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Mon 20th Nov 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Rola Wala founder looking to double estate in next 18 months as third site opens this week, in Oxford: Founder of Indian-inspired street food concept Rola Wala, Mark Wright, has told Propel he is looking to double the estate in the next 12 to 18 months as the company prepares to open its third site this week. Rola Wala will launch the new venue on Friday (24 November) at the Westgate Centre in Oxford, building on its existing outlets at the Trinity Leeds shopping centre and in Spitalfields in London, which opened earlier this year. Rola Wala will also launch its first franchise next year – in Dubai "with a company that shares the same values as us". Wright said he saw opportunities for further growth with transport hubs being explored as a potential avenue. He added: "That's certainly somewhere I would like to be as I think our food would appeal to rail and airport travellers. People are tired of the same options and demand better food and experiences, landlords need to encourage dwell time – we can deliver that on both fronts. We took a while to get our first site right, and then opened the next two sites within four months, now it’s all about nailing our multi-site operation. Given the simplicity of our offer, I think we have the potential to grow quickly both regionally and in London and while I'm taking it one step at a time I think we can double the UK estate in the next 12 to 18 months." Wright, which began Rola Wala as a street food trader in London four years ago, said it had been a steep learning curve going to a retail environment but felt the operational set-up gave the business the perfect platform to expand. He added: "We're effectively like a Subway in that we have a five-metre service counter but we serve healthy, freshly made Indian-inspired food and offer something different to the market. It means we can operate in small spaces and that helps with costs – we can go into a 300 square foot site. We're keeping it simple in operational terms and building the business with smart, passionate people that believe in what we're doing – critical to retaining the authenticity of our brand." Rola Wala's 55 square metre kiosk at Westgate will be based in the shopping centre’s new food and leisure area, Westgate Social.
 

Industry News:

Nominations open for awards aimed at recognising young marketing talent in the sector: Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the new event in January run by Propel and Think Hospitality, is calling for nominations for its inaugural “30 Under 30” list, which looks to recognise 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: "We are looking for nominations for outstanding young marketing and innovation professionals working within the eating and drinking out sector, whether working for a brand or an agency. Our panel of experts will then draw up a 30-strong list of outstanding your professionals who will be recognised at a special reception in January." Nominations should highlight (in one page): the name, position and title of the individual; why they believe the individual deserves recognition; how the individual has demonstrated success in their career to date; and relevant achievements and/or career history. Nominations can be made by emailing awards@restaurantinnovator.com
 
Restaurant Marketer & Innovator open for bookings: Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing conference the sector has seen, is open for bookings. Propel is staging the two-day event in partnership with Think Hospitality on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The event will bring together marketers, strategists and business leaders from the foodservice sector to understand trends, share success, and define the future of the sector. A total of 40 speakers from four countries, representing more than 30 brands, will provide advice and insight. For full details, click here. Prices for the two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book, contact Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or jo.charity@propelinfo.com or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
Casual dining boosts US restaurant like-for-likes in October: Like-for-like sales increased 1.4% at casual dining chains in October, leading to the best performance since February last year for US restaurants, according to the latest MillerPulse index. Overall, like-for-like sales increased 1.4% compared with last year – the first positive reading since June. Visits, however, were still down. Like-for-like visits fell 0.4%, a significant improvement from September’s 2.6% decline but the 27th month out of 29 that like-for-like visits have fallen. Casual dining’s like-for-like sales performance was its best month since September 2015. Visits in the category were up 0.6%, the first positive performance in 27 months. MillerPulse co-founder Larry Miller estimated 30 basis points of casual dining like-for-like sales could be attributed to a hurricane rebound – as consumers returned to restaurants that reopened following storm-related closures. While there was improvement across the board, Miller warned one month’s figures didn’t mean the corner had been turned, with casual dining up against weak comparisons from a year ago. Meanwhile, quick-service restaurants’ like-for-like sales increased 1.4% but visits declined 1.1% – the 19th straight fall in visits – although it was the best performance since June 2016, reports Nation’s Restaurant News.
 
Network Rail to sell £1bn commercial property business: Network Rail has announced plans to sell its commercial property business in England and Wales. The majority of the 5,500 properties, many housed in railway arches that are used by food and drink operators, will be sold on a leasehold basis as access may be required for railway operations. Network Rail has appointed Rothschild to sell the £1bn business. Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne told Property Week: “I hope to see areas around the railway positively transformed with new and refurbished shops, amenities and extra facilities for local people and passengers. The sale will bring a major cash boost to help fund key projects across England and Wales as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan.” Network Rail is currently involved in major projects such as the Thameslink programme, the Great North Rail project, Crossrail, and the Waterloo and south west upgrade. Tenants will transfer to the new buyer with their leases and notice periods unchanged.
 
