Boparan Restaurant Group launches multi-brand ghost kitchen: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Slim Chickens, has launched its first ghost kitchen, in London, Propel has learned. The company has launched the kitchen in Upper Street, Islington. The business has made its Slim Chickens, GBK and Ed’s Easy Diner brands available for delivery from the new kitchen, through Deliveroo and Uber Eats. It is thought the business is looking to open further kitchens like the one in Upper Street, which also houses the group’s fledgling virtual delivery brand Rebel Vegan. Last month, Propel revealed the company had rolled out Rebel Vegan to a further six sites. Launched in April with the tagline: “All plants. No bull”, the brand has now been rolled out to BRG sites in Southampton, Brighton, Norwich, York, Lakeside and Cambridge.
Megan’s adds a further two sites to its openings pipeline: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s has added a further two sites to its openings pipeline, including its second site outside London, Propel understands. The 12-strong company, which will open its next site later this month in Wandsworth, has secured the former Laura Ashley site in Church Street, Weybridge, for an opening next year. At the same time, the Sarah Hills-led business has secured a site at 25 Dulwich Village for an opening later this year. Last month, the company said it is looking to recruit a further 100 staff, including two senior board positions as it continues its growth plans. It is looking to add to its workforce, including the appointment of a people director and operations director – both board positions. The business has big plans for growth and brought in a new management team with Sarah Hills, formerly managing director of Bill’s and Wagamama, and Gill Clements, ex-finance director of Byron, both joining last year.
Franco Manca lines up Baker Street opening, plans up to seven new openings by next March: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned pizza brand, is looking to add another six to seven sites to its 55-strong estate by next March. As part of this, Propel understands the David Page-chaired business has lined up a new opening in central London, at 91-93 Baker Street. The 55-strong brand, which recently opened in High Holborn and Glasgow, is also understood to be exploring openings in Cheltenham, St Albans and Cardiff. Parent company Fulham Shore is currently on site in Norwich, building what will become the 20th site under its The Real Greek brand when it opens in September. It plans to secure a further four to five new The Real Greek sites before next March, with a site in Manchester mooted. It is thought the company currently has six sites in solicitors’ hands across both its brands. Last month, The Times reported Fulham Shore was close to signing up franchisees to take the Franco Manca brand overseas (apart from one in Sicily that operates for six months a year), probably to Portugal and Greece.
Farmer J builds London openings pipeline: All-day market concept Farmer J, which is backed by Imbiba, has secured a further two sites in London as it looks to build its pipeline of openings in the capital. The Jonathan Recanati-led, four-strong business is set to double up in Canary Wharf, with an opening in Jubilee Place this September. It already operates a site in Canada Place. At the same time, Propel understands the business has secured the Wasabi site at Paternoster Square for an opening later this year. It is thought the business is also close to securing a site in London Bridge and is in advanced talks on a further central London unit. Recanati told Propel the business had always been developed with expansion outside central London in mind and that the group was looking to build its pipeline further. He said the resilience of the business during the crisis had given it the confidence to explore further expansion opportunities.
RedCat Pub Company appoints Mike Hill as its new build development director: RedCat Pub Company, the new investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has appointed Mick Hill, formerly of north east-based brewer and pub operator Camerons Brewery, as its new build development director, Propel understands. Hill spent almost three years as head of property and acquisitions at Camerons. Previous to that, he was a building development manager at Mitchells & Butlers. He was most recently property development and format manager at convenience store operator McColl’s. In May, Propel revealed RedCat was in talks to acquire a group of pubs from Dominion Hospitality, which owns and operates hotels and pubs in the south of England under its Relax and Historic Innz brands. In March, RedCat agreed a deal for the 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group. Propel understands the deal was valued at about £20m. RedCat was founded earlier this year by Anand to invest in the UK pub sector and is backed by US investment firm Oaktree Capital. Oaktree is thought to have injected £200m into RedCat, which is led by Chris Hill, the former chief executive of New World Trading Company.
