Bulk of Friska business sold for £260,000: Renroc Capital, a turnaround investment vehicle, acquired the bulk of Friska, the Bristol-based healthy eating brand, for a total consideration of £260,000, Propel has learned. Under a subsidiary, Renroc Retail, the investment group, which is led by Daniel Corner, acquired five of Friska’s best sites in Bristol, via a pre-pack administration. At the same time, Friska founders Griff Holland and Ed Brown acquired two of the remaining Friska sites in The Eye and Rivergate (OVO Energy) schemes in Bristol, for a total consideration of £15,000 through new vehicle Vela Venture Yard. Holland and Brown have already relaunched The Eye site at the city’s Temple Quarter, under new venture Double Puc Café. The Friska inside the Here building in Bristol – formerly the Bath Road studios at Arnos Vale – has been closed permanently. It is also thought the brand’s franchise site in Luton airport will shut. On the sale, Brown said: “When Griff and I started Friska 12 years ago, we knew that, like our colleagues, at some point, our time with Friska would come to an end, like any journey. We just never thought the journey would end like this. As a result of the devastating impact of the pandemic on our business in 2020 and 2021, we had to commence a sales process to seek a buyer for Friska to help ensure the survival of the brand, safeguard as many jobs as possible and return some value to our creditors. Through this process, a new custodian for the brand has been found and, thankfully, our fantastic team will have jobs to go back to when Friska reopens. However, Griff and I will no longer have any connection to Friska going forward. We can only hope the new owner does not do the brand we have created a disservice and, more importantly, they treat the team they have inherited with the respect and loyalty that this team has shown to us.”
Iceland faces questions over move into restaurants: Iceland, the frozen food group, continues to face questions over its forays into the restaurant sector. According to the FT, Lannis, the parent company for the privately held retailer, said in accounts filed with Companies House that sales rose 16% to £3.78bn during the year to March 26, a period that coincided almost exactly with the coronavirus pandemic in the UK. The growth in profit was helped by a controversial decision not to return around £46m of business rates relief it received during the financial year. This more than offset the £34m of covid-related costs incurred in the period. The company has previously pointed out that the relief was not intended to be a loan and that it was not the only food retailer to retain the assistance, for which it was “grateful to the government”. During the period the rates relief applied, the group lent £109m to another holding company controlled by its founder Sir Malcolm Walker and chief executive Tarsem Dhaliwal, allowing it to buy out an equity stake in Iceland previously held by Brait, a South African conglomerate. Investors had noted the Walker and Dhaliwal families opted not to inject any fresh equity into the group when they acquired the Brait stake, according to one fixed-income analyst who follows the company. Lannis also extended a £31m loan to the same family holding company to finance the acquisition of 28 restaurants originally owned by another entity (Individual Restaurants) controlled by Walker and Dhaliwal, via a pre-pack administration. The analyst said the management had faced questions about this transaction, both when the results were presented to investors around three weeks ago and on roadshows for a £250m bond issue earlier this year. A prospectus for that issue stated Lannis intended to bring the restaurants under its control in due course, potentially exposing the retail business to the financial risk of the restaurants. “We intend to use cash on balance sheet to repay some or all of the outstanding indebtedness of the restaurant business when it is prudent to do so,” it added, though it also stated the restaurants would not become a significant part of the group or require any working capital. Neither loan has yet been repaid. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Boparan Restaurant Group appoints Hugh Watson as new finance director:Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Slim Chickens, has appointed Hugh Watson as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Watson joins BRG from healthy food developer AM Fresh, where he spent just under a year and a half as its finance director. He also spent time as finance director at FTSE 250 specialist chemicals group Synthomer and group financial controller of packaging solutions provider Molins. Watson’s appointment comes as BRG launches its The Restaurant Hub offer at the Sainsbury’s superstore in Selly Oak Boulevard in Birmingham. The Hub features five of restaurant brands – Caffe Carluccio’s; Gourmet Burger Kitchen; Slim Chickens; Ed’s Easy Diner; and, in collaboration with Deep Blue Restaurants, Harry Ramsden’s. The Restaurant Hub is a 180-cover communal dining space allowing guests to mix and match dishes from any of the participating brands, for both dining-in and home delivery.
