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Fri 13th May 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Foodomnia plans fundraising to fuel growth for Burgerism concept, looks to become the “Domino’s for burgers”: Foodomnia, the north west-based business which builds digitally native food concepts for the delivery food market, is planning to launch a fundraise to fuel significant growth for its Burgerism concept, with a vision to “become the Domino’s for burgers and expand right across the UK”. Burgerism launched in April 2018, a delivery-only burger concept based in a warehouse in Salford aiming to offer customers “the best off-premises burger in your neighbourhood”. The business, which was delivering more than 1,000 burgers a day on a weekend during the first lockdown, has since expanded to sites in Manchester’s Piccadilly, and more recently at Escape to Freight Island. It currently serves more than 5,000 people a week. The roll out will be a mix of delivery kitchens and standalone sites, with the business aiming to target more bricks and mortar locations. Co-founder Mark Murphy told Propel that although the fundraising is yet to begin, the business has had verbal commitments of in excess of £500,000. All expansion for the company to date has been from cash flow. Murphy said: “The aim would be to raise over £1m and use that to grow to a 10x site footprint initially.” It is thought that the business is close to securing a fourth site in the north west.
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – The Beautiful Pubs Collective founder Sam Hagger backs Hospitality Rising and urges other small multiple operators to do so: Sam Hagger, founder and managing director of Leicestershire-based The Beautiful Pubs Collective, is calling on all small multiple operators to take a considered and strategic approach to their long-term recruitment by investing upfront now and supporting Hospitality Rising. The initiative aims to unite the industry by asking it to invest in and back its plan to change the perception of hospitality for the better, in the biggest sector recruitment advertising campaign the UK has seen. Hagger said: “I took my first role in hospitality aged 16 and never left. In the last 20 years I’ve had the privilege to work for and alongside some the best in the business. From a front of house host to an operator of an award-winning pub business, there is no other sector I can think of that offers the progression and rewards that hospitality does. Admittedly, there are huge cost pressures baring down on our sector right now, but if you’re confident in your own businesses stability, there is absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t invest in Hospitality Rising. Furthermore, it says to your existing people, you are a 100% committed and conscientious people employer.” Invest in Hospitality Rising now from just £10 per employee here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book being sent to Premium subscribers today: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 13 May) at midday. The latest Blue Book sees a further 24 companies added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 583. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.9bn being reported by 352 companies. However, a further 231 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1bn. A total of 31 companies have also updated their accounts since the April edition. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The first edition features 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides 27,000 words of content. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. 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 Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
 
Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Karim Malak, chief executive of EasyHotel: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series continues today (Friday, 13 May) at 3pm. The series, which is sponsored by Mr Yum, the world’s most powerful ordering and payments platform, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel’s group editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Karim Malak, chief executive of EasyHotel to discuss, among other things, how the budget chain is recovering out of the pandemic, its growth strategy, its focus on sustainability, and the three kinds of consumer groups the brand is currently seeing emerge.

Palmer-Masterton – switching VAT rate on dining in and take out would help reduce single-use packaging: Stem & Glory founder Louise Palmer-Masterton believes the government can go some way towards solving mass disposability of takeaway packaging by switching the VAT rates for dining in and take out. Palmer-Masterson, who founded vegan restaurant Stem & Glory in 2016, insists compostable containers are not the way ahead as they come with their own carbon footprint and are rarely recycled anyway. Reusable cups and carriers are also worthy solutions but so far have a low pick-up rate among consumers. Instead, Palmer-Masterton wants to see Downing Street encourage the avoidance of single-use packaging by taxing it instead of restaurant dining. “In my view, the single most significant shift that would change this issue of packaging and mass disposability in the blink of an eye would be to turn the VAT rules on their head,” she said, writing exclusively in Propel’s Friday Opinion. “If it became the VAT rule that dining in a restaurant off a plate was VAT exempt (instead of the 20% it is now), and single-use packaging wrapped refrigerated grab and go food went to 20% VAT (instead of the 0% it is now), then it would no longer be a better business model to exploit this VAT rule. Businesses would accelerate their creativity in avoiding single-use packaging, and with the significant positive consequences this would have for the environment in terms of packaging, it’s an absolute no brainer to me!” Palmer-Masterton would also like to see more businesses use incentives to encourage the use of reusable cups and boxes. She added: “With currently less than 5% of people taking up reusable coffee cups, and even less reusable lunch boxes, clearly a significant shift in mindset of both operators and customers is needed to move away from accepting mass disposability as the norm. Businesses could make it easier for their customers to use reusable boxes and cups. You could introduce discounts and incentives that give a greater financial incentive to use reusable. Make your take away menu lunch box friendly. Introduce your own box and cup swap schemes.” Palmer-Masterton will share more of her thoughts in this week’s Friday Opinion, which will be published on Friday (13 May) at 11am.
 
