Former Salt Yard Group chef director joins City of London hotel with view to launching restaurant projects: Former Salt Yard Group chef director Ben Tish has joined The Stafford London hotel as culinary director with a view to launching new restaurant projects. Tish will oversee the entire food offering at the five-star hotel in St James’s, including The Game Bird restaurant, American Bar, Wine Cellar, private dining, suites and in-room dining. Tish and the hotel will also look to launch restaurant projects in the “near future” that will focus on Tish’s signature style and love of European cuisine. Tish said: “I am delighted to join the team at The Stafford. They had such a great year in 2017 with the launch of The Game Bird.” The Stafford London general manager Stuart Procter added: “We are thrilled to welcome Ben to the hotel. He is an incredible chef and together we look forward to evolving the offering at The Game Bird and across the hotel along with launching exciting projects.” Tish spent his formative years working with Michelin-starred chefs such as Jason Atherton and Stephen Terry. He left Salt Yard Group, where he launched Soho sites Dehesa, Ember Yard and Opera Tavern, at the end of March.

Know Collection spreads cafe concept Love Thy Neighbour into Manchester: Liverpool-based operator Know Collection has started expansion of its cafe concept Love Thy Neighbour by opening a second site, in Chorlton, Manchester. The company said it had invested five figures in the launch, helped by a £70,000 boost from funding provider MSIF. Know Collection launched Love Thy Neighbour in Bold Street, Liverpool, in 2016 with a focus on healthy eating in a holiday-style setting. Chief executive Steven Hesketh told BDaily: “Chorlton is the perfect fit for Love Thy Neighbour – a bohemian subculture with a healthy mix of style and substance. With plans for lots of collaborations and events, 2018 looks like it will be a fun year for our second venue. We are delighted to have been supported in our growth by MSIF and we are so pleased it saw the vision and direction for this young and vibrant brand.” Last week, Know Collection rolled out its free hospitality academy courses for the unemployed, with the company taking on three new recruits from the first cohort.

Star Pubs & Bars creates buying department, launches coffee supplier agreement: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has created a buying department. The team of nine will include category experts in soft drinks, wine and spirits as well as machines, beer and ale and is expected to be fully operational by March. The department will work to procure “keen prices, high levels of service and access to new products” for licensees. In addition, buyers will use their expertise and knowledge to keep licensees abreast of the latest developments and trends in their sectors and provide best practice on retailing products to maximise sales. Agreements will be managed to ensure suppliers deliver “consistent standards and be transparent, with savings passed on to licensees”. The department’s first supplier agreement goes live this month with a new deal on coffee for Star Pubs & Bars’ increased estate of 2,900 pubs. It is partnering with UCC – suppliers to Waitrose, McDonald’s and Greggs – for bean to cup and traditional coffee, and with hospitality specialists K-Fee for capsule coffee to ensure all pubs have a suitable solution. As well as coffee, the deal includes sales-building advice and a three-year, fixed-price agreement that covers machines, installation, training, servicing and repairs. Star Pubs & Bars buying director Steve Dancer said: “The department has a wide remit and will work closely with other areas of the business, from training to marketing, to help licensees create great pubs with retail offers that continue to meet customers’ ever-changing needs. The pub and casual dining markets are increasingly competitive. Consolidation means growing numbers of managed operators are using their scale to improve their offers. For Star, putting greater emphasis on category buying isn’t just about negotiating good prices, it’s about highlighting trends and enabling licensees to take advantage of them quickly to stay ahead of their competitors.”

BrewDog to open second Edinburgh site on Friday: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its second site in Edinburgh, on Friday (26 January). The company has converted a former Clydesdale Bank building in Lothian Road to offer 25 taps of craft beer, BrewDog’s full burger and wings menu and weekend brunch, plus an integrated BottleDog for takeaway beer. The company opened its first venue in the city at a former karaoke bar in Cowgate in 2011. In its blog, the company stated: “BrewDog Lothian Road is a perfect location for us. Directly opposite the Usher Hall in a modern sandstone building, we are right at the heart of everything on the capital’s busiest street. We can’t wait to get the bar open.” Last week was a busy one for BrewDog, it signed a UK distribution deal with Global Brands for its Lone Wolf gin, vodka, and canned gin and tonic drinks, and extended its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding programme until October due to “unprecedented demand”. The campaign has secured £11,852,437 so far from 25,069 investors.

