The Alchemist secures Cheltenham site, eyes Bristol opening: The Alchemist, the 16-strong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, is looking to open a cluster of sites in the south west after securing a site in Cheltenham, Propel has learned. The company, which recently secured the remaining Smollensky’s site in Reuters Plaza, Canary Wharf, has secured a 4,539 square foot site in the town’s Brewery Quarter for an opening next May. Potts told Propel: “I am really pleased to have acquired the Cheltenham site, it’s a lovely part of the world with plenty of key calendar events driving guests in. Following our success in Cardiff over our first trading year in the city and with a second Birmingham venue opening next month, it’s a strategic move to consolidate an important geographical region for us. Bristol has long been on our target location list and I hope to tie something up there in the next few months to tie the south west together.” The company had previously been linked to a site in Bristol’s Queens Road that formerly housed Rise Records. The business, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has further openings lined up in Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and Embassy Gardens, London. The Canary Wharf and Embassy Gardens openings will take its estate in the capital to five sites. The company has been backed by Palatine since May 2015 and has seen turnover increase four-fold from £11.3m at the time of the investment to the £50m forecast in the year to March 2020. In March, Potts told Propel the company had enjoyed a “brilliant start” to 2019, with overall like-for-likes up 3.6%. Smollensky’s was owned by We Are Bar Group. Its sister site in the Strand closed earlier this year.
Coastal & Country Inns to operate Punch pub in Buxton for fifth site: Coastal & Country Inns, led by Chris Hannon, is to operate The Devonshire Arms in Hartington, Buxton, following a £620,000 investment by pub owner Punch. It will be the fifth Coastal & Country Inns site and first with Punch. Renovations to the grade II-listed building include relocating the toilets to the upper floor to create more space in the main bar and refurbishing the pub’s three letting rooms. The garden has been overhauled with disused outbuildings replaced by wood-framed, covered booths and a giant chessboard, while a large ash tree in the centre has new fixed seating surrounding the trunk and festoon lighting. Punch managing director Andy Spencer said: “The Devonshire is one of our biggest investments to date and we’re incredibly pleased with the new look. Matching this fantastic pub with Chris, who brings a wealth of experience and expertise, will ensure the pub’s long-term success.” Hannon added: “We look forward to putting The Devonshire back on the map.” Punch owns and operates 1,300 pubs in England, Scotland and Wales and is investing £32m in its estate in the next year.
Sukho Group lines up former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in York for fourth Zaap restaurant: Sukho Group has lodged plans to open a fourth site for its Thai street food concept Zaap, in York. The company has applied to the city council to transform the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Lendal, reports York Press. Sukho Group operates Zaap restaurants in Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham. The company also runs three Sukhothai restaurants in Leeds and one in Harrogate. The Gourmet Burger Kitchen branch shut earlier this year, having opened in 2007.
Australian brand Butcher and the Farmer to make UK debut as it joins CoCo and Snowflake at O2: Australian brand Butcher and the Farmer is to make its UK debut, at the O2 Arena in London. The farm-to-table shared dining concept was created by Steve Flood and Will Stewart, who won competitive cooking television show My Kitchen Rules in 2015. The brand operates a site in Sydney with two others “opening soon”. The brand has selected The Icon Outlet at The O2 as the first step in its international expansion and will take a 6,996 square foot space having agreed a deal with AEG and Crosstree Real Estate Partners. The 266-cover restaurant is set to open in September. In addition, international bubble tea operator CoCo is taking a 430 square foot unit for its second London site. Building on its Soho outlet, the O2 venue will open next month. Meanwhile, luxury gelato brand Snowflake has taken a 700 square foot space for its seventh site in the capital. Marion Dillon, leasing director for the O2 and Icon Outlet, said: “Securing the international debut for Butcher and the Farmer at the O2 highlights our appeal and trend-led food and beverage offering. Joining leading brands CoCo and Snowflake, Butcher and the Farmer will enrich our diverse mix of international cuisine.” Lunson Mitchenall and Davis Coffer Lyons are the F&B agents for the O2, while CBRE and CWM are the retail leasing agents. Butcher and the Farmer represented themselves, TK Retail acted on behalf of CoCo and CWM also represented Snowflake.
Love Brownies hits expansion trail: Bakery brand Love Brownies is hitting the expansion trial. The company has marked its tenth anniversary with a new venue in the Yorkshire Dales. The business’ latest venture sees it combine a bakery, which supplies its increasing number of franchises, with a Brownie Barn cafe in Barden, near Bolton Abbey. Love Brownies in Ilkley, which in 2016 was the brand’s first retail outlet to open, has also relaunched following a refurbishment with added seating and an expanded menu. Love Brownies has also opened in West Kirby in Merseyside, and in Islington and Southgate in north London. These will soon be complemented by cafes in Harrogate and Stirling. Love Brownies, founded in 2009 by husband and wife Lee and Chantal Teal, has grown from a small online gifts business to an expanding chain of cafes and brownie shops across the UK. Chantal Teal told The Business Desk: “The past ten years has flown by and it’s great to celebrate our anniversary with an exciting next step in our journey.”
