Chick-fil-A to push ahead with plans for ‘permanent’ UK site: Chick-fil-A, the largest chicken and third-largest US fast food restaurant chain, is pushing ahead with plans to open a “permanent” outlet in the UK – despite a backlash over its funding of anti-LGBT causes. Chick-fil-A closed its only Scottish location, a “pilot” at Macdonald Aviemore, at the weekend while its site at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading won’t run beyond its initial six-month period. Both restaurants opened in October but attracted criticism after it emerged Chick-fil-A pumped millions of dollars into organisations that actively oppose same-sex marriage. The company has since changed its charity-giving policy. Chick-fil-A said the Aviemore outlet didn’t close as a result of public pressure but was “in line” with its plans to trial the franchise. A spokeswoman told Herald Scotland: “These insights will help us immensely as we look to have a permanent location in the UK.”
Tootoomoo to explore franchise route for expansion: London-based, pan-Asian tapas concept Tootoomoo is to explore a franchise route for further expansion in the UK. Propel understands the business, which was founded by Philip McGuinness, has started working with Seed Consulting to find suitable franchisees. A Tootoomoo restaurant can operate from kiosks as small as 200 square feet up to 2,500 square foot restaurants and operate eat-in, click-and-collect and delivery services. The brand operates from secondary real estate with rent always less than 10% of sales, which has historically allowed each restaurant to pay back its investment on average in two years. Tootoomoo currently operates restaurants in Islington, Crouch End, Highgate and Whetstone.
Shake Shack UK appoints Sophie Street as head of property: US better burger brand Shake Shack has appointed Sophie Street, formerly of Bill’s and The Ivy Collection, as UK head of property. Street was formerly head of estates and acquisitions at Bill’s and before that was acquisitions manager at Richard Caring-backed The Ivy Collection. She joins Shake Shack as it looks to add to its 12-strong UK estate. The company opened its latest UK site at Brent Cross shopping centre in north west London before Christmas. The venue offers Shake Shack’s signature 100% Aberdeen Angus burgers, griddled flat-top hotdogs, frozen custard and crispy crinkle-cut fries, alongside beer and wine. Since the original Shack opened in New York in 2004, the company has expanded to more than 260 sites in the US and more than 80 internationally. In October, The Restaurant Group Concessions and Diverse Dining opened the first Shake Shack in a UK airport, at Gatwick.
Greene King expands inclusion and diversity programme: Brewer and retailer Greene King is partnering with four organisations to help the company expand its inclusion and diversity programme. Greene King will join Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme for its LGBT+ community; Women in Hospitality to support women and developing their careers; and the Business Disability Forum. The company will also sign Business In The Community’s Race At Work Charter. Meanwhile, Greene King has launched its own employee-led groups including LGBT+ group Village Greene and women’s network Team 47. The company said it expects to launch two further groups covering race and disability in the coming months. Group HR director Andrew Bush said: “We want to celebrate the diversity of our teams, which are representative of the people we serve. We are acting to build and nurture an inclusive culture and we’re pleased to join these four organisations to help us do this.”
McDonald’s launches career progression app for US employees: McDonald’s has launched an Archways To Careers app to help restaurant staff in the US take the next step in their career, whether inside or outside the company. Built in partnership with the Council For Adult And Experiential Learning and supported by career coaching organisation InsideTrack, the app offers a tool that connects to InsideTrack’s advisers. The move builds on McDonald’s Archways To Opportunity programme, which helps restaurant staff earn a high-school diploma and receive college tuition assistance up front. McDonald’s global chief learning officer Rob Lauber told Nation’s Restaurant News: “McDonald’s workforce has immeasurable talent to offer. We are proud to continue to invest in and create more opportunity for those who work here.”