Gainford Group reports ‘very strong’ trading since reopening, secures £5m CBILS: North east-based operator Gainford Group, which also runs 12 care homes, has reported initial trade since reopening has been “very strong”. The company, which secured £5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) last year, said it had used the lockdown period to invest in all key sites, principally to increase outdoor space. Gainford Group said it had made use of the government’s various support schemes that, along with measures taken by the management team, had helped keep losses to a minimum. The company stated: “Overall, the company has responded very well to the crisis and has managed to trade strongly and, despite all above issues considered, has actually traded at an improved level of that achieved in 2019. Turnover from Gainford Hotels was significantly impacted this year with most sites closed or under government restrictions for most of the year. The company used this enforced downtime as an opportunity to reinvest into all key sites and significantly enhanced the venues at The Vermont, The County, Aveika and Livello. As the venues have started to reopen since April 2021, early signs are the improvements will pay significant dividends because initial trade has been very strong. Significant trade is expected in the second half of 2021 when all sites can trade without restrictions. The redevelopment of the New Bridge Hotel has been postponed while we improve existing sites. We have submitted several schemes for the site and are awaiting approval from Newcastle City Council. We hope to finalise plans towards the end of 2021, with work to commence in 2022.” The company provided the update as it reported turnover for the year ending 31 December 2020 fell to £28.2m, compared with £35.9m the year before as a result of the pandemic. It saw pre-tax profit fall to £3.6m, compared with £4.3m the previous year.
North west bar operator Costello’s secures third site, in Warrington: North west bar operator Costello’s is to open its third site, at the Time Square development in Warrington. The family-owned company has agreed a deal to take a 3,562 square foot site at the £142m scheme in the town centre, which has been delivered by Warrington & Co on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, with Muse Developments appointed as development manager. The Costello family – which own bars in Altrincham and Stockton Heath, along with microbreweries, Lymm Brewery and Dunham Massey Brewing Company – will start the fit-out imminently and open the venue later this summer. Director Anthony Costello said: “We can’t wait to get started on the new bar and we’re looking forward to being able to bring our vision to life, in the new and exciting Time Square development.” Leon Guyett, development director at Muse Developments, added: “Despite these challenging times, we’re seeing the retail and leisure sector continue to be dynamic and evolve, with independent and regional operators coming forward to expand in new regeneration schemes that blend high-quality, innovative buildings with both the area’s heritage and aspirations for the future.” Metis Real Estate Advisors acted on behalf of Warrington & Co and Muse Developments.
The Gentlemen Baristas to open Mayfair site next month: Coffee shop company The Gentlemen Baristas will open a site in London’s Mayfair next month. The eight-strong, London-based business will open in Bruton Place. Founded by Henry Ayers and Ed Parkes, The Gentlemen Baristas opened its debut site in Southwark in 2014. Last month, the company revealed it would open a site in Piccadilly as part of the Crown Estate’s St James’s portfolio.
Eight Stony Street founder to open third site for wine bar, restaurant and shop concept, in Salisbury: Kent Barker is to open a third site for his Somerset-based wine bar, restaurant and shop concept next month. As revealed by Propel in February, Barker, who launched Eight Stony Street in Frome in 2019, is opening a second Wilding site, this time in Salisbury. It follows an opening in Oxford in May. The Salisbury site, which will launch on Wednesday, 4 August, will be in the former Cafe Rouge premises in High Street. The outlet will have a 90-cover space inside, and a 50-cover terrace, reports the Salisbury Journal. The kitchen will be led by Dominique Goltinger with a menu that “prioritises seasonality and local provenance”. It includes dishes such as hand-dived scallops with seashore vegetables and wild capers; and char-grilled asparagus with Caerphilly cheese and hogweed shoot dressing alongside an extensive wine list. Wilding will offer a retail space where guests can buy from more than 200 bottles of wine. Barker previously held senior positions in wine merchants such as Bibendum, Oddbins and Enotria before co-founding Beckford Bottle Shop and then launching Eight Stony Street.
Moose Coffee to open seventh site this week: Moose Coffee, the American diner-influenced cafe company, will launch a new site at Liverpool’s Princes Dock on Thursday (8 July). The 60-seater restaurant will be based on the ground floor of the Plaza 1821 residential development, which is Regenda Group’s £21m waterfront project. The 1,700 square foot restaurant will mark Moose Coffee’s fourth outlet in Merseyside. The six-strong business will offer a range of American and Canadian-inspired breakfast and brunch dishes throughout the day. Moose Coffee director Nick Van Breemen said: “We are excited to be part of the Plaza 1821 development at Liverpool Waters. It is a fantastic location, the restaurant is looking great and we can’t wait to open our doors and get to know our new neighbours and customers.” Liza Marco, asset manager at Peel L&P’s Liverpool Waters, said: “We’re proud to have this Liverpool-born restaurant brand on board. With its waterfront views and a backdrop of some of the world’s largest cruise ships arriving into the city, Moose Coffee will be a fantastic asset for residents and visitors to Princes Dock.”
