London will see 63 notable restaurant launches this autumn: Sixty-three dining venues “of note” are lined up to launch in London between this month and Christmas, according to the Hot Dinners website. Catherine Hanly, the site’s editor and co-founder, said this year’s line-up was one of the most eclectic on record, with influences from all over the world. Although the “opening season” total is expected to be down on last year’s record of 114, the new ventures come at a time of intense financial pressure on operators. Hanly said: “Even when restaurants are closing down, they are not lying empty for ages.”
Mosaic Pub and Dining acquires three Birmingham sites off £1.3m asking price: Mosaic Pub and Dining, formerly known as City Pub EIS Fund, has acquired three sites in Birmingham off an asking price of £1.3m. The company, led by Peter McDonald and James Watson, has bought Edmunds Bar & Brewhouse in Edmund Street, The Queens Arms in Newhall Street and The Rectory Bar in St Paul’s Square from James Dunphy, in an off-market deal through agents Christie & Co. Under the previous ownership, the sites were run as traditional pubs, and included a micro-brewery at Edmunds. Already operating The Distillery and The Button Factory within Birmingham, Mosaic Pub and Dining identified the three venues as a valuable growth opportunity. This purchase will take Mosaic to 21 sites across the UK. McDonald said: “Birmingham is already an important location for us and this deal has been an ideal opportunity to increase our presence in the city with all three sites having exciting potential, and additionally there will be logistical and purchasing benefits.”
BrewDog returns to Crowdcube to bolster Equity for Punks V fund: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has returned to Crowdcube as it looks to tap into the crowdfunding platform’s investors to bolster its Equity for Punks V campaign. BrewDog is aiming to raise a minimum of £22m by the close of its latest funding round and is offering 1.21% equity on Crowdcube in return for investment. Shares will cost £23.75 each, with a minimum investment of four shares for £95. BrewDog launched Equity for Punks V in October last year and has so far raised £21m. The funds have been invested in a new brewhouse at its Ellon brewery, opening its sour beer facility, opening nine bars in three countries, beginning construction of its Brisbane brewery, opening its first DogHouse hotel and launching the BrewDog television network. Co-founder James Watt said: “This round of Equity for Punks has been our most audacious and ambitious to date, but we are well on track to complete all the projects we announced when we launched in October. We’re looking forward to welcoming our Crowdcube investors to next year’s annual general meeting, which promises to be our biggest and best one yet. We’ve proven with a passionate community behind us, there are no limits to what can be accomplished.” In 2016, BrewDog secured a record £10m in 24 days via a mini-bond on Crowdcube – the highest raise on the platform. BrewDog’s first mini-bond raise on Crowdcube in 2015 was overfunded by 130%, raising £2.3m with a target of £1m. Crowdcube co-founder Luke Lang said: “We have a great track record with BrewDog. Investors on the platform love the ethos and ambition of the brewery, and we are proud to partner with it for a third time in this final stretch of what is already a hugely successful equity raise.”
Flight Club secures permission for Manchester site, investigating four more UK locations: Social darts concept Flight Club has secured permission for its first UK site outside London, in Manchester. The company is also investigating a further four locations in the UK for the concept. Flight Club will open the new site in King Street in Manchester in October after agents Bidwells helped secure planning permission and listed building consent for the venue. It will include Flight Club’s feature bar and 14 oches – each with its own seating area and table service – and a private room. Since launching in 2015, Flight Club has opened sites in London in Bloomsbury and Shoreditch and is due to open at the Nova development in Victoria later this year. It also has a venue in Chicago.
Novus puts Piccadilly Institute on the market: Agent Restaurant Property is marketing the Piccadilly Institute, 1 Piccadilly Circus, London, on behalf of Novus. The 13,891 square foot multi-storey site is being offered as a lease assignment. It also benefits from a late-night 3am licence with capacity for up to 1,515 people. Danielle Agami, of Restaurant Property, said in a statement: “This is an opportunity to acquire a lease of a charming and distinct building dating to 1885 in the heart of the vibrant and renowned Piccadilly Circus. The Sui Generis use and 3am licence means any prospective tenant can implement their concept with flexibility and gain the many benefits the premises offers.”
