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Mon 16th Oct 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Casual Dining Group signs franchise deal in Ireland: Casual Dining Group has signed a franchise deal giving exclusive rights to its Las Iguanas and Bella Italia brands in the Republic of Ireland to experienced restaurateur, Robert O’Donoghue, further building momentum for its growing overseas franchise portfolio. This latest agreement sees the number of Casual Dining Group franchise partners rise to five, with development agreements or existing operations in place in eight countries across the globe, including the UK, South Africa, India and the wider Middle East. Under the deal, the first site to open will be a Las Iguanas in either Dublin or Cork in the new year, with further restaurants opening as and when the right sites become available. Mark Nelson, Casual Dining Group managing director of concessions and franchising, said: “We have several brands that have cut their teeth in the UK and are now earning their stripes across the globe. Ireland was a natural fit for a franchise partner, due to its cultural similarities with the UK. We’re delighted to have an experienced, hands-on operator like Robert flying the flag for our Las Iguanas and Bella Italia brands, and we look forward to helping support his business as it looks to grow.” O’Donoghue, who has more than a decade experience as a restaurant operator, currently owns and oversees the day-to-day running of four independent sites in Dublin and Cork for his Caffe Misto and Kubo brands. He said: “Casual Dining Group operates excellent household brands and possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise. There’s a massive opportunity for its brands in Ireland and I’m delighted to be working together to create exceptional dining experiences across the country. I have fond memories of eating at Bella Italia when I visited the UK in my younger days and recently dined at Las Iguanas on a trip to London. I love both concepts and am confident their look, feel and atmosphere are the perfect match for Ireland. Naturally, Dublin and Cork will be the focus for the first openings, but if the right sites are available I’d also be interested in targeting other areas of the Republic of Ireland, particularly Galway.” All employees working at the franchise sites in Ireland will be trained centrally by Casual Dining Group.
 

Industry News:

Cardlytics – spending on ‘shareable, memorable experiences’ remains strong: The new Cardlytics Spending Index, based on the purchase insights of nearly four million bank customers, showed spending growth slowed in the third quarter of 2017, growing at just 3% year-on-year compared with the 6% year-on-year increase seen in the second quarter. Despite the overall slowdown, spending in “experience” sectors such as dining and travel remained strong. According to the data, while grocery share of spend has fallen nearly 1% since 2015, spend on quick-service restaurants grew 5% from the second quarter to the third quarter this year, and saw a 21% year-on-year increase. Spending on eating out has taken a firmer foothold in people’s wallets than ever before, with the share of spend for restaurants overall increasing the most (0.9%) since the third quarter of 2015. Spending in the travel sector including airlines, hotels and travel remains strong, up 7% in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the previous year. The findings come as part of the Cardlytics Spending Index compiled by Cardlytics, a purchase intelligence platform. Pete Gleason, ‎president of international operations at Cardlytics, said: “While actual consumer spend grew from the second quarter to third quarter, the rate of growth slowed. However, we still see consumers are willing to spend in categories that can create shareable, memorable experiences. This is an important trend for brands to note, especially as they gear up for their holiday marketing. Britain is clearly becoming a nation of food lovers. When it comes to restaurants and cafes, grocers should be thinking about how to offer products that can compete with people’s love for eating out and trend towards artisanal products.”