Brighton cafe becomes first UK hospitality business to offer buy now pay later technology: Brighton cafe Lucky Beach is the first hospitality business in the UK to introduce buy now pay later technology. Previously retail-only, the buy now pay later (BNPL) product Klarna is working in partnership with mobile payments platform Storekit to deliver BNPL to the restaurants, cafes, and hotels that comprise Storekit’s customer base. Lucky Beach was the “beta” client for the integration, meaning Storekit is now starting to offer its new feature to every business on the platform. Lucky Beach owner Mike Palmer said: “The Storekit/Klarna integration gives our guests the maximum flexibility with their payments, and we’re excited to see whether that improves their experience and leads to an uplift in sales.” Storekit chief executive Christophe Delacroix added: “By offering 30 days interest-free, Klarna easily beats the rates offered by most credit cards with mainstream banks – it’s a smarter way to pay later. We’re excited to be able to offer Klarna, and especially the first hospitality ordering platform to do so.” 

Company News:

Popeyes reveals Stratford site now the brand’s highest-taking restaurant globally, confirms Romford opening: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service brand, has revealed its debut UK site, at Westfield Stratford, is the company’s highest-taking restaurant globally. It comes as the business, which operates 3,600 sites worldwide, confirmed it will open its third UK restaurant in Romford, and has lined up its first drive-thru site here. As Propel revealed last month, the business, which is led by Tom Crowley in the UK, will open a 72-cover restaurant on the ex-Superdrug site in Romford’s South Street, a couple of doors from rival US brand Wendy’s. Popeyes, which will open its second UK restaurant in Chelmsford on Saturday, 11 June, also said it hoped to have news shortly on its first UK drive-thru site, which is also expected to be in Essex. At the same time, Propel understands Popeyes is planning to open a site on the former Gap unit in Cambridge’s Market Hill. Popeyes UK, the master franchisee for the UK, launched its debut site in Britain in November, at Westfield Stratford, and is aiming to open hundreds of sites across the next decade in the UK. Popeyes has also been linked to further openings in the Metrocentre in Gateshead, Oxford’s Queen Street, and Reading’s Broad Street. Crowley said: “It is our mission to get our famous Louisiana Chicken in the hands of chicken lovers across the UK so we will always try to open multiple restaurants in certain locations. Opening Chelmsford and Romford together allows many people in Essex to experience a real taste of our Southern US hospitality. We are also looking for a drive-thru location in Essex, which we hope to have news on in the coming months. We have ambitious plans for the UK and continue to work hard to bring our famous brand to more parts of the country.” Popeyes UK has also launched additional delivery kitchens with Deliveroo Editions in Battersea, Whitechapel and recently Maida Vale. Another delivery kitchen is due to open in Bermondsey next month. Based on Deliveroo’s customer order data, Popeyes has been the most popular new restaurant launch on the platform this year.
 
Daisy Green plans Richmond opening: Australia-inspired restaurant, bar and coffee group Daisy Green is planning to open its first site outside central London, in Richmond. Propel understands Daisy Green is set to open a circa 120-cover restaurant on the only commercial mooring on the Richmond riverside. The company is also believed to be in talks on a further site in the City, in Bishopsgate. Last November, the business closed its latest crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £2.7m. The Prue Freeman-led, 11-strong business said at the time it was hoping to open a further four sites in the capital this year and had been buoyed by the success of its latest opening, Bondi Green at Paddington canal side. 
 