Financial Times surveys prices at 213 JD Wetherspoon sites – and finds Manchester pub most expensive: The Financial Times has surveyed 213 of JD Wetherspoon’s 893 pubs, using data from its smartphone app to price up an Empire State burger, a chicken tikka masala, a chocolate brownie, a pint of Sharp's Doom Bar ale and a bottle of Birra Moretti lager at each. The Mardi Gras at the Trafford Centre was found to be the most expensive, charging £33.40 for the meal. The cheapest meal was in Birmingham, where the bill totted up to £22.44. Leicester Square's The Moon Under Water ranked in second place with a total of £32.28. A Wetherspoon spokesman said the company was transparent about its price variance, which it says is due to differences in rents, rates, staffing and local competition. "Because rents and rates vary so much across all parts of the UK, all we can do is to be competitive against other pubs in the respective area," he said.
 

Company News:

Jamie Oliver underwrites debt at restaurant business in debt-for-equity swap: Chef Jamie Oliver is to underwrite a debt-for-equity swap at his restaurant business as part of a wider restructuring aimed at stabilising the business, The Times has reported. Short-term loans totalling £5m will be converted to equity by means of a pre-emptive rights issue. If minority shareholders opt not to take up their rights, Oliver would lift his stake from 73% to 99%. The loans, part of total debts of £37m against his Jamie’s Italian and Barbecoa restaurants, were provided by the Jamie Oliver Holdings vehicle to see it through difficult trading. There is an option to raise a further £5m if required. The group has closed six of its 42 UK Jamie’s Italian outlets, cut costs, changed management, simplified menus and stepped up promotions, aiming to return to profit next year. 
 
Soho House eyes San Francisco outpost: Soho House is set to take over the San Francisco Armory, a roughly 200,000 square foot building in the Mission. The historic property was built as an arsenal for the United States National Guard in 1912, later becoming a sports venue in the 1940s. It later provided interior shots in The Empire Strikes Back. The building was registered as a historical landmark in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. “The Moorish castle-inspired building is zoned for urban mixed-use, which is a perfect fit for Soho House's typical potpourri of restaurants, workspaces, spas and bedrooms,” reports the San Francisco Business Times. ”If approved, San Francisco would be Soho's eighth North American outpost.”
 
Bridgepoint delays Pret A Manger New York float: Private equity firm Bridgepoint looks to be waiting for an improvement to market conditions before floating Pret A Manger on the New York stock market. Bridgepoint, which bought Pret in 2008, hired advisers back in May to explore a listing this year. It was suggested the sandwich chain’s valuation could hit £1.5bn on Wall Street. But it now looks unlikely that it will list before the new year. A spokesman for Bridgepoint however insisted work on a float is still underway. He said: “We continue to consider the option of a US IPO and will proceed when preparations are complete and market conditions appropriate.” Last week, Bridgepoint bought the franchise right to the Burger King brand in the UK. It also owns the ASK Italian and Zizzi restaurant chains.
 
Greene King opens first joint-venture concept, with Tom Kerridge: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched its joint venture with chef Tom Kerridge – The Butcher’s Tap in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The project is the first of Greene King’s joint-venture concepts, a new programme for its Pub Partners division announced in September that will see the company team up with the “best entrepreneurs and innovators that have the courage to be bold and try something new”. The Butcher’s Tap in Spittal Street functions as a butcher’s shop and bar until 5pm, when the space operates a simple meat-led menu with beer on tap, wine, spirits and community nights. Kerridge is working with friend and butcher Andy Cook, who has been providing produce for the chef’s two-Michelin-starred pub The Hand & Flowers for almost ten years. The Butcher’s Tap’s menu includes braised faggots, hot pots, pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls. Greene King Pub Partners managing director Clive Chesser said: “We aim to work with the best in the business and we’re thrilled the next step of our ongoing partnership with Tom Kerridge also marks the start of what we hope will be a major development in our Pub Partners division.”
 
