Center Parcs reveals plans for £400m site in West Sussex: Center Parcs has revealed plans for a £400m holiday park in West Sussex. The company has secured an option agreement to acquire privately owned woodland at Oldhouse Warren in Worth, near Crawley. A spokesman said: “Following an extensive search, the 553-acres of woodland has been identified as a suitable site due to its location to the south of London and its excellent transport links. Center Parcs will now undertake rigorous site surveys and pre-planning works to ensure the woodland meets the specific requirements of a Center Parcs village, as well as carrying out a programme of community engagement with a view to submitting a planning application to the local authority in due course.” The site at Oldhouse Warren, off Balcombe Road, will include lodges, a range of indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, a Subtropical Swimming Paradise, a variety of restaurants and shops, and an Aqua Sana spa, Center Parcs said. The development is expected to cost between £350m and £400m, and create about 1,500 jobs. Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said: “It is exciting to have identified a potential site for another Center Parcs village in the UK. The proposal we will be submitting will create a significant number of jobs and bring major benefits to the local and national economy. This announcement marks the first step of a long journey and there is still a huge amount of work to be done before we can submit a planning application. As a business, we take our responsibility to the local community extremely seriously and look forward to sharing our plans as they progress.” Center Parcs offers 4,300 units of accommodation across five sites in the UK and also operates Longford Forest in Ireland.
Former Gusto marketing director launches Detroit pizza concept: Former Gusto marketing director James Newman has launched a Detroit pizza concept – Well Oiled, in Leeds. Operating from a network of cloud kitchens across the city, Newman, who is also founder of hospitality specialist marketing agency, Brain Fuud, is currently in talks with several partners to open a dedicated, permanent site for the pizza concept in September. Newman said: “The intention was always for Brain Fuud to own and operate its own food and beverage propositions, alongside our industry client work. We’re perfectly placed to capitalise on our extensive experience both in hospitality and grocery. The modern world of omni-online channels and cloud kitchens means there’s never been a better, quicker route to get to market and test, learn and scale. Given the inexorable rise in the areas of delivery, click and collect, and ‘at-home’ experiences, Well Oiled’s proposition and model is perfectly placed to capitalise on these growth areas and we’re looking forward to rolling out.” Prior to joining Gusto in 2018, Newman was marketing director at Red’s True Barbecue where he helped to create the brand’s communications strategy and grow the business from two to eight sites.
Indapubs to add two pubs to west London estate: Indapubs, the west London-based group, is to add another two sites to its five-strong estate, Propel understands. The business, which was founded by James Corbett in 2012, is set to reopen The Portman in Upper Berkeley Street later this month. At the same time, it is also gearing up to reopen the Wilton Arms in Belgravia this month. Corbett, whose father Hugh opened the first Slug & Lettuce in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1985, also operates The Larrik in Marylebone, The Hillgate in Notting Hill, The Mitre in Fulham, The Selkirk in Tooting Broadway and The Island in Kensal Rise.
Gordon Ramsay to open debut Malaysian restaurant: Chef Gordon Ramsay is to open his debut restaurant in Malaysia. Ramsay will open his first Bar & Grill outside of London, at Sunway Resort, the flagship hotel at Sunway City Kuala Lumpur. With a $60m renovation of the hotel under way, the all-day dining restaurant will offer a mix of “British grill classics and everything I’ve learned in south-east Asia”, Ramsay said. Slated to open in the fourth quarter of this year, the restaurant, which will have capacity for about 150 people, will have views of Sunway Lagoon. Ramsay said he decided to open his first restaurant in Malaysia because of the “incredible growth” the country is having and the “great energy about this part of the world”. He told The Star: “I’ve always loved Asia whether it be for filming or restaurants. I’ve spent many years travelling extensively and spent great times in Hong Kong, Singapore and more recently Indonesia. I have always been fascinated by Malaysia and was happy when the opportunity arose to open a restaurant there.” Ramsay operates three Bar & Grill restaurants In London as part of his 43-strong portfolio. Last year, it was mooted Ramsay had plans to open up to 200 new restaurants across Asia. Propel understands the chef has started laying the groundwork for this ambitious project. In May, along with Gordon Ramsay Restaurant chief executive Andy Wenlock, Ramsay incorporated three new companies – GR India, GR South Korea and GR China.
Gordon Ramsay Restaurants features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is available to Premium subscribers. Gordon Ramsay Restaurants has turned over an average of £52.4m in the past five years. The Blue Book provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 280 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email to sign up.
