Aprirose acquires Wear Inns: Real estate investment company Aprirose, which acquired a 73-asset portfolio from Mitchells & Butlers last year, has acquired north east-based managed operator Wear Inns, The Sunday Times reports. Aprirose, which also acquired Leeds-based QHotels for £525m in September 2017, paid £22.4m for Wear Inns, which operates 25 pubs. Hartlepool-headquartered Wear Inns was founded in 2006 but was hit hard by the sudden death of managing director and co-founder John Weir two years ago. The company posted sales of £13,643,322 in the year to 31 March 2018, down from £14,210,461 a year earlier. Losses grew from £45,396 to £82,256, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Ebitda was £2.6m, compared with £2.57m the prior year. Simon Duckworth was appointed managing director in May 2017 on a permanent basis. Duckworth, who was previously finance director, had been interim managing director since Weir’s death. Weir’s business partner and co-founder John Sands also passed away, last August. Aprirose chief executive Manish Gudka said the Wear Inns deal was part of a “clear vision” to build a “pub group of scale”.
Veeno to open Norwich wine cafe for 21st site: Italian wine cafe Veeno is to open its 21st site, in Norwich. The venue is set to launch in the terrace area of the Castle Mall shopping centre. The company first applied for planning permission in April and is currently recruiting for an assistant manager. Veeno was founded in November 2013 in Manchester by Andrea Zecchino and Nino Francesco Caruso. Zecchino said: “We are delighted to be bringing the Veeno experience to Norwich. We felt there was a real gap in the market in Norwich for an outlet such as ours, which provides a genuinely authentic Italian experience as well as a superb lunchtime menu and an excellent venue for weekend drinking and dining.” The company recently opened its first site in Worcestershire, in Kidderminster, and others in Croydon and Sheffield. Veeno is targeting 25 sites by the end of this year and 80 by 2020. Its site in York is currently closed for refurbishment.
Private equity firm Carlyle makes cut-price bid for Gaucho: Private equity firm Carlyle has gatecrashed the auction of Gaucho with a cut-price bid to buy the struggling restaurant chain out of administration, Sky News reports. The bid comes only weeks after Carlyle off-loaded a substantial debt position it held in Presto. Carlyle is among a small number of bidders for Gaucho, which entered administration after sister brand CAU saw double-digit declines in like-for-like revenues, with “over-expansion, poor site selection and onerous lease arrangements”. Deloitte is handling the administration. All 22 branches of CAU were closed to allow the group to focus on selling the Gaucho chain. The restaurant group employs 1,305 staff, with 540 at CAU, 714 at Gaucho and 51 at head office. Sources close to the administration process said there was confidence, however, the chain would find a buyer, preserving hundreds of roles under a new owner. Other parties who tried to buy Gaucho before it fell into administration, such as restaurant entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, have yet to table new offers. Equistone, Gaucho’s owner, has put several proposals to its lenders in recent weeks but is not participating in the latest bidding, according to a source close to the process. Carlyle has invested in a string of restaurant operators around the world. It holds a stake in the master franchisee responsible for McDonald’s businesses in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, totalling almost 3,000 stores, while it also backs Alamar Foods, master franchise operator of Domino’s Pizza in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Villandry owners seek buyer as central London rents rocket: The owners of the Villandry restaurant chain are hunting for a buyer amid mounting losses, The Sunday Times reports. Villandry, run by the former Le Pain Quotidien director Philippe Le Roux, has been hit by rent doubling at its main London site and the loss of its outlet at the Bicester Village discount shopping centre, near Oxford, which made up almost half its sales. Advisors from accountancy firm BDO are understood to be searching for a new investor. Le Roux acquired Villandry in 2011 with backing from big City of London names including Finsbury PR chief Roland Rudd, BAE Systems chairman Sir Roger Carr and former Standard Chartered chairman Lord Davies. Villandry’s latest accounts reveal that following a business rates review, the rent doubled on its flagship restaurant in Great Portland Street, which is popular with celebrities including Amal Clooney. Rental costs at its nearby restaurant in Waterloo Street, St James’s, also rose 16%. Villandry’s losses ballooned from £847,537 to £1.6m in the year to March 2017 on sales of £10.3m. In the accounts, Le Roux said the company had cut head office and restaurant costs “substantially” to cope.