Online craft beer retailer HonestBrew launches brewery investment fund: Online craft beer retailer HonestBrew has launched a brewery investment fund. The fund will act as an interest-free loan of up to £50,000 a year, with HonestBrew receiving no equity in the brewers they invest in. The brewers that gain access to the development fund will pay HonestBrew back in stock during a 12-month period. To qualify for funds, a brewery must be independently owned and an existing customer of HonestBrew, while funds can only be invested in new equipment or as capital expenditure. Cornwall-based Verdant Brewing Company will be the first recipient of the fund, with its £20,000 allotment invested in new tanks to increase production. HonestBrew was founded as an online retailer in 2014 before expanding into distribution. HonestBrew founder Andrew Reeve told GBH: “It’s a win-win for breweries and HonestBrew. The brewer gets access to capital and, through their increased production and beer repayments, our customers get access to their beers.” In August, HonestBrew secured £1.5m investment following a funding round led by venture capital firm Hargreave Hale and a handful of private investors.

Brakspear opens tenth managed pub: Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has taken its managed estate to ten sites with the reopening of the Dog & Duck in Wokingham, which has undergone a major refurbishment. The revamp has been carried out by Brakspear’s in-house design team, with the aim of retaining the heritage of the pub, which dates to the 1850s, while also updating it. The menu offers seasonal British pub classics such as steaks and fish and chips, as well as grills, salads and sourdough or spelt-base pizzas from the kitchen’s wood-fired oven. A lunch express menu offers open sandwiches and other quick options, while children have their own menu. A carvery menu is operating on Sundays. The drinks list features classic cocktails; a range of ten speciality gins such as Hawthorn’s, Silent Pool and Tarquin’s Cornish and a wide selection of wines including champagne and prosecco. Craft beers including Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada and Goose Island, sit alongside Brakspear cask ales and a range of world beers and ciders. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “We are delighted to be reopening the Dog & Duck as our tenth managed pub. We are basing the pub’s offer on the Retreat at Staines, which we opened a year ago; high-quality food and drink in an informal, welcoming setting with broad local appeal. While we want all our managed pubs to have their own individual character, as we expand the managed division there are also benefits from rolling out the best elements into new sites." 

BrewDog nears £5m mark in latest crowdfunding campaign, launches two investors’ clubs: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, which has so far raised £4,932,637 in its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign, has launched two clubs for investors. People who invest £950 can join one of the clubs, while those investing £1,425 qualify for both (on a first-come, first-served basis). Abstrakt Addicts club members will receive three bottles of each of the next four Abstrakt beers (an 11.5% ABV American barley wine), while Overworks Overlords members will secure three bottles of four Overworks sour beers. The fifth round of Equity for Punks is looking to raise £10m, with the potential to extend to £50m, by releasing 421,052 new B shares. The campaign will close on 15 January. Shares cost £23.75 each and will be issued in blocks of two, with a minimum investment of two shares for £47.50.
 
Brunning & Price reopens Oxted pub after £2m investment: Brunning & Price, the Restaurant Group's gastro-pub arm, has reopened The Haycutter pub near Oxted, Surrey – a site that has been closed for more than two years. Brunning & Price has invested £2m in work that includes adding a new extension on to the back. There is a long 8.5 metre bar with a huge choice of whiskeys and gins among its stock. The pub in Tanhouse Road, Broadham Green, was bought by Brunning & Price after coming on the market in the summer of 2015. The company put in a planning application to transform and extend it in February 2016. In January this year plans for the pub, which sits on Green Belt land, were approved by Tandridge District Council. The pub has had the support of the community, which, when the pub went on the market, successfully campaigned to have it listed.
 
Principal to open new London site in early 2018: Principal is set to open a new London site in early 2018. A grade II-listed building in London Russell Square will soon be home to a “grand and glamorous” hotel, restored to its original glory. The Principal London is the latest addition to Principal – a collection of hotels based in landmark buildings – and will open in early 2018. The 334-room building is steeped in history, having first opened its doors in 1898. The rooms include carefully chosen artwork and accessories that nod to Bloomsbury’s literary and artistic heritage. Principal has also restored historic hotels into high-end hotels in Edinburgh, Manchester and York. Its estate includes sites in Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Oxford with plans to open in Birmingham and Liverpool. 
 
Yorkshire-based La Casita opens fourth site as part of UK-wide expansion plans: Yorkshire-based Spanish bar and restaurant concept La Casita has opened its fourth site in the county, in Leeds, as part of UK-wide expansion plans. The company, owned by Simon Miller, Oliver Renton and Ben Riley and run under the banner Little House Of Tapas, has launched the venue at Granary Wharf, offering traditional Andalusian tapas and a hand-picked selection of wine, cocktails, gin, cava, sherry, sangria and Spanish craft ale. Miller told The Business Desk: “We have ambitious UK-wide expansion plans for La Casita. We recognise there is a lot of competition in the city centre but we’re confident our offer is unique and our success to date brings with it a great reputation for traditional tapas.” La Casita opened its first site in Ilkley in 2014, followed by restaurants in Boston Spa and Horsforth.
 
