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Fri 16th Apr 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Healthy eating concept Choppaluna plans UK rollout: Hero Brands, which operates the German Doner Kebab brand, plans to expand its healthy eating concept Choppaluna across the UK, after the success of its debut site that launched in London last year. Following the launch of its first flagship site in the capital, which is now ranked the number one healthy restaurant in Bloomsbury on TripAdvisor, the company opened a further site in Berlin early this year and is currently looking at two other sites in London. Hero Brands said the opportunity with Choppaluna was “truly resonating” with its franchise network and that it has sold another 60 franchise units across the UK in just six months of opening the debut stores. It said it would continue to explore opportunities for growth throughout the country. Choppaluna was founded by Nikras Agha and Bijan Azadfard. Athif Sarwar, chief executive of Hero Brands, which recently invested in Island Poké, said: “Hero Brands is responding to emerging consumer trends and focused on growing the brands of the future. Eating out is changing and younger consumers are demanding a shorter dwell time, great-tasting healthier food and an aspirational experience that is shareable on their social channels. Choppaluna responds to this trend and we are working very closely with Nikras and the team to continue to develop the brand and a proposition that truly disrupts the healthy eating space, like we are seeing in Bloomsbury. We are excited to see the early success of the first flagship restaurant and will continue to bring Choppaluna unrivalled industry expertise and backing to truly grow the brand throughout the UK and global regions.”

Industry News:

Simon Stenning looks at how Pret has come full circle with its franchising plans as part of latest Premium Opinion column: Simon Stenning, leading sector analyst and founder of FutureFoodservice, looks at the role franchising will play as the industry begins its recovery and, in particular, what taking that route will mean for Pret A Manger in the latest Propel Premium column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (16 April) at 5pm. Meanwhile, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett looks back at the sector’s reopening and Hawthorn’s proposed initial public offering plans. There will also be the latest sector whispers from Premium Diary. Propel Premium subscribers will also exclusively receive the monthly update to the multi-site database on Friday, 30 April, at midday. The exhaustive database of businesses comprised 1,628 companies when it was issued to subscribers at the end of March, and a further 53 companies have so far been added to the database. Alongside the database will be a report detailing the new companies and highlighting the changes seen in the multi-site universe over the past month. The go-to database has the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector – it provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers already receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and will also receive a curated video library of sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Mark Wingett. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Propel Friday Wrap video series with Mark Davies, chief executive of community pub company Hawthorn: Propel continues its new Friday Wrap video series on Friday (16 April) at 3pm. The new series, which is sponsored by innovative staffing solution provider Stint, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel insights editor Mark Wingett discussing the week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week, they are joined by Mark Davies, chief executive of community pub company Hawthorn, to discuss the group’s plans for an IPO, how reopening has gone for the business, what more the sector can do to get the ear of the government and what the next 12 months looks like for pubs.

Calls for new hospitality tipping policy amid fears of ‘massive’ financial hit: Campaigners are calling for a new fair tipping policy in UK pubs and restaurants amid fears the industry could take a “massive” financial hit as restrictions are lifted. Concerns have been raised that a forecasted decline in gratuities after covid could have a severe impact on workers, many of whom are on the minimum or living wage. According to non-profit organisation One Fair Wage, average tips have declined at the vast majority of US hospitality venues following the pandemic due, in part, to the need to enforce safety measures such as card payments, social distancing and face masks. This trend is expected to be mirrored in the UK, where hospitality venues were able to open for outdoor service this week. Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, who launched the campaign, said: “Not only has covid all but killed off cash, the social distancing measures in place means less interaction between waiting staff and customers. It’s likely we’ll see a serious decline, if not the end of tipping, because of this.” As a result, the campaign is calling for greater transparency and a new code of conduct for hospitality operators to ensure staff members receive their fair share of tips. Many venues have switched to card payments as a result of the pandemic, raising concerns gratuities would not be passed on to employees. Lord said other ways of raising employee pay, including price increases, should be considered so that tips become bonuses rather than “essential substitutes for low salaries”. The calls have been backed by Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, who called for a new employment standard for the hospitality sector and night-time economy in his 2021 manifesto published on Thursday (15 April).
 
