Maray appoints new chairman as it prepares for expansion: Liverpool-based Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar concept Maray has appointed Lucy Noone Blake as its new chairman as it prepares for expansion. Noone Blake joins the three founders – Thomas White, Dominic Jones and James Bates on the board of the business, bringing with her 18 years’ experience in hospitality in front of house, operations and marketing roles at companies such as Hawksmoor and Arc Inspirations. Maray, which is backed by Rosa’s Thai Cafe founders Alex and Saiphin Moore, said Noone Blake’s appointment will lead its “rapid expansion into exciting new territories”. This will include the opening of new concept, Sabich, at GSG Hospitality’s Duke Street Food and Drink Market when it reopens on Monday, 17 May, the impending opening of the One O’Clock Gun, its new pub on the city’s Albert Dock, as well as its first launch outside of Liverpool, in Manchester. Bates told Propel: “We’ve been looking for a site for in Manchester for so long, so we know the rumours have been swirling and it’s great to be able to confirm. Lucy is Manchester-based, as is Dominic, so it all feels very natural as a next move.” Sabich will be a casual food concept offering sandwiches, rotisserie chicken and sides, all inspired by Middle Eastern flavours and dishes. Named after the concept’s signature sandwich, Sabich is a combination of aubergine, eggs, tahini and amba, served in a soft, pillowy pitta. Bates said: “Lucy joins us at a really crucial moment for the business, her proven influence and track record in the hospitality industry will be an invaluable addition to our fast-expanding team.” Noone Blake added: “Maray is consistently at the forefront of the most interesting and challenging elements of hospitality. The group’s commitment to sustainability, people and culture alongside its unsuppressable ambition provides a fantastic opportunity to work with exceptional people and vision.” Maray was launched in 2014 and operates sites in the Albert Dock, Allerton and Bold Street in Liverpool. It also launched an at-home meal experience during lockdown.
Red Lion Holdings appoints Mark Robson as group chief operating officer: Red Lion Holdings (RLH), the newly formed pub investment group led by sector entrepreneurs Jason Myers and David Ramsey, has appointed Mark Robson, founder and managing director of Red Mist Leisure, as group chief operating officer. Robson will take responsibility of the day-to-day running of RLH operations, working closely with the RLH board “to deliver an ambitious vision of growth”, and oversee the senior teams in both Red Mist Leisure and Grosvenor Pubs – RLH’s first two acquisitions. Myers said: “We believe this key appointment will assist us in taking RLH forward. It’s a key role in our journey and we are excited at what Mark brings to the table at group level, given the success he created at Red Mist Leisure.” Robson is looking to develop the teams and put in place a managing/senior operations director for Grosvenor Pubs & Inns as well as a sales and revenue director for RLH to help with the immediate growth plans. He said: “The current market conditions offer some exciting expansion potential for both brands and with our strong existing teams and recruiting the right people into these key roles, we will be in a great position to capitalise on the current opportunities and support the growth plans for both Red Mist and Grosvenor.”
Grosvenor makes tenant investment in latest JKS Restaurants concept Bibi:Landlord Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has made its first investment in a new tenant, JKS Restaurants, with a loan to support the launch of the business’ latest concept, Bibi, in Mayfair. The landlord said the “innovative financing model enables tenant expansion when bank funding is constrained”. Bibi, which will open in late summer at 42 North Audley Street, will be spearheaded by Chet Sharma who has worked as group development chef for JKS for the past four years. The name, derived from Urdu, is a term of endearment for grandmothers across the Indian subcontinent. Last year, Grosvenor, which partners with more than 500 retailers and food and beverage operators in Mayfair and Belgravia, confirmed it would selectively invest in tenants with new business ideas and diversification strategies. Jyotin Sethi, chief executive of JKS Restaurants, said: “We are so excited to be launching Bibi with Chet Sharma and we really value the support Grosvenor has given us. The property group’s confidence in JKS and Bibi, and in the success of central London generally, is incredibly important after such a challenging and unsettling time this past year.” James Raynor, chief executive of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: “Right now, operators wanting to expand successful businesses are hamstrung; finding financing for growth is hard. Through a new kind of partnership between property owners and occupiers, we’re providing what’s needed when it’s needed. And we’re seeing demand for this innovative, tailored support from brands we already partner with right through to new retail and hospitality concepts for Mayfair and Belgravia.”