Operators warned to start planning for tough start to 2018: Operators focused on winning their share of customer spend in the run-up to Christmas must start giving serious thought to the bigger challenge of trading through the first few months of 2018, buying specialist Lynx Purchasing has warned. The new autumn/winter 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast offered little comfort to hospitality businesses hoping for a let-up in food and drink inflation with the “Lynxometer”, a measure of inflation based on a basket of regularly purchased products, rising to 8% in September compared with 6% in the summer forecast. The market forecast included a warning Christmas turkeys will be more expensive this year, with the National Farmers Union estimating the overall costs for UK turkey producers are up by an average of 6.6%. Other product areas highlighted included dairy, which is up 18% year-on-year; meat, which is up 6% year-on-year; and fruit and vegetables, up 5% year-on-year. Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson said: “Hospitality and catering operators are now pretty much geared up to deal with higher prices from food and drink suppliers this Christmas – but very few have started to plan for the challenges of trading in the new year. Most of the businesses we work with have priced their Christmas menus to take higher costs into account, in the knowledge that there is usually enough trade to go round at the busiest time of year. What’s more of a concern is many of the operators we speak to aren’t giving enough thought to the challenges of the first few months of 2018, when it’s very clear inflationary pressure is going to continue. With industry analysts forecasting we’ll see increased use of targeted deals, vouchers and special offers in order to encourage customers to eat out in 2018, operators need to look at every area of their spending and be ready to change suppliers where necessary, in order to get the best in terms of both price and quality.”

ALMR urges Welsh government to reinvest business rates into eating and drinking out sector: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has urged the Welsh government to reinvest business rates revenue back into the eating and drinking out sector to help support businesses disproportionately hit by increases. The Welsh government is considering removing Small Business Rates Relief from companies that operate multiple properties. The ALMR has recommended a sectoral approach to business rates relief to reflect the disproportionate burden being carried by eating and drinking out businesses in Wales. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Welsh government is showing a welcome degree of pragmatism by looking into the possibility of supporting small businesses. The suggestion of removing relief for businesses with multiple sites is, however, going to hit small and medium-sized businesses in our sector, which is already struggling against a disproportionate rates burden. If the Welsh government is keen to support businesses in Wales and encourage investment and employment in vital businesses, a sector-specific approach is preferable.”
 
Eltham development featuring Nando’s, PizzaExpress and Vue cinema gets £6.8m boost: Greenwich Council has pumped an extra £6.8m into a development in Eltham, south east London, that will feature a six-screen Vue cinema and Nando’s and PizzaExpress restaurants. The council said it made the move because the original £14m funding had not proved enough to complete the town centre complex. The scheme to redevelop a former Co-op department store also includes plans for a sky bar. The council purchased the land in 2012 and agreed to the plans in November 2013 to turn it into a new attraction. The Co-op was demolished in April, with construction of the main building due to begin next month. A Greenwich Council spokesperson told News Shopper: “A number of changes have been needed to meet the requirements of the cinema operator. These changes have increased the project cost and extended the programme. The cinema development objectives were aimed at invigorating the local economy, creating local jobs for local people, attracting further investment in the town centre and increasing footfall for local businesses. The development complements and enhances the major upgrade to the public realm in Eltham that is nearing completion and will continue to enhance and support the town centre into a more vibrant location.”
 
Facebook users in the US can now order takeaway food: Facebook users in the US can now order takeaway food directly from the social media app, adding a big name into an increasingly crowded market for companies such as Just Eat, UberEats and Deliveroo. The service, which was launched on Friday (13 October) after trials that have been going on since last year, sees Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform partnering with food ordering services such as EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow and Olo, as well as national restaurant chains including Five Guys, Papa John’s, TGI Friday’s and Chipotle. The premise, said Alex Himel, vice-president of local at Facebook, is people are already browsing the app’s pages for restaurant options and friends’ opinions – “so, we’re making it even easier”. A new “order food” section has been added to the app menu, so users can flick through local food options and have even fewer reasons to leave the app. Shares in UK-based Just Eat tumbled almost 2% as the news emerged late on Friday. However, the service is initially rolling out across the US only via the Facebook app on Apple and Android devices and the website for desktop computers.
 
