Boom: Battle Bar accelerating growth and signing up franchisees weekly as it seals The O2 deal: Boom: Battle Bar, the adventure bar concept from the team behind adventure park franchise Flip Out, is accelerating its growth, Propel has learned. Boom: Battle Bar, which is aiming to become the UK’s biggest competitive socialising concept, said it was signing up new franchisees on a weekly basis. It has just signed a deal at The O2 Arena, where negotiations were extended to include an additional 7,000 square foot lounge on top of the original planned 10,500 square foot space. The combined spaces were the previous performers’ lounge and former banqueting restaurant, Water Margin, which is spread over two floors. As well as including Boom: Battle Bar’s games of axe throwing, augmented darts, beer pong and shuffleboard, The O2 site will have several Japanese-style karaoke booths. Boom: Battle Bar chief executive Elliott Shuttleworth said: “The Boom brand is set to become the leading competitive socialising offering in the UK. We have secured some of best prime retail space that has meant we have had to invest a huge amount of money to accelerate our growth plans. We have had incredible demand for Booms from prospective franchisees and are currently signing up new franchisees on a weekly basis. The O2 is a site we are honoured to be going into and the size of our space means we are able to do something really special with our concept. We are working on several major sites we hope to sign soon.” Boom: Battle Bar has now completed its third build, in Liverpool city centre. The site, which is connected to St Johns shopping centre, is set to open on Monday, 17 May alongside an opening at Intu lakeside in Thurrock, Essex. Boom: Battle Bar has opened in Norwich, Cardiff and in 2021 has so far announced launches in Liverpool, Lakeside, The O2, Oxford, Aldgate East, Wandsworth, Eastbourne, Swindon, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
German Doner Kebab reveals plans for 100 Canadian restaurants over next ten years: German Doner Kebab, the flagship concept of Hero Brands, has revealed plans to open 100 new restaurants in Canada over the next ten years. Following the launch of its first two restaurants in Ottawa; and Surrey, British Columbia, last year, a further three restaurants are due to open in the country during 2021, including a flagship site in downtown Toronto scheduled for May. The brand has 73 restaurants across the globe and is embarking on growth across the UK, Sweden, North America and the Middle East, with more than 700 franchises already signed up to its global growth strategy. In North America, the development pipeline includes key locations in the US spanning Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and Houston. Nigel Belton, German Doner Kebab managing director for North America, said: “The landmark openings of our restaurants in Ottawa and Surrey have met our expectations, demonstrating the demand for our fast-casual offering that is bringing consumers a great product and amazing value. We now have big plans for Canada.” The growth plans in North America have also been boosted by the appointment of Michael Bruno as its new franchise recruitment director. He has joined from Focus Brands and has more than 25 years’ experience in the sector and has been charged with spearheading growth and development in the region. Based in Glasgow, the brand has grown at great pace in the UK, Sweden and Middle East and now rapidly expanding in the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia and across other key locations in Europe. German Doner Kebab recently announced it would open 47 new restaurants in the UK during 2021.
Flip Out to open £2m ‘retailtainment super centre’ in Croydon, has several high street-led sites in development: Adventure park franchise Flip Out is to open a £2m “retailtainment super centre” at Hammerson’s Centrale Shopping Centre in Croydon this summer, Propel has learned. Flip Out also has “several” more high street-led sites in development across the country. The 30,000 square foot venue in Croydon will feature a bumper car track, glow-in-the-dark ice rink, themed mini golf, a huge inflatable system, Laser Quest, interactive football, indoor interactive assault course and an arcade area. It will also include a toddler soft play area and cafe. It will create about 75 jobs and be Flip Out’s second “super centre” in the UK. Flip Out co-owner Richard Beese said: “This is a cutting-edge new concept adventure park. It’s been a difficult year for everyone but now we want to give people an outlet to go have some fun and still be safe. Flip Out is continuing to lead this ‘retailtainment’ revolution of the high street.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, added: “If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that nothing beats sharing experiences with friends and family. Throughout our portfolio, we’re always looking to introduce concepts that will deliver something new and exciting for our customers, and this is a prime example of that.”
