Incipio reports more than 2,500 bookings in 24 hours: Incipio Group, which is backed by Edition Capital, has reported more than 2,500 bookings in 24 hours after announcing it will reopen three of its sites. The company, which is reopening Pergola Paddington, The Prince and Lost In Brixton from 4 July, said it has also seen a huge spike in traffic to its websites and more than 23,000 enquiries. Changes to the venues are taking place to accommodate social distancing measures and the safety of customers and staff. As part of reopening guidelines, all guests have to give their details beforehand. Sales and market director Anthony Knight said: “Following the government issued guidelines we are now able to start booking in the 23,450 guests that have made enquiries to join us in July. Being able to quickly identify if a guest is able to enter while securely collecting their information in line with the government requirements gives both our teams and employees the reassurance needed we are taking all measures to ensure we are able to open safely while being able to provide information to the NHS test and trace service if need be.” Incipio Group operates six sites across the capital.
McManus Pub Group secures £1.25m funding deal: McManus Pub Group has secured a £1.25m finance facility from HSBC UK to support the Northampton-based business during the coronavirus pandemic. McManus Pub Group, which was forced to close its 15 pubs and restaurants in Northampton and two sites in Leigh-on-Sea in line with government guidelines, has used the funding to pay any costs incurred during lock-down, cover projected trading losses for the next quarter and support the purchase of protective equipment to ensure employees and customers are safe when its sites reopen. The funding from HSBC UK, which forms part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), is in addition to a revolving credit loan and repayment holiday. McManus Pub Group finance director Chris Wright said: “At the start of the lock-down we drew down on our existing working capital facility to ensure we could support our colleagues and pay suppliers during this period. The additional facilities from HSBC UK not only supported our cash flow, but also gave us increased flexibility and the ability to start planning for the future.”
The Chestnut Group plans phased reopening as customer survey formulates plans: East Anglian-based pub and restaurant company The Chestnut Group has formulated its reopening plans after surveying its customers. The results highlighted the measures guests would like to see in place and the group is taking a phased approach to reopening sites. Almost 70% said they wanted to return within the first two weeks of reopening, with an overwhelming 95% wanting to return within a few months. Other key insights included 90% of guests wanting to see more outdoor seating and 74% favouring a limited number of guests in the properties. As a result The Chestnut Group has adopted “six measures of safety” – an operational standard that will be rolled out across the portfolio. This includes pre-booking measures, sanitising stations, revised seating plans and clear signage at all touch points. The phased reopening will see four sites reopen on 4 July – The Crown Inn, in Stoke by Nayland, Norfolk; and Suffolk coastal properties The Globe Inn, Wells-next-the-Sea; The Ship Inn in Dunwich; and The Weeping Willow in Barrow. These will then be followed on 11 July by The Packhorse Inn, a rebuilt The Three Blackbirds; and The Eight Bells in Saffron Walden. The Westleton Crown will reopen on 17 July, followed by The Northgate and The Rupert Brooke on 18 July. The Black Lion in Long Melford will reopen on 25 July.
Caravan beings reopening for delivery and collection: London-based restaurant and coffee-roasting concept Caravan has reopened two of its sites for delivery and click-and-collect. The Active Partners-backed group, which closed its five eponymous sites in the capital, and latest opening Vardo in Duke of York Square, in March, has launched a delivery and collection service out of the latter site and out of its eponymous site in King’s Cross. Delivery is available through Deliveroo. Propel understands the company is also set to launch a brunch box offer from this weekend.
Eat 17 eyes franchise expansion plan with pubs and restaurants: Eat 17, which operates sites that are part artisan food store, part convenience store and part restaurant, is looking to expand its offer through franchising and is targeting work with pubs and restaurants. The four-strong, award-winning group said it believed social distancing restrictions would mean many business owners will be interested in exploring how they can grow revenue by introducing retailing into their existing location. The chain said it was planning to open new stores around the capital and is on the hunt for retailers, as well as pubs and restaurants who are looking to diversify and utilise space opened up by social distancing. Started in 2006, the group operates sites in Walthamstow, Hackney, Hammersmith and Bishops Stortford, and generates annual turnover of about £10m. Eat 17 co-founder James Brundle said, “Our offering isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Instead it’s about us working closely with publicans, restaurant owners and retailers to give them another stream of revenue as they adapt their businesses for social distancing. Our concept has been working well in our four stores for 14 years and it’s a model that can easily be applied to businesses that have struggled over the past three months. It’s a combination of a food retail outlet and in normal times, restaurants and places customers can buy quality street food. That model could work well with those businesses that have found things tough during lock-down. Most will already be set up with a proper catering kitchen meaning restaurant quality food is going to be a possibility. We can also offer a large selection of foods we create ourselves from scratch.”