Delivery and takeaway sales in March more than triple pre-pandemic like-for-like level: Delivery and takeaway sales more than tripled in March versus the same month in 2019, according to the latest Hospitality at Home Tracker from CGA. The monitor of at-home sales showed orders in March were 9% up on February. Along with deliveries and takeaways, the figures also included orders of at-home food and drinks kits that have soared in popularity during lockdown. Sales in March were 346% higher than in the same month in 2019, when the sector was fully operational for eating out. Deliveries have fuelled sector growth, accounting for more than 62% of operators’ sales. Although CGA said orders are expected to reduce as venues start to reopen over the next few weeks, sales are likely to continue to run well ahead of levels seen before the pandemic. Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Consumers who have been kept at home for so long have embraced hospitality at home to make up for lost eating and drinking-out experiences, and orders have been a lifeline for many brands while their venues are shut. The big question now is the extent to which habits of lockdown have become engrained in consumers’ behaviour, as venues reopen and they start to return to eating and drinking out. For all brands, understanding the balance between out-of-home and at-home preferences, and adjusting marketing and operational activity accordingly, is going to be a key consideration in the months ahead.”

Night-time economy operators demand return of night tube in line with planned reopening of sector: Night-time economy operators in London are demanding the return of the night tube in time for the planned reopening of the sector in June. Statements from Transport for London (TfL) have revealed the delayed return of the night tube to 2022, with issues around the redistribution of driver resource and current traffic levels. Many business have said they have seen a huge increase in bookings and tickets sales as the economy starts to unlock, which leads the industry to believe TfL and the Greater London Authority will be caught out by the level of traffic for these services. Night Time Industries Association chairman chief executive Michael Kill said: “The night tube is fundamental to the operation of the night-time economy in London, the suggestion of this service not returning until 2022 will be catastrophic to the sector and will, without doubt, leave many frustrated given the volume of customers expected over the next few months. This must be resolved by TfL and the mayor as a matter of urgency. There needs to be a contingency plan in place as a failsafe for late-night economy businesses, and a working strategy for managing dispersal in light of the challenges presented by limited service.” Simon Thomas, chief executive of The Hippodrome Casino, added: “It’s complete nonsense. The night tube was brought in to support the progressive 24-hour ambitions of London, and it’s more essential now than ever before.” Broadwick Live chief executive Simon Tracey said: “Although we’re encouraged by the government’s determination to restart the economy, it’s imperative the infrastructure is reinstated to sufficiently support businesses to do so and serve the public also.”

Company News:

Pizza Union secures sixth London site: Pizza Union, the London-based fledgling operator, has secured its sixth site in the capital, in High Holborn, Propel has learned. The company has secured a site in New Oxford Street for an opening this September. The business is currently offering outdoor seating at three of its sites, in Aldgate, Hoxton and Spitalfields. It also operates sites in Dalston and King’s Cross.

Bewiched to open UK’s first purpose-built independent coffee drive-thru with more in pipeline: Northampton-based cafe operator Bewiched Coffee is to open the UK’s first purpose-built independent coffee drive-thru, with more in the pipeline. The company has started refitting the unit, situated in Moulton Park, Northampton. The site will have 55 internal covers, as well as associated drive-thru technology, including order point, integrated headphone system and timing loops. Bewiched Coffee founder and managing director Matt Fountain said: “Since starting this business in 2010, I have had a dream to open a drive-thru unit but, obviously, you have to get past companies such as Costa and Starbucks first or find a site they are not interested in. Realising this dream is an amazing feeling. I am also very pleased to have already secured another drive-thru site that will open next year in the Wellingborough area and we are in negotiations on two more locally. To get a new-build drive-thru open, we have had to build a business that holds up to financial scrutiny from developers who, in turn, often have to raise funds to finance the building project. That is not to say we do not also have ambitions to open more ‘in-line’ units in town centres as well. We will continue to focus on those projects too, alongside investing into our current sites and looking to improve the offer to our team.” Bewiched Coffee operates 11 sites.
 
