Busaba secures CVA approval: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, has secured approval for its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The 13-strong company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA at the start of last month, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the CVA was approved by more than 85% of the group’s creditors. It will see the company exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The Terry Harrison-led company has so far reopened nine of its sites since 4 July, with its restaurants in Covent Garden, Leicester Square and the O2 still closed.
Jamie Oliver’s parents sell Essex pub to the Chestnut Group: Trevor and Sally Oliver, the parents of high-profile chef Jamie Oliver, have sold their pub, The Cricketers in Clavering, Essex, to East Anglian-based pub and restaurant company The Chestnut Group. After owning the pub for 44 years, the Olivers have decided to retire. Trevor Oliver said: “We have had an amazing time running the inn, which has been our home for the past 44 years. We brought up our children, trained and supported hundreds of staff in the hospitality sector and made many friends for life. But with a great team and strong support from our loyal customers in place, we felt it was the right time to move on. So, we have taken the decision to hand over the keys to Chestnut and look forward to seeing the next phase in the life of The Cricketers.” Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Chestnut Group, told Propel: “While some may question if this is the right time for us to acquire The Cricketers, our view and commitment is long term, this is a hugely successful business with strong foundations, we have full confidence in its future potential. It also adds another 22 bedrooms to the business, taking our overall room stock to around 150 rooms.” The Chestnut Group currently operates 11 sites across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Earlier this month, it strengthened its senior leadership team with the appointment of Henry Fairbanks, formerly of Ei Group’s Bermondsey Pub Comp, as chief operating officer as it eyes further growth.
McDonald’s drives app downloads with 50% off deal: McDonald’s is driving app downloads by offering 50% off their whole menu this week. Customers who download the McDonald’s app and sign up by Sunday 1 November will then have 36 days to use their offer at selected restaurants across the UK. Only new customers are eligible, meaning those who are already signed up to the app can’t access the deal. To claim the offer, new customers need to open up the app and go to the “deals” section. There, an option to select the 50% offer will appear, where customers can then order as normal. There’s no minimum spend with the deal – but it can only be used once. Customers who are already signed up to the app will get a different offer, which is £5 off for every £15 spent, which can be used multiple times. The offers are only available at some branches, which are listed on the McDonald’s website.
Bluestone National Park Resort wants to invest £15m to increase staycation capacity: Bluestone National Park Resort is hoping to expand by nearly a quarter in a bid to meet a growing demand from the UK “staycation” trend. The Pembrokeshire resort wants to spend £15m building 80 new “superior” lodges as well as adding a new restaurant in the nearby Black Pool Mill building. Plans for the historic mill building, which include a heritage restaurant serving lunches, cream teas and dinner, were first announced earlier this year. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has granted Bluestone change-of-use planning permission to allow it to begin work to bring the 19th century mill back to its former glory. Bluestone has now launched its pre-application consultation to build the 80 lodges saying it was determined to invest further in the business, despite the current pandemic and the challenges it is creating for the tourism industry. Last year, the holiday resort attracted 155,000 visitors to its 500-acre site and it hopes the new lodges will create an additional £1m of spending in Pembrokeshire. It said its plans would also create more than 250 jobs in the construction phase and almost 90 jobs following completion.
Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar opens Marlow site: Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar has opened a new Indian restaurant, Vaasu, in Marlow after three months of delivering takeaways. The coronavirus pandemic saw a summer launch postponed with a switch to takeaways to those in the area of Buckinghamshire, as well as the surrounding villages. The Chapel Street-based venue replaces the former Italian restaurant Villa D’Este, which closed its doors after 33 years in September 2019. Kochhar said: “People have been asking me, why open a restaurant now during the pandemic? “I’m passionate about gastronomic discovery and while we cannot travel and explore the world at the moment, we will bring the bounty of India’s beautiful flavours, aromas and spices to our guests. Vaasu celebrates the life and culture of India through a menu of magnificent dishes from India. I’m inspired by traditional cooking techniques like the tandoor oven and tawa griddle.
£40m Covent Garden hotel opens hoping for 20% occupancy: The Middle Eight in Covent Garden, a hotel that cost £40m, opened yesterday hoping for 20% occupancy. It is located on the site of the former Kingsway Hall recording venue, one of the leading recording venues in London for orchestral music because of its central location and excellent acoustics. Middle Eight’s general manager Christian Graf said he was reconciled to a “very slow start” with tourism still down more than 90% in London and few signs of it picking up. He said: “The hotel is ready and we want to open it. We do believe that this situation will not go on forever and you do have to start establishing yourself in the market. Of course, I accept it will be a very slow start, I will be happy if we manage 10, 15 or maybe 20% occupancy to begin with.” The hotel, which will have 168 rooms and 12 suites, is the latest in a series of openings in the capital during the pandemic despite the historically low numbers of visitors to London. The 59-room hotel The Guardsman opened in Westminster last week while US brand Nomad is planning to launch its first London offshoot in the former Bow Street Magistrates Court before the end of the year. This week, French hotel giant Accor and hospitality company sbe announced the five-star Shoreditch hotel The Curtain is to be turned into a Mondrian hotel in collaboration with current owners, the Reuben brothers.