Zip World on course to hit £17m turnover as it launches UK’s first mountain go-kart experience: Adventure tourism operator Zip World has said it’s on track to boost turnover by 20% to £17m this year as it launches the UK’s first mountain go-kart experience. Zip World has launched Quarry Karts at its Penrhyn Quarry site in which visitors descend a 1,500-foot Welsh mountain at a 10% gradient, reaching speeds of up to 40mph. Spanning more than 3km of dirt track, the course weaves through the Penrhyn Quarry mountain and boasts a number of obstacles, including chicanes and tunnels. It is the 13th Zip World adventure and sits alongside the world’s fastest zip line, Velocity 2, and the world’s largest mobile zip line, Big Red, at Penrhyn Quarry. President and co-founder Sean Taylor told Insider Media: “Our latest financial figures show what can be achieved through diversification, a strong, community-minded business model and, most importantly, hard-working and passionate employees.” Zip World, which currently operates three sites, appointed former Punch chief executive Giles Thorley as chairman in March, while earlier this year it sold a minority shareholding to private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital, which valued the business at £45m.
Ben Tish to launch Sicilian restaurant at The Stafford London: Five-star boutique hotel The Stafford London in St James’s will launch its first independent restaurant project in September under the direction of culinary director Ben Tish, former Salt Yard Group chef director. Norma will be inspired by the food and culture of Sicily and focus on Moorish influences on the island’s cuisine. The venue will be split across three floors, with the restaurant on the ground floor, a cocktail bar above and a private dining space on the top floor. Norma will also feature a crudo bar at its entrance. Tish said: “I am really excited about launching Norma as it’s a concept I’m passionate about and have been working on for a while. I’m intrigued by Sicily and the Moorish influences found in its culture and architecture, and Norma has been inspired by much time eating and drinking in that part of the world.” Tish was appointed culinary director in January 2018 and oversees the entire food offering at the five-star hotel, including The Game Bird restaurant, American Bar, Wine Cellar, private dining, suites and in-room dining.
DSC Group partners with London Beer Lab for Tooting Bec venture: DSC Group, the operating business behind Donostia Social Club, The Tapas Room and DSC Imports, has partnered with London Beer Lab, the Brixton-based micro-brewery and bottle shop, for a new venture in Tooting Bec. The companies have created Taps + Tapas, a craft beer taproom and tapas bar, which will open in Trinity Road on Friday, 2 August. The Tapas Room will curate the menu, with Spanish “pub-style” tapas paired with ten taps of London Beer Lab’s own range and rotating and seasonal guest brews. There will also be Spanish bottled beer, wine, sherry, vermouth and gin. DSC Group chef and owner Paul Belcher said: “We feel this is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with an amazing south London brewery and create something unique, fun and interesting. The idea of The Tapas Room & London Beer Lab working on this project together is inspiring and will present the community with true choice, innovation and experience.”
Simon Rogan to launch latest Lake District restaurant in October: Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan is to open his latest restaurant in the Lake District. Rogan, who operates two Michelin-starred L’Enclume and Rogan & Co in the Cumbrian village of Cartmel, will launch Henrock in October at recently renovated Linthwaite House, Leeu Collection’s country house hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere. Henrock, named after a rocky outcrop protruding from lake Windermere, will “showcase natural, seasonal ingredients in a relaxed and elegant setting”. The kitchen will be led by head chef Brian Limoges, who will use produce from Rogan’s own farm in Cumbria. Henrock will lean heavily on influences, techniques and produce discovered on the chefs’ travels around the globe including Asia, where Rogan recently opened Roganic and Aulis in Hong Kong. The menu will comprise small sharing plates such as raw aged beef with elderberry and shiso, and halibut baked in cabbage leaf, bay shrimp and pink pepper. Rogan said: “We have five UK restaurants holding four Michelin stars among them and recently opened Roganic and Aulis Hong Kong. It feels like the right time to strengthen our offering in the north of the UK, a place we call home.” Leeu Collection founder Analjit Singh added: “I am thrilled Leeu Collection will work closely with Simon. We share many similar values.” Leeu Collection also operates three five-star boutique hotels in South Africa and is due to open a property in Florence, Italy, in 2021.