Dan Fisher plans six more Northamptonshire sites after taking on third with Star Pubs & Bars, ninth in total: Multi-site operator Dan Fisher is planning six more pubs in Northamptonshire after taking on his third pub in the county with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. Fisher has added Fridays in Daventry to his portfolio, bringing his total number of pubs across Manchester and Northamptonshire to nine. The pub is to be renamed The Lion, a nod to the name it had in the 1930s, The Lion and the Lamb. Fisher and Star Pubs & Bars are jointly spending £400,000 transforming the property. It will open from 9am for eat in and take-out breakfasts and coffees and cakes, morphing into a late-night venue with DJs and live music that will close at midnight during the week and 4am on weekends. The venue is being given a new urban contemporary look with exposed brick walls and industrial-style lighting and fixtures. The interior is being reconfigured to create three different zones – a low-level coffee area at the front, a casual dining area with kitchen pass and a sports bar at the rear. Outside there’ll be a walled garden with decking, outdoor screens and seating for 25. The food will be a mix of freshly cooked pub classics, gourmet dishes as well as ribs and homemade burgers. Drinks will include a mix of mainstream and premium beer and cider, cocktails, craft lager and real ale. Fisher said: “My plan is to grow the Northamptonshire estate by another six pubs, both in villages and towns, and to leverage the successful loyalty app we have created for our Manchester pubs in our Northamptonshire micro estate.” Fisher operates six pubs in Manchester and two others in Northamptonshire, which are both with Star Pubs & Bars – The Five Bells in the village of Bugbrooke and Wedgwood in the centre of Northampton, which he opened in March, and is “trading beyond expectations”.
Buzzworks acquires second site in east of Scotland: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings has confirmed the purchase of The Bridge Inn in Linlithgow. Buzzworks is set to launch its first venture in the east of Scotland when Scotts bar and restaurant at Port Edgar Marina, South Queensferry opens this month, and the company said the purchase of the Bridge Inn further demonstrates its commitment to developing an east coast presence. The Bridge Inn, which was vacant at the point of sale, was originally a coaching inn and dates to 1660. The redevelopment will represent a £750,000 investment and create 40 jobs. Refurbishment work is due to start later this year, which will include extending and modernising the current property. When finished, it will feature a bar, restaurant, private dining room and outdoor courtyard space, which Buzzworks will manage as part of its “House” collection. Buzzworks currently operates five “House” venues – the Tree House in Ayr, The Long House in Kilmarnock, The Mill House in Stewarton, The Corner House in Kilwinning and The Coach House in Bridge of Weir. The company’s portfolio also includes Elliots in Prestwick, Lido venues in Prestwick and Troon, and Scotts in Troon, Largs and South Queensferry. Colin Blair, Buzzworks Holdings chairman, said: “Branching out from the west of Scotland is an ambitious move for us, but one we are really excited to develop. We can’t wait to open the doors of Scotts South Queensferry and then start work on our next project in Linlithgow. The Bridge Inn has a lot of history and character, which makes it a perfect addition to our ‘House’ collection.”
Berenberg upgrades The Restaurant Group forecast: Analysts at Berenberg have upgraded their forecast on The Restaurant Group, with its focus on pubs “being a bright spot”. Issuing a ‘Hold’ rating on the shares with a target price of 270p, the analysts said: “The company is opening a reasonable number of sites each year and has changed its focus to concessions and pubs. We still have serious concerns about the sustainability of the casual dining restaurants but, given the company will likely be able to continue expanding the better-quality divisions, we see fewer imminent negative catalysts.” The Restaurant Group gave a divisional breakdown for the first time and Berenberg said it was surprised to see the pubs and concessions side of the business accounting for more profit than it had expected. The analysts added: “The plan to grow the concessions business is making good progress, with 17 sites set to be added this year. The company aims to open more sites next year and while it is only guiding to up to five additions at this stage we note this could rise over time. Meanwhile, with space for concessions in the UK ultimately limited, management is exploring the possibility of expanding overseas in the medium term.”