Rosa’s Thai to further enhance its presence in the capital: TriSpan-backed Rosa’s Thai Cafe is set to further enhance its presence in London, with two new sites set to be secured. Propel has learned the Gavin Adair-led company has lined up the former Bella Italia site in Baker Street for an opening later this year. At the same time, it is understood the business is close to securing a site in Grafton Way, Bloomsbury, again for an opening this year. Last month, the 24-strong group launched its latest site in Greenwich, south east London, for click and collect as well as delivery. The company, which was founded by Alex and Saiphin Moore in 2008, also operates a handful of delivery kitchen sites. The business plans to open up to six new restaurants this year, plus continue to add to its delivery kitchen estate.
Fishermann Pub Group opens third site, eyes further growth: Hertfordshire-based operator Fishermann Pub Group has opened its third site – and is eyeing further growth. The company has taken on The Rose & Crown in Welwyn following a £550,000 joint refurbishment with Star Pubs & Bars. It is Fishermann Pub Group’s second with the Heineken-owned company. As part of the revamp, a kitchen extension has been built so freshly prepared, homemade food can be introduced. The pub has a sports bar with two screens, plus a lounge bar and tables for dining. The project has also converted a disused derelict barn into a multifunctional event space seating 50 as well as providing overflow trading space for the pub at busy times. Other external improvements include the addition of a 40-cover terrace for alfresco eating and drinking and a separate family garden accommodating 80 people. Fishermann Pub Group co-founder Pete Mann said: “We snapped up The Rose & Crown as soon as we saw it. It’s a beautiful village pub with fantastic potential. It fits our business model perfectly. We create traditional pubs that cater for every occasion and generate a continual supply of non-seasonal trade.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Richard Campbell added: “Fishermann pubs have a good mix of income streams and are strong businesses that are really popular with customers, too. It has been great to invest with the Fishermann team again and bring an underperforming pub back to life.” Fishermann Pub Group is looking for more leased pubs in towns across Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.
Bewiched opens in Rugby for 12th site: Northampton-based cafe operator Bewiched Coffee has opened an outlet in Rugby for its 12th site. The company has launched the flagship venue in Chapel Street. Managing director Matt Fountain said: “Warwickshire and Rugby has long been on our list of dream locations. We know the Bewiched brand is not well known in this neck of the woods so we have a long road ahead to build a customer base and look forward to that challenge.” The company will open the UK’s first purpose-built independent coffee drive-thru later this month, in Northampton, with more in the pipeline.
Provenance Inns & Hotels reports trading up more than 40% on 2019 levels:Yorkshire-based Provenance Inns & Hotels has reported trading is up more than 40% on 2019 levels since reopening. The eight-strong business has reopened five of its food-led sites having invested “heavily” in its outdoor dining spaces. Operations director Karen French said: “Since opening our [outside] doors on 12 April, we’ve seen our guests return in their hundreds to enjoy the launch of our new spring menu, and we are continuing to see the demand for our self-catering accommodation thrive as the public’s demand for a staycation continues to grow.” Provenance Inns & Hotels recently completed the strengthening of its senior leadership team, adding Tom Patrick, formerly of Freston Ventures – where he looked after MOD Pizza, Pazza and Chik’n – as head of sales and marketing to work alongside operations manager Darren Noyland, group executive chef Jason Wardill and head of group finance Amanda Gillis. The group’s remaining three sites will reopen on Monday, 17 May, in line with the government taking the next step in its lifting of restrictions.