Brucan Pubs secures third site: Former ETM operations director James Lyon-Shaw and ex-The Ivy Collection head chef Jamie Dobbin have secured a third site for their Brucan Pubs venture. The company will open The Greyhound in the Berkshire village of Finchampstead. The Greyhound will open its doors on Friday, 20 August, and the team will open Goswell & Bird’s, a traditional village store sat alongside the pub, a few weeks later. The store will offer rare-breed meat, fresh bread, seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as a daytime cafe menu. The pub’s menu will offer daily, seasonal specials and dishes featuring British game, meat and fish. There will also be an extensive wine list. Brucan Pubs currently operates The Greene Oak in Windsor and The Drumming Snipe in Mayford, near Woking in Surrey. Lyon-Shaw spent ten years at ETM Group, helping to launch pubs such as The Botanist, The Jugged Hare and Ealing Park Tavern. Dobbin has also worked for Hush and Soho House, and also at The Connaught, The Berkeley and The Savoy before joining The Ivy Collection. Most recently he was executive chef at The Groucho Club.
José Pizarro to open two restaurants at Royal Academy: Spanish chef José Pizarro is to open two restaurants at the Royal Academy in London’s Mayfair. Teaming up with Company of Cooks, which is part of independent caterer CH&Co, Pizarro will be launching Poster Bar by José and José Pizarro at the RA next month. José Pizarro at the RA will be located upstairs, taking over the Dorfman Senate Room. It will be a traditional sit-down restaurant, with dishes such as Chipirones encebollados – baby squid cooked in caramelised onions; and hake in salsa verde. Downstairs will be Poster Bar by José, which will be a tapas bar. The menu will include a truffle sandwich, tortilla de patatas and spicy prawn fritters with lemon allioli. The drinks list will feature Spanish wine and beer on tap. Pizarro said: “When you see art, it’s all about how it makes you feel – your whole body responds. It’s the same with food – well, good food anyway. The creativity and soul that you find in food and art is the same – you get the same excitement. To be able to bring the two together makes me so happy – it’s an incredibly proud moment for me in my career.” Jo Prosser, director of audience and experience at the RA, added: “Conviviality has been part and parcel of the Royal Academy for the past 250 years: a place to meet, to talk, to debate, to celebrate art and artists, often with a glass in hand and good food on the table. We are truly delighted to welcome José and his team to the RA, whose passions and commitment to quality are so closely aligned with our own.” Pizarro also operates José Tapas Bar and Pizarro Restaurant in Bermondsey, and José Pizarro in Broadgate along with The Swan Inn in Esher.
Seren to shift staff to four-day week: West Wales hotel and restaurant group Seren is introducing a new four-day working week for staff. The hospitality group, which employs 65 people, operates the five-star hotel Grove of Narberth, the Michelin-starred Beach House Restaurant in Oxwich and Coast restaurant and kiosk cafe in Saundersfoot. The business will transition towards its new working model ahead of new contracts from next January. In practice, it will mean staff members working a 40-hour week can, instead of working five eight-hour shifts, move to four ten-hour shifts. Staff who wish to continue working on their existing five-day week working patterns will be able to do so. Seren will also introduce a profit share scheme in 2022. In 2016, the Grove was among the first hotels in the UK to introduce a four-day working week for chefs, where extra days worked are paid. However, achieving this goal in its stand-alone restaurants has been a much harder challenge due to affordability and the impact of high seasonality and traditionally tight sector margins. Managing director Neil Kedward said: “We’re humbled each day knowing that our success is deeply linked to our special team, who individually and collectively create the incredible experiences and memories that guests take away with them. We know how much valuable time they commit, and how their exceptional skills and loyalty to our venues help make it all happen. We’ve always been passionate about rewarding this commitment and the extraordinary level of professionalism in our teams. But we need to go further and, for us, there has never been a better time to make these transformative changes.”