Starbucks revises environmental plan including more plant-based food and drinks on the menu: Starbucks has launched five strategies to cut its carbon emissions and waste by 2030 as part of a revised environmental plan that includes adding more plant-based food and drinks to its menus. The company said it would look to add more plant-based food on its breakfast menu, while it would shift from single use to reusable packaging; invest in regenerative agricultural practices; find better ways to manage waste; and develop more eco-friendly stores, operations, manufacturing and delivery. Starbucks said it would also launch customer incentives to encourage more use of reusable containers to encourage a circular economy. Chief executive Kevin Johnson has set a 2030 target for hitting 50% cuts in carbon emissions in direct operations and supply chain, and waste sent to landfills from stores and manufacturing. He told Nation’s Restaurant News: “We are exploring meat alternatives for our breakfast menu and customers around the world can expect to see more plant-based options from us this year and beyond.” Earlier this month the brand introduced plant-based milk alternatives to its menus.
Levy UK launches Premier League’s first fully vegan kiosk: Catering company Levy UK has launched the first fully vegan kiosk at a Premier League stadium as part of its partnership with Chelsea Football Club. The move is part of a four-year contract extension between Levy UK and Chelsea FC. The kiosk debuted at the club’s game against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge stadium on Tuesday (21 January), offering vegan alternatives to pizza and doner kebabs alongside buffalo cauliflower wings and a halloumi and falafel wrap. The move is part of Levy UK’s commitment to deliver a 50% reduction in beef consumption, cut 30% of sugars from menus, and reduce food waste by 20% by the end of 2020. Levy UK managing director Jon Davies said: “There is a demand for football stadiums to follow consumer requests for more sustainable, responsible and diverse food and drink. The launch of the vegan kiosk with Chelsea FC is testament to both parties’ commitment to tackle issues surrounding more sustainable menu options.” Levy UK operates at a number of other London stadiums including Twickenham. In October the company was announced as catering partner for Brentford FC’s new stadium, which will open in the summer.
Colombian coffee roastery and all-day dining concept to launch in Belgravia:Sisters Juliana and Valentina Beleno are set to launch Colombian coffee roastery and all-day dining concept Morena in Belgravia, central London. Morena will open at the Eccleston Yards development in April offering coffee roasted in-house alongside Latin American-inspired dishes and cocktails. The venue will open from 8am, roasting beans hand-selected from small Colombian farms. Brunch and dinner menus will feature signature dishes such as cassava waffles and mango ceviche with bloody mary salsa, while tropical-inspired cocktails such as kombucha margarita and passionfruit mojito will be on offer in the evening.
Douglas Jack – expect good outcome for Fuller’s in third-quarter trading update:Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said he expects a good outcome for Fuller’s in its third-quarter trading update next Thursday (30 January) given the strong trading environment in the wet-led London market in December. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,050p, Jack said: “Fuller’s has a track record for outperforming its benchmark based on applying its market positioning to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. After a weak November that lost the autumn rugby internationals, the London pub and bar market performed well in December, despite the rail strikes. Overall, managed like-for-like sales grew 2.7% in the first half versus a 4.1% comparable against a backdrop of poor weather. The company faces tough comparables of 5.6% and 5.9% in the third and fourth quarters respectively. Our full-year forecast assumes like-for-like sales will grow 2%, in comparison to which they were up 2.1% after 36 weeks. Cost pressure isn’t abating, although this is more of an issue for 2021E due to April’s 6.2% increase in the National Living Wage. For 2020E, our full-year forecast assumes managed Ebit margins fall 100 basis points, in line with the first half. Tenanted like-for-like profits fell 3% in the first half due to a very tough 4% comparable and increased spending on general maintenance. An increasing number of tenants are buying food through Fuller’s and engaging in the company’s training programme. These trends indicate the first-half decline in profitability should be temporary. We forecast net debt being £160m at the year end, equivalent to 2.8 times net debt/Ebitda. In our view there should be upside to like-for-like sales and margin forecasts over the next two years, as well as expansion if Fuller’s chooses to use its £120m to £150m of financial firepower.”