JD Wetherspoon only foodservice brand to make UK millennials ‘favourably talked-about’ list: JD Wetherspoon is the only foodservice brand to make a list of the brands most positively talked-about by UK millennials, according to the YouGov BrandIndex. The YouGov’s rankings, considers which brands 18 to 34-year-olds have discussed with friends in favourable terms. In a list dominated by technology firms, Netflix is at the top with a score of 73.8, narrowly ahead of other technology giants Facebook (73.5), Apple (73.3), Apple iPhone (71.1) and Airbnb (70.5). The top ten is completed by brands from a variety of industries. Retail giant Primark is in sixth place (70.4), ahead of music streaming service Spotify (70.3), and furniture brand IKEA (69.1). Pub chain JD Wetherspoon (67.3), and PlayStation (65.3) round off the top ten. Amelia Brophy, head of data products, UK, said. “A notable feature of our top ten is the presence of brands that have a reputation for competitive pricing. Brands such as Primark, IKEA and JD Wetherspoon all provide an opportunity to younger consumers to get what they want at prices they can afford. All of these brands are talked about positively by younger consumers, all of whom came of age around the financial crisis.” YouGov’s rankings are based upon YouGov BrandIndex’s Word of Mouth metric, which measures whether a respondent has discussed a brand with friends or family.
 

Company News:

Burning Night Group to turn Southport pub into £1m combined Potting Shed and FirePit venue: Bar company Burning Night Group is to turn The Sandgrounder pub in Southport into a joint Potting Shed bar and FirePit smokehouse following a £1m investment. The 14,000 square foot pub in Lord Street will be transformed into a Potting Shed bar and garden on the ground floor and FirePit Smokehouse and Sports Bar on the upper level, including an outdoor terrace. The venture will be the first time Burning Night Group has combined the two brands. Potting Shed features an outdoors-to-indoors garden theme and specialises in craft beers, cocktails, artisan spirits and homemade food. FirePit features US food and decor and a custom-built Airstream-style aluminium caravan for private dining. Director Allan Harper told the Liverpool Echo: “Lord Street is a great destination for shopping and leisure so when we were looking for somewhere to house our newest Potting Shed and FirePit it was the obvious choice. This building has so much potential and being able to add a roof terrace is a bonus. We invest heavily in our bars because we enjoy creating something different.” Burning Night Group operates five Potting Shed sites and two FirePit smokehouses, alongside six venues for its Bierkeller brand. It employs more than 500 people and had a turnover in 2016 of more than £17m.
 
West Berkshire losses deepen as it invests in state-of-the-art brewery: West Berkshire Brewery, chaired by industry veteran David Bruce, has reported a loss before tax of £737,219 in the year to 31 March 2017 compared with a pre-tax loss of £289,950 the year before. Turnover rose to £2,595,952 compared with £1,838,234 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company has raise £7.25m under the Enterprise investment Scheme and is building a new state-of-the-art brewery. The company wants to develop a small pub estate and its first site, The Depot in London, was acquired in June 2016 with turnover circa £1m a year. The company is mashing the first beer at its new brewery site this month. In the annual accounts Bruce stated: “The new site will be home to West Berkshire Brewery’s own brewery tap, offering craft beers, real ales and high quality food. This retail outlet is designed to give our visitors a truly immersive experience. From the bar and shop people will be able to view not only the brewery through a vast glazed wall but also enjoy being part of the action whilst they enjoy drink and meal.”
 
Kingfisher lodges plans for £25m Cornish holiday resort: Truro-based Kingfisher Resorts has lodged plans to build a £25m holiday resort in Cornwall, creating 200 jobs. The luxury holiday resort would be built on the site of a former touring caravan park at Carbis Bay, near St Ives, and comprise an aparthotel, extensive leisure facilities, villas and apartments. Kingfisher acquired the site a year ago from London-based property fund Frogmore Real Estates, and already has planning permission for 123 holiday homes, of which 29 properties and the amenities building have already been built. Kingfisher plans to invest at least £25m to develop Una Resort and has already spent more than £200,000 to create Una Kitchen – a Mediterranean restaurant with wood-burning pizza oven. Kingfisher director Damian Sargent told Insider Media: “Una St Ives is in a fantastic location and we want to realise its full potential by creating a word-class resort featuring iconic architecture that takes its inspiration from the Cornish landscape.” Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, added: “We need to keep investing in our tourism offering in the face of international competition. High-quality, year-round resorts like Una will be of huge benefit to the industry and local economy.”
 
