Lasan Group to expand to Leicester with Fiesta Del Asado off-shoot: Birmingham-based restaurant group Lasan is to expand to Leicester. The company has taken the lease of 4 St Martin’s – a grade II-listed former bank that stands on the corner of Grey Friars, next to the Richard III visitor centre. The group runs its eponymous restaurant in Birmingham as well as Indian street food cafe Raja Monkey and two Argentinian steak restaurants under the Fiesta Del Asado brand, in Edgbaston and Solihull. The Leicester restaurant, which is due to open later this year creating 40 jobs, will be an off-shoot of Fiesta Del Asado and called Sonrisa, which group founder Jabbar Khan believes will be more suited to the location. He told The Business Desk: “We love the cool and quirky feel of St Martins and its wide range of independents, which is a perfect fit for the Sonrisa concept – a Latin cocktail bar and restaurant with bustling atmosphere and full-flavoured food. It’s Argentinean-style eating with rustic small plates of meat, seafood and vegetables served throughout the day.” Joe Reilly, associate director at Innes England, who arranged the deal, said: “To get one of Birmingham’s best-known culinary teams signed up as tenants proves the faith in the market here. The Lasan Group is an established bar and restaurant operator with a track record of success over almost two decades and we look forward to welcoming it to Leicester.”
Lewis Hamilton-backed Neat Burger opens second site, in Camden Market: Neat Burger, the Lewis Hamilton-backed, plant-based concept, has opened its second site, in Camden Market. The company, which launched its debut site in Mayfair last year, has opened the new 500 square foot restaurant in Lock Place, having previously agreed a deal with landlord LabTech. Neat Burger co-founder Jordan Rocca said: “Camden Market is the ideal location from which to expand the brand. As the world’s first plant-based sustainable burger chain, we are committed to championing environmental sustainability and playing our part in positively impacting the environment.” Maggie Milosavljevic, LabTech food and beverage commercial director, added: “Neat Burger is a brilliant addition to our food offering at Camden Market. This is a distinct business and now more than ever, consumers care about where their food is sourced from and its impact on the environment. Our choice of operators has to evolve and adapt to consumer trends and working with Neat Burger is evidence that Camden is changing. We have seen a growing level of footfall and brands such as Neat Burger create additional reasons for consumers to continue to enjoy our thriving north London market.” The opening of Neat Burger follows the launch of The Indian Alley, a new Indian street food concept from the team behind Michelin-starred restaurant Benares, which has taken a 2,250 square foot site.
Bean secures site at Manchester office campus for 17th outlet: North west-based independent coffee company Bean has secured its 17th site. The company has agreed terms to open a new outlet at Exchange Quay, one of Manchester’s largest office campuses. Bean has signed a five-year contract to operate its new outlet within the ICE building. Fit-out work is under way, with the site set to open next month, reports The Business Desk. The ICE building incorporates about 26,000 square foot of contemporary Grade A office accommodation, together with the cafe bar being operated by Bean, along with a business lounge and communal meeting space. The complex features seven buildings provide 435,000 square foot of Grade A office accommodation alongside a mix of retail and leisure.
Coconut Tree to extend discount scheme through to end of October: Sri Lankan bar and restaurant group The Coconut Tree has announced it will offer 50% off all food and non-alcoholic drinks from Monday to Wednesday throughout September. The company said it had been inspired by the success it has seen with the UK government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. The Coconut Tree has “topped up” the government’s offer to apply an overall 50% discount to all food, removing the £10 limit. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “Sri Lankan comedian Romesh Ranganathan recently described Sri Lankan food as being hotter, drier, with a different array of flavours that haven’t been taken to the heart of British culture in the same way Indian food has. We really want to change that. By topping up the government’s Eat Out to Help Out offer, we saw a surge in bookings throughout August, and we want to keep that momentum going as we move into autumn.” The Coconut Tree will then scale its offer back in October, so the 50% discount on food and soft drinks will apply at lunchtimes only.