D&D London to continue paid hospitality training programme to address staff shortage, recruits 22 people from inaugural summer school: Restaurant operator D&D London is continuing its paid hospitality training programme following its inaugural summer school earlier this month. It aims to secure employment for people with little or no previous experience looking to enter the industry and is one of a number of initiatives D&D is implementing to attract staff, following a difficult recruitment period for the sector. The second school will take place from Tuesday (3 August) at D&D’s 100 Wardour Street. The company said more than 100 people have expressed interest following the announcement of the programme. A total of 22 of the 37 participants of the inaugural summer school were offered roles in D&D restaurants, including Launceston Place, 100 Wardour Street and 14 Hills. D&D London chief operating officer David Loewi said: “Hospitality is all about people – the right people in the right place, building their skills and helping them to achieve their ambitions. Our new summer school is working to deliver this.” The week-long programme focuses on three main aspects of restaurants – front of house, back of house and bar. The attendees are divided into these groups and trained for the roles of commis waiter, commis chef and bar-back. The programme concludes with a graduation ceremony.
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Russell Norman to launch Trattoria Brutto venture in September: Russell Norman, the co-founder of Polpo, will launch his new venture, Trattoria Brutto, in September. The restaurant and bar, which is inspired by the dining rooms of urban Tuscany, particularly those of Florence and Siena, will launch in the former Hix Oyster & Chop House premises in Greenhill Rents in London. The venue will have 70 covers, plus ten at the bar and ten outside. Front of house will be overseen by Monique Sierra, who was previously group general manager for Polpo, with the kitchen led by Oli Diver, who has a wealth of experience in some of London’s best restaurants. The menu will offer “refined and elegant classics” such as vitello tonnato, panzanella, chicken liver toasts, lamb chops al cartoccio and pappardelle with wild boar. There will also be some rare authentic Florentine hero dishes such as peposo – a beef stew – and rosemary flatbread with broad bean puree. The bar will offer coffee, snacks, breakfast prosecco, wine and freshly baked pastries and sandwiches.
German Doner Kebab to open third Canadian restaurant as it prepares for ‘relentless’ period of growth: German Doner Kebab, the Hero Brands-backed business, is to open a new flagship restaurant in downtown Toronto as it gets set to forge ahead with a period of “relentless” growth throughout Canada. The restaurant at 246 Queen St W opens on Tuesday (3 August) following the launch of its first two restaurants, in Ottawa and Surrey last year. The restaurant, which will have 40 seats and create in the region of 30 jobs, has been developed in partnership with franchise partner Usman Ali, who is now planning to develop and open ten restaurants over the coming years. His family business brings significant industry experience, employing 300 people across a portfolio that includes eight Popeyes and four Dairy Queen sites. Longer-term the brand has recently announced ambitions to open 100 new restaurants in Canada over the next decade. Nigel Belton, German Doner Kebab managing director for North America, said: “The opening of our new flagship restaurant in Toronto will be a landmark moment for the brand in Canada as we get set to embark on a relentless period of growth throughout the next decade.” German Doner Kebab has more than 70 restaurants across the globe and is embarking on growth across the UK, Sweden, USA and the Middle East, with more than 700 franchises already signed up to its global growth strategy. In North America, the development pipeline includes along with Canada, key locations in the USA spanning Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, and Houston. The growth plans in North America have also been boosted by the appointment in November of Michael Bruno as its new franchise recruitment director. German Doner Kebab recently announced it will open 47 new restaurants in the UK during 2021.
Bloomsbury Leisure planning multi-use venue in Bristol: Craft beer bar operator Bloomsbury Leisure, which runs the Euston Tap and Holborn Whippet in London and the Piccadilly Tap in Manchester, is planning to open a multi-use venue in Bristol. The Jonathan Dalton-led business has applied to turn the former Poundstretcher shop in the Bedminster area of the city in a production kitchen and tasting room for tortilla chips under the brand name Spikee. If plans are approved, the former shop would also be used for exhibitions and events. The company said in its licence application that the multi-use space would have three uses. At its heart would be a “craft tortilla chip production kitchen”, which would make and sell fresh tortilla chips, with a partially visible production facility. This would run alongside a retail and tasting room, which would have a fully licensed bar. This space would also act as a showcase for trade customers and offer a range of drinks, including craft beer, wine and cider for both on-site consumption and off-sales. There would also be a few tables and chairs externally. The venue would also be an exhibition space that would be used for events and exhibitions, including live and recorded music.
