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Fri 23rd Jun 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Boost Juice Bars reports turnover rises 16% to £11m: Cheshire-based Boost Juice Bars, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund (BGF) and also operates The Shake Lab, has reported turnover increased 16% to £11,068,097 for the year ending 28 September 2016, compared with £9,551,536 the previous year. The company saw its pre-tax loss increase slightly to £69,258, compared with a loss of £61,348 the year before. During the period it received £31m from the BGF, which facilitated the opening of stores in 2016 and into 2017. Post-year end, the company transferred two stores to TD4 Milkshakes, a business owned by Boost Juice Bars’ parent firm TD4 Brands. The company stated: “We relocated one of our stores within Sheffield Meadowhall in 2016 and opened stores in Manchester Arndale Centre, Braehead, Westfield Stratford City and The Shake Lab concept in Manchester Trafford Centre. At the end of the financial year, the company had 31 sites trading. During the year turnover increased by £1.52m and gross profit margin improved from 75.08% to 75.66%. Distribution and administration costs increased by £1.3m so overall the company has seen an increase in the operating loss to £420,333. In January 2016, the company raised a further £1m of long-term funding from its corporate investor the BGF, which facilitated the opening of stores in 2016 and into 2017.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi-Club summer conference open for bookings, two free places for operators: The Propel Multi-Club summer conference and party is now open for bookings. The event, which takes place on Thursday, 6 July at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40, will also involve the Propel summer party in the evening. Operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com. The speaker line-up for the morning session is NPD Group UK foodservice director Cyril Lavenant, Morar Consulting chief executive Roger Perowne, David Bruce, co-founder of Firkin Pubs, The Capital Pub Company and The City Pub companies and currently chairman of The West Berkshire Brewery, and Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, who operate escape rooms business Tick Tock Unlocked. Speaking after lunch are Marston’s Revere Pub Company managing director Colin Sadler, The Breakfast Club co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton, and Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin. The final session features Tahola commercial director Simon Blackbourne, Mowgli owner Nisha Katonah, and Rupert Clevely, managing director of Eli Group’s managed expert joint venture Hippo Inns.

Propel teams up with MMU for ‘delivering operational excellence’ webinar, free to Premium subscribers: Propel has teamed up with Mastering Multi-Units (MMU) to host a webinar for operators focused on dealing with the challenges associated with delivering operational excellence. The webinar, which is the second in a series, will be held on Thursday, 6 July from 2pm and will last about an hour. Hosted by MMU’s Daniel Mills, the webinar will define what operational excellence is and explain why the mindset required by multi-unit managers and their teams is so important to its delivery – day-in, day-out. It will provide examples of practical activities that underpin the consistent execution of brand or company standards and the foundation of delivering outstanding customer experiences. It will explore how “management” practices must minimise weaknesses in operational delivery and how it takes “leadership” to find and exploit opportunities for growth. The webinar will also review what highly effective multi-unit managers do to consistently focus on “making a difference” within the business; explain why holding individuals accountable for their performance is integral to sustaining operational excellence; and explore the types of conversation managers have (formally and informally) to create a performance-led culture. The webinar is free to Propel Premium subscribers and costs £25 plus VAT for non-Propel Premium subscribers. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691. Details on how to join the webinar will be sent to participants prior to the event.

JD Wetherspoon to stop sending monthly e-newsletter and delete customer email database: JD Wetherspoon is to stop sending its monthly e-newsletter and will delete its database of customer email addresses. Writing to customers, chief executive John Huston said: “I’m writing to inform you we will no longer be sending our monthly customer newsletters by email. Many companies use email to promote themselves but we don’t want to take this approach – which many consider intrusive. Our database of customers’ email addresses, including yours, will be securely deleted. In future, rather than emailing our newsletters, we will continue to release news stories on our website – jdwetherspoon.com. You can also keep up to date by following our Facebook and Twitter pages. Thank you for your custom – and we hope to see you soon in a Wetherspoon pub.”