Wing Shack reopens all sites for dine-in and takeaway: Wings concept Wing Shack has reopened all its sites for dine-in and takeaway. The company, founded by Joshua Jarvis, operates four outlets – in Clerkenwell, Loughton, a residency within the Sebright Arms pub in Hackney; and it recently joined the line-up at Selfridges Market. Safety measures introduced include the removal of seating where appropriate to ensure one-metre distancing; regular and rigorous cleaning before, during and after service; daily temperature checks on all staff; and providing hand sanitiser for customers and team members. Wing Shack’s menu includes its signature Jarvis tangy Buffalo wings and boneless chicken fillets covered in southern rub as well as vegetarian options such as the Edgy Veggie burger with charred halloumi.
Michael Caines appoints group executive chef: Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines has appointed Liam Finnegan as group executive chef. It comes following Caines’ recent acquisition of the former Rick Stein restaurant in Porthleven, Cornwall. Finnegan, who takes up his new role on Tuesday, 8 September, has been head chef at The Castle Hotel Taunton for the past eight years and prior to that was under Caines’ tutelage at Gidleigh Park. Finnegan said: “Coming back to work for Michael and with the team is very exciting. I have great memories from my formative years at Gidleigh Park – 14 years ago! It’s a testament to the company to see so many familiar faces still working for Michael. I have been watching the brand grow from afar with admiration.” Caines added: “Liam joins us at an exciting time with the impending opening of Porthleven and in advance of the Exmouth project due to open early 2021, bringing the total collection to four sites. I’m excited to be working closely with Liam across the multiple properties and further developing the Michael Caines dining concept.” The Michael Caines Collection currently comprises of luxury country house hotel and restaurant Lympstone Manor, The Cove at Maenporth, and the new projects in Porthleven and Exmouth.
Lima Group to reopen Covent Garden restaurant, launching delivery-only concept: Lima Group will reopen its Floral by Lima restaurant in London’s Covent Garden on Wednesday (19 August) as well as launch a delivery-only concept next month. Peruvian restaurant Floral by Lima, which has a newly extended outdoor seating area, will be open Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 9.30pm, It will serve a new menu featuring its traditional ceviches and tiraditos such as sea bream ceviche with ginger tiger’s milk, cassava, avocado and sweet potato purée. There will also be a selection of vegetarian dishes and hot plates, including Chinese cauliflower with Andean green dressing and ginger chimichurri. Floral by Lima will also be participating in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. The group’s Lima at Home delivery service is still available via Slerp. The group will also be launching a nikkei concept called Kei from Thursday, 3 September. It will “blend the finest Japanese flavours with some of the best Peruvian ingredients”, and be available for delivery only via the Lima website and Deliveroo. The group also operates its eponymous restaurant in Fitzrovia and a site in Dubai.
St John Bakery among traders lined up for new sustainable street food market in Islington: St John Bakery is among the traders lined up for a new sustainable street food market launching in Islington, north London, next month. Boulevard Market will open in Islington Square off Upper Street on 4 September, running for its initial stint on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until 18 October. The market is being run in collaboration with Real Food Markets, which specialise in promoting ethical and sustainable producers, reports the Evening Standard. Alongside St John Bakery – the dough-focused offshoot from the famed Michelin-starred restaurant – traders will include a duo of Borough Market stalwarts – fruit and vegetable trader Turnips and fromage concept The Borough Cheese Co. Pantry fillers and deli foods will come from fresh pasta producer La Tua Pasta; fermented food company Kim n’ Chi; Italian olive oil firm Woop and Korean deli Bombom, while street food concept The Beefsteaks will be serving steak frites to take away. The largely outdoor space will take over the former site of the ex-Royal Mail north London sorting and delivery centre, and will be accessed through a grade II-listed entrance in Upper Street. It is also expecting to introduce a summer terrace.