Sussex Inns takes portfolio to six with Bognor Regis pub, eyes further expansion opportunities: Sussex Inns has expanded its portfolio to six sites and is eyeing further expansion opportunities. The company has taken a substantive lease at The William Hardwicke in Bognor Regis following a £275,000 refurbishment with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The William Hardwicke will have a broad offer that changes throughout the day. New features include booth seating with mini screens, a cocktail bar and a faux flower selfie wall. The project has also made sport a focus with the installation of four screens inside and a weatherproof 80-inch screen outside. The 200-seat outside area has been revamped, including the addition of an outside bar and a “giant umbrella” to cover much of the area. Sussex Inns managing director Iain Brown said: “The William Hardwicke is the oldest and one of the biggest pubs in the town. It’s a Bognor Regis institution and has been a cracking venue in the past. We want to recapture that success with a chameleon offer, providing great quality and service, whatever the occasion.” Sussex Inns’ estate also encompasses The Town House in Arundel, The Horton Inn in Wimborne, The Playground in Portsmouth, and The Vestry and Southgate Sushi, both in Chichester. The company is looking for further leased and freehold pubs and hotels with development opportunities in affluent villages across southern England. Dugald Macer, Star Pubs & Bars operations director for the south east, said: “Sussex Inns is an incredibly professional operator with a real understanding of the local market. Its business model for The William Hardwicke taps into multiple revenue opportunities and unlocks the pub’s massive potential.”
 
Italian steak brand Macellaio RC secures West End flagship site: Italian restaurant group Macellaio RC is to open a new flagship site in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue. The group, which is led by Roberto Costa, will open its seventh site in the capital, after taking the site at 39-45 Shaftesbury Avenue that was formerly occupied by the Soho House operated Cafe Monico restaurant. Launching in late May, the new site will feature a giant charcoal barbecue grill as its centrepiece. A variety of cocktails will be also available to accompany matched cuts of meat well as a vast selection of Italian wine. The site provides 5,000 square foot across basement, ground and mezzanine floors with extensive frontage on to Shaftesbury Avenue Theatreland. Sally French, associate director at Davis Coffer Lyons, which acted on behalf of the site’s landlord, theatre group Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, said: “It’s fitting this exciting letting has completed as the West End begins to spring back to life and it signals the confidence in its recovery. We’ve witnessed, first hand this week, how keen customers have been to return to their favourite dining destinations with outdoor trade encouraging, pending a full reopening next month. We look forward too, as do so many, to the return of all the fantastic shows that Theatreland has to offer.” Dean Gambles & Co acted on behalf of Macellaio RC. Soho House opened Cafe Monico in April 2016. The name was a revival of a restaurant originally set up in the area in 1877 by Giacomo and Battista Monico. Cafe Monico was a 180-cover, all-day restaurant, with the menu inspired by Mediterranean flavours and “rustic Italian and French favourites”. It operated under the Soho House joint venture Quentin Restaurants, which also oversaw the Chicken Shop, Dirty Burger, Farm Shop and Pizza East brands.

DRG Group looks to bring Cafe Andaluz brand to England: Scottish restaurant operator Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group (DRG Group) is looking to bring its Cafe Andaluz tapas restaurant brand to England, with an opening planned in Newcastle. The company, which operates 18 restaurants across a number of different concepts and brands in Scotland, has applied for a licence to open on the former Carluccio’s site in the city’s Grey Street. The company currently operates five sites under the Cafe Andaluz brand in Scotland, with two each in Glasgow and Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen. DRG also operates the Di Maggio’s and Amarone brands in Scotland.

Starbucks to launch new ‘planet-positive’ research facility: Starbucks is to launch a new research and rapid innovation facility to find new ways to design, build and operate its stores in a “planet-positive way”. The facility, in partnership with Arizona State University, is scheduled to open in December. It will work to help Starbucks build “greener” stores as well as explore alternative menu items, including plant-based offerings and protein sources. Arizona State University’s four campuses in the Phoenix metro area offer nine licensed Starbucks stores, run by Aramark, which will act as innovation labs to test and evaluate strategies resulting from the centre’s research. In-store testing will include new plant-based food and beverage offerings designed to reduce carbon intensity, strategies to improve recycling (including reusables), and new technologies including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson said: “Over the past several years, we have been reinventing Starbucks for our future and transforming the way we drive innovation at Starbucks. As we continuously focus on elevating the Starbucks experience, introducing new and exciting beverage innovation, and reimagining customer experiences both in-store and through more personalised digital relationships, we constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways to give back more than we take, using our power at scale to create a better society in which we all live.”

