Amber Taverns planning up to 12 openings in 2018: Community pub operator Amber Taverns is planning to open between ten and 12 sites this year. Operations director Gary Roberts told Propel: “Six of these have already been identified and are in various stages of legal and planning. Hopefully another couple of Hogarths Gin Palaces will also be added to the estate.” Amber Taverns has acquired its first two sites of 2018 – the Thre3 bar in Ripley, Derbyshire, and has taken on the Commercial Hotel in the village of Rainhill in Merseyside from Greene King. Roberts said the company planned to invest about £450,000 to transform the Thre3 bar into a community pub with a “premium sports offer”. He added: “We will start work in the next few months once licensing and planning has been received. We will be recruiting a local operator and envisage we will create about 12 full and part-time positions.”
Mudman to bring Greyhound Cafe brand to UK this week with Fitzrovia opening: Mudman, the master franchise operator of Au Bon Pain, Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand, is to bring its Bangkok-style Greyhound Cafe concept to the UK. The company will open the site in Berners Street in Fitzrovia, London, on Thursday (11 January). Thai designer Bhanu Inkawat launched Greyhound as a fashion house in 1980, opening a cafe in Bangkok in 1998 that now has 17 sites across Asia. Greyhound Cafe London will be set over two floors with a bar and dining room on the ground floor and another dining room in the basement. Divided between small and large dishes, Thai-style “single plates” and a sizeable vegetarian section, the menu will pay homage to Thai cooking with signature twists. Cocktails have been developed in partnership with Thai spirit distillery Mekhong, using the eponymous rum as the base. There will also be Thai craft beer and organic coffee. Bhanu said: “Although we are Thai at heart, the restaurant will be anything but a traditional Thai restaurant. Our inspirations come from far and wide, some recipes were handed down from our grandmothers, some were dishes from our travel memories and others were inspired by our midnight fridge raids. Just like in Bangkok, we will mix traditional and international, street and couture, fused together in a beautiful, chaotic way.”
Boopshi’s brothers prevent restrictive conditions being placed on licence of St John’s Wood pub: Ed and Ben Robson, the brothers behind schnitzel and spritz operation Boopshi’s, have prevented restrictive conditions being placed on the licence at The Clifton in St John’s Wood, north London. Licensing firm Joelson acted on behalf of the brothers, who were called before City of Westminster Council for a review of their licence following concerns by local residents about noise emanating from outside areas, in particular the beer garden. The Clifton Hill pub reopened in 2017 having lain empty for several years but The Clifton Hill Residents Group asked the council to review its licence conditions after growing concern over noise in the evenings. The group requested conditions that included closing the beer garden at 8pm and sound-proofing a conservatory at the rear. While the Robsons acknowledged residents’ concerns, they said they were extremely concerned a change in conditions would affect the pub’s ability to trade. Joelson successfully argued it would be inappropriate to add new conditions to the licence, with its evidence including representations from 61 local residents who supported the pub and were happy with how it operated. Niall McCann, joint-head of Joelson’s licensing and gaming department, said: “Cutting the hours or forcing the premises to incur additional costs would have had a devastating financial impact on our client and affected their ability to trade effectively.”
D&D London appoints Jean-Baptiste Requien as operations director: Restaurant operator D&D London has appointed Jean-Baptiste Requien as operations director responsible for the group’s restaurants in Butler’s Wharf, the north and City of London. Requien returns to D&D London having started his career at the company in 2001 before moving to join Gordon Ramsay, where he managed restaurants at Claridge’s and in New York before overseeing the company’s portfolio as front-of-house manager in 2008. After returning to D&D in 2010 as senior general manager for Quaglino’s and Bluebird, Requien became operational director for Big Easy Group and, most recently, Park Chinois in Mayfair. He said: “I am excited to be returning to D&D, where it all began for me. It’s an exciting time for the company.” D&D London was founded by Des Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants. The company owns and operates 35 restaurants and a hotel.