Bristol-based Pigsty to open second site in city: Bristol-based Pigsty is to open its second restaurant in the city. Brothers Olly, Josh and Max Kohn will launch the site in Gloucester Road. It will have 107 covers, making it more than four times the size of the brand’s debut home in Cargo 1 at Wapping Wharf. Expected to open in early May, the new Pigsty will occupy premises that most recently housed Bubalu cafe. Olly Kohn told Bristol 24/7: “Cargo is perfect for us but, when it gets busy, it’s pretty crammed. We are chuffed to get this site in such a great location and won’t be straying too far from our roots, maybe a few different varieties of pig boards and extra brunch options. We have learnt lots we can take to this next place but we’ll keep to what we’re about – we don’t want to dilute our quality.”

The Alchemist to open £1.65m Nottingham venue next month: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, will open its site in Nottingham next month following a £1.65m investment. The venue will launch in a former Hard Rock Café site in King Street on Saturday, 10 February and will be the brand’s 13th site and first in the East Midlands. The venue will extend over 6,600 square feet across two floors, with the opening creating 80 jobs. The Alchemist managing director Simon Potts said: “We’ve had our sights set on Nottingham for a while and we’re pleased it’s finally come to fruition. Nottingham is a fantastic city and we have secured an amazing location. Overall, the venue feels a perfect fit.” Earlier this month, The Alchemist told Propel it aims to open five or six sites in the next year after securing a £16m finance package from existing debt-funders Santander. The Nottingham opening will be followed by others in Cardiff and Bristol as the company eyes further acquisitions. Potts added: “It’s a real joy to be able to announce positive plans for our continued growth at a time when there seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the sector.” Palatine Private Equity supported a buyout of The Alchemist from Living Ventures in 2015.

Ei Group unveils ‘Beerista’ coffee offer: Ei Group, formerly Enterprise Inns, has unveiled a tailored “Beerista” coffee offer to help its publicans tap into the UK’s £3.7bn-a-year coffee market. Publicans receive a full audit on their coffee requirements and a recommended tailored solution. The package includes a coffee machine suitable to each pub’s needs, training support, pricing guidance, 100% Arabica coffee and crockery, quality control measures, range suggestions, and marketing collateral. In partnership with manufacturer Fracino, Beerista Coffee Company offers several coffee machines ranging from small-volume capsule types to automated high-volume machines. Ei Group head of food Paul Farr said: “As well as offering Beerista Coffee Company to our leased and tenanted estate, we will roll it out across our Bermondsey Pub Company portfolio. As ever, Beerista is an evolving offer so being able to take key learnings from our managed estate and share best practice with publicans across our wider portfolio adds value to the entire business.” Ei Group’s regional managers have undertaken an extensive training course ahead of the roll-out.

Plans to demolish former Everards home for shopping and restaurant scheme gets go-ahead: Plans to demolish the former home of Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards and build a shopping and dining destination have been given the go-ahead. Everards’ old base at Castle Acres is to be knocked down to make way for a £135m redevelopment after Blaby District Council approved the scheme. The site was sold to The Crown Estate through the Fosse Partnership in October last year. The Crown Estate is to commit £135m to develop the 12.5-acre plot, which is adjacent to its Fosse shopping park, to create a new retail and dining attraction. The development will create about 288,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Everards based its brewery, office and logistics at Castle Acres for more than 30 years but is relocating to two new sites, Everards Meadows and Optimus Point. The Castle Acres scheme is already almost 60% pre-let, with Next opening a 90,000 square foot, three-storey site, while other confirmed tenants include Debenhams, TK Maxx and Clarks. Work is set to start on-site in the coming months, reports Insider Media.

New all-day Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant to open in Aldgate East this month: A new all-day Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant will open in Aldgate East, central London, this month. Murat Kilic and Pierre Aprin will launch Amber in Piazza Walk on Monday, 29 January. Taking the ancient amber trade route as inspiration, the new restaurant will offer diners an “authentic, yet modern and refined take on Middle-Eastern cuisine”. The breakfast menu will include whipped feta with dukkah and burnt aubergine with crushed olives. while there will be a set lunch offering and an a la carte menu. The decor will take inspiration from a “midsummer garden”, featuring a palette of dusky pinks and pale greens as a backdrop with ash wood tables and chairs and an array of potted plants. An open kitchen and bar will dominate one side of the restaurant, complete with grill stations and a specialist oven for making crispy pide.