Adnams reports retail business trading ahead of pre-pandemic levels: Suffolk-based brewer and retailer Adnams has reported its retail business has rebounded ahead of 2019 levels in the first four months of 2022. Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, chairman Jonathan Adnams said: “For many customers, there is still underlying caution around international travel, and as awareness of appealing UK destinations grow, Adnams pubs and retail businesses in both rural and coastal locations are uniquely positioned to meet this demand. The on-trade continues to be more challenging as sales in urban settings are more subdued. As for all businesses in the sector, the outlook for the remaining six months of the year is uncertain, driven by the conflict in Ukraine and the inflationary pressure in the economy in respect of energy, raw materials, food, labour and borrowing costs. The IT systems change implemented in 2018-19 and the continued investment in people, processes and procedures has enabled the business to become more efficient. This, together with the new disciplines honed over the last two years means the business is well positioned to cope with what is likely to be a challenging time for the hospitality industry. The purpose and values of Adnams that have underpinned the business for the last 150 years will enable it to keep innovating and growing.”
 
Big Table Group appoints David Rust to new director of F&B role: Big Table Group, the operator of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, has appointed David Rust to the newly created role of director of food and beverage, Propel has learned. Rust, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, joins the Alan Morgan-led business from Brewhouse & Kitchen, where he was head of food. He previously filled the same position at Whitbread for more than ten years. In his new role, which will be responsible for continuing to improve the quality of food and drink at all Big Table’s brands, Rust will oversee menu planning and development across Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge. It marks the first time that food development teams from the three brands will all report to the same person. Andy Carlill, chief marketing officer at Big Table Group, said: “The quality of our food and drink remains the single most important factor for consumers, so we’re always looking at ways we can improve. We’ve already made great strides in updating and refreshing our menus, and I’m confident that under David’s leadership, our food and beverage offering will continue to go from strength to strength.” The Big Table Group’s brands have recently announced new menus to meet evolving consumer demand, with Bella Italia’s seasonal menu featuring more vegan and vegetarian dishes than before, and Café Rouge rolling out a revamped offering following the successful trial of two “Rouge” concept restaurants, in Haywards Heath and Birmingham. Las Iguanas’ #Hotlist features a regularly-changing selection of limited-edition food and cocktails. Rust said: “This is a really exciting role, with iconic brands, and fantastic, award-winning chefs. I’m looking forward to working with our food development teams to share expertise, encourage innovation, and continue to drive quality across the Big Table Group.”

Puttshack signs on Dallas site: Indoor mini golf experience Puttshack, which last year completed a growth capital round of $60m (£43.2m) led by Promethean Investments, has further added to its US openings pipeline after securing a second site in Texas. The company has signed a new lease at Village on the Parkway, an open-air shopping destination within the Dallas metropolitan area. The new 28,000-square-foot site, which is spread across a two-story space, will open next summer, and will follow the brand’s first opening in Texas later this year, in Houston. Puttshack opened its first US site at Atlanta’s The Interlock last April, which was followed by an opening in Oak Brook, Illinois. Puttshack said both sites continue to outperform all success metrics, joining the brand's four “hugely popular London locations”. New locations are opening this summer in Boston and Miami, followed by Denver, Houston, Scottsdale, St Louis, Pittsburgh, Nashville and its second Atlanta location into 2023. The brand opened its newest UK site, in Watford, in time for Christmas – part of its resumed UK expansion plans following the successful reopenings of its Bank, White City, and Lakeside venues last year
 
EasyHotel plans to more than double estate by 2026, makes three new appointments and reports strong start to 2022: International affordable hotel chain EasyHotel plans to more than double its estate to more than 100 locations by 2026, and has made three new appointments to help facilitate the growth plans. Having made a strong start to 2022, with revpar up 70% in April versus pre-covid figures, the company plans to drastically expand its estate of 43 hotels – comprising 27 franchised and 16 owned hotels in 11 countries. Helping bring those plans to fruition will be new chief financial officer Charles Persello, new chief development officer and head of real estate Gwenaëlle Pouy, and new chief operating officer Louis Poisson. Persello joins from EasyHotel investor Icamap, while Pouy has spent the last 15 years in hotel investment, development and asset management, and Poisson was most recently EQ Group’s vice-president of operations. Parsello will focus on optimising the £42.8m equity injection EasyHotel announced in December, while Pouy will lead on development and Poisson will develop a best-in-class hotel management platform. They join recently appointed chief executive Karim Malak, who since arriving in December has overseen a strong opening to 2022 thanks to demand for weekend city breaks and affordable hotel stays, plus rescheduled events. Revpar was up 20% versus 2019 in February, 50% in March and 70% in April on a like-for-like basis. Expected revenue for summer bookings is already currently 10% higher than summer 2019, and the company said it is well placed to benefit from the continued trend for staycations. It has already this year opened its first Paris hotel, and other upcoming openings in 2022 include Dublin and Madrid. 
 