BrewDog closes in on £10m target as crowdfunding campaign enters final week: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has raised more than 90% of the minimum target of £10m in its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding scheme, with less than a week until Monday’s deadline (15 January). So far, the campaign has raised £9,089,885 from 19,213 investors with six days remaining. BrewDog, which is valued at £1bn, said the new investors had swelled its community of “equity punks” to more than 65,000. Having raised £41m from previous crowdfunding rounds, BrewDog is now looking to raise £10m with a stretch goal of £50m to further global expansion. The plans include building breweries in Australia and Asia, opening 15 bars in the UK, increasing capacity at its Aberdeenshire brewery, and creating a dedicated craft beer TV network. For the Equity for Punks V fund-raise, BrewDog released 421,052 new B shares, which cost £23.75 each and are issued in blocks of two, with a minimum investment of two shares for £47.50.
French/Japanese fusion concept Bistro Mirey opens permanent site in Fulham: French and Japanese fusion concept Bistro Mirey has opened a permanent site in Fulham, west London. Chefs Gerald Mirey and Ko Ito have launched their debut bricks-and-mortar site in Lillie Road. The chefs have operated a number of pop-ups and supper clubs in the capital, with their menu evolving along the way. Bistro Mirey offers the same “intimate and unique supper club experience”, serving lunch and dinner daily as well as weekend brunch and Sunday lunch, with many ingredients sourced from local markets. Starters include steak tartar and spiced potted shrimp, while mains on the winter menu include Hokkaido-style pheasant with root vegetables and blueberry sauce, and braised beef cheek in red wine with miso and wasabi mash. Desserts feature French galette and matcha ice cream, while the French wine list sits alongside a Japanese sake menu. Normandy-born, classically trained Mirey was most recently head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s The Narrow, while Ko hails from Japan and fuses traditional dishes with Western influences.
Nanna Mexico opens third Cambridge site, fourth in total: Fresh street-style food specialist Nanna Mexico has opened its third outlet in Cambridge – and fourth in total. The company has taken over the lease of the former Dunkin’ Donuts site in Fitzroy Street in a deal brokered by Barker Storey Matthews. The agent was instructed in the autumn to market the 2,007 square foot premises by way of assignment of the existing lease, which runs until February 2024. The new restaurant serves up to 60 covers. Nanna Mexico founder and owner Luis Navarro told Business Weekly: “The support we have received from the business and financial professions in the city has been matched by that of our community of customers. Both audiences appreciate what Nanna Mexico is bringing to the appetites and palates of Cambridge. That is real food prepared from scratch, quality street-style and served with a smile. Cambridge really gets what we are all about.” Nanna Mexico’s other Cambridge outlets are in Regent Street and Petty Cury, while it also has a site in Norwich.
Colchester Zoo owner acquires The Great House in Lavenham: Colchester Zoo owner Dominic Tropeano has acquired The Great House Restaurant & Hotel in Lavenham, Suffolk, for an undisclosed sum. Tropeano has bought the 14th century, fully refurbished, grade ll-listed property from Regis and Martine Crepy in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. The restaurant offers 55 covers internally and 20 outside. It also features five letting rooms that overlook Lavenham’s Market Square. Owned by the Crepys since the 1980s, the venue has won numerous awards and accolades, included being listed in The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants since 2011.
Godiva launches cafe boutique concept at Meadowhall: Chocolate shop Godiva has launched a cafe boutique concept at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. The company has opened a 1,700 square foot store that includes a 14-cover cafe outside. Godiva UK country manager Jon Green said: “Meadowhall is a great location for us to have unveiled our first concept cafe boutique. We were attracted by its great reputation and significance as a major UK retail destination.” Richard Crowther, asset manager for British Land, joint owner of Meadowhall, added: “The new Godiva store looks extremely enticing and its premium offer complements the newly refurbished shopping environment at Meadowhall. The addition of the cafe is perfect for shoppers looking to enjoy a sweet treat as part of their day out.”