Harry Ramsden’s to accept old £1 coin until 31 October: Fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden’s is to accept the old £1 coin until Tuesday, 31 October. Frank Romano, brand director for Harry Ramsden’s, said: “Given there are so many of the old coins still around, this deadline has obviously caught many people off guard. As a family brand, we feel tit’s only fair that we do our bit, especially with Christmas fast approaching – a time when every penny counts. Within selected restaurants, customers enjoying main courses from our menu will be able to give us as many as five old £1 coins, thereby saving up to £5 from their total bill.”
 
Zizzi to open restaurant at The Oracle in Reading: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi is to open a restaurant in Reading. The new venue will launch in a 3,400 square foot unit at The Oracle shopping centre next month. The shopping complex has undergone a £5.7m upgrade of its Riverside dining quarter. Zizzi will join a number of other brands at the development, including Wagamama, better burger brand Five Guys, Mitchells & Butlers brand All Bar One, French brasserie Cote, and Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia. Azzurri Group head of acquisitions Marc Ward told Insider Media: “We are delighted to have obtained representation at this important shopping and leisure destination in Reading.” Sarah Fox, head of restaurants and leisure at the shopping centre’s owner Hammerson, added: “Zizzi’s decision to open at The Oracle is a fantastic result. In the past couple of years we have worked proactively to increase the quantity and standard of the dining offer at the centre, including rejuvenating The Riverside and bringing in new names.” Founded in 1999 in Chiswick, Zizzi operates 155 restaurants in the UK and Ireland.
 
Ei Group reopens real ale pub in Harrogate as new concept: Ei Group, formerly Enterprise Inns, has relaunched former real ale pub The Tap n Spile in Harrogate, Yorkshire, as a new concept. When the landlord of the Tap n Spile left after 23 years at the end of March, the pub was a traditional-looking hostelry with darts, dogs and live music sessions in a setting of wooden flooring, stone walls, chalk boards and upright piano, the Yorkshire Post reports. Now it has been rebranded by Ei Group as The Tap and undergone a thorough modernisation. The pub in Tower Street retains its three-room layout and outside seating area but the fixtures and fittings incorporate a raft of changes, including cosy seats, a “craft beer shop” with takeaway bottles and cans, and an all-day food menu of hot and cold snacks. The Tap also offers a huge pile of board games in one room for customers to play.
 
G1 Group blames Shawlands decline on local authority policy as it closes another venue: G1 Group, owned by Stefan King, is to shut Waverley Tearooms in the Shawlands area of Glasgow, bring the total of empty G1 venues to five. Campaigners are calling on G1 Group to sit down with representatives and discuss the future of the buildings. But Stefan King claims Glasgow City Council’s strict licensing laws are to blame for the demise of the south side area’s nightlife. In a written exchange with local Green Party councillor Jon Molyneux, King blamed the council for the downturn in trading in Shawlands. King wrote: “Sadly the demise in terms of trading in the area started many years ago with the council imposed restriction of trading hours in comparison with the city centre. This unfortunately not only affected late-night operations such as ours but it also meant bars and restaurants were affected as people were happier to go into town where they could be assured of a full night’s entertainment. I am advised consideration is now being given to reinstating late licences for entertainment premises both in the south side and in the West End where anomalies exist such as Oran Mor in the West End and The Shed in the south side, both of which have created an unfair trading advantage when compared with other operators such as ourselves. That said, we are committed to the upkeep of our properties, albeit I appreciate that is not quite as much comfort as them being opened once again for the enjoyment of the community.”
 
