokesman told The Sunday Times: “The companies have always paid the taxes they owe and shall continue to meet their ongoing financial commitments. Marc is very proud of the patronage of its customers as its businesses continue to operate at the very highest level.”
Crussh opens first healthcare site as it makes debut outside London: London-based healthy food and juice brand Crussh has opened its first healthcare site, in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The outlet is Crussh’s first site outside London and is in partnership with Sodexo. The move follows last year’s franchise deal between Crussh and Sodexo, which will see Crussh open outlets across all Sodexo businesses, ranging from workplace catering to universities, hospitals and government locations in the UK and Ireland. The new cafe offers its custom menu, including breakfast pots, salads and wraps alongside freshly pressed juice, smoothies and organic coffee. Crussh chief executive Shane Kavanagh said: “Having a positive impact on people’s health and well-being is what drives everything we do and being able to work with Sodexo on the operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital has been very rewarding so far.” Stuart Winters, chief executive of healthcare, Sodexo UK and Ireland, added: “Food plays such a key part in the healing process so it’s fantastic we can bring the wealth of knowledge in healthy eating and nutrition through Crussh to the benefit of all the children, young people, their families and staff.” Crussh opened its first site in partnership with Sodexo at City, University of London in March. Kavanagh previously told Propel the Birmingham site would give it a platform to start building a cluster of sites in the city and the Midlands.
East Sussex-based Neapolitan street food restaurant secures £2m funding package to support expansion: East Sussex-based Neapolitan street food restaurant Rustico Italiano is expanding with the help of a £2m funding package from HSBC UK. Established in 2015 by owner and managing director Gianluca Venditto, Rustico Italiano has sites in Battle, Bexhill, Hastings and Brighton. The company is using the bank’s funding to purchase properties local to its restaurants to provide staff with full-time accommodation. In addition to the staff accommodation, there is also the potential to rent the facilities to private tenants, generating a further income stream for the business. The finance package is also supporting the growing group of restaurants to develop its central kitchen and warehouse in Bexhill as well as buy and convert a 1975 van, which will enable the company to operate at food festivals and markets. To further support its regional growth, Rustico Italiano is also using the HSBC UK funding to recruit an experienced area manager to oversee the four establishments and develop its takeaway and delivery service. Other plans include buying two more restaurants in the region and expansion into other counties, including Kent. Venditto told Insider Media: “The secured funds will help further raise our profile, not only in East Sussex but also among the south’s ever-growing street food scene.” HSBC business banking director Sarah Milligan added: “The business has grown from two to four units in just six months. With this in mind, we have no doubt Rustico will soon be a household name in neighbouring counties as it continues its expansion.”
Upside Down House UK to open at six more Intu shopping centres: Upside Down House UK, the two-storey “inverted home” concept that offers customers a “zero-gravity experience”, is to open sites at six more Intu shopping centres. The concept launched its first site in Bournemouth in 2018 before opening a second, at Intu Lakeside in Essex, earlier this year. Now Upside Down House UK has entered into an exclusive partnership with Intu to create the experience at six more shopping centres including Intu Trafford Centre, which will open next month, as well as Intu Metrocentre and Intu Braehead. Upside Down House UK chief executive Tom Dirse said: “It is an astonishing opportunity to showcase our unique attraction in more high-footfall locations. This will give everyone around the UK the chance to experience what it’s like to walk on the ceiling.” Roger Binks, customer experience director at Intu, added: “The Upside Down House is a fun experience for all the family, where your world is literally turned upside down. We see its potential to thrive at Intu’s high-footfall locations across the UK.”
Wells & Co acquires Cambridgeshire pub for tenanted portfolio: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Wells & Co has acquired a pub in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. The company has added the Oliver Cromwell pub in Wellington Street to its tenanted estate. The pub dates to the 18th century and underwent renovation 12 years ago. Wells & Co commercial director Peter Wells told The Hunts Post: “We are delighted to acquire this fantastic local pub and be able to extend the business into this beautiful Cambridgeshire town. Our ambition is to become the best tenanted pub business in the UK, working with top operators to ensure the pubs in our estate have the support they need to reach their full potential. Landlords Jayne and Jerry Schonfeldt have worked hard to make the Oliver Cromwell one of the most renowned pubs in Cambridgeshire and it is only fitting we find a new team of dedicated individuals to continue their efforts.” Wells & Co owns and operates 174 leased and tenanted pubs and 23 managed houses. The business was known as Charles Wells but changed its name last month as work began on its new Brewpoint home in Bedford, which is due to open next year.