McDonald’s launches UK home delivery trial: McDonald’s has launched its long-awaited home delivery trial in the UK. The “McDelivery” service is available between 7am and 2am at 22 sites in London and another ten in Leeds and Nottingham. Customers must live within 1.5 miles of the participating restaurants to use the service. Claude Abi-Gerges, a McDonald’s franchisee who owns and operates five London restaurants taking part in the trial, said the service would bring customers a “new level of convenience”. He told The Independent: “It’s the next chapter in how we get freshly-made, great-tasting food to our customers in a way that suits them and fits around their busy lives.” McDonald’s said restaurant teams would monitor the trial closely to see what worked and what didn’t. The company operates similar tie-ups with Uber in the US and already delivers in China and Singapore. KFC began home deliveries from 30 restaurants in Greater London via the Just Eat platform earlier this year. Recent NPD Group figures show home deliveries of ready-to-eat food grew ten times faster than the eating out market last year.

Online craft beer retailer scraps UK postage costs in ‘game changing’ move: Online craft beer retailer Ales By Mail is scrapping postage costs to the UK mainland in a move it claims is a “game changer” for the beer home delivery market. Ales By Mail delivers beer from breweries including Beaverton, Magic Rock and Cloudwater as well as a range of beers from around the world. Managing director Paul Kruzycki said: “Broadly, there are two types of player in the market, those who offer a pick-and-mix range and concentrate on long-term customer loyalty like us, and those offering a subscription model. The latter cannot offer the option of free shipping as their margins are tiny. The part of the market we’ve pioneered is for the more serious craft beer fan seeking to source beers from the UK and around the world. It’s this market that our latest move to remove postage costs will completely disrupt. Our level of cost control and managing our margins have meant we can bring this postage-free element to the consumer as a first step in continuing to build customer loyalty. While it’s likely our competitors might follow suit, I’m confident our organisation will maintain the post-free element without having to ramp up the cost of the products.”

Industry unites to raise money for terror victims at first We Love London Bridge festival: Venues in Borough High Street and the surrounding areas are uniting to raise money by taking part in the inaugural We Love London Bridge festival. The “open house” event on Saturday, 1 July will see pubs, bars and iconic venues in London Bridge unite to say thanks to “our emergency services and heroes” following the terrorist attack on Saturday, 3 June. Venues involved in the event include Arthur Hooper’s, Belushi’s, The Barrowboy And Banker, the Bunch of Grapes, St Christopher’s Inn pub, The Horniman, The Southwark Tavern, Slug and Lettuce, the Wheatsheaf, The Market Porter, The Mudlark, the Old Thameside Inn, The Ship, The George, The Anchor Backside, the Mug House, Jamies Bar & Dining, and The Miller. We Love London’s website states: “London Bridge has local gems – restaurants, pubs, attractions and bars – who are all coming together to stand proud as a community. There will be live music, food and drink. Just pop in and out of the great venues and enjoy the day!” All donations will go to the UK Solidarity Fund to help victims of terror attacks in the UK. Click here for more information.

ALMR welcomes government guidance on rates relief: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed government guidance to local authorities to pay business rates relief to operators promptly and communicate when and how they will be paid. The ALMR said too many local authorities had “faltered” when licensed hospitality companies needed help and information, adding that “at long last direction and a sense of urgency” had been provided. The notice has been issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We welcome the resumption of the political machine and the DCLG’s clear and positive message for relief to be paid promptly. The general election campaign imposed a political vacuum during which many pub and restaurant operators laboured on under the shadow of hugely increased business rates costs, with no sign of when assistance would emerge. Alongside the many other financial and regulatory burdens they face, the situation was becoming critical for many. Despite this money having been available since April, too many local authorities faltered when companies were suffering and needed assistance and information. At long last, direction and a sense of urgency has been provided. This call for action gives some succour to those pubs and restaurants suffering most acutely but there remains in place a flawed business rates system. As our letter earlier this week to the secretary of state for DCLG made quite clear, we shall continue to work with government and redouble our efforts to lobby for rates reform.”