Time Out Group launches £15m equity raise: Time Out Group, the global media and entertainment business, has launched a £15m equity raise that it said would help position it “to make the most of our post-pandemic opportunity”. The fundraise will involve 42.9 million shares priced at 35p each, underpinned by a cornerstone investment by Lombard Odier. The Swiss private bank has committed to subscribe for ten million shares on a firm basis and up to a further 32.8 million shares subject to, among other things, “claw back to satisfy demand from other existing and new investors and, in the case of the conditional placing, the approval of the company’s shareholders”. Time Out has also launched a PrimaryBid offer for up to four million shares at the same price of 35p. Time Out Group chief executive Julio Bruno said: “Thanks to our supportive investors, this equity raise will help position us to make the most of our post-pandemic opportunity as we grow our digital advertising proposition and reopen the doors of our existing Time Out Markets, and open the doors to new ones with our markets transforming spaces and increasing footfall to locations in great cities around the world.” The fundraise comes as the business reported gross revenue declined 74% in the six months to the end of 2020 to £13.3m and net revenue declined by 69% to £12m year-on-year due to the forced closure of its markets division and the sharp decline in advertising revenue generated from the travel and leisure sectors. Pre-tax loss widened to £16.7m from £8.5m year-on-year. Time Out said it “enters 2021 with all Time Out Markets temporarily closed until, at least, the spring and advertising revenue stunted by the ongoing shutdown of the leisure and hospitality industry and curtailed travel”. Last week, the company announced it had withdrawn from plans to open a Time Out Market in London’s Waterloo “due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic” and was reviewing an equity funding proposal. The first Time Out Market opened in 2014 in Lisbon and the business currently operates sites in Miami, New York, Boston, Montreal and Chicago. The company is due to open sites in Dubai in the first half of this year, Porto in 2022, Abu Dhabi in 2023 and Prague in 2025.
Marston’s invests in its pub gardens in time for April reopening: Marston’s has invested in the outdoors space of almost 300 of its pubs in time for when pub gardens will be allowed to reopen in April. Alongside the new garden spaces, Marston’s pubs will also be operating an online ordering system for both food and drinks, and will be allowing access to toilets and baby changing facilities. Along with upgrades to heating and lighting systems, the pub company that operates circa 1,400 sites, has invested in structures such as orangery-style garden rooms, teepees, marquees, awnings and jumbo umbrellas. Marston’s head of property Andy Kershaw said: “Outdoor seating at our pubs has become more important than ever. We have worked on almost 300 pubs to ensure we are meeting not only government guidelines on outdoor social spaces but also ensuring we don’t compromise on pub operations and customer experience. Moving through 2021 and beyond, external spaces will become even more valuable and the industry needs to continue to provide a safe, comfortable environment for guests.”
Richard Turner launches new delivery-only service called Dickie’s: Chef-restaurateur Richard Turner, who is behind London-based butcher Turner & George and is involved with Hawksmoor, Pitt Cue Co and Blacklock, has launched a new delivery-only service called Dickie’s. Launched under the slogan “Meat. Done. Right”, the new venture will launch on Thursday (1 April) and will be available to consumers in Battersea, before extending across the capital. Dickie’s is the first delivery brand to be supported by Out In Collective, which was formed during lockdown by several experienced hospitality industry figures – including the teams behind Hawksmoor and Blacklock – to provide “resource, infrastructure and logistical expertise to high-profile and highly regarded chefs and restaurateurs who want to develop new delivery brands”. Out In Collective said, over time, it will “nurture a family of chef-led delivery brands with an emphasis on fantastic at home experiences, high-quality ingredient sourcing and sustainability”. Further new brands will be announced soon. The Dickie’s menu will include a kimcheeseburger; steak sando; grilled pork belly ribs with apple; dripping chips “poutine”; and rhubarb Eton mess. A selection of bespoke cocktails in cans to order alongside beer and wine will also be available. Drop off points at Battersea Park, Tooting Bec, Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common will be available for delivery. Turner said: “Dickie’s is me on a plate.”