Goodbody – JD Wetherspoon continues to be our top pick in sector: Goodbody leisure analysts have said JD Wetherspoon continues to be their “top pick” in the sector ahead of its second-quarter results on Wednesday (24 January). Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares, they said: “We expect like-for-like sales to be +3.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, compared with the +6.1% delivered in the first quarter. In terms of the margin, we forecast 7.3% in the first half, -40 basis points year-on-year, as the group faces well-flagged cost headwinds in line with the rest of the sector. We also expect an update on the estate and progress towards the guided ten to 15 openings this year. Wetherspoon continues to be our top pick in the sector. It is well placed to outperform in a tougher environment this year due to its lower price point versus peers, strong recent trading momentum, and its mobile order and pay application. Despite this challenging environment, we believe medium-term forecast risk is biased to the upside.”

Patisserie Valerie launches 50p re-usable coffee cup discount: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has launched a 50p discount for customers who use re-usable coffee cups. The company stated on its Facebook page: “Help us make a difference! We want to reduce the amount of paper cups going into landfill and we can only do this with your help. When you bring in a reusable cup you will get 50p off any takeaway hot beverage. Every cup counts.” In November, Patisserie Valerie launched its own re-usable coffee cup. The company opened its first site in Hampstead, north London, in 2005 and now trades from almost 40 Gail’s-branded outlets after growing significantly since Johnson invested in 2011. Its retail operations are concentrated in affluent London locations with high footfall and it has further plans to expand both retail and wholesale operations.

Marston’s relaunches Bedford brewery acquired from Charles Wells: Marston’s has relaunched the Bedford brewery it acquired from Charles Wells in 2017 as Eagle Brewery. In May, Marston’s acquired Charles Wells’ brewery and brand sales interests for a cash consideration of £55m plus working capital adjustments. The Bedford brewery is the home of ale brands Bombardier, Courage and McEwan’s and plans are under way to bring out a range of beers under the Eagle banner. Marston’s said the site in Havelock Street had been “much changed” since the acquisition and has reopened with new beers in the making and the addition of a taproom, shop and visitor centre, while it will also host brewery tours. The company said it chose the name Eagle Brewery because “eagles are Bedford’s historic champions” – the borough bears an eagle on its coat of arms. A company spokesman said: “At the Eagle Brewery we are proud to embrace different perspectives. It means while others may move cautiously, we soar fearlessly. Like the eagle that looks over our brewery, we take a different view.” Marston’s now operates six breweries across the UK, as well as an estate of 1,500 pubs.

Free-of-tie lease of Hampstead pub brought to market: The free-of-tie lease of The Magdala Tavern in Hampstead, north west London, has been brought to market by agent Davis Coffer Lyons on behalf of Mulberry One Capital. The landlord is seeking to let the property on a free-of-tie commercial lease, with other terms to be negotiated. The pub in South Hill Park, which consists of ground-floor and basement areas comprising 2,277 square feet, is available in shell condition on a new lease. The pub is opposite Hampstead Heath overground station and half a mile from Belsize Park. It fronts South Hill Park and is close to a parade of shops, restaurants and cafes.

Punch calls time on plastic straws: Punch has said it intends to cut and ultimately eliminate the use of plastic straws across its 70-strong retail pub estate while encouraging its leased and tenanted pubs to follow suit. Initially, Punch will no longer serve drinks with plastic straws unless requested and will also remove them from view. The company said it hopes to introduce suitable recyclable and re-usable alternatives. Punch managing director of operations Paul Pavli said: “Alongside a number of our peers in the industry, we are committed to reducing the use of damaging plastic straws in our retail pubs and will also be encouraging our circa 1,200 leased and tenanted publicans to join the campaign and benefit from training material and POS to make consumers aware of this very important cause.” Punch will campaign on social media using #thefinalstraw.

Green energy-powered gin and whisky distillery to launch in Yorkshire: Chartered architect Chris Jaume and former scientist Abbie Neilson are set to launch a gin and whisky distillery in Yorkshire powered entirely by green energy. Cooper King Distillery will open in Sutton-on-the-Forest and begin production of its juniper-led gin in the spring. Whisky distillation will follow in the summer ahead of a predicted release date of 2023. Cooper King has partnered with green energy company Ecotricity to power the facility. Jaume told Insider Media: “We are so passionate about ensuring our actions have a positive impact on the environment and we’re taking every step we can to operate sustainably. It’s great we are among a select few distilleries in the UK choosing to run solely on green energy. We hope we can inspire more businesses to make a conscious effort to look at the impact they have on the environment.”