Brown’s Hotel appoints Adam Byatt as chef director: Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair has appointed Adam Byatt, chef owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Trinity, as chef director of food and beverage. Byatt will start his role on Monday, 9 September and replace chef Heinz Beck, who leaves Brown’s at the end of this month. A hotel since 1837 and home to the capital’s first public dining room, Brown’s will “embrace the ongoing evolution of British cuisine” with a new menu that celebrates contemporary British cooking complemented by European influences. Byatt will continue his role at Trinity and Upstairs At Trinity alongside his other Clapham restaurant, Bistro Union. A Brown’s spokesman said: “Byatt is a true lover of food, authenticity and an ambassador of British ingredients and quality. Byatt and Brown’s possess a natural synergy and we look forward to an exciting culinary journey ahead.”
Dishoom takes on neighbouring Jamie’s Italian as it expands Covent Garden site ahead of tenth anniversary: Indian restaurant Dishoom has taken on a neighbouring Jamie’s Italian site as its Covent Garden venue prepares to undergo a major overhaul. The team will shortly head to Bombay to get inspiration for the redesign of the Upper St Martin’s Lane restaurant ahead of its tenth anniversary celebrations next year. Opened in July 2010, Dishoom Covent Garden was the first attempt to “capture the wistful poetry of the old Irani cafes of Bombay”, drawing design inspiration from Bombay institutions such as Britannia & Co, Olympia Coffee House and Kyani & Co. A decade on, the restaurant is to be transformed and the process will include a significant expansion into the former Jamie’s Italian unit. A Dishoom spokeswoman said: “The increased footprint will allow the team to be even more ambitious with the proposed tenth anniversary design plans, making Dishoom Covent Garden a special space.” Further details of the redesign including the new story that will guide the cafe’s look and creative narrative, will be released later this year. Dishoom operates five sites in London and one each in Edinburgh and Manchester.
Gousto to invest in AI tech after securing £30m of new funding: Recipe box company Gousto has secured £30m in a new funding round, which it will use to develop artificial intelligence technology and hire more than 100 tech employees by 2022. The latest funding round, which takes its total funds raised to more than £100m, was led by private equity firm Perwyn. It joins existing investors including BGF Ventures, Canaccord Genuity and Unilever Ventures. Gousto chief executive and founder Timo Boldt said: “We are relishing the next stage in Gousto’s evolution, investing in innovative technology to allow us to offer the most choice, the most varied delivery options and the best-quality meals that arrive in the shortest lead time for the lowest price.” Perwyn founder and managing partner Andrew Wynn said: “We are delighted to make this investment and join the exciting journey Gousto is on.” The UK recipe box market is expected to exceed £1.5bn by 2022.
Fledgling Birmingham-based restaurant group opens debut site with more to follow: Fledgling Birmingham-based restaurant group Craft Dining Group has opened its debut site – with more to follow. Founders Sam and Emma Morgan have launched Craft Dining Rooms at the city’s International Conference Centre following a seven-figure investment. The restaurant “brings together the best produce from across the UK” offering 150 covers in a main dining room, central bar and two private dining rooms. A drinks trolley carries cocktails made from British gin and vodka and a predominantly British wine list. The kitchen is led by Nick Evans, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants such as Harvey’s in Bristol and Northcote Hall. Meanwhile Tom Wells, who has worked for Tom Aikens and Australian chef Luke Mangan, has joined the group as chef director. The Morgans previously said they planned to work alongside some of the best British culinary talent for a number of restaurant openings across the city they would announce “later this year”.
Freehold of Sutton Coldfield pub let to JD Wetherspoon sells for £1.66m: The freehold of a pub in Sutton Coldfield let to JD Wetherspoon has been sold for £1.66m at an Allsop auction. The building in Birmingham Road operates as The Bottle Of Sack and is let to Wetherspoon on a lease expiring in 2035, paying £100,000 per annum rent with a review due next July, which represented a 5.67% gross initial yield for the buyer. Allsop raised a total of £72.4m from 126 lots at the auction, bringing the total raised during the year to £295m.
Oxfordshire-based operator Crafty Belle takes on Hawthorn pub for third site:Oxfordshire-based operator Crafty Belle has taken on Hawthorn Leisure pub The Crown in the village of Stadhampton for its third site in the county. Led by French chef Michel Sadones, the family-run company also operates Oxford pubs the Old Bookbinders and James Street Tavern. The company has taken on The Crown on a five-year tenancy following a joint refurbishment of the pub. Crafty Belle spokesman Jo Sadones said: “My father was interested in taking on a community pub in the countryside and one that could be an integral part of local people’s lives, which is something that aligns with Hawthorn Leisure’s thinking.” Hawthorn Leisure managing director of operations Mark McGinty added: “The Crown is a well-loved village local that had sadly declined and faced an uncertain future until Michel and his family took it on.”