Loungers lines up Pontypridd opening: Cafe bar operator Loungers has lined up a new opening in Pontypridd, Wales. The Nick Collins-led group will open Gatto Lounge at 3 Llys Cadwyn in the Welsh town. Earlier this year, the business opened its 15th site in Wales, in Aberystwyth, and will open a further site in the country next year, in a converted grade II-listed toilet block in Barry Island. Speaking to WalesOnline in February, Loungers chairman Alex Reilley said: “We trade so well in Wales – we have 14 sites from Bangor to Carmarthen, and from Monmouth to Bridgend – and they are all fantastic traders for us. Whenever anything comes up in Wales, we always joke it’s a slam dunk because everybody seems to get us very instinctively, which makes trading in Wales a delight for us.” The company opened its 176th site in total this week, when it launched the Condado Lounge in Devizes, Wiltshire. It has further Lounge openings lined up in Basildon, Colchester and Ealing, while it also plans to open a further Cosy Club site in Chester.
Ghetto Golf to open new concept the Big Fang Collective in Glasgow: Liverpool-based cocktails and mini-golf concept Ghetto Golf is to open a new concept – The Big Gang Collective – in Glasgow, this summer. The new 40,000 square foot venue in the city’s Lancefield Street will mark the first venture under the crazy golf chain’s new concept, which will bring some of the most recognisable aspects of the Ghetto Golf experience to Scotland, with a major focus on street food, music and art. The Big Fang Collective will incorporate Scottish food, creatives and artists in the continuing development of the venue as it expands from the initial Golf Fang offering, which launches next month. The initial opening of the Golf Fang venue will be followed by Birdies Bar and Food Court, and other venues including a unique twist on karaoke, to form the Big Fang Collective, scheduled to be introduced later in the year. Martin Hennigan, head of production, said: “It’s a staple of our venues that we honour a local pub that’s well known in the city. For Glasgow, we selected the Old College Bar because we loved the story of how it claimed to be the oldest pub in the city – but really it wasn’t. It’s a bit cheeky and we can definitely relate to that. The Old College Bar was obviously a bit of an institution in Glasgow and was fondly viewed upon. We heard it is shut permanently now, which is a real shame, but we like to think it will raise a smile when people see our tribute on the course.” Kip Piper and Danny Bolger launched Ghetto Golf in Liverpool in 2016 and have subsequently added sites in Birmingham and Newcastle. The company received permission last year to launch a site in Sheffield, which is scheduled to open later this year.
Boxpark transforms covid security card into loyalty scheme: Boxpark has transformed its “Black Card” from a covid-19 track and trace system into a loyalty scheme that allows customers to earn points that can be spent at its bars. Boxpark, which operates food, retail and leisure concept sites in London at Wembley, Shoreditch and Croydon, began its move towards a loyalty card scheme by introducing special membership offers and now, in partnership with PassKit, it will enable customers to collect one point for every £1 spent from the bar and, for every 100 points earned, they will receive a £10 voucher off their next order at the bar. There are further plans to integrate the card with Onvi, its table service provider, to allow customers to collect points for drinks purchased from the bar via direct ordering or through table service on mobile devices. Black Card holders will also be entitled to other offers including luxury hotel stays, experiences and priority tickets for events at the London sites, including major sports screenings and live gigs. Boxpark marketing manager Barney Dufton said: “The regulations that came into play around track and trace accelerated our progress of building a flexible digital system, which we have now converted into a loyalty scheme. We are always looking for ways to enhance the guest experience while improving our bottom line, so we hope the Black Card will help us to move in this direction.”
Tom Aikens to open restaurant in Jakarta: Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens is to open a restaurant in Indonesia. Aikens will launch Tom’s at The Langham Jakarta in September. Located on the 62nd floor of the hotel, the European restaurant will offer views of Jakarta’s skyline from the Sudirman Central Business District. Tom’s will serve British and French dishes using seasonal produce. As well as an open kitchen, the restaurant will have a wood-fired grill and epicerie-like shelves offering a variety of charcuterie and cheese along with a selection of wine. Tom’s will also feature a mezzanine lounge that overlooks the restaurant. A rooftop eco-garden at the hotel will grow fresh herbs used solely at the restaurant. Aikens said: “At Tom’s, the produce is the hero. We are celebrating flavours and harmonising taste and texture, working with the world’s best meat, imported or dry aged to perfection in-house, along with poultry and seasonal seafood prepared and cooked ‘on the bone’, which is a superior method of cooking.” Aikens currently runs Muse in London’s Belgravia and three restaurants at the Edition Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Slice by Pizza Pilgrims to open first permanent site next month: Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria brand founded by brothers James and Thom Elliott, will open its first permanent site for its New York City-influenced concept Slice by Pizza Pilgrims, in Finsbury Park. The new venue will be Pizza Pilgrims’ first permanent site following a successful pop-up on London’s Southbank and it also runs the food offer at the London West End site of crazy golf concept Swingers. Housed in a late-night downtown setting on Seven Sisters Road, the menu is different to existing sites and takes inspiration from the slice joints and dive bars of New York City. It is set to open on Wednesday, 11 August. The 50-cover restaurant will serve its signature Pizza Al Metro – long rectangular pizza for cutting into super-sized triangle slices. A new flavour, exclusive to the site, is the revamped Hawaii Not – honey-glazed pineapple, nduja and jalapenos. Classic ’80s arcade games such as Pac Man and Street Fighter are available to play and there will be cans of Amalfi Lemon and Peach ice tea slushies, as well as an extensive beer and wine list. A soft launch on Monday, 9 August, will see 1,000 free slices of pizza given away at midday, 3pm and 6pm. Elliot said: “We’re excited to finally set some roots and launch our first permanent site of Slice by Pizza Pilgrims. Slice is the great love story between New York and Naples pizzerias and this site in Finsbury Park is the perfect community-driven spot for locals and Londoners.”