Plant-based London restaurant The Brook launches £350,000 fund-raise to expand ‘build a box’ subscription service: Plant-based, London restaurant The Brook has launched a £350,000 fund-raise as it looks to expand its “build a box” subscription service. The company, founded and led by Thea Brook, is running the convertible share equity campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, where it is offering a 25% discount on the equity valuation. The Brook operates a restaurant in Mare Street, Hackney, and also offers a meal delivery service. The company is raising the funds to invest in its e-commerce operation. The pitch states: “Our e-commerce platform enables customers to build their own box of eight plant-based dishes and have it delivered regularly, straight to their doorstep. This is a recurring subscription that customers can cancel at any time, with free UK delivery, which costs £45. That is equivalent to £5.63 per meal. The Brook’s meals are also available to purchase from a number of retail outlets – both independent and major. We soon expect to boost our retail offering with our cold-pressed juice and lentil-based cooking sauces. And on the foodservice front, we are still in discussions with a well-known UK pub chain, with more than 900 locations, about adding our plant-based meals to its menu, designed to cater to the demand it’s seen from diners across the country.”
Belfast-based restaurateur secures CBILS funding to reopen sites: Belfast-based restaurateur Eamon McCusker has secured funding from the Business Interruption Loan Scheme to reopen his two sites in the city. McCusker has received £150,000 and £190,000 for Chubby Cherub and AMPM respectively through Santander UK. The funding for Chubby Cherub and AMPM will be used to help manage ongoing cash flow issues, which were compounded due to lost revenues during covid-19-induced closures. AMPM is a restaurant, cabaret club and roof garden bar that has traded from Belfast city centre for the past 18 years, while Chubby Cherub, which has operated for the past decade, moved into new premises last year and underwent a massive expansion and refurbishment, supported by Santander. Both premises, which collectively employ 100 people, were forced to close from 20 March to 3 July as a result of lock-down restrictions. McCusker told the Irish News: “During the past 18 years we learned to expect the unexpected and to plan and adapt. We would consider ourselves pretty resilient, but covid-19 has tested that resilience to its core.”
Former Gusto marketing director launches virtual agency: James Newman, former marketing director at Italian casual dining group Gusto, has set up a new marketing agency specialising in food and drink for the north – and his former employer is its first client. Called Brain Fuud, the agency provides a virtual marketing director service, offering partners “a flexible subscription model” to senior level strategy, action and advice, in addition to integrated marketing services. Newman said: “This has been nine months in the planning, and Matt (Snell), Gusto’s managing director, has been incredibly supportive and forward-thinking. I saw a gap in the market for a northern-based, hybrid agency/consultancy specialising in food and beverage, to support and drive growth for all the fantastic businesses up here.” The new agency has also been appointed by Vaporetto, a mobile wood fired pizza business, to develop its brand, and deliver digital marketing services. Snell said: “I’m delighted we can retain our working relationship, and James can continue his fantastic work here at Gusto, while supporting his new venture.” Prior to joining Gusto in 2018, Newman was marketing director at Red’s True Barbecue where he helped to create the brand’s communications strategy, and grow the business from two to eight sites.
Northern Ireland-based aparthotel developer and operator pulls plans for £23m Belfast site over water issues: Northern Ireland-based aparthotel developer and operator Kilmona Group has pulled plans for a £23m site in south Belfast over water issues. The company, headed by Belfast businessman Paddy Kearney, had sought planning permission from the city council for an 87-bedroom property in Apollo Road, close to Windsor Park. But planning officials have concluded the area lacks the necessary waste water infrastructure to allow the development to proceed. NI Water warned in January almost half of the north’s larger treatment plants will reach full capacity by 2027. Kilmona responded to concerns from NI Water and planning officials by suggesting it could develop its own waste water treatment plant as a proposed solution for the aparthotel project. But officials said there was insufficient information to demonstrate the proposed treatment plant represents either a suitable or feasible solution. They also said it would require significant alterations to the proposed design and layout of the scheme. Kilmona has secured planning permission for a smaller 25-bed aparthotel project at Musgrave Industrial Estate, next to the M1 motorway. That £18m development, given the green light in June, will be primarily made up of 88 apartments. The group already owns a number of hotels around Northern Ireland as part of its Loughview Leisure subsidiary. The portfolio includes the Ten Square hotel in Belfast city centre. The group had planned to expand the Ten Square brand for the new aparthotels, reports the Irish News.