The Burger Priest and Gourmet4 sign for sites at Crewe retail park: The Burger Priest, the church-themed burger restaurant concept, and food marketplace business Gourmet4 have signed for a scheme in Crewe. The companies will launch sites at the Grand Junction Retail Park. The Burger Priest has secured the former premises occupied by The Restaurant Group-owned Chiquito, with the new restaurant set to create 20 jobs. Meanwhile, Gourmet4 is bringing its food marketplace concept to the north west for the first time, introducing its existing in-house brands such as Saucy Chicks, Pizzaro, Smokey Joes and Fat Burgers. In December, Gourmet4 revealed plans to open nine sites across the UK. A UBS Asset Management spokesman, which manages Grand Junction on behalf of its Triton Property Fund, said: “While the past year has been difficult for many businesses, we’re pleased these brands have shown confidence in Grand Junction.”
 
Pop music-themed mini golf concept to open at Boxpark Wembley next month: Music video-themed mini golf concept Pop Golf will open at Boxpark Wembley on Monday, 17 May. The nine-hole course, which uses a special sound lounge playing 21st century pop music as customers play golf, has been designed to offer the experience of stepping straight into a music video. The venue has partnered with brands including Karma’s organic soda range, Toast lagers and IPAs, Lollipop cocktails, Salty Dog crisps, Green Cola and more to celebrate independent and ethical drinks and snacks brands, while also providing a tasty menu. Allan Saud, owner of Pop Golf and founder of Mighty Adventures, a chain of family adventure golf parks, said: “Our mission with Pop Golf was to create a rich experience that tells a story. This is not just another standard crazy golf course, this is a celebration of music. From the design to the innovative and sustainable drinks menu, to the team behind it and the brands we’re partnering with – pop music has led the way. We want our guests to rock up to Pop Golf, have an awesome time and leave feeling that music has the power to change the world.”
 
Le Pain Quotidien takes next steps in bid to be more sustainable business including increased emphasis on vegan options: Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand that was acquired out of administration last year, is taking the next steps in its bid to be a more sustainable business with a new all-day dining menu and a series of initiatives. Led by new managing director Steven Whibley, the company has become a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s (SRA) Food Made Good programme. Under the programme’s guidance, the new menu features a circular design concept to limit kitchen food waste and an increased emphasis on vegan options. Leftover bread is made into the next day’s croutons, and turned into dishes such as brioche French toast while vegan dishes include chilli sin carne and the roasted veg and mozzarella sandwich. To further encourage vegan options, a new loyalty app is launching with a points-based saving system, soon to offer double points for vegan purchases. A complimentary hot drink will also be offered when downloading the app. Other initiatives Le Pain Quotidien is introducing include switching single-use plastic items, such as straws and coffee cup lids to biodegradable/paper alternatives; sending pulp from all juices to a company that turns it into renewable energy; and using menus made from recycled paper. Head of marketing Jana Somon said: “Together with the SRA, Le Pain Quotidien will be looking at ways it can become more sustainable and help its customers be sustainable too.” 
 
Tim Hortons gets go-ahead for Portadown drive-thru but refused permission for Shrewsbury site: Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons has been given the go-ahead for its first outlet in County Armagh as part of its target to have 25 stores in Northern Ireland in the next year. SK Group, which is leading the UK rollout of the brand, has been granted permission by Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to open a drive-thru in Portadown. The proposed development is on a car park site at the Meadows Retail Park in Meadow Lane. It will consist of a 2,400 square foot cafe and drive-thru, reports Amarghi. Tim Hortons operates circa 25 sites in the UK. In October last year, the company said it wants to open an outlet in “most major cities and towns” by 2022, with plans to create more than 2,000 jobs. Meanwhile, Tim Hortons has been refused permission to open a drive-thru restaurant in Shrewsbury. The company wants to convert the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group brand Frankie & Benny’s in Battlefield Road. However, Shropshire Council has refused the application due to concerns over the drive-thru access, which it said would impact the safety of children at a neighbouring nursery, reports Insider Media. 
 
Team behind Opso in Marylebone to launch Greek-inspired grill concept in Soho: The team behind the Opso restaurant in London’s Marylebone and the two-Michelin-starred Funky Gourmet in Athens is to launch a new venture in Soho. Andreas Labridis, Nikos Roussos and Georgianna Hiliadaki are opening Greek-inspired grill concept Ino in Newburgh Street with the conversion of its souvlaki spin-off, PitaBun. Ino’s menu will focus on fire grilling over charcoal with dishes including house-cured mackerel and lamb sweetbreads skewers and fish “cheeks” with tomato and parsley salsa. The drinks menu will be an almost solely Greek wine list alongside draught beers from boutique breweries and barrel-aged cocktails. The restaurant will be set across two levels with a total of 25 covers and the full-length bar will have 13 seats. A custom-made grill and rotisserie will be the centrepiece of the venue, which will have an outdoor seated terrace. Roussos said: “Cooking over charcoal is a method that is close to our hearts and one that has been inextricably linked to Greek cuisine throughout the centuries. We are excited to introduce an elevated counter dining menu, which uses exceptional produce, showcasing authentic flavours of Greece.” Ino is set to open on Monday, 24 May.
 