Pakistani food restaurant set to open in Nottingham after three-year wait:Pakistani food restaurant Tipu Sultan is set to finally open in Nottingham three years after plans were first announced. Tipu Sultan, which operates sites in Birmingham and Leicester, will go ahead with the Sherwood venture after receiving £200,000 funding from First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans through the Community Investment Enterprise Facility (CIEF) and Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The Nottingham restaurant, which was formerly the Fat Cat bar, will have 360 covers inside and a further 150 for outdoor dining. The Business Desk reported the funding would be used for marketing, venue costs, cash flow, stock and the setting up of a wedding hall at the venue, with ten jobs being created. Tipu Sultan Nottingham director Safdar Azam said: “The pandemic caused a lot of uncertainty and concern in our industry and, ultimately, delayed the opening of the new venue. Thankfully, with some sense of normality now on the horizon, we are extremely excited to be bringing a high-quality dining experience set in a glamorous surrounding to Nottingham. The business model has been very well received in other parts of the Midlands and we hope this will be mirrored here.” First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans business adviser Stefan Nycz added: “There will be a huge demand for eating out following the easing of restrictions and I am sure the winning combination of the well-priced menu, great standard of food and totally extravagant decor and furnishings will be a winner for the diners of Nottingham.”
Canadian-inspired brunch restaurant and wine bar to launch in west London: A Canadian-inspired brunch restaurant and wine bar is opening in Parsons Green, west London. West 4th is the brainchild of friends Livia Boumeester and Louisa Stevenson-Hamilton, who will launch the venue in New Kings Road in September. The 1,800 square foot site will comprise 60 covers for morning brunch before evolving into relaxed wine and charcuterie bar in the evening. The downstairs will double as an event space. The Vancouver-inspired venue offers takes on the quintessential Canadian staple poutine, as well as pancake, waffle stacks and acai bowls. West 4th will also offer an interactive “mix ’n’ match Eggs Benny” whereby customers can pair multiple variations of the dish. There will be a DIY Bloody Mary bar with numerous different twists and toppings, allowing guests to create their own drinks. There will also be cocktails and wine, which can be paired with charcuterie boards and small plates. In 2019, Boumeester and Stevenson-Hamilton left their London corporate jobs to move to Vancouver. They were enamoured by elements of “West 4th Avenue” on the Canadian coast, and working both front and back of house in the Canadian hospitality industry gave the pair the inspiration to recreate this in London. Stevenson-Hamilton said: “While we can’t bring the beach or slopes to Parsons Green, we hope to emulate Vancouver’s relaxed, convivial hospitality scene here.”
Fletchergate Industries to open an eighth site next month: Fletchergate Industries, which is behind Nottingham venues including The Hockley Arts Club and Das Kino, will open its latest venue in the city centre next month. The company will launch The Blind Rabbit in the former Belgo building in Weekday Cross. The New York-inspired bar, grill and live entertainment venue will span three floors and also offer cocktails and old-school American bar games, reports The Business Desk. It will be Fletchergate Industries’ eighth site with its ninth set to open in nearby Beeston. Belgo closed last July when owner Casual Dining Group called in administrators.
