TGI Friday’s to reopen 66 restaurants for dine-in from 6 July as it reveals fresh new brand: TGI Friday’s is set to reopen 66 restaurants for dine-in from Monday, 6 Julyand will reveal a fresh new brand. The changes will be showcased at six specially selected restaurants, dubbed “Famous at Friday’s”, with elements introduced across the rest of the estate. An investment and upgrade in “quality, fresh ingredients and a focus on provenance” are core to the new food offer, which has been simplified along with its cocktail menu. The Famous at Friday’s restaurants will be Covent Garden and Leicester Square in London; Birmingham Hagley Road, which was the first Friday’s in the UK, in 1986; Nottingham, Manchester Royal Exchange and Glasgow Buchanan Street. Chief executive Robert B Cook said: “Our new Famous at Friday’s restaurants take us back to what we are famous for. We have invested in the return of classic dishes made with quality ingredients, re-energised bars full of energy and theatre, all of which will be complemented by consistently brilliant and iconic Friday’s service and spirit of generosity.” TGI Friday’s said it would implementing the same strict safety measures for in-restaurant dining as it had for its click-and-collect and delivery services.
Adnams to open 90% of its managed and tenanted estate on Saturday: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams is planning to open 90% of its pubs, hotels and inns on Saturday (4 July), Propel has learned. The company has been working on plans with tenants and managers under the motto of “no pebble unturned” as it reopens the majority of its sites. Adnams then plans to reopen the remaining part of the estate over the next few weeks and said it was already seeing “plenty of demand”. At its managed sites, the company is only accepting advanced bookings, with Adnams sending an email to guests before their visit to state “what to expect”. The company said to keep employees and customers safe, it was also stepping up cleaning procedures while other measures being put in place include hand sanitiser stations and the use of personal protective equipment for staff that wish to wear it.
St Austell to reopen entire managed estate and more than 70% of tenanted sites when lock-down lifts: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery will reopen its entire managed pub estate on Saturday (4 July). The company said it would also reopen more than 70% of its 147 tenanted pubs, with the rest planning to in the weeks ahead. St Austell has introduced a number of extra measures in its managed pubs to keep teams and customers safe. In addition to being able to book tables online, guests will be greeted at the door and shown to their seat. They will have the option of table service or using the company new “Easy Orders” app to pay for their food and drink. The company has also introduced one-way systems in all its pubs, with entrance and exit points, to encourage social distancing. Customers will be encouraged to pay by card and make regular use of sanitising stations throughout the pub. Every site has new safety signage, including floor stickers. All tables – inside and outside – will be spaced apart in adherence with government guidelines. There will also be a team member dedicated to cleaning customer touch points, regularly throughout the day. Steve Worrall, managing director of St Austell Brewery’s pubs, inns and hotels, said: “We’ve invested in all of the necessary measures to keep people safe, while ensuring the same authentic pub experience that people have been missing.” The Rock Point Inn in Lyme Regis, which is St Austell’s debut managed house in Dorset, will open for the first time in mid-July.
Trade above expectations at Slim Chickens: All Slim Chickens outlets have now reopened and Boparan Restaurant Group has reported trade levels across the estate are “above expectations”. The company stated: “Following its phased reopening programme throughout May and June, Slim Chickens in Birmingham, Bluewater, Bristol, Cardiff and London’s Soho, St James and Brunswick have been trading from noon to 9pm daily and all are reporting higher than expected customer transactions.” The company said home delivery has been a “very popular option”, the number of customers actually arriving in-store to “takeaway” is much higher than expected and the new “quick and collect” solution is also “proving hugely successful”. Richard Pigott, head of operations at Slim Chickens, said: “We purposely phased the reopening as we wanted to be absolutely sure each site could ensure the safety of both our customers and staff so time was taken to ensure upgraded cleaning regimes, top-end personal protective equipment and social distancing measures were in place. In every location, we’ve been quite overwhelmed by demand and are particularly delighted by the number of new customers engaging with the brand. We’re finally fully reopened and are trading above expectations, so it’s once again all systems go at Slim’s.”