Champneys acquires sixth site: Champneys, the health farm and leisure resort business owned by Dorothy and Stephen Purdew, has acquired a sixth site – Mottram Hall near Manchester. Mottram Hall was owned since the mid 1970s to 2014 by the De Vere group and underwent a £6m refurbishment during 2012/2013. In November 2014, QHotels secured ownership of Mottram Hall – it has 83 bedrooms, a golf course and spa. Champneys reported turnover rose 13% to £36,560,723 for the year ending 30 April 2017, compared with £32,490,307 the previous year. The business, which added Eastwell Manor in Kent to its portfolio of four resorts in November 2016, saw pre-tax profit of £3,489,613, compared with £1,818,425 the year before. The total number of guests visiting Champneys resorts rose to 183,342 from 166,970, with average revenue per guest down slightly to £166.84, compared with £170.13 the year before. The company earned royalty income of £1,426,026 in the year, compared with £1,441,283 the previous year.
A Rule of Tum launches £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to reinvigorate Hereford restaurants: Herefordshire-based steak and burger company A Rule of Tum has launched a £200,000 crowdfunding project to reinvigorate its two Hereford restaurants. Brothers Edwin and Dorian Kirk are looking to raise the funds through a “black card” bond. Investments start at £500 and offer a rate of return of up to 7% over four years as well as a “black card” that comes with exclusive benefits. The funds will be used to reinvigorate the company’s two Hereford restaurants – Burger Shop and The Bookshop. It also runs a Burger Shop venue in Worcester. Dorian Kirk said: “When we started A Rule of Tum in 2013, we had no idea that what we had set out to do would resonate with so many people. A Rule of Tum has never been about creating a faceless chain. It’s about great food, individuality, building a community and inspiring change.” The “black card” bond is available until Tuesday, 2 October.
Aberdeen-based operator to open Scotland’s first cheese restaurant: The owner of Aberdeen-based gourmet cheese toastie takeaway Melt in Aberdeen is to open Scotland’s first cheese restaurant. Mechelle Clark is launching Melt 2 in the former Beautiful Mountain and Mamma Pizza site in Belmont Street in the city centre. The restaurant will seat 60 to 70 customers, with a private dining area, downstairs takeaway and deli, all decorated in the brand’s signature 1970s style. The menu will include lobster mac and cheese, whipped ricotta on sourdough and a breakfast with a cheesy twist. Clark, who hopes to open the restaurant by the end of October, told STV: “Cheese is endless with the kind of things you can do with it and over the years I’ve been working on recipes and playing about with ideas and looking for a site for that to happen in. We had looked at Dundee but we want to double down in Aberdeen really – it has embraced us so much that it would seem silly not to take advantage of that.” Clark launched Melt two years ago in Holburn Street.
Furniture company buys former Bel & The Dragon site in Godalming: The former Bel & The Dragon restaurant in Godalming, Surrey, has been acquired by furniture retailer The Cotswold Company. The restored grade II-listed 19th century congregational church in the centre of the town comprises 6,685 square foot over ground and first floors. The letting, which was made by agents Davis Coffer Lyons on behalf of Hurtmore Holdings, also included The Rotunda, which adjoins the former Bel and Dragon to the rear. The Rotunda, which will provide an additional 2,500 square foot of retail space, was built in circa 1879, designed specifically for use as a school. It is the fourth site for The Cotswold Company, which sells a range of hand-crafted oak, pine and painted furniture created using traditional cabinet-making techniques. SiteWorks Retail acted on behalf of The Cotswold Company.
Ottolenghi launches new podcast series: London multi-site chef Yotam Ottolenghi has launched a new podcast that features seven episodes. “Simple Pleasures” features a range of guests – actor and broadcaster Michael Palin; author and Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain; composer Lin-Manuel Miranda; singer-songwriter Jessie Ware; cookbook author and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson; Ottolenghi’s collaborator on his book, Sweet, Helen Goh; and presenter Fearne Cotton. The series will offer “an intimate glimpse” into the chef’s kitchen as well as tips on how to find ease at home, based on Ottolenghi’s own methods for entertaining. Announcing the podcast on Instagram, the television chef and author said: “Folks, I’ve got a new podcast – a series of conversations with brilliant people about life’s simple pleasures. We start with food, obviously, and naturally move on to other great joys – such as dessert.”