Cocktails and wings concept Bunk to open third site, in Derby: Cocktails and wings concept Bunk is to open its third site, in Derby. The company has signed a new ten-year lease on a site in Sadler Gate formerly occupied by Saddlers Bar. The new restaurant is due to open next month. Bunk offers traditional and boneless wings from five to 50 pieces, with a wide range of sauces and sides, chicken and vegetarian nuggets, and lamb hotdogs, alongside a selection of cocktails. Darran Severn, of FHP Property Consultants, told The Business Desk: “We had been speaking with Bunk for almost a year but had been struggling to offer the right property for them. When Saddlers Bar became available, it was clear this would be the perfect opportunity.” Bunk, which operates two sites in Nottingham city centre – in Stoney Street and Lower Parliament Street – also applied in the summer for a drinks and entertainments licence for the lower ground floor of the Hydrogen Building, a student apartment development next to the city’s Theatre Royal. However, the plan has yet to be approved. FHP director David Hargreaves said: “There has been ongoing interest in the commercial units of the Hydrogen building but this is not surprising given its close proximity to Nottingham Trent University and the student population of Nottingham. Conversations are currently under way with potential tenants and terms have already been agreed with a Chinese supermarket to take a section of the ground floor, and a bar restaurant for the basement level.”
 
English Whisky Co opens £400,000 restaurant and coffee house in Norfolk: East Anglia-based distiller English Whisky Co has opened its £400,000 restaurant and coffee house in Norfolk. The new venue – The Kitchen – has opened at the company’s St George’s Distillery in Roudham, near Thetford, with the firm also launching the last in its single-grain whisky trilogy, Parched. The Kitchen, built next to the distillery, took 12 months to plan and build and has seating for 68 people inside and more than 100 in its garden. English Whisky Co owner Andrew Nelstrop told the Eastern Daily Press: “The distillery welcomes upwards of 45,000 visitors every year and The Kitchen enables us to offer them a lovely place for breakfast or lunch alongside the tours and our retail offering. It will provide the perfect environment to relax, unwind and eat with friends.” The distillery’s shop has also been expanded and now offers the company’s whole range as well as more than 300 whiskys from around the world.
 
Liverpool-based Mexican restaurant La Parrilla to open second site: Liverpool-based Mexican restaurant La Parrilla is to open its second site in the city. The company, which has a venue in South Road in the Waterloo area of the city, is opening the new restaurant in Bold Street at the end of the month. The decor will feature primary coloured upholstery against flame orange walls, dark wood and black metalwork over two floors with capacity for about 100 diners. A spokesman told the Liverpool Echo: “We started doing well in South Road and everyone who came in to visit us was asking why we didn’t open a branch in town as it was far to travel. We thought ‘maybe’. We ‘d been looking for the past year and then this appeared. Bold Street is just becoming the restaurant mile now. Everyone wants a place in Bold Street. And we were just so lucky to get such a good position.”
 
Winchester-based pie and mash shop Piecaramba! to start expansion with Southampton site: Winchester-based pie and mash shop Piecaramba! is to start expansion by opening a second site, in Southampton. The concept, which offers pie and mash while also operating as a comic book store, celebrated its first anniversary by announcing plans to open premises in Carlton Place. The new restaurant will set over two floors, giving the business an opportunity to cater to more customers and provide a function area for private parties and events. The venture will create up to ten jobs when it opens in December. Piecaramba! proprietor Rob Litchfield told the Daily Echo: “We’ve worked hard to establish ourselves in Winchester and we’re really excited to be in a position to open another store and spread the good word of the pie. We wanted to open another one as quickly as possible and not fall into a position where we got too comfortable with just one store. We would love to open more sites and we’ve earmarked a couple of other towns for expansion if and when the time is right.”
 