Goa Spice to open new site in Rotherham: Yorkshire-based Indian restaurant company Goa Spice is to open a new site in Rotherham. Mamun and Masum Ali, who have established restaurants across south and west Yorkshire, have set up their latest dining venture at the Double Barrel in Thurcroft. Purchased by entrepreneur and chief executive of Gala Tent, Jason Mace, in 2013, the Double Barrel has long served the area as a steakhouse bar and restaurant but shut in February as a result of the pandemic. Alongside its Goan food menu, the revived venue, which will open in June, will serve Indian lager and a selection of wine from around the world. Masum Ali said: “The menu is extensive and we believe we have created affordable luxury for the local community to enjoy.” Mace added: “I have worked with Mamun and Masum previously with their Mexborough outlet within the Empress Building, which has been a phenomenal success. The Double Barrel will prove to be a much larger scale operation because it is a huge venue that seats about 140 inside and there’s space outside for more than 70 additional seats, so any covid-19 restrictions should not hold this restaurant back.”
 
Warrington-based operational brewery comes to market: Warrington-based Burtonwood Brewery has been brought to market. The established business is being marketed as a going concern by agent Colliers International. The brewery is equipped with five brewing lines and is ideal for a business looking to increase its production and distribution in the north west, Colliers said. The 9.64-acre site has 33 fermenter vessels, a borehole water source, automated kegging line, filter house, cold storage and specialist draining facilities. It also benefits from multiple heat sources and includes office space and staff canteen facilities. Peter Vass, associate director at Colliers, said: “The Burtonwood Brewery is an ideal site because everything is already up and running, meaning new tenants can quickly move in, escalate their production and get out to market in the north and north west at a minimum expense.”
 
Team behind Peckham Levels and Pop Brixton launch alfresco space in Hackney with street food vans: The team behind Peckham Levels and Pop Brixton have launched an alfresco space in Hackney. Hackney Bridge, once known as Clarnico Quay, has had a makeover and will eventually feature restaurants, workspaces and events. It has launched Spring in the Courtyard with street food fans being brought in to provide the food, reports Hot Dinners. Traders will include The Jewish Deli, Neapolitan-style pizza concept Made In Puglia, Hermanos Taco House and flame-grilled concept Filigrilz. There will also be a bar with craft beer from local breweries as well as cocktails. In August, the Hackney Bridge Kitchens will launch. This will be a more permanent home for the restaurants and The Jewish Deli is the first to be confirmed for that area. 
 
The Cellar doubles up with London wine bar and cafe opening: The team behind Cotswolds-based wine bar and shop The Cellar have opened a second site, in King’s Cross, London. The original bar opened in September 2020 and is located in Stow-on-the-Wold, near Cheltenham. The owners also run a cafe in Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, and decided to incorporate a wine shop into the cafe. A spokeswoman said: “We will be serving an ever-changing selection of minimal intervention wine alongside sharing plates. We are also open all day for coffee as well.” The original site’s menu is split into curds, cured and snacks – focusing on British cheese and charcuterie. Most of the wine list is available by the glass, carafe and bottle. 
 
Azumi launches at-home range for Oblix at The Shard: Restaurant operator Azumi has launched an at-home range for its Oblix at The Shard venue, with nationwide delivery available. The meals, prepared by executive chef Marcus Eaves, just need to be finished at home, and the menu changes with the seasons. Initial dishes available include the Oblix wagyu burger with aged-cheddar and truffle mayonnaise, and glazed and slow-cooked short ribs, with salsa verde. A range of stand-alone sides can also be purchased, which include four cheese macaroni; cheese, truffle and parmesan fries; and truffle-mashed potatoes. Customers can order the dishes to be delivered to their homes from Oblix’s website.
 