Former DJ launches hospitality order and pay solution after securing £9m investment: Former DJ turned technology entrepreneur Prask Sutton has launched a mobile order and pay solution aimed at the hospitality sector. Sutton, who said he had secured almost £9m investment for his startup in less than two years, has launched Wi5, which allows customers to order from a Wi-Fi splash page without needing to download an app. Sutton said Wi5’s other benefits include cutting queue times and increasing operational efficiency. Wi5 recently finalised a deal with O2, giving it access to more than 26 million O2 Wi-Fi users and hundreds of merchants across the UK. Access to O2 was made through Wi5’s involvement with Wayra, Telefonica’s startup accelerator. Since working with O2, Wi5 is focusing on restaurants, cafes and bars having recently secured a deal with Bounce, which is operated by Social Entertainment Ventures and has two venues in London. Originally from Brixton, Sutton was a DJ in Sweden for ten years. He said: “I wanted to create a frictionless way for brands to interact with consumers, with no apps and no need for a certain type of device. The customer just needs to be present in a venue with their out-of-the-box device, then we’ll do the rest.”
Stonegate hits Accelerator Programme milestone: Stonegate Pub Company has marked 300 deputy managers taking up managerial positions through its Accelerator Programme. A total of 17 deputy managers were part of the 24th graduation cycle from the course, which is part of Stonegate’s Albert’s Theory of Progression training scheme. Stonegate marked its 100th and 200th Accelerator graduates in events at the House of Commons in 2016 and 2018. The company has now reached the 300-mark milestone, with 125 deputy managers taking part in the course annually. HR director Tim Painter said: “They are a talented group of future managers who understand our business and culture. I’m always delighted to see our employees rewarded for their efforts. Stonegate is dedicated to providing outstanding opportunities to all our employees via the Albert’s Theory of Progression training scheme.”
Bristol-based Pigsty closes city centre restaurant due to casual dining ‘slump’:Bristol-based pork restaurant Pigsty has closed its city centre site little more than a year after opening, blaming a “slump” in casual dining. Brothers Olly, Josh and Max Kohn launched the venue in Gloucester Road in May 2018, which with 107 covers was four times the size of the concept’s debut home in Cargo 1 at Wapping Wharf. The Kohns said the Wapping Wharf restaurant was “staying open and thriving”, with staff at the Gloucester Road premises being transferred to other parts of the business. The brothers also run Jolly Hog, which sells bacon and sausages via supermarkets, and an events and festivals business, reports the Bristol Post. They said in a statement: “We have had a brilliant year but with the slump in casual dining it makes sense to put our energy and focus into other parts of the business – Jolly Hog products and concessions – which are seeing huge growth.” The Kohns will open a kiosk at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium next month under the Jolly Hogg name and plan a second kiosk in one of the city’s railway stations.
Bidfood acquires Elite Fine Foods: Foodservice provider Bidfood has acquired Elite Fine Foods, which delivers to more than 2,500 catering outlets in the UK. The current management team will continue to run the business under the same identity. Elite Fine Foods, which operates from seven multi-temperature sites, is the latest company to join Bidfood’s network of independent businesses trading alongside other companies in the delivered foodservice sector, including Caterfood, South Lincs Foodservice and Cimandis in the Channel Islands. Bidfood chief executive Andrew Selley said: “We are delighted to welcome the team and customers of Elite Fine Foods to the Bidfood family. The company has unrivalled market place knowledge, service and a range of more than 6,500 products. This includes a comprehensive selection of fine foods, such as excellent local and imported speciality cheese. Elite Fine Foods also offers its own butchery and fresh meat service, along with a fantastic range of fresh fish. This sits well within our decentralised model, where we can use our financial and strategic strength alongside their local expertise to offer customers the service and range they are looking for.” Elite Fine Foods managing director Graham Bell added: “We will continue to service our customers as before, as an independent business, now supported by the strength of Bidfood.”
Cineworld agrees new Icee partnership with Vimto: Cineworld has agreed a new partnership with Vimto Out Of Home to provide its UK and European cinemas with carbonated frozen slush brand Icee. Three Icee flavours will be available – cherry, blue raspberry and Vimto. Icee is already found in 558 of Cineworld’s Regal cinemas and the new agreement will see the brand introduced into Cineworld cinemas in the UK and Ireland for the first time and extended into selected European territories during the next year. Cineworld head of retail Charles Watts said: “We are delighted to announce this group extension of our partnership with Icee through Vimto – it’s an exciting strategic development for us.” Nick Yates, sales and operations director at Vimto Out Of Home, added: “We are seeing a real boom in demand for frozen drinks. We sold more than 40 million cups of frozen slush last year alone.”
Zonal retains training elite status: Hospitality management solutions company Zonal has been recognised as a top 20 learning provider by the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI) for a second consecutive year. The recognition means Zonal retains its status as an elite training provider. Zonal head of learning and development Craig Hamill said: “I am thrilled for my team to have this recognition again. It’s no mean feat to consistently achieve the top 20 status. The accreditation is a globally recognised quality mark that offers assurance we are delivering best practice and operating to the highest possible industry standards as audited by the LPI.”