Sam Buckley to open bakery, deli and pottery in Stockport: Sam Buckley, chef-owner of Stockport-based restaurant Where The Light Gets In, will open a bakery, deli and pottery in the Greater Manchester town next month. Buckley is teaming up with baker Rosie Wilkes and potter Joe Hartley to launch Yellowhammer. It will occupy the ground floor of 15 Lower Hillgate in Stockport’s old town. All components of the venue – set to open on Wednesday, 25 August – will work in synergy. The pottery will provide cups and plates for the bakery while the bakery will sell a selection of ceramics, alongside workshops that will combine both crafts. Yellowhammer, which takes its name from the striking woodland songbird, known for its distinctive “a little bit of bread and no cheeeeeese” call, will be a neighbourhood bakery offering large crusty sourdough loaves alongside baguettes and sourdough rye bread. A range of sweet and savoury buns will be baked daily and there will be sandwiches and a changing selection of cookies, pies and tarts available. A pizza and wine night will take place on select Friday and Saturday evenings. The bakery will supply the bread for the restaurant and will share the same commitment to supporting small, local producers and using whole ingredients. Buckley opened Where the Light Gets In in Stockport old town in 2016, having cooked for a number of high-profile chefs including Simon Rogan, Paul Kitching and Gary Rhodes.
Neapolitan pizza brand Proove opens fourth site: Neapolitan pizza brand Proove has opened its fourth restaurant site in Hereford. Launched at the end of last month, the brand’s latest site opened in the city’s Parliament Square. The company was launched in 2015 by Deepak Jaiswal and Rob Engledow and opened its first restaurant in Sheffield. It has since opened a second site in Sheffield and a site in West Didsbury. The company also operates two dark kitchens with Deliveroo – in Leeds and Salford.
Coffee#1 co-founder opens debut site for Coffi Lab concept: James Shapland, the co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, has opened the first site under his new coffee concept, Coffi Lab. The business, which is led by former SA Brain finance director Hannah Gillard, opened on the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill store in Monnow Street, Monmouth, over the weekend. As previously revealed by Propel, it will follow this up with an opening on the former HSBC site in Marlborough High Street later this summer. Propel understands the fledgling business has also applied to open a further site in the High Street of the Llandaff area of Cardiff. In line with the growth of Coffee#1, Shapland is seeking sites for the new concept in neighbourhood centres and high street market towns across south Wales and the south west.
Labron-Johnson to open Somerset wine bar and shop this month: Merlin Labron-Johnson, former executive chef of the Woodhead Restaurant Group, is to open a wine bar and epicerie in Bruton this month, joining his farm-to-table restaurant Osip in the Somerset town. Named after the 16th century building in which it’s housed, and inspired by the epiceries of rural France, The Old Pharmacy will launch on Thursday, 22 July. Working alongside Labron-Johnson on this project will be David Durban, who manages operations at Osip, and who previously worked at Petersham Nurseries and Frenchie. Labron-Johnson said: “The Old Pharmacy feels like a natural progression from Osip. At the restaurant, we let the home-grown, seasonal ingredients shine, so I wanted The Old Pharmacy to continue in this vein and allow locals and visitors alike to be able to take home the same produce we use at the restaurant just a few doors down.” During his time with Woodhead Restaurant Group, Labron-Johnson opened its Portland restaurant in 2015, winning a Michelin star 12 months later.
Korean chef Joo Won to host residency at Bun House from next month: Bao and pickle cafe concept Bun House will open a pop-up residency hosted by chef Joo Won in August. Won will take over the top floor of Bun House’s Lisle Street site in Soho from 5 August until 4 October. Having recently finished a residency at Carousel, Won’s menu will comprise South Korean and European-inspired sharing dishes. Accompanied by wife Sujin, a pastry chef with experience at The Wolseley and The Delaunay, the team will be serving dishes including thinly sliced, lightly cured grey mullet served in a sesame, chilli and plum soy sauce and its take on an Italian classic, a kimchi and cheddar risotto topped with poached egg and seaweed crisp. Won’s signature “JFC” – Joo’s Fried Chicken – will also make an appearance on the menu. Bun House founder Z He said: “I am so excited to finally be working with Joo – I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time so can’t wait for our customers to try his dishes. He’s really pushing the boundaries with what Korean food looks like in London and I have a lot of time for people that like to challenge the norm.”
Papas Fish and Chips to open in former Las Iguanas premises in Blackpool:Papas Fish and Chips is to open a site in Blackpool. The company is launching the restaurant in the former Las Iguanas premises on the corner of Church Street, creating about 100 jobs. The restaurant, which will open at the end of the month, will have 350 seats with its owners describing it as the biggest fish and chip restaurant on the west coast. Co-owner Dino Papas told the Blackpool Gazette: “We used to come to Blackpool for our family holidays so it is a dream come true to be opening a restaurant here. It is one of England’s most famous and iconic resorts and the site is a great location on the Promenade. My grandad began selling fish and chips at the seaside so it is wonderful to be able to do that in Blackpool.” Las Iguanas opened in the property in 2015 but closed last year when owner Casual Dining Group went into administration. Prior to that, the 6,000 square foot unit was a Burger King. Papas Fish and Chips, which operates ten other sites across the UK, was founded in 1966 in Margate, Kent, and is still owned by the family.