Kerb partners with Compass Group to expand into Scotland: London-based street food collective Kerb has partnered with Compass Group to expand into Scotland. The partnership, with the group’s Scottish arm, Compass Scotland, will see Kerb’s food and beverage offering promoted at its venues across the country – including Edinburgh Zoo. It follows Kerb’s success in England with Levy UK & Ireland, the sports and entertainment division of Compass Group UK & Ireland. To oversee the partnership, Kerb has appointed Amy Campbell as Scotland events boss. She joins the team from Scotsman Hospitality, where she was most recently business development project manager. David Hay, managing director of Compass Scotland, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Kerb in Scotland and to have Amy on board to drive the business forward. We’re always looking at ways to innovate our food offering, whether that’s with more sustainable options or exciting plant-forward meals, and street food is an ideal way to branch out to diverse, unique and global food choices. It’s an exciting next step, and we’re looking forward seeing the partnership grow.” Alana Buckley, managing director of Kerb Events, added: “We are excited to be launching Kerb in Scotland, which has an amazing street food scene. We have noticed a significant opportunity in Scotland to bring our clients and customers together to provide a culinary experience that is both authentic and professionally organised, using locally sourced street food options.”
 
92 Degrees ventures south for tenth outlet, second site for climbing gym concept: Liverpool-based independent coffee roaster 92 Degrees is set to open its tenth site, and first down south, at the new Triptych Bankside development on London’s Southbank. The company – which operates nine other sites in Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Southport – has signed a ten-year deal for a 2,200 square-foot unit in the building. Also opening at Triptych is climbing gym concept The Font, which has also signed a ten-year deal, for a 7,000 square-foot site. Open to both residents and external members, it will offer bouldering climbing walls, a fitness gym and a cafe area. It will be a second venue for The Font, which also operates a site in Wandsworth. A £400m mixed-use development, Triptych also has 169 luxury apartments plus office and retail space. Agents for the commercial space are Bh2 and Savills.
 
All-day Australian restaurant Milk Beach to double up with second site and launch new coffee roastery: All-day Australian restaurant Milk Beach is set to double up with the opening of a second site this summer. Founder Elliott Milne launched the concept in Queen’s Park, west London, in 2018, before doubling the size of the original site by taking on the former Hugo’s Restaurant site next door. He is now set to double the size of his estate too with the opening of a Soho site, in the Ilona Rose House building, with entrances from Greek Street and Manette Street. The dining room will have covers for 90, while the heated outdoor courtyard will have space for a further 65. The site will feature new dinner and brunch menus, a new line-up of signature cocktails and a greatly expanded wine list focused on independent producers. Developed by new head chef Josh Deacon (ex-Riding House Café and Savoy Grill) and head of food Darren Leadbeater, (ex-Wild Honey and Brunswick House), the new menus will draw inspiration from the south east Asian and Mediterranean flavours that form modern Australian cuisine. Milk Beach will also this summer launch a nomadic coffee roastery, Album Coffee Roasters, which will supply its own coffee to both locations. Milne said: “Australian hospitality is about creating a relaxed and fun environment with friendly, down to earth service. That’s what we strive to deliver at Milk Beach, and that’s what we want to bring to Soho. I couldn’t be more excited about the site we’ve found, it’s a stunning space that fits the Milk Beach vibe perfectly. Soho for me is like nowhere else in London, and we are looking forward to being a part of that community, like we are in Queen’s Park.”
 
Brakspear completes first investment following rebrand of managed division: Henley-based pub operator Brakspear has reopened The Bull in Bell Street in the Oxfordshire town following an extensive refurbishment. The first investment in its managed estate since it was last year rebranded as Honeycomb Houses, the revamp has created an outdoor space called The Courtyard, with an outdoor fireplace and a retractable roof for alfresco dining. It has also created a new private dining and meeting room accommodating up to 22 guests, and added five bedrooms in an adjoining property. The new menu offers all day dining, with a range of dishes produced from ingredients sourced primarily from the UK. Brunch, lunch and dinner menus are complemented by a seasonal changing specials board, plus a Sunday roast offer and dedicated children’s menu. Drinks include Brakspear cask ale and wine and gin lists alongside other spirits, plus cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails. There is also a new Honeycomb Houses coffee blend, created by Wogan Coffee. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “The aim of this refurbishment was to turn The Bull into a haven away from the busy high street. We’re delighted with the results, which make The Bull the perfect embodiment of the Honeycomb Houses ethos of our house, your home.” The Bull in Bell Street was Brakspear’s first managed pub when it opened in 2013 and stands on the site of the original Brakspear brewery. The Honeycomb Houses division, which was launched in November, includes ten pubs in the Cotswolds and locations around Brakspear’s Henley heartland, as well as The Gyll Manor near Horsham, which it acquired in February.
 