Think Hospitality founder James Hacon takes global chief marketing officer role: Think Hospitality founder James Hacon has taken the role of chief global marketing officer with a hospitality technology business. In a Facebook post, he stated: “Like most suppliers to hospitality we temporarily lost a lot of our clients and many projects. We have slowly been building Think Hospitality back up. Among this uncertainty an opportunity came up to join a business I have been consulting with for the past year – and it was one that I simply couldn’t pass by. So, at the beginning of this month I took up the role of global chief marketing officer for a hospitality technology business called Mapal Software and a UK arm called Flow Hospitality Training, which recently received a significant investment from Providence Strategic Growth. I’m four weeks in and it was a brilliant decision, the vision is incredible and the team awesome to work with. It has given me the flexibility to carry on working on Think Hospitality and in my chairmanship of I am Doner – so I really have the best of all worlds, as I love this work and these teams too.” It is understood the day-to-day management of Think Hospitality will be split between chairman Michael Ingemann and partners Angela Malik and Heleri Rande, with Hacon continuing to provide strategy consulting with some clients.
Tasty takes ‘cautious’ approach to reopening, expects to have circa 25 sites trading by mid-July: Tasty, the AIM-listed operator of the Wildwood and Dim T brands, has said it expects to have circa 25 sites trading again by mid-July as it “cautiously” reopens the estate. The company has so far reopened seven restaurants – about 13% of the total estate – for takeaway only. Tasty stated: “Over the next few weeks, the company intends to cautiously open further units for takeaway and/or full table service, in compliance with government regulations, and by mid-July expects to have some 25 units open for trading.”
Heavitree cancels dividend, extends rent cancellation period until end of July:Heavitree Brewery, the Exeter-based tenanted pub operator, has said it will not pay a dividend for the first half of the financial year after profit plummeted. The company also said rent cancellation for tenants would be extended until the end of July and would be reviewed “as we go forward”. For the six months ended 30 April, Heavitree posted pre-tax profit of £184,000, falling significantly from £705,000 the year before. Revenue was down to £2.6m, compared with £3.4m the previous year. The company said it would review future dividend payouts after trading returns to normal. The cancellation of the payout comes after the company in March withdrew its recommendation to pay a 4.25p final dividend for its financial year ended October 2019. In addition to the sale of land in Christow, near Exeter, for £15,000, the company has secured an increased overdraft facility from Barclays, a 12-month capital repayment holiday on its existing facility and a relaxation of the covenants attached to its original facility. Looking ahead, chairman Nicholas Tucker said: “Much has been written about getting the pubs open to ‘save our summer’. It is important to remember that, rather ominously for the second half of our financial year, we already have two months without any trading to absorb.”
Vaulkhard Group secures £1..5m to safeguard long-term future: Newcastle-based leisure firm Vaulkhard Group has secured £1.5m from HSBC UK, safeguarding more than 200 jobs and the long-term future of the business. Vaulkhard Group, which owns and operates 15 venues in Newcastle and the north east, will use the funding to ensure it can remain operational, following the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the leisure sector. The loan also means Vaulkhard Group can continue to pay many smaller, local suppliers. Managing director Ollie Vaulkhard said: “We took steps proactively and quickly to use our relationship with HSBC UK to make sure the business is in a strong place to keep operating and that we pay staff and suppliers in full during this coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has hit the leisure industry hard, but HSBC UK’s support means we’re able to continue working and provide long-term stability to the group.” Last year HSBC UK supported Vaulkhard Group with a £7m financing deal to expand and refurbish its portfolio of leisure venues.
Coppa Club to begin reopening with Tower Bridge site: Coppa Club, the Various Eateries-owned brand, will reopen its site in Tower Bridge on Saturday (4 July). Ahead of reopening, the site has extended its outside terrace, which customers will be able to visit without prior booking, and has also said it will relaunch its private dining igloo experience. Open for bookings now, the restaurant will be open for all-day dining while the igloos will be bookable for two-hour slots – from 11am Monday to Friday and 11:30am on Saturday and Sunday – from Wednesday (1 July).
Alex Rushmer – relaunching on 4 July will be ‘a gamble I cannot make’: Chef and MasterChef runner-up Alex Rushmer has said he won’t be reopening his plant-based restaurant Vanderlyle in Cambridge when lock-down lifts. In a blog post, Rushmer said he and business partner Lawrence Butler believed relaunching would be too much of a gamble due to the uncertainties around the industry amid coronavirus. Vanderlyle, which opened in 2019, has switched to a takeaway model since being forced to close in March. Rushmer, who was runner-up on MasterChef in 2010, said: “I understand this eagerness and excitement, it’s impossible not to. And I make no judgements on those who choose to open at the earliest possible opportunity. But our own approach is going to be more cautious. Vanderlyle will not be open for business as usual at the start of July. Currently, I don’t know what the odds are of us being open again before the start of next year. A lack of clinical decision making at the start of the crisis gives me little confidence that the government will successfully negotiate our exit from it. Lockdown easing in places as diverse as Florida, Germany and Beijing have all resulted in infection spikes and increases in R rates. Covid isn’t going away. With no guidance about how to reopen safely and no support network if lockdown measures need to be ratcheted up again, reopening a small independent restaurant becomes a gamble I cannot make.”