The Ned appoints Sarah Winter as new finance director: Sarah Winter, formerly of Iberica Restaurants and Busaba Eathai, has joined The Ned, Soho House’s hotel and members’ club in the City of London, as its new finance director. Winter joins The Ned after six and half years as finance director at Iberica, where she remains a member of the board. Previous to that, she spent nearly four years as finance director at Busaba. Earlier this month, The Ned opened American-style restaurant – Electric Bar & Diner. The restaurant is one of eight places to eat at The Ned – a grade I-listed former Midland Bank building – and replaced the space once used by Zobler’s and by Cafe Sou.
Bedlam Brewery hits fund-raise target with 28 days to spare: Sussex brewery Bedlam has hit its £450,000 fund-raising target with 28 days to go. Bedlam, which relaunched in 2015 with award-winning beers brewed at its eco-focused craft brewery in the South Downs, has raised more than £530,000 from almost 200 investors via crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The business is offering equity in the business of circa 13.5% so it can further accelerate its growth. Bedlam has recorded year-on-year turnover to March 2020, up by 27% to more than £677,000 with Ebitda at minus £410,000. Bedlam said on Crowdcube: “Since 2015, revenue has grown over 250% and, in the 12 months to 31 March, we sold over 655,000 pints to our thirsty customers.” It added its boost to turnover came mainly through sales of draught beer to the on-trade. Bedlam added: “Since lock-down, we have switched focus to our packaged business, growing sales by over 1,000% year-on-year with more than 750 individuals having ordered directly via our website. Post lock-down, we have sold to over 200 separate trade outlets, including bottle shops, over 100 freehouses, restaurants and pub companies, such as Ei Group and JD Wetherspoon.”
Pop Golf targets music fans for debut site at Boxpark Wembley: Mini golf site Pop Golf will target music fans at Boxpark Wembley when it opens in February 2021. The concept is a mix of sport and pop music, and will feature nine different pop-themed holes using an immersive sound system and a curated music playlist from industry experts. Allan Saud, owner of Pop Golf and founder of Mighty Adventures, which currently operates mini golf courses in Southampton, Bournemouth and Colchester, said: “Our mission with Pop Golf was to create a rich experience that tells a story. This is not just another standard crazy golf course, this is a celebration of music. From the design to the innovative and sustainable drinks menu, to the team behind it and the brands we’re partnering with, pop music has led the way. We want our guests to rock up to Pop Golf, have an awesome time and leave feeling that music has the power to change the world.” Players can expect to find “a sound system set to blow minds not ears, wow-factor motion and audio sensitive surroundings, slick pop culture photo opportunities and infectious play”. The venue has been designed by Zachary Pulman Design Studio – which was responsible for the Swingers golf business layout – with creative direction from Kevin Mura of Smith & Devil.
Trinity Hotel takes 100-year lease on Wroxhall Abbey Hotel: Trinity Hotel, a company created by a consortium of investors with operational hotel experience, has signed a new 100-year lease at Wroxall Abbey Hotel & Estate through agent Savills, acting on behalf of a private client. It will be refurbishing and redeveloping the estate over the next few months. Dating back to the 12th century, Wroxall Abbey is a grade II-listed country house set within 27 acres of open parkland with links throughout its history to the likes of William Shakespeare and Sir Christopher Wren. The estate comprises 72 bedrooms as well as 12 main conference and meeting rooms, two restaurants and two bars. On-site facilities include a swimming pool, spa and three outdoor tennis courts plus a large permanent marquee for up to 650 guests, making the hotel a popular corporate and leisure destination. It is located on Birmingham Road in the village of Wroxall in Warwickshire. Tom Cunningham, hotels director at Savills, said: “With its interesting history and stunning setting, opportunities to acquire the lease to a building such as Wroxall Abbey are exceptionally rare so we’re delighted to have secured this deal on behalf of our client.” The previous leaseholder was the hotel operator who sold the hotel for an undisclosed sum.
Frankie & Benny’s in Scunthorpe could become drive-thru Taco Bell and Burger King: A Frankie and Benny’s on Scunthope’s Doncaster Road, set to close next month, could be converted into two drive-thru restaurants. Plans have been submitted to divide the site into a Taco Bell and a Burger King. The new drive-thrus would provide 25 full-time and 25 part-time jobs. The Restaurant Group has said the closure is due to challenges in the industry that have been made worse during lock-down. The planning application states the proposed drive-thrus “will add to the choice of food available at the Gallagher Retail Park/North Lincolnshire Shopping Park and cater for the needs of consumers who would already be present”. The plans were put forward by the same company behind proposals for a neighbouring leisure complex next to Scunthorpe United football ground, including a 120-room hotel, a gym and five restaurants. The drive-thru restaurants would form a natural extension of the leisure park, taking advantage of the proximity to the M180 and Sands Venue Stadium. If given the green light, drive-thrus would be Scunthorpe’s first Taco Bell and second Burger King.