Amber Taverns opens Hogarths site in Stafford: Community pub operator Amber Taverns has opened a site for its Hogarths brand in Stafford. The company has opened the venue in Gaolgate Street having transformed the former Dorothy Perkins store. The open plan space has capacity for 375 people and features a karaoke room and outdoor terrace, reports Stoke Live. The pub offers ale, cask and craft beer, wine, rum, cocktails and more than 100 different gins. Amber Taverns operates 14 sites under its Hogarths brand and owns more than 140 pubs across England and Wales.
Junkyard Golf directors to open Manchester bar and restaurant next month:Junkyard Golf directors Lyndon Higginson, Bart Murphy and Mat Lake will open a Manchester bar and restaurant next month. The trio are part of a team that has taken over former vegan cafe Folk & Soul in Thomas Street. They have partnered with Dan Morris, former group manager of Trof and operations director for Cottonpolis, on Wilderness Bar + Kitchen, which will open on Thursday, 15 August. The venue will be split into three aspects with the basement housing a creative space for chefs and bartenders and a table in the working kitchen bookable for private dining. The ground floor will be an all-day space offering beer and cocktails on tap, while there will be a cocktail bar on the first floor. Higginson, Murphy, Lake and Morris are also behind Wilderness Record Store, which opened in Withington earlier this year. The design of the new venue has been led by Higginson, tying in with the look of its Withington sister site. Based in the former Deco site off Wilmslow Road, the record shop includes a cafe serving toasties, cakes, pastries, beer, wine and gin. Folk & Soul closed in April, less than a year after its launch.
By Chloe, Hook and Scarlet land at the O2: Plant-based brand By Chloe is one of three brands to open at the O2 in London. The 5,400 square foot restaurant beside one of the arena’s main entrances is By Chloe’s fourth site in the capital. The venue features a 1,500 square foot garden and retro arcade games zone. Meanwhile, seafood restaurant Hook has opened a 1,900 square foot site on the lower level for its second London site. It is joined by Indian street food concept Scarlet, which has opened a 1,200 square foot restaurant. Davis Coffer Lyons and Lunson Mitchenall are the food and beverage leasing agents for the O2. By Chloe and Scarlet represented themselves, while Restaurant Property represented Hook.
Parkdean Resorts to create 200 apprenticeships: Holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts, which is led by former Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards, is to create up to 200 apprenticeships nationwide. The move comes after the business was awarded employer provider status by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. Parkdean Resorts is now an official apprenticeship training provider and will be subject to Ofsted inspections across its 67 UK holiday parks and central support office in Gosforth. The 200 vacancies will be spread across the country including north east England, the Lake District, Devon and Cornwall during the next two years, with apprentices joining the business in autumn. Parkdean Resorts will directly deliver a number of apprenticeships. HR director Maggie Pavlou said: “This year we have invested heavily in delivering bespoke training and development programmes across our estate so this announcement enhances our planned people investment. It will provide a robust framework on which we can plan our strategies.”
Tim Hortons lines up Leicester city centre site: Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons is lining up a site in Leicester city centre. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of the brand, is looking to open an outlet in East Gates in a grade II-listed building that was most recently occupied by designer clothing shop Cruise, which closed last year. Agent JLL have submitted a change of use application to the council on behalf of SK Group to convert the building from retail into a restaurant and café, reports Leicestershire Live. SK Group opened the debut UK Tim Hortons in Argyle Street, Glasgow, in June 2017 and now as 21 sites in Britain. Professional ice hockey player Tim Horton founded the brand in 1964 to create a space where “everyone feels at home”.