Purezza secures fourth site, in Bristol: Brighton-based vegan pizzeria Purezza has secured its fourth site, in Bristol. The restaurant is set to open in August in Gloucester Road in the premises previously occupied by pork and barbecue restaurant Pigsty. As well as its plant-based pizzas, the restaurant will offer a range of cocktails and a full gluten-free menu. Co-founder and co-owner Tim Barclay told Vegan Food & Living: “We absolutely adore Bristol. It is a fantastic diverse and welcoming city – we have been looking at opportunities to open here since Purezza began in 2015. Having taken part in the wonderful Bristol Vegfest a couple of times, it was always an amazing experience and it made us eager to put some roots down.” Purezza opened its debut site in Brighton in 2015 before adding a site in Camden three years later. The company, which revealed plans to open in the former Patisserie Valerie site in Hove earlier this month, also has its own vegan cheese factory.
Carlsberg UK slashes losses despite turnover dip but on-trade sales value rises:Carlsberg UK slashed pre-tax losses in its latest financial year despite a dip in turnover, but there was a rise in the value of on-trade sales. The company reported pre-tax losses of £404,000 for the year ending 31 December 2019 compared with losses of £8.5m the previous year. Turnover was down to £414.7m, compared with £430.1m the year before. In a statement accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “2019 saw the UK beer market decline by 1% in volume, in line with long-term trends, following a healthy performance in 2018 with sales boosted by the hot summer and the World Cup. Both the on-trade and off-trade channels saw similar levels of decline from a volume perspective, however, both saw retail value sales growth which was driven predominantly by a shift in mix.” The business added premium products had proved popular during the period, alongside world and craft beer which, together with alcohol-free beer, had outperformed the market. In contrast, standard lager continued to struggle, with heavy declines from key brands resulting in net volume declines of 2.3%. In May, Carlsberg UK announced a joint venture with Marston’s to create a “brand-led UK brewer of scale”. Marston’s, whose shareholders approved the deal last week, is to receive a 40% stake in Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company and a cash equalisation payment of up to £273m. Carlsberg UK will receive a 60% stake. The deal values the Marston’s brewing business at up to £580m and the Carlsberg UK brewing business at £200m. On the current coronavirus pandemic, Carlsberg UK added: “Since the balance sheet date, there has been significant macro-economic uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the scale and duration of which inherently remains uncertain. This has had a significant impact on the business. The directors are monitoring and reacting to the situation and have put in place contingency plans to safeguard our employees and to mitigate the developing risks.”
Crieff Hydro ‘elevates’ F&B offer as it prepares to start reopening this week:Scottish independent hospitality company Crieff Hydro has said it has elevated its food and beverage offering as it prepares to begin reopening sites from Friday (3 July). The family-owned company will reopen its self-catering lodges at Crieff Hydro in Perthshire on that date, with the hotels in the group following on Wednesday July 15, in line with Scottish government guidance on the easing of lock-down conditions. As well as Crieff Hydro, the company will begin trading again at Peebles Hydro, Murraypark Hotel in Crieff, and three hotels in the West Highlands – The Isles of Glencoe, Ballachulish Hotel and Kingshouse Hotel. News of the reopening comes after the group revealed earlier this month that it was launching a redundancy consultation process with 241 staff in August. The business saw bookings wiped out after its hotels were forced to close in March under lock-down measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. The group, which employs about 1,000 staff across its hotels, hopes the process will ultimately lead to less than half of the 241 posts being cut.