Daisy Green Collection sets £2m overfunding cap in campaign for expansion: Australia-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection has set the overfunding cap of its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to £2m. The company, founded in 2012 by former City bankers Prue Freeman and husband Tom Onions, was initially seeking £500,000 while offering 4.70% equity in return for the investment – but smashed that target within hours of its public launch in July. So far, 659 investors have pledged £1,914,480 and the campaign continues to “overfund” with five days remaining. Freeman said: “The pre-money company valuation remains unchanged at £18m. We are not going to pro-rata scale back investments due to the overfunding, instead we will issue additional equity to investors. We have set our overfunding cap at £2m – at this level we will be selling 10% of the equity in the business. For a £10,000 investment you will own 0.05% worth of shares in the company. The additional capital raised will allow us to bring forward our expansion plans in terms of new sites and adding key talent to facilitate our exciting growth plans. We anticipate having the ability to add one additional site per year in addition to our plan provided as part of the campaign (growing to more than 17 sites with revenues of £25m-plus within four years). This potentially adds an additional £1m of site Ebitda by year four.” The business, currently 100% owned by the founders, raised a £775,000 bond through Crowdcube in 2015, which was oversubscribed within 24 hours. In 2017, its “Bondi Bond” became the first to be repaid as part of a £3.25m refinancing by OakNorth.
Atherton closes Sosharu: Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton has closed his Japanese restaurant Sosharu in Clerkenwell, London. The site on Tunmill Street is listed as “permanently closed” on search engine Google. Atherton is said to be looking to relocate the restaurant in the near future. Executive head chef Alex Craciun posted on Instagram: “Sosharu will be back stronger.” The closure leaves Atherton’s The Social Company with six sites in London with others in New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Cebu.
Melia gets go-ahead to turn former Liverpool Echo building into hotel with sky bar: Spanish group Melia Hotels has got permission to build a hotel on the site of the former Liverpool Echo building near the city centre. The hotel will be built on the corner of Old Hall Street and Brook Street and consist of 17 floors with a reception area, restaurant, bar and conference facilities on the ground and first floors and a 17th floor “sky bar” with views over the city and River Mersey. Accommodation will fill the fourth to 16th floors in a deal secured by licensing solicitors John Gaunt & Partners. The Liverpool Echo has moved to nearby St Paul’s Square. Mike Shaw, of the daily newspaper’s parent company Reach, said: “We have worked with Melia International and the design team for two years to design an upscale modern hotel built to Melia’s exacting brand standards to produce a fabulous new business and tourist destination in the centre of Liverpool with views over the city and river.” Liverpool is undergoing a hotel boom, with the city named the fifth-most popular UK destination for overseas visitors. At least ten hotels are being built or have been proposed in and around the city centre alone. The council’s most recent “hotels update” saw the city’s hotels achieve average revpar of £104.63, the first time it had broken the £100 barrier.
Five Guys sails into Portsmouth: Better burger brand Five Guys has launched its first site in Portsmouth. The restaurant has opened next to the newly refurbished Hollywood Bowl on the second floor of the Gunwharf Quays leisure complex, which looks out on to the city’s harbour. The opening has created 50 jobs. Manager Ryan Burrans told The News: “A lot of our customers used to travel all the way to Whiteley (near Fareham). Five Guys waited to find the right spot to open and I’m glad it did as we have a brilliant location, next to the bowling alley and cinema.” Gunwharf Quays general manager Colin Wilding added: “Five Guys will give our customers even more choice.” Five Guys is open from 10am to 11pm daily. The Murrell family founded the company in Virginia in 1986. It opened its first UK site in Covent Garden in 2013 and now has more than 80 restaurants in the region.