Stonegate Group launches book championing industry: Stonegate Group has launched a book championing the hospitality industry. Named “Short Stories From Down The Pub”, the book celebrates “all the amazing people and stories from pubs across the country and highlights the role they play in their communities”. Containing more than 100 stories, contributed by both customers and employees, Short Stories From Down The Pub began as part of an initiative by Stonegate to keep teams engaged over lockdown. To keep morale up, an employee-led team encouraged their colleagues to share stories from the pub – funny moments, great memories and heart-warming recollections were in abundance. The stories soon came flooding in and the book took six months to complete. Stonegate Group chief executive Simon Longbottom said: “After such an extraordinary year, I could not be prouder of what the team at Stonegate has accomplished. Having overcome countless challenges and being more adaptable and flexible than ever, the stories in this book reminds us all of the important role our pubs, clubs and venues play in our communities. We are now looking forward to 19 July, welcoming our customers back in to our pubs, bars and clubs, and enjoying the rest of the summer.” All profits from the book will go to the Licensed Trade Charity.
McDonald’s tests new vegetable burger: McDonald’s is continuing to test plant-based menu items with a new vegetable burger in South Australia. The McVeggie menu item is reported to feature a “crumb-coated” patty made up of a mixed vegetable blend that includes potato, peas, corn, carrot and onion. The normal McDonald’s sesame seed bun with cheese, lettuce, herbs and spices, mayonnaise and pickles are also included. A spokesman for McDonald’s Australia said the company understands there is rising demand for vegetarian options.
Team behind Hereford-based Italian restaurant to double up with cocktail bar:The team behind Hereford-based Italian restaurant Cotto is to double up by opening a cocktail bar in the city. The former Bowling Green pub in Bewell Street has been refurbished and will open as Lupa on Thursday, 22 July. A post on Cotto’s Facebook page said: “We’ve spent the past few months renovating and turning the pub into a cocktail bar, Lupa. We can’t wait to see you and sip a cocktail with you at the bar. Ciao, the Lupa and Cotto team.” Cotto is based in the city’s Broad Street.
Boutique Belfast hotel rebrands and launches new restaurant: A boutique hotel in south Belfast has reopened and rebranded as part of the first of a three-phase refurbishment programme. The Malone Hotel – formerly The Malone Lodge – in Eglantine Avenue has invested more than £250,000 on a new restaurant, bar area and a range of soft alterations to a number of its rooms. It also has a new management team in place, led by general manager Suzi McIlhatton and has recruited Andrew McConnell, formerly of The Culloden Hotel, as its executive chef. McIlhatton said: “We want our new restaurant, Gallery, to become a food destination in its own right. Our food offering is exciting, creative and elegant but, more importantly, it’s underpinned by an inspirational and memorable guest experience.”
Oxfordshire-based Latin American restaurant concept opens second site: Oxfordshire-based Latin American restaurant concept Carnitas has opened its second site, in Banbury. The company has opened the venue in Broad Street, Banbury. The restaurant offers tacos, burritos, burgers, tapas and cinnamon sugar flavoured churros. On the opening, the business said, via its website: “Our first branch is based in Buckingham and launched in the year 2019. With the aim to serve more people we have expanded to Banbury. We look forward to serving you.”
New cafe concept to open at Birmingham’s Mailbox: A new cafe concept will open at the Mailbox in Birmingham later this summer. Sora Cafe, which will be located on level three, will offer a menu of small plates, light bites and sweet treats. General manager Gemma Collins said: “We believe there is nothing else like Sora in the city.” David Pardoe, head of retail, marketing and occupier engagement at the Mailbox, added: “We’re proud to have announced several new leasings for the Mailbox this year, with Sora Cafe the newest addition to level three. It joins the recently opened Lucarelli and Medicine restaurants, both of which have enjoyed real success since opening.”
Milton Keynes-based Punjabi restaurant to open second site: Milton Keynes-based Punjabi restaurant Namji is to double up with a second site in the Buckinghamshire town. Owner Naseem Khan is adding to her debut outlet in Wolverton with an opening at the Xscape Centre. The restaurant, which will be set across two floors, will launch next month. Namji serves a range of dishes including bhindi bhaji – okra infused and cooked until tender and soft, with chunks of onion plus tomato; and paneer tikka masala. The Xscape restaurant will also offer a Punjabi afternoon tea and a range of cakes flavoured with Indian herbs and spices, reports MKFM.