London-based Miguel’s Pizza to open kitchen hub to reach more customers across capital: London-based Miguel’s Pizza is to open a kitchen hub in order to reach more customers across the capital. Founded by Miguel Barclay, the restaurateur and author of the “One Pound Meal” books, Miguel’s Pizza opened a site at Buck Street Market in Camden in 2020. Now it has partnered with cloud kitchen company Jiffy to set up at its hub in Deptford, south east London. Miguel’s Pizza will have four 14-inch pizzas – margarita, pepperoni, truffle and vegan – available from Jiffy’s hub. Barclay said: “We are delighted to partner with Jiffy so that we can get our iconic pizzas delivered to more customers across the capital. Our first local hub will mean that we can reach new neighbourhoods in a more efficient way.” The partnership with Miguel’s Pizza signals the start of Jiffy’s plan to open more local kitchen hubs across the capital, adding to its 16 sites in London. In January, Jiffy announced a strategic partnership with BrewDog to launch BrewDog Express – a new delivery service being trialled in parts of London that gives customers in the relevant catchment areas access to a selection of BrewDog beer.
 
Chef Hylton Espey to open debut restaurant: Chef Hylton Espey is to open his debut restaurant. Espey will launch Culture in Falmouth, Cornwall, next month with wife, Petronella. Located in Custom House Quay, Culture will “celebrate local produce and hyper-seasonal cooking with a menu of nature inspired cuisine”. Espey was previously head chef at Rastella, the restaurant at the Merchants Manor hotel in Falmouth. During his six years at Rastella, he was awarded three AA Rosettes. The open kitchen at Culture will overlook the 30-cover dining room. From outside seats, guests will enjoy views of Falmouth Bay. Dishes will be guided by seasonality and daily availability. An optional wine pairing will accompany the daily menu. Espey said: “I’m constantly experimenting with new flavours and techniques trying to utilise indigenous plants, so I can include them in my repertoire. My food style is about unique flavour combinations, with a few surprises on the plate. I want my plates to resemble and represent the ingredients they’re comprised of in a fresh, natural and modern way.” 
 
Hyatt to operate new Leeds hotel following £63m development deal: UK Commercial Property Reit (UKCM) has acquired a hotel development in Leeds city centre from Marrico (Sovereign Street), a joint venture between Marrico and Helios, in a £63m deal. The site, which was owned by Leeds City Council, will be developed by Marrico into a 12-storey hotel to be operated by Interstate Group under the Hyatt brand, with development funded by UKCM. The hotel is described by UKCM as aiming to be among the very best in Leeds, a city that has “excellent central amenities but an under-supply of quality hotels”. The site will have a 25-year franchise agreement with Hyatt Hotels, which is looking to grow its presence within the UK market. The 140,000-square-foot property, which is targeted to complete in 2024, will comprise 305 rooms, split between the short stay Hyatt Place and the long stay Hyatt House brands. The hotel will also feature meeting rooms, a gym and several food and beverage options, including a rooftop bar with its own dedicated entrance. UKCM fund managers Will Fulton and Kerri Hunter said: “This is the latest acquisition in line with the company’s strategy to enhance earnings by selective investment in assets where the rents are derived solely from their operational performance. By investing in this way in compelling locations with strong market dynamics and teaming up with strong, reputable tenants we are able to obtain a yield that is at a significant premium to that which would be derived from a traditional leasing model.”
 