BrewDog updates on bars pipeline: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has updated on its bar pipeline. The company’s next bar will open in South Street, St Andrews, on Friday (2 August). The following week the company will launch its Berlin brewery site, which will feature a taproom, craft beer museum and outdoor games area. Before the month is out, BrewDog will arrive in Cambridge as it takes over the former CAU restaurant in Bene’t Street. A trio of US openings is set to follow – in Indianapolis in September, Cincinnati in October and Pittsburgh, where a brewpub will launch in November. The Cincinnati and Pittsburgh launches will be punctuated by a brewpub opening at Capital Dock in Dublin. BrewDog has also agreed a deal for a bar in Shanghai, which will open in the Jing’ An district in October. In the same month the company will add to its international portfolio with a venue in Dubai. BrewDog is also lining up a bar in Bangkok. Meanwhile, as work continues on the company’s brewery in Brisbane, Australia, BrewDog hopes to have the on-site taproom open in November.
Mother and daughter behind Covent Garden cafe to open second site, in North Greenwich: The mother and daughter behind Abuelo, the Antipodean meets South American coffee house in Covent Garden, are to open a second site next month. Lyneet and Cloe de la Vega will launch “dining and drinking emporium” Mama Fuego in North Greenwich. Mama Fuego is described as an all-day space that mixes Australian and Argentine food and drink. There will be a restaurant, milk-bar cafe serving Australian speciality coffee, a riverside garden overlooking the Thames and a bakery and cafe. The venue, within the new Greenwich Peninsula neighbourhood, will have a 1960s and 1970s feel inspired by the sets of James Bond and Pink Panther films, reports Hot Dinners. The de la Vegas opened Abuelo in Southampton Street, Covent Garden, last year.
Tortilla launches vegan offer as it prepares to open latest site: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group, has launched a vegan offer as it prepares to open its latest site. Customers can now order jackfruit to go on top of their burrito, naked burrito bowl, tacos, nachos and quesadillas. Managing director Richard Morris said the new jackfruit ticks all the boxes. He added: “We’ve combined our classic blend of Tortilla flavours with an exotic ingredient that is fresh, different and suits our brand perfectly.” While other operators have jumped on the meat-free trend earlier, Morris felt the company has made the right decision to hold back on its vegan offer. He said: “We’ve taken our time to develop a product that’s right for us and for our customers. Jackfruit is on trend; people know what it is and have been asking for a premium vegetarian option for a while.” Meanwhile, Tortilla will open its 38th UK restaurant in London’s Soho on Friday (2 August). The Wardour Street site will be the group’s fourth “Baby Tortilla” site and will feature a full rainbow exterior and interior.
Former Portland restaurant pair launch Stoke Newington venue: Chef João Ferreira Pinto and sommelier Carolina Seibel, who both worked at Michelin-starred Portland in Fitzrovia, have launched a restaurant in Stoke Newington. Moio has opened in Stoke Newington High Street at a site formerly occupied by restaurant Rustic Twist. Moio has been named after an old Portuguese unit of measurement used in the salt trade between Portugal and Sweden, where Ferreira Pinto and Seibel hail from. Moio offers modern European sharing plates with Portuguese influences such as seafood barley with spicy bisque, and slow-cooked short rib with charred aubergine. The dishes are accompanied by a small but frequently evolving selection of wine from Portugal, Germany, France and Austria. Seibel said: “For Joao and I the relationship between great food and wine is so important, which is why we’ve created a space for people to come together to share in this.”
Buzzworks develops next group of leaders: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings is looking to develop its next group of leaders from within the business. In total, 11 staff representing the company’s 11 venues have started a three-month leadership development programme. They will complete classroom-based and practical tasks covering leadership skills, service excellence and financial knowledge. All 11 managers will present a project at the end of the programme with recommendations for the group, which are applied to the Buzzworks business model if appropriate. Since its initial roll-out in 2017, 12 general managers and ten head chefs have completed the programme. Buzzworks Holdings operations director Alison Blair said: “We take great pride in the learning and development programmes we offer across all levels. It’s integral to attracting and retaining our talented team while adding value to the individuals and our business overall. Over the past 12 months, Buzzworks has invested £130,000 in training staff at all levels.”
Former Hawksmoor chefs open field-to-fork cafe in east London: Former Hawksmoor chefs Alice Wilson and Matt Hall have opened field-to-fork cafe The Humble Bee at Stepney City Farm in east London. The menu features food from the city farm such as eggs, chorizo, beetroot, feta, tomato and horseradish. It also offers baked goods such as sausage rolls, cakes and tarts, reports Hot Dinners. Hall was executive chef at Hawksmoor in Borough and also spent time at Tante Claire, The Capital and The Ritz.