Tim Martin hits back at Brown’s Brexit beer mat barbs: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has hit back at renowned beer writer Pete Brown’s criticism of the company’s “Brexit beer mats”. Wetherspoon launched 500,000 beer mats last month, claiming big business has tried to fool the public and press by saying food prices would rise unless a deal was struck with the European Union. Martin said: “In this allegedly post-truth world it is usually, of course, the press that acts as the bastion of democracy, querying political propaganda. But what do you do when large sections of the press have been hoodwinked by organisations that appear hell-bent on patronising and fooling the public? Wetherspoon gave the answer on our beer mats and Pete, like the CBI, is not contesting the truth of the accusations but, perhaps understandably, prefers the falsehoods to be corrected elsewhere so as to preserve the equilibrium and the convivial sanctum of the pub. In contrast, most customers surely want the truth, especially in respect of a vital matter such as food prices, and so will accept our unconventional means of communication once in a while. We may be testing Pete’s patience but the truth matters and, in a democracy, the public will decide.”
Fuller’s extends technology partnership with Vianet: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has extended its partnership with beer quality and waste management systems company Vianet. The three-year extension includes a commitment to exploit Vianet’s next-generation technology platform, which will provide real-time insight into the performance of Fuller’s draught beers across a number of key quality measures. Enhanced tailored reporting will support licensees across Fuller’s pub estate and its operational management team to further drive improvements in customer experience and business profitability. Fuller’s tenanted head of operations Fred Turner said: “Our partnership will build on our previous investment and will create opportunities by site to meet any future evolving requirements.” Vianet managing director Steven Alton added: “We’re delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with Fuller’s.”
Former Smoking Goat head chef to go permanent with Thai restaurant residency in Highbury: Seb Holmes, former head chef at Soho’s Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat, is to go permanent with his pop-up concept Farang in north London. Holmes launched the residency in February last year on the site of Italian restaurant San Daniele in Highbury Park. He is now finalising a deal to make the pop-up permanent. The venue will feature a cocktail bar with seating for five and offer snacks such as beef jerky. There will also be a separate kitchen to support Deliveroo orders. A new wok burner will see fresh Thai stir-fries added to the menu, reports Hot Dinners. Farang – “foreigner” in Thai – has previously appeared at London Union sites Dinerama and Hawker House.
County Durham tourist attraction begins £18m expansion project: County Durham tourist attraction Beamish – The Living Museum Of The North has started work on an £18m expansion designed to attract an extra 100,000 tourists to the region. The new project, Remaking Beamish, will create 95 permanent jobs and 50 apprenticeships. The centrepiece will be a reconstructed 1950s town that will sit alongside existing attractions that depict life in the early 19th and 20th centuries. Visitors will also be able to stay overnight in a newly recreated Great North Road coaching inn. The three to four-year project is the largest in the museum’s 48-year history and follows a £10.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Remaking Beamish project officer for skills Michelle Lagar told Insider Media: “We’re looking for qualified and experienced local tradespeople who would like the opportunity to work on this unique project. Our in-house buildings team has extensive experience in creating historical and modern buildings but, to deliver a project of this size, we need to grow our construction capacity.”
Chapel Down completes £20m fund-raising following oversubscribed open offer: English wine producer Chapel Down has completed its £20m fund-raising following an oversubscribed open offer. The company stated: “Chapel Down received valid applications to subscribe for £2.35m under the open offer. The open offer was to raise up to £1.47m and was heavily oversubscribed. Qualifying shareholders who have validly applied for open offer shares will receive their full open offer entitlement. The company announced on 13 December 2017 it had raised £18.53m (before expenses) through the issue of new shares at a price of 50p per share. Including the open offer, the total raised is £20.0m before expenses.” Chief executive Frazer Thompson added: “We are delighted by the response we have received from existing shareholders and to have met our full target. The £20m raised through the placing and the open offer will enable us to significantly invest in the business to meet growing demand for our products. We look forward to this exciting next stage of growth at Chapel Down.”
Pipers Crisps wins ‘best savoury snack’ for sixth year running: Pipers Crisps, stocked by a range of sector operators, has been voted Britain’s best brand of savoury snack for the sixth year running. The Lincolnshire-based premium crisp-maker topped the poll in an annual survey of speciality food products on sale in UK delicatessens, farm shops and food halls. Marketing manager Katy Hamblin said: “It’s an especially important accolade because it’s voted for by the retailers themselves – our own customers. It shows we’re not only doing the right things but we’re also doing them well. We’ve just launched our jalapeno and dill flavour, meeting the current consumer trend towards heat and more globally influenced flavours.”