German Doner Kebab seeks head of project management as it pushes on with UK expansion plans: German Doner Kebab, the flagship brand of Hero Brands, is pushing on with its expansion plans and is looking to appoint an experienced head of project management to support its ambitious growth strategy. The brand is looking to bring in the senior figure to manage its restaurant expansion plans throughout the UK and has a development pipeline of 350 franchise sites over the next seven years. Chief executive Imran Sayeed said: “Our idea of bringing a nutritionally-balanced gourmet kebab has been a massive hit with UK consumers, and this has been reflected in the huge growth we have already achieved in the past two years. We have developed a strong growth pipeline with some of the UK’s most established franchise entrepreneurs and we are now working closely with them to identify new sites and respond to the growing consumer demand across the UK. From this perspective we are looking for an experienced head of project management to join us and oversee the growth of our restaurant footprint while strengthening the relationships with our multi-unit franchise partners.” As well as the UK where it operates 35 sites, German Doner Kebab operates franchised stores in Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain. The UK growth comes as the brand is embarking on expansion into Saudi Arabia. The Ajlan and Brothers Group has been signed-up as the master franchisee, with a development agreement of 100 stores over the next ten years. Further growth has also been announced in North America, as franchises have been signed in Canada’s Ontario and British Columbia provinces, while negotiations are underway to open outlets in New York’s Manhattan and New Jersey.
Island Poké begins phased reopening, launching first Editions site: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Fund-backed concept, has set out its reopening plans, which will include the launch of its first Deliveroo Editions site at the start of next month. The company, which recently began its expansion into Europe, with the opening of its first site in Paris, will accept online delivery orders through its sites in Soho, Shoreditch, Canary Wharf and Broadgate Circle from 1 July, with all four sites set to reopen fully from 13 July. At the start of next month, it will also launch its first Deliveroo Kitchen site, in Battersea. It will reopen its sites in Victoria, Fitzrovia, Bow Lane and Southbank on 27 July. It has also expanded its delivery partners to Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat.
Merlin Entertainments to reopen all attractions in England from 4 July: Merlin Entertainments has confirmed it will be reopening all its major theme parks, attractions and accommodation across England from 4 July for day visits and short breaks in line with government guidelines. The company’s theme parks including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legoland Windsor will welcome customers along with indoor attractions such as its Sea Life centres and Madame Tussaud’s. Alton Towers and Warwick Castle have already been welcoming visitors to their grounds and gardens since 6 June while Chessington reopened its zoo area to the public last week. The attractions will be offering a reduced number of tickets to ensure limited visitor numbers. The daily allocations will allow for social distancing, with all visitors required to pre-book tickets online. Safety measures in place will include new routes around attractions and queuing formats, staff wearing personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning. Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney said: “Of the 25 countries Merlin operates in across four continents, the UK is the final country where attractions are still waiting to reopen fully. In each location we have reopened, we have seen our guests embrace the ‘new normal’ and actively adhere to the new safety measures we have put in place. After the extended lock-down, we recognise people need leisure and escapism and to make new happy memories with those they love. We look forward to helping them do just that.”
Hot chocolate shop Knoops to open second London site, in Kensington: Hot chocolate shop Knoops is to open a second London site, in Kensington. The company is opening the venue in Kensington High Street in August. Knoops offers a range of chocolate drinks – the chocolate used ranges from 28% to 100% cocoa and there are a mix of single origins and blends. Owner Jens Knoop opened the original site in Rye, East Sussex, in 2013 before adding a site in Clapham Junction in March this year just prior to the lock-down. Both sites have reopened for takeaway.
Quintain receives approval to more than double al fresco dining space at Wembley Park: Plans to significantly extend outdoor seating across Wembley Park this summer – more than doubling the al fresco dining space – have been approved by Brent Council. Developer Quintain’ has announced it plans to reopen the Wembley Park dining offer from 4 July in keeping with new government guidelines. Working with the council and its food and beverage tenants, the developer has agreed a strategy to create an al fresco dining destination across the largely pedestrianised 85-acre estate. Additionally, bench seating will be installed to allow visitors to enjoy socially distanced takeaways from many of the food and beverage operators. Tenants have adapted their offer to enable visitors to maintain social distancing including London-based casual dining concept Pasta Remoli, which will operate a click-and-collect model, encouraging visitors to order via a scannable QR code, to limit queuing. The restaurant has also installed retractable glass screens throughout. Meanwhile, having already opened for takeaway services, Boxpark, independent bakery and baking school Bread Ahead and London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee will expand their outdoor seating provision. Quintain’s ongoing £3bn transformation of Wembley Park features more than 500,000 square foot of retail and leisure space, including some 240,000 square foot of new build. The agent for the retail and leisure at Wembley Park is Nash Bond.
28°-50° owners reopen Marylebone site for takeaway and delivery: Privately owned group Riviera Restaurants and Luxury has reopened its 28°-50° Marylebone Wine Workshop & Kitchen for takeaway and delivery. The site in Marylebone Lane is open daily offering coffee, croissants and cupcakes and its brasserie-inspired à la carte menu combined with a curated wine and champagne list. This is all available via click-and-collect and delivery within W1, W2 and SW1. The à la carte menu includes seared tuna nicoise with peppers, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes and olives; and artichoke tempura with aioli mayonnaise. Riviera Restaurants and Luxury also operates a site for the 28°-50° concept in Covent Garden.