Humber Royal Hotel will reopen as a hotel after sale off £1.9m guide price: The Humber Royal Hotel in Grimsby is set to reopen after being sold off a guide price of £1.9m. The Lincolnshire site was sold to a private buyer for an undisclosed price, after being brought to the market on behalf of Downing LLP by hotels sector specialist Colliers. The Humber Royal Hotel comprises 58 bedrooms, five conference and meeting rooms, plus an open-plan lounge bar and restaurant with seating for about 60 people with patio doors leading to an outside seating area overlooking the golf course. The freehold hotel is set in 2.7 acres, and Colliers senior surveyor Robert Smithson said that the substantial size of the site and its setting in a predominantly residential area next to Grimsby Golf Club had attracted interest from a variety of potential purchasers. He said: “The prime location of the Humber Royal Hotel meant it was of interest not just to hoteliers but also to residential developers and developers of facilities such as care homes. However, it will now continue to be run as a hotel under the new owner, who is an experienced hotelier. Given its impressive range of function suites and bar facilities, it will undoubtedly continue to attract corporate trade from local businesses as well as events trade such as weddings.”
Sale set to be agreed for disused Lincolnshire hotel to become caravan park: The sale of the Humber Bridge Country Hotel – formerly known as Reeds Hotel – in Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, is expected to complete in the coming days, and is set to become a caravan park. Simon Campbell and Tauseef Rashid, of business advisory firm Quantuma, were appointed as LPA (law of property act) receivers of the three-star rated hotel, which is located on the south bank of the River Humber, in February 2020 by secured creditors. As part of this appointment, the site is being cleared and protected for the benefit of those creditors and of the wider local community. The operator of the site, Star Holdings (Humber), has been unable to turn the business around since it bought it out of liquidation in January 2020, partly due to the problems caused by the covid-19 pandemic. The hotel was flooded in 2016 due to a freak tidal surge in the Humber and the hotel has never since returned to profitability. Campbell said: “Since our appointment as LPA receivers, our focus has been to ensure all restructuring options have been explored. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the operator, a viable hotel business has not been forthcoming – a position exacerbated by the current pandemic. We understand the third-party purchaser is looking to progress plans for a caravan park.”
Bristol-based Hawaiian street food restaurant goes up from pop-up to permanent: Bristol-based Hawaiian street food restaurant Loki Poké is going from pop-up to permanent. Georgia Hussey is launching the venue at Wapping Wharf on Wednesday (14 July). Loki Poké started as a lockdown pop-up in March 2020, inspired by Hussey’s time living in Sydney, where poké bowls were a popular delicacy. Her delivery service proved popular in its first few months, allowing her to eye up her first permanent site, which will be in the Cargo scheme at Wapping Wharf. Loki Poké will occupy the unit formerly home to The Pickled Brisket. The shipping container is being transformed into a “mini poké bar”, where customers can see their loki bowls being made in front of them, choosing any toppings they like. Hussey told Bristol Live: “I want the restaurant to have a bit of theatre about it, and for people to be able to see all the fresh ingredients that go into each bowl.” As well as trading from its new home, Loki Poké will continue to deliver from its existing kitchen base in St Philip’s. It also operates a pop-up kitchen at Propyard, the huge new industrial venue in St Philip’s, which launched on Friday (9 July).
Former Vaulkhard Group head chef takes on new role: Former Vaulkhard Group head chef David Blackhall has joined the team at the Delaval Arms in Old Hartley, Northumberland, as executive chef. After spending 20 years at the Newcastle-based leisure group as head chef at the city’s Barluga and Bealim House sites, Blackhall has swapped the city for the coast as the Delaval Arms completes a full restoration. The pub, which was built in 1748, changed ownership as lockdown began in March 2020, with the Bartlett family taking over. Blackhall’s menu includes classics such as fish and chips and Cumberland sausage and mustard mash, plus contemporary dishes such as Japanese spiced squid with sriracha mayo. Although the food is inspired globally, much of the produce is sourced locally. Blackhall said: “That was always my intention and the fact is that not only do we have superb food producers in this part of the world but sustainability and provenance matter more than ever – to us and to our customers.” The pub has an outdoor terrace next to its King Aelle Brew Co microbrewery and upstairs function rooms, which cater for small weddings and other events.