Plans approved for £150m mixed-use development in Lincoln: Plans to bulldoze a shopping park in Lincoln and replace it with a £150m development comprising restaurants, bars, shops, homes, student accommodation and a hotel have received outline approval. The scheme, which consists of a shopping centre and retail park divided by the River Witham, has been granted permission by the city council. The development by Standard Life Investments involves demolishing a number of buildings to make way for up to 485,000 square feet of new retail and leisure use. There will also be up to 150 homes, a maximum of 1,100 student accommodation units, a 130-bedroom hotel and a multi-storey car park with 1,100 spaces. The existing retail park on the west of the St Marks site is home to companies including Toys R Us, Pizza Hut, Topps Tiles and Homebase, while the shopping centre to the east is occupied by Mamas & Papas, Mitchells & Butlers’ Toby Carver, Multiyork and Pure Gym. Most of the units in St Marks Shopping Centre will be retained, including the shop behind the listed facade of the former station and the units leading from Debenhams to the high street. Detailed designs will now be worked on with work potentially beginning in 2020 ahead of opening by the end of 2023 or early 2024, reports The Business Desk.

Company News:

St Austell Brewery opens fish and chip shop using batter made from flagship ale: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has opened a fish and chip shop in the county. The company has launched Havener’s Fish and Chip in Fowey as part of its Havener’s Bar & Grill venue, a restaurant that also features rooms above and a two-bedroom self-catering apartment. Havener’s batter is made using the brewer’s flagship beer Tribute, while the licensed premises also offers cans of St Austell Brewery ales, including small batch beers. Fish is supplied by Cornish seafood company Fish for Thought, while Havener’s also sells a selection of fresh fish boxes, complete with recipes, tips and ingredients for customers to cook themselves. Fowey is a seaside town that despite drawing in thousands of tourists every year has lacked a chippy, until now. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall told Propel: “As an ambitious and growing business, St Austell Brewery’s focus continues to be on responding to the ever-changing demands of consumers. It’s our aim to ensure our estate continues to deliver exceptional and distinct experiences for our customers and the new fish and chip shop concept in Fowey in south Cornwall is an example of that. The new retail outlet complements the existing Havener’s Bar & Grill, providing a quality fish and chip takeaway option in Fowey alongside a quality pub restaurant offering modern British cuisine. We will continue to look out for opportunities where we can continue to delight the consumer.” 

Oakman Inns submits plans to redevelop former Premier Inn and Beefeater in Ascot: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has submitted plans to redevelop a former Whitbread-owned Premier Inn and Beefeater in Ascot. The Hertfordshire-based company plans to redevelop the Royal Foresters Hotel in London Road, one of the most recognisable pubs in the Berkshire town and less than a mile from Ascot Racecourse. The building has been trading as an inn or hotel since at least 1877. Whitbread operated the site for many years until its closure in April 2015. The pub was then acquired by brewer and retailer Greene King, which planned to redevelop the site into a Farmhouse Inn. However, the company sold the property to Oakman Inns in a multimillion-pound deal in December 2016. Oakman Inns told Insider Media it plans to add two wings to form 22 bedrooms. According to planning documents lodged with Bracknell Forest Borough Council, a new bar would partially open into the restaurant, with rooms on the floor above used for staff accommodation. The restaurant areas and kitchen would be refitted with two function rooms added. Peter Borg-Neal founded Oakman Inns in 2005, opening its first pub, The Akeman in Tring, two years later. The company now has 16 pubs and hotels in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire.

Tombo to open third site, in Fitzrovia: London-based Japanese food and tea specialist Tombo is to open its third site, in Fitzrovia. The company will open the Japanese-inspired poké and matcha bar in Windmill Street next month. The venue will offer a range of poké dishes, including salmon, tuna and teriyaki chicken, or diners can build their own bowl from a selection of bases, mains, toppings and sauces. The venue will also offer a range of Tombo green teas – sourced from the foothills of Mount Fuji – alongside Tombo matcha lattes and matcha brownies, gateau and sundaes. Tombo’s other sites are in South Kensington and Soho, while it also supplies teas to some of London’s best-known restaurants, including Jason Atherton’s Sosharu.