Chipotle opens delivery kitchen site in Bermondsey: Chipotle has opened its second delivery kitchen in London in conjunction with Foodstars. The company, which recently opened new sites in Clapham and Chiswick, has taken space at the Foodstars kitchen in Bermondsey. The company, which previously operated out of the Deliveroo Editions site in Battersea, also operates out of the Foodstars kitchen in Colindale. The company, which is looking to target further sites in the capital’s “villages”, recently opened on the former Byron site in 227-229 Chiswick High Road, and on the ex-Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) in Northcote Road, to take its UK estate to 11 sites.
Store Retail Group launches MediaCity UK venue for fourth outlet: Independent food hall operator and food and drink retailer Store Retail Group has opened a site at MediaCityUK in Salford for its fourth outlet. The two-storey venue features a coffee shop on site; an alcohol “emporium” with tasting area; rotating street food vendors; local fresh baked goods; and zero-waste, household essential refill stations. General Store MediaCityUK is located in the ground floor of the recently completed Lightbox development. The 3,500 square foot store is the latest evolution of the General Store brand, “representing all the most exciting elements” the team has developed so far. There will also be an outdoor seating area for up to 30 covers opening shortly. Store Retail Group founder Mital Morar said: “General Store MediaCityUK will be all about keeping things fresh – it’s a new design for the store. We see this as an exciting step on our growth journey, as we continue to develop our brand.” Chris Reay, property director for MediaCityUK, added: “MediaCityUK is committed to supporting local, independent operators and the General Store MediaCityUK will bring a unique experiential retail experience right into the heart of our community.” The MediaCity site follows General Store openings in Ancoats, Stretford and Sale, with a Deansgate Square site launching later this year.
Travelodge to open 17 new hotels this year with £175m investment: Travelodge is to open 17 new hotels this year, creating 360 new jobs across its network. The new hotels mean the company will have a total of 597 venues across the UK, Ireland, and Spain. Two of the new hotels will be in London, with the rest spread around the country. One of those sites is its second opening in Poole, Dorset, this year. Poole North Travelodge welcomed its first customers on Tuesday (4 May). It has 81 bedrooms and has created 21 jobs. The development of the new locations is expected to cost £175m and is being carried out by third-party investors. Travelodge said it expected most of these 17 hotels would be open and trading in time for the summer season. Eight of the new hotels will include the firm’s Bar Cafe concept, meaning more than 200 of its hotels have such extra facilities. Travelodge chief executive Craig Bonnar said: “After a challenging 12 months, this announcement demonstrates the strength in the Travelodge brand and is a key step forward as we emerge out of lockdown. Our priority is now to officially reopen our remaining hotels in May, as we emerge from lockdown, welcome our customers back and continue to offer great value but now with even more choice, as we build an even bigger and better Travelodge brand.”
Edinburgh-based deli brand Victor Hugo secures former PizzaExpress site for third outlet: Edinburgh-based deli brand Victor Hugo is to open its third site later this year. The company is taking over the unit in The Shore that was occupied by PizzaExpress, which confirmed, in December, the property’s landlord had served the company notice. Victor Hugo owner Karol Rzepkowski said: “It has long been our ambition to open a Victor Hugo in Leith so when we heard the unit was coming to the market, we moved quickly to secure what we feel is a great location. There’s a lot happening in north Edinburgh just now and The Shore area in particular has a great buzz about it so we can’t wait to get started.” Victor Hugo operates sites in Melville Terrace and George Street in the city. James Murray, of Fidra Property Consultants, acted for Victor Hugo on The Shore deal.