KerbEdge closes Darlington site: Hull-based burger company KerbEdge has closed its site in Darlington within months of its launch. The company’s operational consultant, Paul Gourley, blamed a lack of footfall at Feethams leisure complex for the closure and a cancellation by the council of World Cup screenings, for which the company was to supply food, following an outbreak of disorder after the England versus Columbia game. KerbEdge took over the site from NYC Bar and Grill, which closed suddenly earlier this year. KerbEdge moved in and took on a number of NYC staff, who claim they have been left without wages and jobs for the second time in months. Gourley told the Northern Echo staff would be paid soon, adding: “There was just no footfall at that site. We gave it a go, we invested £50,000 refitting and trying to make it work but it never worked out. We were losing £3,000 a week. We were not able to promote the business like we’d hoped.” Gourley called the cancellation of the World Cup event a “final nail in the coffin”. KerbEdge, which operates two sites in Hull and opened a site in Sheffield last week, recently changed its company name to VOIP Communications International which, Gourlay said, was “no indication of wider problems”. Adam Bryson founded KerbEdge in 2014 after a trip to the famous Burger Joint in New York.
Midlands-based team to open third Italian restaurant at former Strada site in Birmingham: The team behind Italian restaurants La Galleria in Birmingham and Cafe Casita in Sedgley is to open its third site in the region. The company will return to Birmingham to launch Pinocchio at the city’s canal-side leisure complex the Mailbox. Pinocchio will open next month at a site formerly occupied by Strada, which closed in May. The restaurant will span 4,500 square feet and showcase “authentic Italian cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere”. A spokesman said: “Following the success of La Galleria, we are delighted to be opening our new restaurant at the Mailbox this autumn. We love being part of Birmingham’s rich and vibrant food scene and it will be fantastic to offer something new and exciting to our loyal customers while taking the opportunity to introduce our food to people who may not have experienced it before.” David Pardoe, head of marketing, retail and tenant engagement at the Mailbox, added: “We are incredibly proud to be home to some of the region’s best and most loved restaurants and look forward to consolidating our offering with Pinocchio.” Shelley Sandzer is the food and beverage leasing agent for the Mailbox.
SSP wins deal to operate 29 Starbucks stores in the Netherlands: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has been awarded a contract to take over 29 Starbucks stores in the Netherlands by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the principal passenger railway operator in the country. SSP will operate the stores as part of a licensed partnership following a competitive tender. As part of a new strategy, NS will cease to directly operate some food and beverage and retail units at its railway stations. It will hand over operations of its Starbucks stores in early January, with all current staff transferring to SSP. Kate Swann, SSP Group chief executive, said: “This award recognises our successful track record of running Starbucks stores in travel locations in the UK and continental Europe. We look forward to further growing our operations in the Netherlands and welcoming NS colleagues into our team.” NS commercial director Sytze van der Aa added: “SSP’s experience, combined with our in-depth knowledge of the Dutch railway network, gives us confidence in a bright future for our Starbucks colleagues and customers.”
Chestnut Group acquires Suffolk coastal pubs: Pub operator The Chestnut Group has acquired two Suffolk coastal pubs from Agellus Hotels. The Ship At Dunwich is in the coastal village of Dunwich and offers 16 en-suite bedrooms, a bar and restaurant. The Westleton Crown is a traditional coaching inn with a bar, restaurant, terraced garden, sitting room and 34 en-suite bedrooms. The Chestnut Group was founded in 2012 by Philip Turner, who is Suffolk born and bred. He said: “The region is vastly underestimated as a destination for eating and staying. Our ethos is to embrace all the great elements that make up the area. With properties near Cambridge, Newmarket, Sudbury and in Bury St Edmunds, it was a natural progression to look to the coast to truly encompass all aspects of East Anglia.” Agellus Hotels owner Mark Harrod added: “It is our plan to use the sale of these inns to allow for further development of our properties on the Norfolk coast and Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk.” The Chestnut Group’s estate includes The Packhorse Inn in Moulton, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, The Black Lion in Long Melford and The Blackbirds in Woodditton, which is currently under construction.