US-based Whim Hospitality to make UK debut after acquiring Wiltshire hotel off £3.75m guide price: US-based Whim Hospitality is to make its UK debut after acquiring a Wiltshire hotel off a guide price of £3.75m. The company has bought the 34-bedroom grade I-listed The Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury in a deal brokered by Knight Frank. Having been under family ownership for many years, Whim Hospitality has acquired The Old Bell Hotel to “capitalise on the growing staycation trend”. The hotel also has a significant dining offering, with a public restaurant, bar and options for private dining. Whim Hospitality co-founder Whit Hanks said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our Whim Hospitality brand of welcoming hospitality to The Old Bell Hotel in the historic market town of Malmesbury, home of our Hanks family ancestors.” The new owners plan to reopen the hotel on Monday, 17 May, following modest refurbishments and the introduction of new menus. The Hanks have also agreed to purchase neighbouring Abbey House Gardens, a country house garden covering five acres, later in 2021. Under the new ownership, the gardens, whose 10,000 different plants and 180 pieces of art from Cotswold Sculptors Association attract visitors from around the world, will continue to be open to the public.
 
MasterChef: The Professionals finalist prepares to launch first solo venture: Jonathan Hawthorne, who was a finalist in MasterChef: The Professionals last year, is preparing to launch his first solo venture. Hawthorn will be chef-patron of Vice & Virtue restaurant in Leeds, which is seeking to create a “modern British dining experience that focuses on seasonal produce and creative cooking presented in a precise and elegant way”. The restaurant, which will open on Wednesday, 19 May, will offer a signature tasting menu from Wednesday to Saturday and a special lunch tasting menu on a Sunday. Some of the dishes set to feature on the tasting menu include those that captured the judges on the BBC series including bone marrow creme brulee and mushroom tiramisu. Hawthorne said: “I’ve been fortunate over my 16-year career as a chef to train and work in some of the UK and world’s best restaurants including Noma in Copenhagen and Quay Restaurant in Sydney. But as a proud Yorkshireman, I’m delighted to be launching my first solo venture in god’s own county.”
 
Former Galvin Brothers chefs to host summer residency for Rogues London concept at Hackney Coffee Company: The duo behind Rogues London, former Galvin Brothers chefs Freddie Sheen and Zac Whittle, are to take over the terrace space at Hackney Coffee Company for the summer months. Launching on Friday, 23 April, the pair have centred the weekly changing menu around the outdoor barbecue and each dish on the menu will have elements cooked outdoors over fire. Dishes will include XL diver scallop, seaweed butter and balsamic reduction; and Highland wagyu skirt with XO vinaigrette and barbecue onions. The residency will occupy the outdoor terrace space of Hackney Coffee Company in Hackney Road, which can seat up to 40 guests. Sheen and Whittle met while working at Galvin Brothers’ Galvin La Chapelle. They began hosting pop-ups together before Rogues was born as a pop-up restaurant concept in January last year.
 
Cornish pub that was home to author Daphne Du Maurier sold off asking price of just over £1m: Experienced operator Paul Worswick will take on the day-to-day running of the historic Old Ferry Inn, which was home to author Daphne du Maurier, after the pub was sold off a guide price of £1,050,000. The former coaching inn, which is located on the banks of the River Fowey, was sold to Jenny and Mike West and Worswick through property agent Colliers. The new owners are planning a mini refurbishment and recruitment drive ready for opening on 17 May. It features three terraced areas and has 11 letting bedrooms, a bar, a lounge and a restaurant. There is also a two-bedroom owner’s flat, with lounge and bathroom. Worswick was the owner of 55 Yards in Newquay and 5 Yards at the Boathouse in Newquay harbour. He said: “We are so excited to become the new custodians of the Old Ferry and are eager to begin restoring her to her full glory. We have a new executive chef coming on board with some amazing plans for our food offering – we are also going to bring our distillery on-site where we make our own gin, vodka and rum.”

Aparthotel operator Walker & Williams Group opens site in Chester following £4.6m investment: North west-based aparthotel operator Walker & Williams Group has opened a site in Chester. The company has launched The Hotel Chester in Newgate Street following a £4.6m investment. Walker & Williams Group, which operates four sites, is also redeveloping the former magistrates’ court building in Ormskirk into an aparthotel. Walker & Williams Group operations director Max Williams said: “We have a proven track record of delivery success and we see a growing appetite for the boutique-style luxury accommodation we offer as the country moves out of lockdown and people look to enjoy what places like Chester can offer.”

 
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