London’s first French toast cafe launches: A cafe dedicated to French toast has opened in London. Crome has launched in the former T Burrows clothing shop premises at St Christopher’s Place in Marylebone. The website stated: “Introducing London’s first French toast cafe, harnessing our craftsmanship and expert knowledge in food science and speciality coffee to bring you a new food and drink concept. Deriving from the Greek word, ‘khroma’ meaning compounds, layers and colour, these elements tie the brand offering together with perfectly combined concoctions of coffee, milk and ice. Our French toast stacks are well known twists on your favourite brunch classics – finished with sweet or savoury toppings inspired by the food and drink trends of the future.” The menu includes The Reuben – French toast, salt beef brisket, pickles, onion, parsley and red cabbage, topped with cheese; and Stuffed Nutella and Caramel Popcorn – Nutella stuffed French toast, Nutella sauce, caramel popcorn, brownie pieces and cookie dough. Drinks feature “coloured lattes” – matcha, saffron and black charcoal – and a range of Spanish lattes that include an Oreo Spanish latte and a red velvet Spanish latte.
London-based restaurant group Maginahwa to open second site for Filipino-Japanese ramen concept this month: London-based restaurant group Maginahwa is opening a second site for its Filipino-Japanese ramen joint Ramo Ramen this month. The company is launching the outlet in Brewer Street, Soho, in the former premises of Thai restaurant Wild Rice. Ramo Ramen’s original site in Kentish Town is known for putting a Japanese spin on Filipino classics such as kare kare and sinigang while nodding to co-founder Omar Shah’s Filipino-Muslim upbringing, including its own take on katsu curry – karaage chicken, gyoza and edamame. The group also operates Bingtang, Mamasons and Panadera in the capital.
Tim Horton lodges plans for Oldham site: Canadian quick-service restaurant brand Tim Hortons has unveiled plans to open its first site in Oldham. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of Tim Hortons in the UK, wants to open its fifth Greater Manchester restaurant, in the former Bridgewater Hotel pub in Manchester Road. Part of the building would be demolished to accommodate a drive-thru lane, reports the Manchester Evening News. Tim Hortons is aiming to open the new coffee shop “as soon as possible” in 2022. The pub closed in March 2020 following a “sustained period of trading issues”, according to a planning statement submitted to Oldham Council on behalf of Tim Hortons. It added: “It will result in a significant upgrade to the current physical appearance of the site and thus its impact on the appearance of the area will be positive.” While a number of other sites were considered in Oldham town centre and Failsworth, the empty Bridgewater Hotel was deemed to be the most suitable site and the easiest to deliver, Tim Hortons said. The brand has 28 restaurants in the UK.
Crispin founders to open ‘Bar Crispin’ concept in Soho this month: Dominic Hamdy and Oliver Hiam, founders of Spitalfields all-day restaurant Crispin, will open a new concept called “Bar Crispin” – a natural wine bar with food, in Kingly Street, Soho, this month. Located on the former Urban Tearooms site, Bar Crispin will offer 42 covers in total – encompassing 20 seats in the main bar, 12 in the downstairs private dining room and a further ten on the outside terrace. The site – which will launch on Thursday, 15 July – will operate all-day, serving breakfast pastries and specialty coffee first thing, through lunch service and into the evening where an ever-evolving natural wine list of more than 150 varieties alongside a concise bar snack menu, offering small plates, cheese and charcuterie, and weekly house specials. Hamdy and Hiam also operate speciality coffee shop Lundenwic in Aldwych, and Scotchtails at Borough Market. Hamdy said: “We are right behind the iconic Liberty, just off Carnaby Street in Kingly Street, which is a great location for our first real central London site. And after such a shocker of a year for hospitality, and the country in general, we hope we can offer some much-needed positive vibes and bring the fun back to dining and drinking out, Crispin-style.” Julia Wilkinson, restaurant director at Shaftesbury, added: “This is a brilliant new concept with a versatile offering and we look forward to the opening.” Distrkt acted on the Soho deal.