Lanchester Group develops £20m sustainable wine bottling facility: Lanchester Group is developing a £20m sustainable wine bottling facility. The County Durham-based family business is investing in a state-of-the-art, self-powered home for its Greencroft Bottling Company, the sister business to Lanchester Wines. The building will be around 240,000 square feet and will more than double the potential capacity at Greencroft Bottling to up to 400 million litres per year. When complete, “Greencroft Two” could accommodate up to ten bottling lines and seven ancillary lines for bag-in-box, cans, pouches, key kegs or any new types of sustainable packaging. The first of Greencroft Two’s new lines will be operational by spring 2023 – a new £3m counter-pressure line with sparkling capabilities. The company will then gradually bring the remaining existing lines over from the current Greencroft Bottling, without disruption to production. “We’re spending more than we might otherwise on a new building, investing an additional £3m in sustainable practices,” said Lanchester Group managing director, Tony Cleary. “But we’ll soon get that extra investment back through the energy savings, so what’s good for the planet is good for the business too.”
 
West Midlands-based street food cafe concept opens permanent site: West Midlands-based street food cafe concept, The Hangry Moose, has opened a permanent site. It had been serving the public from its trailer for years but has now made the move to Aston Fields Trading Estate in Bromsgrove after signing a five-year tenancy agreement on a 2,000 square foot unit. David Barnicoat, managing director of The Hangry Moose, said: “Our mission statement changed in early 2022 and while street food will always be at our core we have made the transfer to bricks and mortar and the Hangry Moose Street Food Cafe Bromsgrove will now be our permanent home.” Caroline Jones, regional property manager at Whittle Jones Midlands, acting on behalf of Northern Trust Company, added: “The Hangry Moose is a welcome addition to the estate, which is now fully occupied and home to more than 35 businesses, which in turn support more than 270 jobs.”
 
American coffee house chain Gloria Jean’s opens in Banbury for ninth UK site, more in pipeline: Retail Food Group-owned American coffee house chain Gloria Jean’s has opened its ninth UK site, with more openings in the pipeline. The franchise chain has launched in Banbury in the Oxfordshire town’s Castle Quay Shopping Centre. It has opened in a unit that formerly housed Druckers Vienna Patisserie, which closed in January 2019. Gloria Jean’s director Amer Rashid told the Banbury Guardian: “Our goal is to be the most loved and respected coffee company in the world, and we are working tirelessly to serve the highest quality coffee while making each and every one of our guests feel like they are returning home when they step into one of our coffee houses.” The first UK Gloria Jean’s site opened in Sutton in 2019. There are plans to open nine more in England plus four in Scotland and one in Wales, according to its website. Founded in Chicago in 1979, Gloria Jean’s now has more than 1,400 coffee houses in circa 40 countries. It was bought by Retail Food Group in 2013, and in 2018 it announced plans for 190 new UK sites within the next ten years, having signed a 20-year franchise agreement with Naweed Nasir.
 
Browns founder Jeremy Mogford to reopen Oxford restaurant and bar this month following £1m-plus revamp: Hospitality entrepreneur Jeremy Mogford, who founded the Browns brasserie and bar chain, will reopen his Gees Restaurant & Bar site in Oxford this month after an overhaul of more than £1m. Gees Restaurant & Bar is an independently-owned venue set within north Oxford's famous grade II-listed Victorian conservatory, once home to the Gee family's greengrocers and floristry, in Banbury Road. It has operated since 1989, serving a Mediterranean-inspired menu. The eatery closed in February for a complete revamp that sees it combined with the property next door, which has been remodelled over the last six months to create Gees Gallery and Secret Garden. Gees will more than double in capacity with the addition of Gees Gallery – an adjacent private dining space for up to 50 guests – and Secret Garden; a heated private terrace for up to 60 diners. Upon reopening during the week commencing Monday, 23 May, Gees Restaurant, Bar, Gallery and Secret Garden will accommodate more than 220 guests in total. Gees Gallery will also operate as a multifunctional space, including an art gallery and shop, and function room. Matt Smith will take the helm as head chef having previously run his own restaurant in Whitby and prior to that headed up the team at The Ivy Oxford, reports the Oxford Mail.
 
Mediterranean restaurant concept La’De Kitchen to open in Hereford next week for sixth site: Mediterranean restaurant concept La’De Kitchen will open its sixth site, in Hereford on Monday (16 May). The company has converted the former PizzaExpress restaurant in Broad Street. The building, which used to be Hereford’s post office, had lay empty since 2020 after PizzaExpress never reopened the site following the first covid lockdown, reports the Hereford Times. La’De Kitchen, which specialises in Turkish cuisine, already has restaurants in Pangbourne, Woodley, Newbury, Camberley and London’s Muswell Hill. 

 
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