Bao to launch ‘Dine in Cinema’ experience at Borough Market site: London operator Bao is to launch Dine in Cinema its Borough Market restaurant. Created in collaboration with MUBI, the curated film streaming service, Dine in Cinema presents Nightmare on Film Street, a season of horror films launching on Thursday (29 October) and running until Tuesday, 29 December. The first series of Dine in Cinema is available to book for groups of four to six people. Priced at £20, tickets include a choice of six horror films curated by BAO and MUBI, whose platform offers an ever-changing collection of hand-picked films from new directors to award-winners. All screenings will be accompanied by BAO’s Cinema Set Menu. Founded by Shing Tat Chung, Erchen Chang and Wai Ting Chung, the first permanent Bao restaurant opened in Soho in April 2015, following a successful period trading at Netil Market in Hackney. Following critical acclaim for its Taiwanese steamed buns and “xiao chi” small plates from the likes of AA Gill and Giles Coren, Bao’s second restaurant opened in Fitzrovia in July 2016. A third restaurant, Bao Borough, opened in May 2019.
Plonk launches fourth site: Crazy golf brand Plonk has launched its fourth site, this one is its largest so far and located on fourth floor of Peckham Levels. The arcade is lined with pinball machines, retro arcade cabinets, and foosball tables with regular and new games coming during the months to follow. The course has been designed to be totally socially distanced from the ground up. Every hole is at least two metres from the next, and the slower pace of play gives family and friends the chance to take their time and order drinks directly to their putting positions. Hand sanitising stations are placed across the venue and capacity will be reduced for the foreseeable future to allow extra space and time around the venue creating a safer experience for all. Elliot Scott, founder of Plonk said: “We are finally open. It has been an incredibly long road to get to this point but we are very happy with the results. The course is looking fantastic and the space is one of the biggest we have ever created with outdoor seating, retro games and foosball tables. We are priced well below any of our competitors so hurry on down and check out Plonk’s largest course to date.” Food comes in the form of two of Peckham Levels traders. Ipanema Grill serves an extended street food menu based on all the traditional home-cooked dishes from Brazil while Boxwallah serves Indian dishes. Plonk Crazy Golf was founded by a group of set designers from the film industry.
Better burger brand lines up eighth site: Better burger brand Loaded Burger has lined up its eighth site, this time with a site at Genr8 Developments’ and Rochdale Borough Council’s new £80m retail and leisure development, Rochdale Riverside. It will occupy a 3,400 square foot unit in the scheme to bring its signature “build your own” burgers, wings, waffle towers, milkshakes, plus a range of vegan options to the town. Established in 2014, the gourmet burger restaurant currently operates seven sites across Liverpool and London and will be opening its Rochdale branch, its first in Greater Manchester, in early 2021. Loaded Burgers will be joining the Rochdale Riverside leisure line-up, which already boasts the six-screen Reel cinema, interactive mini-golf centre Puttstars from Hollywood Bowl and Heavenly Desserts.
Bredbury Hall on the market with asking price of £5.25m: Agent Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has been instructed to find a buyer for Bredbury Hall & Country Club, in Bredbury, Stockport. Comprising 149 en-suite letting bedrooms, the property boasted a net turnover of £4,105,000 for the year ending 2019. The property benefits from a range of first-class amenities including extensive conference and banqueting facilities with capacities ranging from six to 200 guests across 10 suites, a lounge, bar and brasserie with accommodation for 60 covers, a recently refurbished 200-cover Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar and Grill restaurant, and a popular nightclub with capacity for 900 guests. The freehold investment includes associated car parking and land. Offers in the region of £5.25m are invited for the freehold interest with viewings strictly via appointment only.
Louise Smalley to step down as Whitbread HR director: Whitbread has announced Louise Smalley has discussed with the board her intention to retire as group HR director in the spring of 2021 and a process to appoint a successor will now commence. Chairman Adam Crozier said: “Louise joined Whitbread in 1995, and has been group HR director since 2007, joining the board in 2012. The board would like to thank Louise for her significant contribution over the years, she has helped steer Whitbread through a period of significant change and development. She goes with our very best wishes for the future and she will be missed.” Smalley said: “It has been a huge privilege to be part of this great organisation for so long. I would like to pay tribute to the entire Whitbread team and, in particular, the many team members who serve our guests every day. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Whitbread and I remain fully committed until I retire.”
Hoppers launches meal kits: London-based Sri Lankan brand Hoppers is celebrating its fifth birthday with the launch of its Cash & Kari store, a retail platform for meal kits, restaurant-blend curry powders, Sri Lankan spices, ready-to-drink cocktails, and Hoppers’ own-brew beers. Developed by the Hoppers team, Cash & Kari is initially launching with a range of signature spices, pantry essentials, snacks, ‘kari-home’ meal kits, bottled cocktails and Hoppers merchandise, with a lot more to be added in the coming months. Kari-home kits (a mix of ready-to-eat and cook-at-home dishes) that will be available on launch include paneer kothu, lamb kothu, and kalupol chicken. Delivery will be available nationwide.