Northern Ireland-based restaurateur to launch Italian dining concept in Belfast city centre: Guido Cavalier, who operates Italian restaurant Sapori Italiani in Newry, is to launch a new concept in Belfast city centre. Cavalier will open the Italian dining concept in a 4,400 square foot ground-floor unit at the Soloist Building in Lanyon Place in the autumn. KPMG moved to the property’s upper floors last year, with law firm Pinsent Masons occupying the remaining space. To date, the other ground-floor units remain vacant apart from Caffe Nero. Declan Leonard, of agent Colliers International, which brokered the deal, told The Irish News: “Guido has exciting plans to bring a new Italian dining experience to the city and, at more than 4,400 square feet, this will be a significant, welcome addition to the area’s growing hospitality offer. The Soloist Building enjoys high footfall in a vibrant area that welcomes thousands of professionals, locals and visitors daily. This latest ground-floor tenant will complement the presence of Caffe Nero and other new tenants, who will be announced soon.”
Events company Media 10 launches debut restaurant in Essex: Privately owned events and media company Media 10 has opened its debut restaurant – Tom, Dick & Harry’s – below its headquarters in Loughton, Essex. The 60-cover, 2,000 square foot venue has opened in High Street with a mix of industrial features, soft furnishings and vibrant colours. As well as a main dining room, there is a lounge with baby grand piano, counter dining at the bar and a terrace seating 16 people. Head chef Michael Carter’s signature dishes come in the form of Nibbleinis – modern small plates that mix Mediterranean flavours with British ingredients. Choices include British burrata and fried crisp Cornish squid, while other mains are chargrilled on a Kopa oven. The wine list features pale Provence rosés, cocktails and a gin bar offering 20 varieties displayed on a flavour wheel. The venue also hosts regular performances from acoustic musicians and a Sunday Roast Club. The restaurant takes its name from the three escape tunnels featured in classic movie The Great Escape. Media 10’s founders also used the names as a code when they were getting ready to leave their corporate jobs to set up their agency.
London’s first avocado restaurant to go permanent this month: A pop-up that launched as London’s first avocado restaurant is to go permanent this month. Avobar opened late last year as an Instagram-friendly restaurant in Covent Garden’s Floral Street. After months of looking for a site to relocate, Avobar will open a permanent location in Henrietta Street on Friday, 24 August. Apart from dishes such as smashed avocado with homemade coconut labneh, beetroot houmous and feta, the menu will also feature sourdough and sweet potato “toast”. The restaurant will also offer its signature Avo Bun burger, which consists of two large avocados with vegetables in the middle. An in-house shop will sell avocado-based skincare products, the Evening Standard reports.
Former Polpo pair launch tapas and pintxos concept in east London: Alexis and Emmanuel Ross, who between them have worked at Polpo, The Ned and Zetter Town Hour, have launched a tapas and pintxos concept in Dalston, east London. The duo has launched Screwdriver in Ridley Road at a site formerly occupied by Lucky Chip, which closed last year. The concept takes inspiration from the tapas and pintxos bars of northern Spain with all dishes cooked on a grill. Dishes include anchovies on toast, asparagus with burrata, grilled peppers, and whipped cod’s roe, Hot Dinners reports.
York-based street food trader to open debut bricks and mortar site in city centre: York-based street food trader Los Moros is to open a debut bricks and mortar site in the city centre. Los Moros, which offers Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine, has traded at Shambles Food Market since its launch in 2015. Owner Tarik Abdeladim will open his restaurant in Grape Lane in the autumn, while the stall will continue to operate. Los Moros was voted the number-one eatery on TripAdvisor in 2017. Abdeladim told York Press: “We will be serving some favourites from the kiosk such as our handmade merguez sausages but using the restaurant as a space to develop the food in new directions and play with different techniques and ingredients. The menu is still in development but there will be great local meat and fish, loads of herbs, lovely vegetables and spice.” The restaurant will take the place of vegetarian restaurant El Piano, which had operated in Grape Lane for more than 20 years before owner Magdalena Chavez decided to retire. Abdeladim added: “There is a heritage of great cooking in the building and we’ll still be making tasty vegan and vegetarian dishes.”