North east-based operator Wobbly Duck bids to launch Newcastle micro-pub for second site: North east-based Wobbly Duck, which operates craft ale pub The Old Fox in Gateshead, has submitted plans to open a micro-pub in Newcastle city centre. The company has applied for a premises licence to turn Arch 10 in Forth Street into a micro-pub open daily from midday to midnight. Arch 10 offers 700 square feet of space over two floors close to Central Station, Chronicle Live reports. In its licence application, Wobbly Duckling stated: “The primary use of the building will be as a specialist craft beer and real ale micro-pub. Although we don’t intend to have live music regularly, there may be occasions, such as beer festival-type events, where we may want to provide additional entertainment in the form of acoustic or amplified acoustic music.” The area is becoming known for its micro-pubs with one business, Box Social, in the adjacent arch. Box Social took the space when Newcastle’s first micro-pub – Split Chimp – moved to a space around the corner that was double the size.
 
Sleeperz to open Dundee train station hotel in the spring: UK budget hotel operator Sleeperz Hotels is set to open a hotel above Dundee’s upgraded railway station in the spring. The Sleeperz hotel will open its 120 bedrooms ahead of the summer season, creating 30 full-time jobs. The redeveloped railway station concourse will reopen in March, with the hotel occupying the upper part of a new £38m building. A number of other units are also due to open in the development, helping to “create a vibrant new entrance to the city”. Ryden has been appointed letting agent for commercial units at the station. Ryden development agency partner Bill Marley told the Tele: “We have had lots of interest in the commercial units and we’re in detailed discussions with a number of retailers for all the available spaces. We hope to have each of the units confirmed before Christmas.” Sleeperz operates affordable, design-led hotels in Cardiff, Newcastle and Edinburgh aimed at business travellers, families and couples seeking longer city breaks. Last month, the company expanded its sister hotel, Cityroomz Edinburgh, by adding a new wing consisting of 43 rooms and the company’s first suites.
 
Marston’s opens new-build pub at Bilston residential development: Marston’s has opened a new-build pub restaurant at a residential development in Bilston, West Midlands. The company has launched The White Rabbit at the £176m Bilston Urban Village, creating 45 jobs. The name of the Bankfield Road venue is a nod to the mining heritage of Bilston and the surrounding area and comes from local accounts in the 18th century of miners being haunted by an evil spirit. A ceremony was held to ask for protection and guidance from the White Rabbit, a symbolic white witch figure who protected the miners and banished the evil spirit. Marston’s Inns and Taverns area operations manager Mark Griffiths said: “This area is the heartland for Marston’s so we are really excited to be part of this development. The pub is an extension of people’s lives so we are happy we can embrace this and provide the community with a place they can enjoy.”
 
Lunya moves to new Liverpool ONE site: Spanish restaurant and deli concept Lunya has relocated to a new site in Liverpool ONE. The family-owned company agreed a deal with Grosvenor Europe to leave its home of seven years in College Lane for a 5,500 square foot site on the corner of College Lane and Hanover Street that used to house Busaba Eathai. The new site offers more integrated dining, bar and deli space and allows Lunya to expand its deli range and increase the number and size of regular events, including wine and food-tasting evenings and gin experiences. Founders Elaine and Peter Kinsella invested an additional £150,000 into the new site and created ten jobs, taking its Liverpool workforce to 55. Elaine Kinsella told the Liverpool Echo: “Although we and our customers loved our existing site in Liverpool ONE, an opportunity arose with a new location offering all the extra space and facilities that was just too good to miss. It is all on one floor so it is great for accessibility and really brings the restaurant, kitchen, bar and deli together yet remains intimate.”
 
Street food operator to launch aviation-themed cocktails concept in Beverley: Lucie Mountain, who operates street food business Crêpe Lucette at music festivals across the UK, is to launch a vintage aviation-themed cocktails concept in Beverley, Yorkshire. The former air hostess will launch The Cockpit Cafe next month, featuring a cocktails trolley with drinks from exciting international destinations and a food menu focusing on sharing platters. The 1950s-style cafe bar will create 20 jobs when it opens at a site previously occupied by The Beehive restaurant. Mountain told the Hull Daily Mail: “Aviation gets under your skin, there’s something quite addictive about it so I came up with the idea of The Cockpit Cafe. The idea is to create a nice cafe bar that’s a bit of a quirky destination for people to escape to. It will be vintage-style, serving drinks and cocktails from a trolley. It will be a little different to what’s out there – cocktails from around the world with luggage tags. We will also have a lot of local produce in terms of beer and cask ale. There are a lot of restaurants in Beverley where people can eat and drink but not many nice cafe bars.”
 