Odeon Cinemas to open most of its sites on 17 May: Odeon Cinemas has announced it will reopen most of its 120 sites with new measures in place on 17 May.The news follows a similar announcement from Cineworld. US movie theatre operator AMC Entertainment Holdings, which owns Odeon Cinemas in the UK, said in late December last year, it was running out of money after being forced to shut cinemas during the pandemic. Odeon managing director Carol Welch said: “We’ve all missed the magic cinema brings to movie watching.” The chain said it would be reopening the “vast majority” of its sites, including flagship cinemas at London’s Leicester Square, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Birmingham’s Broadway Plaza. Cinemas seats will be limited, guaranteeing unoccupied seats between parties to meet social distancing requirements and customers will be expected to wear face masks but can remove when eating or drinking during screenings. Show start times will be staggered to reduce queues and only contactless payment will be accepted.
Seven Bro7hers Brewery to open new beer house at MediaCityUK: Manchester-based Seven Bro7hers Brewery is to open a new beer house at MediaCityUK in Salford. Nestled between the BBC and The New World Trading Company-owned The Botanist, the beer house will launch on Monday, 17 May. The bar will offer indoor seating as well as occupying several greenhouses from the summer’s “Box on the Docks” experience. Seven Bro7hers Brewery chief executive Keith McAvoy said: “We are so pleased to finally be launching our MediaCityUK space after months of waiting for covid restrictions to ease.” Seven Bro7hers Brewery operates beer houses in Middlewood Locks and Ancoats in Manchester, and runs a bar out of its Salford taproom. The brewery will also be launching its partnership bar in Manchester Airport’s new terminal two when it reopens as part of a lucrative ten-year deal. McAvoy said: “Due to covid-19, our beer houses in Liverpool and Leeds have been delayed but we hope to see them open later this year.” Seven Bro7hers Brewery was founded in 2014 by McAvoy brothers, Guy, Keith, Luke, Daniel, Nathan, Kit and Greg, inspired by their dad’s home-brewing in their cellar at home. Last year, the company raised more than £435,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support expansion of both its brewery and beer houses.
Michelin-starred chef takes on new role at pub within Westminster hotel: Michelin-starred chef Sally Abé, who left the Harwood Arms in Fulham last week, has taken on a new role at the Blue Boar Pub within the Conrad London St James hotel. In her position as consultant chef, Abé will be working on elevating the British food offer with her “own contemporary twist on much-loved classics”. The Blue Boar Pub will be the first to open – on 17 May – of the four food and drink places Abé is working on at the Tothill Street hotel in Westminster, with her upcoming signature restaurant believed to be one to watch too. Customers can expect to dine on coronation chicken Scotch egg with golden raisin chutney; mushroom sausage roll with pickled walnut ketchup; fallow deer burger with celeriac and bone marrow remoulade and bread and butter pickles; and earl grey and chocolate mousse with salted caramel. There will also be roast dinners using Lake District Farmers meats that can be paired with a Bloody Mary cocktail list.
Sandwich specialist Whisht opens at Pop Brixton: Sandwich specialist with an Irish twist Whisht has opened a site at Pop Brixton. Sandwiches are made with different types of farl, which is a dense flatbread. Options include soda farl filled with sausage patty, fried egg, bacon, whisky onion jam; soda farl with Guinness pulled beef, pickled carrots, hot sauce and Tayto cheese and onion crisps; and an open top colcannon slim – a potato farl with confit cabbage, crispy cabbage leaves, whisky onion jam and garlic mayo. Soft drinks available include Irish favourites Cidona and Club Rock Shandy, with Jameson whiskey also available.
Foodstars to open kitchen in Nine Elms, Deliveroo to launch Editions site in Southwark: Foodstars, which provides kitchen space for food companies and is backed by former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, and Deliveroo, are both set to add to their delivery kitchen estates in London. Propel understands the former has lined up its 13th site in the capital, in Nine Elms, for an opening this summer. The company also operates kitchens in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. At the same time, Deliveroo has applied to open an Editions site that will house five kitchen units in Ormside Street, Southwark. Propel reported earlier this year that Deliveroo was seeking leasehold sites at regional locations and also in central and Greater London for its Editions brand. At the start of this year, Deliveroo said it planned to expand into circa 100 new towns and cities in 2021 across the UK as well as more than double its number of Editions sites globally.