Mixologist Mr Lyan teams up with Silo co-founder for new restaurant venture: Award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, has partnered with Doug McMaster, co-founder of Brighton’s zero-waste restaurant Silo, for a new venture in London. The duo will launch Cub at the former White Lyan site in Hoxton Street in September. Sitting above the recently launched basement bar Super Lyan, Cub will offer a “luxury experience for guests presenting the pair’s own modern interpretation of a restaurant”. It will be Chetiyawardana’s first full foray into the world of dining and McMaster’s first venture in the capital. Through work with Dr Arielle Johnson the venue will become its own ecosystem, with experimental ingredients grown on-site as part of a programme to research the effects of environment on food growth and flavour. Chetiyawardana said: “We want to keep pushing boundaries – and keep things weird – but in a way that feels accessible and honest as well as exciting and modern. Cub will be the continuation of these conversations but taking them in a new direction – looking at how we can rejoin the worlds of food and drink, and showcase the importance of innovation and sustainability to a wider public.” McMaster, who will continue at Silo’s helm while developing Cub’s food offering, added: “Cub is an exciting collaboration that allows us to explore how our industries can come together to make a unique experience. There’s always been a synergy between our businesses, and this allows us to explore how that can develop.”

Grind partners with Caternet to consolidate costs ahead of growth spurt: London-based Grind, the independent coffee and cocktail bar, has partnered with technology company Caternet in a bid to consolidate costs as it moves forward with ambitious growth plans. The partnership will see Grind benefit from live price control intelligence and reporting, freeing time spent on paperwork. The Caternet service also includes “clean invoicing”, which streamlines the process by removing credit notes. Grind will also use live priced recipe and stock reporting functions to keep tighter control on inventory and wastage. The company said the Caternet system would save its finance team at least 40 hours a month. Grind finance director Dan Sherfield said: “Our business is growing rapidly and we needed an automated system that could reduce the level of human intervention and capture and analyse accurate data, which then flows directly into finance reporting to support our forecasting and growth. Controlling live costs is also vital in line with our growth strategy.” Founded in Shoreditch in 2011 by David Abrahamovitch and Kaz James, Grind operates six cafe bars and three restaurants in London. The company also owns late-night venue the Grind Club Bar in Clerkenwell.

Subway appoints new regional development agents: Subway has appointed three new regional development agents (RDAs) for the Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire territory. Father and son Bob and Liam Dalgarno have years of experience working for Subway, becoming franchisees when they opened their first store in 2004. In December 2011, they became RDAs for the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex territory, increasing the number of Subway stores from 44 to 107, owning nine themselves. Adrian Johnson joins the Dalgarnos having started as a store manager before working with them as a field consultant. Most recently, he has been an operations director. Liam Dalgarno said: “We have a target of opening 90 Subway stores across the two territories in the next five years.” There are currently more than 2,400 Subway stores across the UK and Ireland. All stores are individually owned and operated by franchisees.

Boston Tea Party to open Solihull site after securing former Marston’s pub: All-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party is to continue its expansion by opening a site in Solihull, West Midlands. The company has taken over the former Marston’s Ebb & Flow pub in Herbert Road. It will be the company’s 21st cafe overall and its second in the region this year, with a venue due to open in Harborne Road, Edgbaston, in July. Marketing manager Ben Hibbard told the Birmingham Mail: “The borough is a great fit for what we do and the kind of customers we attract, who expect quality and something a little bit different. We have looked at Solihull for a long time and now think we have found the perfect site at the former Ebb & Flow pub between John Lewis and Waitrose. At the moment everything depends on legal processes with the Ebb & Flow site but, once they have gone through, we would hope for Boston Tea Party to be open in Solihull by about October.” Last month Boston Tea Party, which launched in Bristol in 1995, reported turnover rose 22% to £14,857,105 in the year to 19 October 2016, compared with £12,221,500 the previous year.

Soho House gets online backing for Amsterdam opening: More than 1,000 people have expressed support online for Soho House to open a members-only club in Amsterdam, despite previous plans being blocked by the Amsterdam court last month. Developer Aedes hopes to open the club in the former Bungehuis building in Spuistraat but local residents took the case to court, which ruled the permit for the club had been wrongly granted. However, Soho House supporters have turned to Facebook to garner support. More than 1,250 people have liked the page so far. One wrote: “The creative industry from Amsterdam is passionately calling for the arrival of the membership-only Soho House to the centre of Amsterdam. We Amsterdammers want a house where we can meet international friends and colleagues.” Another wrote: “Soho House is an absolute asset to Amsterdam as a city and also for the creative sector.”