The Secret Pub Company to open third ‘village gastro-pub’: Nottingham-based operator The Secret Pub Company is to open a third “village gastro-pub” in the region. The company, which was founded in 2016 by David Hage and Mark Osborne, has acquired The Plough in Normanton on the Wolds. The group also owns The Railway in Lowdham and The Radcliffe in Radcliffe-on-Trent. The company opened The Railway in Lowdham in 2017 following a £400,000 refurbishment with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The companies joined forces again in 2019 with a £450,000 refurbishment of The New Trent in Radcliffe-on-Trent, which reopened as The Radcliffe with a new bar and a 75-cover dining space including an eight-cover chef’s table.
Lady Bamford to open second pub: Carole Bamford, wife of JCB owner Sir Anthony Bamford, is to open a second pub, after acquiring The Fox at Lower Oddington, Gloucestershire, Propel has learned. Lady Bamford, who also owns Daylesford Organic farm shop, acquired her first pub, the Wild Rabbit in Kingham in the Cotswolds, in 2013. The Fox at Lower Oddington, is a 16th century inn, which comprises a bar and restaurant, a private dining room, plus accommodation in three bedrooms. It is set to offer a “high-quality modern gastro-pub menu of hearty British classics coupled with contemporary seasonal dishes utilising the wood-fired oven and grill”. It will also champion local artisan producers, fine wines and an extensive range of craft beers and cocktails. It was for an undisclosed price by Colliers on behalf of previous owner Ian MacKenzie.
Brighton-based Cin Cin heads to London for third site: Brighton-based Italian restaurant Cin Cin is heading to London for its third site. Cin Cin, which won a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2018, is taking over the former Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack premises in Fitzrovia. The venue in Foley Street is set to open its 20-seat outside area next month in line with the lifting of government restrictions before allowing indoor dining in May. The concept is the brainchild of David Toscano, who began operating from a vintage Fiat van at events and festivals in 2013 before opening a bricks-and-mortar site in Brighton’s Vine Street. He then opened a 35-cover site spread over two floors in Western Road, Hove, in January 2018. Cin Cin offers antipasti, handmade pasta, seasonal specials, aperitifs and Italian wine in an open bar and kitchen setting.
Papa John’s franchisee strengthens portfolio with Boston launch: Papa John’s franchisee Sukhbir Gill has strengthened his portfolio by opening a site in Boston, Lincolnshire. Gill, who runs several Papa John’s outlets in the region, including one at Fantasy Island Resort, Skegness, has opened the store at The Quadrant development in Boston, creating 20 jobs. Gill said: “Boston is a busy coastal town and a good tourist area offering good scope and added opportunities for our customers.” Papa John’s has more than 450 sites in the UK, and 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.
Edinburgh-based Pizza Geeks opens third site: Edinburgh-based pizza concept Pizza Geeks has opened its third site in the city. The company has launched the site – nicknamed The Tardis – in Commercial Street, in the former premises of East Pizzas. Its original outlet, also known as The Mothership, is a small three-year-old restaurant in Dalry Road and it also has a spot inside Cask Smugglers in Waverley Mall. Co-founder Patrick Ward told The Scotsman: “While The Mothership has limited space, the new restaurant has seating for up to 40 – when life is back to normal – and a small but supremely well-equipped bar.” The company’s menu of Neapolitan-style pizzas references the team’s favourite films and books, with names including The Fantastic Four, The Shire and Dragon Ballz – in reference to Japanese series Dragon Ball Z. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the sites are currently offering delivery and takeaway.
London-based Irish cocktail bar concept to open second site, at Embassy Gardens: London-based Irish cocktail bar concept Homeboy is to open its second site, at the Embassy Gardens development in Nine Elms. Founders Aaron Wall and Ciaran Smith launched the concept in Islington in December 2018. The Embassy Gardens site will open its outdoor terrace on Monday, 12 April before a full launch on Wednesday, 19 May. The cocktail menu is split into three themes – Irish whiskey, contemporary and classics – while Irish beer and draught Guinness is also served. Homeboy’s simple food offering includes snacks such as loaded fries and comfort food created using family recipes. Wall and Smith have collectively held senior roles at venues such as Callooh Callay, London Cocktail Club, The Dorchester and Waldorf Astoria NYC.