Vinegar Yard to reopen on Saturday but street food traders to return in second week: Vinegar Yard, the eating, drinking and arts space in London Bridge launched by Flat Iron Square founder Benj Scrimgeour, will reopen on Saturday (4 July) and feature two-new mezzanine cocktail bars. The site’s street food traders will not be part of the reopening weekend but will begin serving their menus again from Wednesday, 8 July. In preparation for the reopening, Vinegar Yard has implemented extensive health and safety measures to protect customers. The fully ventilated outdoor yard will operate in-line with government’s guidelines, with a capped capacity throughout the site, tables spaced out to facilitate social distancing rules with table bookings wherever possible, and all on-site staff adhering to daily temperature checks before each shift. Increased hand washing and sanitation procedures have also been introduced across the site. Vinegar Yard’s indoor warehouse will also be reopening alongside Abigail’s Bar, it’s recently launched 1970s-inspired indoor cocktail bar.
Dishoom extends home cookery kit delivery nationwide: Indian restaurant concept Dishoom has extended delivery of its home cookery kit nationwide. The company launched the kit, which allows customers to create Dishoom’s bacon naan rolls in their own kitchen, earlier this month. Now having initially only been available for delivery to customers surrounding its King’s Cross, Kensington and Shoreditch restaurants, the offer is now available across the UK mainland. Each kit also contains the requisite tea and spices to brew a batch of Dishoom’s Masala Chai. For every bacon naan roll kit sold, Dishoom will donate a meal to Magic Breakfast, its long-term charity partner that provides free, nutritious meals to children that might otherwise go hungry. The kit comes with full cookery instructions while a video to help first-timers will also be available online. Earlier this month Dishoom reopened its King’s Cross, Kensington and Shoreditch sites for delivery and is expected to reveal its reopening plans this week.
Center Parcs to reopen UK villages from 13 July: Center Parcs has announced it will reopen its UK sites from Monday, 13 July. It comes after all five villages closed on 20 March in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. In line with government guidance, there will be social distancing and new safety measures in place to protect the families who visit each week and the company’s 8,500 employees. During the four-month closure period, the majority of the company’s staff have been supported by the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and work is now ongoing to bring employees back to work and “deliver a comprehensive training programme around new ways of working and safety procedures”. Center Parcs’ village in Ireland – Longford Forest – will also reopen on Monday, 13 July.
Flavio Briatore to reopen Crazy Pizza on Saturday: Italian businessman and former Formula One boss Flavio Briatore will reopen his Crazy Pizza concept in Marylebone on Saturday (4 July). Crazy Pizza was launched in the former Carluccio’s site in Paddington Street in June last year and features an open kitchen, dough-spinning chefs and DJs playing vintage tunes. Briatore, who began his career in restaurant management, partnered with Janina Wolkow, owner of Mayfair restaurant Sumosan, to launch a Japanese and Italian crossover concept in the UK in late 2016. The pair opened Sumosan Twiga in Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, having launched the concept in Dubai. Sumosan Twiga will also reopen on Saturday.
City Pub Group enters into three-year supply agreement with Barsham Brewery:City Pub Group has entered into a three-year supply agreement with north Norfolk brewer Barsham Brewery. The deal will see Barsham initially supply City Pub Group’s East Anglian pubs with its beer but in due course will be extended further to other parts of the estate. City Pub Group chairman Clive Watson said: “We plan to incorporate the Barsham range initially into our ten pubs in East Anglia, and in due course into others in our estate. Additionally, through the close relationship that a supply agreement such as this brings, we will lend our experience and knowledge to assist in Barsham’s growth.” Barsham managing director James Prideaux added: “The collaboration with City Pub Group is a major development for Barsham. Being recognised and working with the rapidly growing, listed business is an endorsement of our strategy and of the beer that we brew.”
Westons donates 1,880 kegs to on-trade: Cider-maker Westons is donating 1,880 kegs of Stowford Press to outlets up and down the country, in a bid to help troubled pubs, bars and restaurants get back to business. By offering 1,880 free Stowford Press kegs to its partner outlets, Westons Cider – founded in 1880 – will mark the year the first pints of cider were poured at its Herefordshire cider mill. In addition, Westons will also support pubs with reusable plastic glasses, branded glassware, and Stowford Press parasols as part of the biggest on-trade investment drive in its 140-year history. Head of sales Martyn Jones said: “There’s no denying it has been an incredibly tough few months for the British on-trade and there will be more testing times to come. But we should remember the concept of the British pub is deeply ingrained in our culture. This year at Westons we’re celebrating our 140th anniversary. While we certainly wish circumstances were different, we hope our pledge to support our dedicated on-trade customers goes some way to recognise the crucial role that pubs, bars, and restaurants have played for our business since its inception.” Existing Westons customers can apply for one free keg of Stowford Press apple with their first Stowford Press purchase from Monday (29 June).