Halewood buys majority stake in Sadler’s Brewing Company: Halewood Wines and Spirits has acquired a majority stake in Sadler’s Brewing Company. The Black Country business was founded in 1900 and is operated by fifth-generation brewer Chris Sadler. The company will have access to Halewood’s UK and global infrastructure as well as gaining new routes to market. It will also receive marketing support but continue to operate separately. Halewood Wines & Spirits group chief executive Stewart Hainsworth told Insider Media: “The current Sadler’s generation is talented and visionary while upholding the original family ethos and, with Halewood’s focus on craft, we’re looking forward to supporting their business. It is a natural fit with our portfolio alongside our Hawkshead investment and the Tsingtao distribution business.” Sadler, who will remain in his role, added: “Halewood’s investment gives us an opportunity not only to continue providing hand-crafted beers with a strong provenance locally but to expand our reach throughout the rest of the UK and internationally.” Halewood entered the brewing trade earlier this year by acquiring a majority stake in Lake District-based Hawkshead. In March, the company also bought a stake in The City of London Distillery. Sadler’s most renowned brew is Peaky Blinder Black IPA, based on the television series set in Birmingham.

Chipotle’s shares slump after profit warning: Chipotle’s shares have slumped since it issued a profit warning earlier this week suggesting marketing costs would be 20 to 30 basis points higher than it initially expected in the second quarter. The company also said full-year like-for-like sales would increase in the “high single digits”. Investors reacted harshly at the news, sending the company’s shares down more than 7%. At one point in May shares were up almost 33%, particularly after like-for-like sales increased 17.8% in the first three months of the year. However, Chipotle’s stock has been declining since, and is now down by more than 14% since hitting the May high. The company has been struggling since consumers abandoned the chain in 2016 following a series of foodborne illness outbreaks. Chipotle’s “high single digits” like-for-like sales projection for the full year suggests a sales slowdown as the year progresses, Nation’s Restaurant News reports, as that assumes future like-for-like sales that are considerably lower than the 17.3% pace set in the first quarter. Instinet analyst Mark Kalinowski said he expected like-for-like sales would increase 10% in the second quarter but slow in the second half of the year, including a forecasted increase of only 3% in the fourth quarter.

Esquires Coffee opens 29th site, in Maidstone: Esquires Coffee has opened its 29th store, this time in Maidstone, Kent. The site in Gabriel’s Hill is the first for franchisee Umair Shafiq, who has prior experience of working in operations in the coffee industry. Esquires Coffee is expanding throughout the country and will have opened new franchised stores in Balham, south London, and Esher, Surrey, by August.

Arjun Waney launches Greek restaurant concept Meraki in Fitzrovia: Restaurateur Arjun Waney, who has majority stakes in noted London venues Roka, Zuma and The Arts Club, has launched Greek restaurant Meraki in Fitzrovia. Meraki – a Greek term for the love and soul someone puts into their work – has a main entrance in Great Titchfield Street leading to a 100-cover restaurant, and another in Foley Street leading to a 30-seater bar. Both feature an outside terrace. Dimitrios Siamanis’ menu celebrates Greek produce with dishes including slow-cooked ox cheek with hilopites, artichokes and graviera, and baked cod wrapped in vine leaves, as well as seasonally changing mezze dishes, chargrilled meat and whole fish dishes. The drinks list features Greek wine and craft beer. A dedicated cocktail bar offers creations featuring Greek herbs and citrus fruit. Waney opened Zuma in Knightsbridge 15 years ago, followed by Roka and La Petite Maison. More recently he acquired members-only The Arts Club in Dover Street while openings include Bollix at The Shard, Coya in Piccadilly, and Coya Angel Court in the City.

Marston’s eyes Marlow for Lost and Found opening: Marston’s Revere Pub Company is eyeing expansion of its Lost and Found concept with an opening in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has applied to Wycombe District Council to convert the Market Hall in High Street into a bar and restaurant, creating 45 jobs. Under the proposals, the ground floor would be turned into a restaurant, with a new reception and bar area. Towards the back of the building, a secret bar would be hidden behind sliding doors for private hire, reports the Bucks Free Press. On the top floor, the Assembly Room would be turned into a formal dining space, while there are plans to create a terrace outside and an area called The Orangery, which would feature its own bar. In its application the company said turning the grade II-listed building into a bar and restaurant would help “ensure it is both conserved and enhanced positively for the future”. Marston’s has Lost and Found sites in Birmingham, Leeds and Knutsford.