Pret brings back Christmas sandwich for limited time in July: Pret A Manger has brought back its Christmas sandwich for a limited time after being inundated with messages from customers who missed out last December. Served with slices of British turkey in a port and orange cranberry sauce, the “Christmas Sandwich” is filled with a herby pork stuffing, baby spinach leaves and is finished with a dab of free-range mayo and topped with crispy onions. The sandwich will be on sale until the first week of August and 50p from every sandwich sold will be donated to The Pret Foundation, which has worked to alleviate poverty, hunger and homelessness for the past 25 years. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret A Manger, said: “Every year, customers ask for the Christmas Sandwich to return earlier and earlier and, after many customers missed out on having one last year, we’ve decided to stand by our mission of spreading joy through our food and coffee, and bring it back early for a limited time this summer.” Pret will also share the Vegan Nut Roast recipe on its social channels.
 
Michelin-starred chef Sally Abé to open second of four new concepts at Conrad London St James this month: Michelin-starred chef Sally Abé is to open the second of four new concepts at Conrad Hotels & Resorts’ Conrad London St James property this month. Abé, who joined the hotel as consultant chef after leaving the Harwood Arms in Fulham, will launch The Pem on Tuesday, 20 July. The restaurant’s name is inspired by suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, whose family used the pet name “Pem” for her, and celebrates generations of pioneering women leading from the front. Abé said she will be building on the foundations of historic British cuisine and celebrating flavours and ingredients that are familiar and much-loved but interpreting them in her own way. Dishes will include poached native lobster, shellfish cream, heritage tomatoes and sweet olive; and roasted John Dory with brassicas, lemon and sauce choron. The Pem will have a main dining room seating 70, and a separate private dining room for up to 24 guests. In April, Abé launched the Blue Boar Pub at the property while July will also see the addition of the hotel’s first cocktail bar, The Hedgerow.
Kitchen Table to reopen after extensive refurbishment: Chef-patron James Knappett and wife Sandia Chang of the JKS-backed two Michelin-starred Kitchen Table will reopen their restaurant on Tuesday, 20 July, after an extensive refurbishment. Founded in 2012, Kitchen Table encourages full interaction with chefs in a theatre-style kitchen. Kitchen Table caters for 18 covers with a daily changing tasting menu, priced at £250 with up to 20 courses. Diners can expect dishes such as glazed Cornish blue lobster, Tahitian vanilla brown butter and pickled beach roses; and Cornish spring lamb, garden mint and gem salad with Minus 8 Vinegar and creme fraiche. For dessert, guests can enjoy strawberries, meadowsweet ice cream and black pepper-burnt meringue. A new lounge and bar has taken over the space previously occupied by champagne and hotdogs concept Bubbledogs. Meanwhile, Chang has curated an extensive wine list with rare and grower champagnes from distinguished producers, including Georges Laval Les Longues Violes and Benoit Dehu Cuvee La Pythie. Guests can also purchase any of the wines they try from the Bubbleshop by Sandia Chang online shop. Knappett said: “This is the exact feel of the restaurant I’ve wanted for a very long time from collecting ideas across the world when dining out. We’ve been closed for 15 months and I’m itching to get back in the kitchen and welcome our guests once again.” Bookings are now being taken for the Charlotte Street restaurant in Fitzrovia.
Bain Capital and Okra acquire Mayfair hotel: Global credit company Bain Capital Credit and alternative investment firm Okra have acquired the Park Lane Mews Hotel and three neighbouring residential properties in London’s Mayfair. The 72-bedroom, four-star hotel will be refurbished with the aim of repositioning the property to offer a new hotel experience. OakNorth Bank has provided a bespoke debt finance facility to Bain Capital Credit and Orka to support the acquisition and refurbishment project. The work will include the refurbishment of the guest bedrooms and communal areas, including the lobby, bars and restaurants. Bain Capital Credit managing director Fabio Longo said: “We are delighted to have acquired this fantastic hotel in such a prime location in partnership with Orka. This further enhances the substantial real estate portfolio we have built throughout Europe, which we are actively growing through attractive investment opportunities.” OakNorth Bank was advised on the transaction by Allen & Overy.