Operator sells Leicester’s first boutique hotel to concentrate on restaurant and cocktail bar: Leicester-based operator Aatin Anadkat has sold Hotel Maiyango in the city to concentrate on his other businesses – The Fish And The Chip restaurant below the 14-bedroom boutique hotel and The Tasting Room cocktail bar. Anadkat opened what was Leicester’s first boutique hotel ten years ago in St Nicholas Place following a reported £2m investment. He will now concentrate on 80-cover The Fish And The Chip, which he reopened in August following a rebrand of his AA rosette fine dining restaurant Maiyango. The Tasting Room in Highcross Street also specialises in cocktail classes. Anadkat told the Leicester Mercury: “Hotel Maiyango has been very demanding and after ten years I feel I have taken the business as far as I can. The location has changed so much and that has affected the dynamic of my vision behind Hotel Maiyango. The past few years have been an uphill battle and it has been challenging to recover from the impact of the Jubilee Square building works that lasted 18 months. Business is always evolving and you have to be willing to change – even if something is working – to stay ahead of the game.” The name of the hotel’s new owner has not been disclosed but the venue will be run by management company Then Hospitality.
 
Papa John’s plans to open Weston-super-Mare site in former Hotcha outlet: Papa John’s has submitted plans to open a venue in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. The company wants to take on part of a site formerly occupied by Chinese takeaway franchise Hotcha in Regent Street, the Weston, Worle & Somerset Mercury reports. In its planning submission to North Somerset Council, Papa John’s stated: “The previous tenant has left the building empty for some considerable time and it requires extensive repair. The tenant and owner have tried to lease the ground-floor unit as a whole, without success, due to current economic uncertainties. With areas of the town undergoing a transformation and attracting big-brand names to the centre, it is important to recognise there are many retail units left empty and in a state of dilapidation. With current business uptake low, it’s important to attract known brands into these rundown units to promote a more vibrant impression of the town.” A number of brands have announced openings in Weston-super-Mare recently, including Nando’s and bingo cafe concept Luda.

North east-based waste food pop-up Refuse to launch debut bricks and mortar site: North east-based waste food pop-up Refuse is to launch a debut bricks and mortar site next month. Refuse, which is part of The Real Junk Food Project, has run pop-up cafes in the region for the past two years but will now open a permanent cafe in Chester-le-Street. The concept only sells food that would otherwise go to waste, with customers asked to pay what they think dishes are worth. The new cafe will also stage live events. Co-founder Nikki Dravers told the Northern Echo: “We are so pleased with this building, it is perfect for a cafe, gives us room to sort through the crazy amount of food we get every day, and has bags of potential for future use. That will mean tonnes more food being intercepted from landfill and thousands more people enjoying it, helping to reduce food waste in the north east.”
 
Pret A Manger to open Orpington site by end of year: Pret A Manger is to open a site in Orpington, Kent, by the end of the year. The venue will open in the Nugent Shopping Centre, creating 20 jobs. Customers at the site will enjoy the company’s new menu, which launched last month including the introduction of US favourite the pumpkin spice flat white coffee to the UK for the first time. Pret A Manger operations manager Selam Mengesha told the Bromley Times: “We are very excited to open in Orpington for the first time and to get to know our local community here. We’re currently on the look-out for enthusiastic, fun and hard-working team members to join team Pret.” Charities in the area are also set to receive a boost, as Pret A Manger looks to donate unsold food at the end of each day. During the past year, the company has donated more than three million food items to shelters and hostels. Last week, the company opened its third Veggie Pret, in Exmouth Market, and launched trials of a hydroponic fridge to grow herbs and a filtered water station with reusable glass bottles.

 
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