Belfast-based restaurateurs unveil plans for second venture: Belfast-based restaurateurs Jonny and Christina Taylor have unveiled plans for a second venture. The husband and wife duo, who run Shed Bistro in Ormeau Road, are planning to open Blank Restaurant in Malone Road in October. Ahead of the launch, they are seeking some of the region’s lesser-known or smaller producers to partner with. Jonny Taylor told the Irish News: “Our industry wouldn’t exist without the amazing food and drink producers, and they have been hit as hard as we have over the past 18 months. To help them bounce back, we are on a mission to partner with local suppliers in an exciting new project.” The couple recently spent £150,000 doubling the size of Shed Bistro. On the new venture, Jonny Taylor added: “We dreamt up this idea a long time ago and have been working hard ever since, using any down time during the pandemic to make our dream a reality and ensure every element is right.”
Waffle and crepe bar to open debut site in Midlands: Waffle and crepe bar concept Lola’s Waffle Bar is set to open its debut site in Stratford-upon-Avon. The business, headed by Marta Wojnas, has been a staple at markets in the Warwickshire town during recent years. It is seeking planning permission for a site that was formerly Lloyds Pharmacy on Rother Street. Wojnas, who has left a full-time job in motorsport to focus on the waffle business, told the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald: “We’re just waiting for the green light with the new signage and with the solicitors, but we’re hoping to be up and running during August. It’s a big step for me because, in September, I’ll be leaving my job in motorsport but I’m really excited about going for it with this first project. I’m hoping some of the regulars who have supported me on the market will come and visit. We’ll be doing waffles and sweet and savoury crepes, as well as drinks.”
Germany-based Vastint Hospitality gets go-ahead for first north east hotel:Germany-based Vastint Hospitality has received planning permission for its first north east England hotel. The company, which has a portfolio of hotels across Europe, has been granted planning permission from Newcastle City Council for a new Moxy hotel development at Newcastle Helix. The development, which will be a boutique hotel concept, will be the first of its kind in the area. Matthijs den Teuling, development manager at Vastint Hospitality, said: “This is a significant step in our plans to bring Moxy to Newcastle. We think the design makes a great statement for its prime location.”
Elior UK wins £13m Birmingham City FC catering contract: Contract caterer Elior UK has been appointed as Birmingham City FC’s new catering partner in a five-year deal worth £13m. The move will see Elior provide catering services for match-day fans, hospitality, general admission, and conference and event services at the Championship team’s St Andrew’s ground. Elior will implement a cashless service, click and collect ordering through its Breaz app and upgrades to the hospitality suites. Birmingham City chief commercial officer Ian Dutton said: “The new partnership with Elior will benefit every match-going fan, corporate partner and attendee at our events. Elior really impressed us during the tender process with the team’s forward-thinking approach to hospitality and the investment package that will upgrade our offering.” Elior UK managing director Kenny Finlayson added: “Our shared goal is to deliver exceptional food and drink experiences to all spectators and guests at St Andrew’s. This will be led by our investment in general admission and hospitality areas, and a fresh and innovative approach to our catering offer.”
Tayside butcher to open steakhouse restaurant: Tayside butcher Colin Nicoll opened a steakhouse restaurant on Saturday (24 July). Nicoll’s Steakhouse has launched on Princes Street, Perth, and showcases the meat on offer at his butcher’s shops in Stirling and Perth. His partner, Kirsty Burns, is also involved in the 100-seater restaurant. He told The Courier: “We spoke about the idea of having a restaurant briefly and it sowed the seed. A lot of our customers to the butcher’s shop mention there isn’t a steakhouse in Perth. We’re going to have meat on display in the restaurant as well.” The steak counter allows customers to customise their steak through both the choice of cut and the portion size. The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from noon to 10pm and Sunday between 10am and 9pm.
Atlas Hotels acquires Birmingham site: Atlas Hotels, which owns and operates hotels across the UK, has acquired a site in Birmingham. The company has bought the 109-bedroom Hampton by Hilton Birmingham Jewellery Quarter from Birmingham Regeneration LP in a deal brokered by JLL. The freehold property was sold for an undisclosed sum and has a bar/dining area, on-site fitness centre and meeting facilities. The Hampton by Hilton Birmingham Jewellery Quarter was a former textile factory, part-converted into a hotel in 2013. The hotel will continue to operate with Hilton Hotels & Resorts under the Hampton by Hilton brand. Gavin Wright, senior director, hotels and hospitality at JLL, said: “The completion of the sale follows a competitive marketing process with multiple offers received. This is a strategic acquisition by Atlas Hotels, which has a strong appetite to grow its existing portfolio.” DLA Piper acted for Birmingham Regeneration and Burges Salmon for Atlas Hotels.