Halewood sells Lambrini brand: Drinks company Halewood has sold the Lambrini drinks brand for an undisclosed sum. At its height, about ten years ago, more than 40 million bottles of Lambrini were being sold each year. But the brand has now been acquired by Accolade Wines, the Australian-based international wine business, which has been owned by US private equity company The Carlyle Group since 2018. Lambrini will now join Accolade staples such as Hardys and Echo Falls as part of the group’s “ambitious sustainable growth strategy”. Accolade chief executive Robert Foye said: “Lambrini has such a strong heritage and is loved by British consumers. We are excited about the role the brand will play in our broader strategic growth plans for the UK and Europe.” Halewood has gone through a major reorganisation, driven by chief executive Stewart Hainsworth. In May 2018, the business put itself up for sale, having hired international business adviser Rothschild to look at the options. In August last year, it announced the closure of its Huyton base and a raft of redundancies. Its new headquarters is based in Chorley. The business is now concentrating on its spirits range. Hainsworth said: “The sale of Lambrini marks the final stage in our corporate strategy to focus on our core portfolio of artisanal spirits as part of a larger emphasis on the gin, vodka, rum and whisky categories from our 12 artisanal distilleries.” Launched by Halewood in 1994, Lambrini is the top-selling perry brand in the UK, and includes cherry, peach and strawberry flavours in addition to its original pear cider.
Property investment firm buys second hotel: A Cardiff hotel with views over Cardiff Castle and the city’s Edwardian civic centre has been acquired by property investment firm Castleforge Partners. Castleforge has purchased the 197-bedroom Hilton hotel in Cardiff, which opened in 1999, from a private owner who had owned the property for 14 years. The deal follows Castleforge’s first investment in the hospitality sector in May when it acquired the Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel in Edinburgh. Matt Lederer, hotel acquisitions director at Castleforge Partners, said: “Our hotel strategy at Castleforge is to invest only in best-in-class value, adding opportunities across the UK and European markets. Our decision to invest in the city of Cardiff and the Hilton hotel is emblematic of this approach.”
Birmingham-based independent pub and alternative music venue to reopen after being saved from demolition: Birmingham-based independent pub and alternative music venue, The Flapper, is set to reopen this month, having been saved from demolition thanks to public support and the city council. The Kingston Row site closed in January last year and, with plans to turn the space into flats, the pub was destined to be bulldozed before being brought back from the brink. It will now reopen on Wednesday, 21 July. Owner Samantha Campbell-Whyte said: “The resurrection of The Flapper is so important for independent bars and grass-roots music venues because it shows that not all sites earmarked for demolition actually go ahead. Since The Flapper was saved from demolition, we’ve been in talks with the landlord about her future. The pandemic hit and the brakes were applied – it was touch and go for a while. But now, after months of much-needed renovations and conversations, we are reopening in July.” Work will be ongoing over the summer months to improve and update the beer garden further, with plans to reopen the “gig room” in the autumn. Originally built in 1969, the pub was called The Longboat before being taken over by The Firkin brewery in the 1990s and named Flapper and Firkin. In 2007, Campbell-Whyte took over the business and the venue became known simply as The Flapper.
Brook Leisure to restore derelict pub: Barnsley-based Brook Leisure Group has started work on the first phase of a project to restore a derelict pub in a South Yorkshire village. Yorkshire developer Conroy Brook, with Brook Leisure Group, will restore the historic Fountain Inn in Ingbirchworth as part of a scheme that also includes the development of nine family homes. Contractors are now on site for the demolition of the extension to the pub, leaving only the original building, which will be completely refurbished. Jason Brook, director of both Conroy Brook and Brook Leisure Group, said: “We have a long history of providing quality hospitality venues around Barnsley and beyond – projects as varied as Brooklands Hotel and The Pavilion at Gateway Plaza in Barnsley. We look forward to bringing a revitalised pub back to life with the support of the local community.”
Handmade dog treats business launches kiosk site at Liverpool ONE: Liverpool-based The Original Dog Bakery, which serves patisserie-style goods for dogs, has launched a site at Liverpool ONE. Previously operating from a mobile tuk-tuk at the destination, The Original Dog Bakery has been supported by Liverpool ONE to build its profile. The business reported a 56% sales increase versus its tuk-tuk outlet since opening at its new kiosk on Wall Street. The business specialises in handmade fresh and nutritious patisserie-style baked products for dogs. The kiosk’s treats include cookies, brownies, doughnuts, crunchy popcorn and six-inch birthday cakes. Alison Clegg, managing director, asset management at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, which owns Liverpool ONE, said: “The Original Dog Bakery has been a huge hit with visitors since first introduced in its tuk-tuk configuration. We are pleased to have supported this business and to have helped The Original Dog Bakery to debut in a long-term home.” The Original Dog Bakery was founded by Daniel Carroll, Caitlin Carroll and Eilish Clarke.