Dutton Cuisine reports sales up 15% at Windermere restaurant: Lake District-based Dutton Cuisine has reported sales at its The Pig restaurant and bar in Windermere have increased 15% compared with last year, with August up 8%. The company, led by Ian Dutton, opened the 40-seater site in Crescent Road in March 2016, following a refurbishment that took five months and cost more than £400,000. More than 70% of its menu offering is based on pork. Dutton said: “The food side of the business has taken off massively this year in particular, and this has translated into above-average profits despite being down 10% in April. From May to August, we have been averaging 250 meals per day – pretty incredible for a small restaurant. I believe the secret to this season’s healthy takings are due, in part, to our innovating of the menu continually.” Dutton Cuisine also operates Village Bar & Grill in Bowness while its third site – Brown Sugar – on the site of the old Lighthouse restaurant in Windermere – opens this month.
Farahi brothers open third site: Hibib and Masoud Farahi have opened their third site after investing £1m in a Sunderland pub. The pair decided almost a year ago to purchase the old Oaklands public house in Oakerside Park, in Peterlee, and undertake a major investment. The brothers operate Luciano’s and Angelo’s in Sunderland. The new venue is called Luciano Bar and Bistro and has created 25 full-time jobs, reports BDaily.
Welcome Break to reopen Fleet Services after £20m investment: Motorway service operator Welcome Break is reopening Fleet Services south (M3 J4a/5) on Thursday (6 September) following a £20m investment project. The new service station replaces the temporary structure that was installed following a major fire in December 2016, resulting in the building being destroyed. The main cue for the structure of the new building was taken from the existing trees that surround the site. Trees have been used for the structural frame and support, which is sustainable as well as “helping improve the air quality at a busy motorway service area”. Thermal glazing has been used to heat the space in winter from passive solar gain, while the inner space is kept cool in summer through passive natural ventilation. A total of 150 jobs have been created at the site. The service station houses major high street retail and catering brands, such as Starbucks and KFC as well as a new PizzaExpress restaurant, which has seating for 166 customers, together with an outside seating area.
Mixologist trio to launch bar and restaurant in Crouch End: A trio of mixologists have teamed up to open a bar and restaurant in Crouch End, north London. Alan Sherwood, previously of Scout and Peg + Patriot, and brothers Max and Noel Venning, who are from Dalston’s Three Sheets, and Bar Three, are launching Little Mercies. The venue in Broadway Parade is due to open this month and aims to “bring a slice of east London to Crouch End”. Little Mercies will feature a large concrete bar, plenty of exposed brick and a private booth at the back of the bar. Cocktails, which will be “complex and carefully crafted, using modern techniques”, will include the Delicious Sour featuring cider brandy, vodka, sour apple, apple caramel, egg white and cider. There will also be a 12-bottle wine list and a rotating beer menu as well as coffee. The food menu will feature a steak bun with sliced bavette, aioli and confit onions; and panko fried chicken with chipotle mayo, reports Hot Dinners.
Derbyshire-based micro-pub operators lodge plans for third site: Derbyshire-based micro-pub operators George Lambert and Walter Scott have lodged plans for their third site, in Ashbourne. The duo have applied to Derbyshire Dales District Council to convert the former Ashbourne News Telegraph newspaper office in Market Place. The grade II-listed building was historically a pub and Lambert and Scott plan to open the site under its former name, The Queen’s Vaults. The micro-pub, which aims to be open before Christmas, will be set around the ground floor only, reports The Business Desk. Lambert and Scott also operate the Little Chester Ale House and The Last Post in Derby.
Heavenly Desserts to open Huddersfield site this month: Artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts will open a site in Huddersfield this month. The company is opening the restaurant on Saturday, 15 September in John Williams Street, creating 22 jobs. The menu will include pancakes, waffles, fondants, cakes and slices as well as an artisan tea range, coffee and soft drinks. New store openings manager Chris Conaghan told Insider Media: “Heavenly Desserts is all about using the best ingredients, creating the perfect desserts and giving our guess the dessert experience of a lifetime.” Heavenly Desserts was founded in 2008 and has 12 sites, while nine more are listed as “opening soon” on its website, including Cardiff, Sheffield and Walsall.
Deltic to open new Cambridge nightclub this month: Deltic, the operator of 57 bars and nightclubs, is to open its new venue in Cambridge, on Friday, 21 September. Vinyl, featuring retro glitter balls and illuminated dance floor, will replace Kuda in Sidney Street following a £550,000 investment by Deltic. Once the venue is refurbished, it will house seven bookable booths, with table service throughout the night. Four of the VIP areas will have their own private flashing dance floor.