Mordue Brewery bids to launch debut bar, in Newcastle city centre: Mordue Brewery, led by brothers Garry and Matt Fawson, is planning to open its first bar, in Newcastle city centre. The Fawsons are poised to fulfil a decade-long ambition by opening Beeronomy in Hood Street at a former Newcastle Building Society branch. Newcastle City Council has given planning approval for the basement and ground floor to be transformed into a bar that will focus on food and drink pairing. Rhian Cradock, chef proprietor of Northumberland pub restaurant The Feathers Inn, has created a menu, while a beer sommelier will be recruited ahead of a proposed opening just before Christmas. The Fawsons founded Mordue Brewery in Wallsend, with the company expanding twice since. It produces one million pints of craft beer a year under the Radgie Gadgie, Five Bridges, Mordue IPA and Northumbrian Blonde brands. Garry Fawson told Chronicle Live: “Beeronomy is going to be a nice, relaxing atmosphere to spend with your partner or friends for an evening having good food and beer. We want to start an academy where staff will be trained and stay with us. We have people at the brewery who have been with us for 20 years and we would like to bring that into the retail venture.”

TV antiques expert opens Lincolnshire farm shop and cafe: Antiques expert Steve Kirby, a regular on television series such as Bargain Hunt and London Posh Pawn, has opened a farm shop and cafe in north Lincolnshire. Kirby has transformed a derelict school building in Messingham, which dates to 1906, into a cafe, coffee shop and delicatessen. The development also features an antiques centre, florist and butcher’s shop and has created more than 20 jobs. Kirby told Insider Media: “We’ve received overwhelmingly positive reviews and feedback from the cafe and shop. It’s great to now have the antiques centre and florist up and running as well. We have a well-established customer base that is growing by the day, and I’m delighted to be delivering a range of services to many different customers in Messingham.”

Freehold of 12th century Cornish pub acquired for £900,000: The Weary Friar pub in Pillaton, near Saltash in Cornwall, has been acquired off an asking price of £900,000 for the freehold interest in a deal brokered by agents Charles Darrow. The pub, owned by Baker Inns since 2005, has been bought by first-time operators Ryan and Trina West. The venue offers 132 covers on the ground floor, with 13 en-suite letting rooms and an owner’s flat on the first floor. The pub also features a courtyard, two seating areas and a car park. The Wests said the pub’s robust turnover and profits gave them the confidence to make their first pub acquisition. Charles Darrow director Jon Clyne said: “The appetite for quality freehold pubs in the south west remains strong. The Weary Friar was the perfect fit for Ryan and Trina. The pub is the centrepiece of village life in Pillaton and we hope that will continue for many years to come.”

Castlebridge Group to open franchised Hilton hotel at Birmingham airport: Castlebridge Group, a subsidiary of Wylam Investments, has signed a franchise deal to open a Hilton hotel at Birmingham airport. The 178-bedroom Hilton Garden Inn will be built adjacent to the terminal building, with Bowmer & Kirkland carrying out construction work. Castlebridge Group commercial director Jenna Dienn told Insider Media: “We feel this is a great time to develop the hotel and restaurant due to the increase in passenger numbers and airport expansion.” Birmingham airport commercial director Jo Lloyd added: “We have been experiencing record passenger growth as more and more passengers and airlines realise the enormous benefits of travelling from Birmingham. We are delighted to provide our customers with more choice and a great hotel product.” Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice-president of development at Hilton in the EMEA region, said: “Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport is in a terrific location. We can’t wait for it to open next year.”

Middlesbrough-based pub operator lodges plans for second site: Middlesbrough-based pub operator Mark Waters has lodged plans to open a second site in the town. Waters, who runs The Slaters Pick, has applied to Middlesbrough Council to launch Weird Beard in Corporation Road. He wants to convert a former e-cigarette store into a late-night bar that would open until 2am daily. Waters, who launched The Slaters Pick in May last year with Sarah Chaffer, hopes to open the new venue by the end of August, reports Gazette Live. If approved, the bar would be directly opposite the planned £20m development of Teesside’s tallest building, Centre North East. That redevelopment would feature a micro-bar on the top floor, offering drinkers a panoramic view of the area.

 
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