Ramsay to open fourth Street Pizza, at Battersea Power Station next month:Gordon Ramsay will open his fourth Street Pizza, at Battersea Power Station, next month. Ramsay is launching the venue on Monday, 12 April in Arches Lane in the former Mother Pizza premises, next to Cinnamon Kitchen. The Street Pizza menu focuses on a bottomless pizza offer with a pizza and prosecco brunch at weekends. As per the government restrictions, the site will only offer outside dining initially along with takeaway, delivery and click and collect. Ramsay said: “London is an incredible city. From the banks of the Thames, you can see some of London’s most famous buildings – including Battersea Power Station. For many years, I would travel home to south London, after a late service, crossing the river in the shadows of those huge derelict chimneys. Never did I imagine one day I would open a restaurant on such an historic site.” Ramsay, who currently has 35 restaurants around the world, is planning to open 50 more sites across the UK. He has lined up the ex-Byron site in Kensington High Street for an opening later this summer for his Street Burger concept. It is thought the chef is also in talks to take the ex-Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, for another Street Burger site. Ramsay is also believed to have made the highest offer to take the former Giraffe site in The Oracle in Reading.
Crowdfunded Scottish brewer WooHa goes into administration: Scottish brewer WooHa, which has previously raised funds through a series of crowdfunding campaigns, has gone into administration, resulting in 12 job losses. Iain Fraser and Tom MacLennan, of FRP, have been appointed joint administrators of the Morayshire company and are looking to sell the business and assets. Founded in 2015 by Heather McDonald, WooHa has been operating from a purpose-built 16,000 square foot facility in Kinloss since 2017 with the capacity to support fast-growing demand. Since its inception, the business has raised £2.3m from private investors, which included a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube last year that raised almost £630,000 and another in 2019 that raised £180,000. The investment helped create the infrastructure required to support a rapidly expanding export business and finance a major rebranding. Fraser said: “WooHa Brewing Company is a high-profile craft brewing business with a substantial and growing trade and consumer client base. The business had grown rapidly in recent years, was well financed, and had a clear strategy and positioning in a crowded market. The business has, unfortunately, been severely affected by a combination of covid, the contraction of its main markets and the bureaucracy of Brexit.”
A Rule of Tum launches crowdfunding campaign to turn pop-up ramen bar into bricks and mortar restaurant: Herefordshire-based steak and burger company A Rule of Tum has launched a crowdfunding campaign to turn its pop-up ramen bar concept into a bricks and mortar site. The group opened Lucky Cat Noodle in Worcester in November last year and said, instantly, the 20-seat ramen bar was fully booked daily. When Lucky Cat Noodle had to close to dine-in, it moved to a takeaway model. Now with performance remaining, the company wants to upgrade to a full-service restaurant. As a result, a £30,000 crowdfunding campaign has been launched on Kickstarter to support its plan. The pitch stated: “We have successful restaurants already running in Worcester and Hereford. One of our two Burger Shop restaurants is in Worcester, occupying one of the railway arches in Cherry Tree Walk. We have two further arches – one is the current Lucky Cat Noodle pop-up bar and prep kitchen, the other is currently storage, which we intend to become Lucky Cat Noodle’s new home. Lucky Cat Noodle will be the first of what we hope will form the future of the A Rule Of Tum group of restaurants.” The company hopes to open the new Lucky Cat Noodle home in June.
Kent-based operator Contemporary Pubs acquires second site: Kent-based operator Contemporary Pubs, part of Marquis Hotel Group, has acquired its second site. Marquis Hotel Group is controlled by Darrell Healey, who started the engineering group GSE, based in Ashford, in 1986. Marquis Hotel Group was formed in order to create a hospitality brand, Contemporary Pubs, to be owned and run by his daughter Nadine and her husband, Will Sheldon. In June 2018, the Sheldons purchased and refurbished the Marquis of Granby in the village of Alkham. Now they have added The Tiger Inn in Stowting to the portfolio, with assistance from Christie Finance. Contemporary Pubs aims to reopen the pub during the summer following a full refurbishment.
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
BrewDog flags plans for Edinburgh beer hotel: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has flagged plans for a beer hotel in Edinburgh. The company said it is looking at a potential location in the Scottish capital. Co-founder James Watt tweeted: “Working on a potential BrewDog beer hotel location in Edinburgh. Watch this space.” The business is also launching the world’s first carbon negative beer club. The subscription is designed to introduce its members to a diverse range of beer styles and breweries, “promising super-fresh beer shipped directly to the customer”.