Five Points Brewing Company launches cask beer training scheme for publicans:Hackney-based Five Points Brewing Company has launched a “care scheme” to provide better training and support for publicans who stock cask beer. Five Points said it grew cask sales to more than 26% of total volume in 2019 from 20% the previous year, compared with a 4.8% fall in overall sales seen in the UK industry. The brewer will run monthly cask-training sessions at its pub, The Pembury Tavern, focusing on cellar temperatures and all aspects of serving. Five Points managing director Ed Mason said: “There is still a massive market for cask beer in the UK and we’re committed to cask beer as a core part of our range.” Five Points has been brewing since 2013.
Former Ritz chef heads kitchen at new Chelsea restaurant and deli: Former Ritz chef Chris Hill is heading the kitchen at restaurant and deli Colette, which has launched in Chelsea, south west London. Colette has opened in Fulham Road offering a seasonal menu and featuring a walnut counter and terrazzo floor. Hill’s menu includes veal blanquette and chestnut gnocchi with glazed button onions, and twice-baked cheese soufflé with poached apricots and walnuts. Desserts include caramelised apple tart, while weekend specials include grilled lobster with Thai dressing. The deli offers more dishes to take away such as beef tartar and home-made scotch eggs, Hot Dinners reports, alongside charcuterie, smoked salmon, caviar, fresh truffles, wine, cheese and chocolates.
Indian restaurant concept Raj expands to Islington for second site: Indian restaurant concept Raj has headed north of the Thames for its second London site. Founder Salim Sheikh has launched Raj of Islington off Upper Street. Similar to flagship venue Raj of Kensington, the 82-cover sister site focuses on home-cooked food from India’s regions. Signature dishes include two curries based on 100-year-old recipes. The drinks list includes wine by the glass, spirits, mocktails, cocktails and gin. Sheikh, who has a background in fine dining, founded Raj in 2016.
Sadler’s to close brewery as beer production moves to Cumbria: Black Country-based Sadler’s, which is majority owned by Halewood Wine and Spirits, is to close its brewery in Lye and shift production to Cumbria. A 30-day consultation has finished and production of Sadler’s beer will move to Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley, near Kenda, reports the Express & Star. Halewood, which bought a majority stake in Sadler’s in 2017, said: “After thorough consultation and extensive review, a decision has been made to close Sadler’s brewery at Lye in the West Midlands. The brewery equipment is to be transferred to southern Ireland, where it will be used to produce whiskey instead.” Sadler’s began as a family business in Oldbury in 1861. Two Sadler’s bars – the Taproom in Quinton and Brewer’s Social in Harborne – aren’t affected by the move and will continue trading. Earlier this month Halewood Wines and Spirits reported group revenue grew 26% to £335m for the year ending 29 June 2019, with adjusted Ebitda up 15% to £26.3m.
Halo Burger opens debut bricks and mortar site: Plant-based burger concept Halo Burger has launched its first bricks and mortar site, in Shoreditch, east London. The Ross Forder-led concept has opened at the former Selekt Chicken site in Great Eastern Street. Halo Burger, which claims to be the UK’s first brand to offer the Beyond Burger, a 100% plant-based bleeding burger, operated a site at Pop Brixton late last year. Beyond Burger is the creation of US food manufacturer Beyond Meat, which states the item is a “revolutionary plant-based burger that looks, cooks and satisfies like beef and contains no soy or gluten”. Beetroot juice provides the “bleeding” effect. CDG Leisure acted on the Shoreditch deal.
Tyne and Wear-based operator opens South Shields coffee shop for second site:Tyne and Wear-based operator Sue Freeman has opened a coffee shop in South Shields for her second site. Freeman launched Mamma Sue’s Kitchen in Jarrow in 2016. She has now opened Mamma Sue’s Eatery in Frederick Street, South Shields. Freeman told The Shields Gazette: “Mamma Sue’s Kitchen has done really well and I’ve always wanted a nice coffee shop. I’ve been trying to get into South Shields for a while. I feel like I belong and I know I can do well.”