D&D London launches third restaurant with Francesco Mazzei, at Battersea Power Station: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched its third concept in partnership with Italian chef Francesco Mazzei. Fiume, which means “river” in Italian, has opened at Circus West Village, part of the £9bn Battersea Power Station redevelopment. It joins Mazzei and D&D London’s other ventures – Sartoria in Savile Row and Radici in Islington. Head chef Francesco Chiarelli runs the kitchen at 120-cover Fiume, which features an open kitchen with wood-fired oven, bar counter dining for 15 people, and a piazza-style terrace for up to 50 guests. The restaurant pays homage to the Mezzogiorno, the Southern area or “the boot” of Italy, which holds a special place in the heart of Calabrian native Mazzei. The bar offers classic and contemporary Italian cocktails alongside a bespoke list of fine Italian wines. Throughout the year, Fiume will also host interactive events for the local community, including wine-tasting dinners and exclusive cookery classes with Mazzei.
 
Fat Hippo lodges plans for fourth site, in Sunderland: Gourmet burger brand Fat Hippo has lodged plans to open a site in Sunderland – its fourth in the north east. The company has applied to the city council to open the venue, which would be called The Bonded Warehouse, in Low Street. Fat Hippo wants to transform the former students’ union building into a street food cafe and bar seating 175 people. The eatery would be on the ground floor, while the second floor would be kept as a function room and wedding venue and as a room to host live music, reports the Sunderland Echo. Fat Hippo opened its first site in Jesmond, Newcastle, in 2010, followed by Fat Hippo Underground in Newcastle city centre. Last year, the company branched out into Durham.
 
Wahaca launches ‘Christmas revolution’ menu: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca has launched a Christmas revolution menu that “rebels” against traditional festive fare. Under the banner of “tacos not turkey”, “salsa not sprouts”, and “margaritas not mulled wine”, the two feasting menus are available for groups looking to “celebrate the festive season with a Mexican twist”. All dishes have been developed by co-founder and MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers and are served family-style, with sharing plates and make-your-own taco boards. The Rebellion Banquet menu offers a selection of street food starters to share, followed by “make your own tacos” feasting boards with diners choosing from a range of fillings and accompaniments such as chipotle cauliflower cheese, spiced cranberry and tomatillo salsas, and warm tortillas. The Revolutionist’s Feast menu features lighter offerings such as roasted sweet potato with caramelised onion-and-feta taquitos, and smoked salmon tostadas. There is also a range of seasonal margaritas and cocktails. Wahaca has 24 sites in the UK and is set to open a restaurant in Birmingham.
 
Good Food Society launches Mediterranean concept Hovarda in Soho for third London site: The Good Food Society, led by Levent Büyükuğur and Sanjay Nandi, has launched Mediterranean concept Hovarda for its third London site. Hovarda has opened in Rupert Street, Soho, offering the company’s take on Aegean food including seafood dishes dictated by the catch of the day. The 5,670 square foot venue also offers grilled dishes such as organic slow-roasted lamb with lamb’s-fat potatoes, oregano and lemon, while desserts include spiced ice cream with honey and walnuts, Hot Dinners reports. As well as the 180-cover ground-floor restaurant, the venue features a 70-seater cocktail bar upstairs with offerings including the signature Hovarda (Yeni Raki, cinnamon, yogurt, brown sugar, Turkish honey, cardamom and espresso). The Good Food Society launched Turkish-style restaurant Yosma in Marylebone in summer 2016, while it opened Frescobaldi, a high-end Italian restaurant with the famed wine-making family, in Mayfair at the end of 2014.
 
Jamie Rollo – contract catering is a 'messy recipe': Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has highlighted weak trading in the contract catering arena. He stated: "Sodexo, Aramark and Elior, the second, third and fourth largest global contract caterers, all reported weak results (last week), plus ISS in the facilities management space. The issues seem fairly company specific, for example startup costs on new contracts, or reinvesting to drive top-line sales. The only common area was Hurricane Irma, but quantification suggests a relatively minor impact (20 to 70 basis points to quarterly sales). We could look at this apparent divergence as a positive, as it implies no structural issues and little read-across to market leader Compass, which reports (this) week. Indeed, the only theme we see could be that Sodexo and Aramark have been too focused on margin, at the expense of sales growth, which is a positive for Compass. Alternatively, and more cynically, we could look at this as a worrying trend as it might point to greater competition, for example lower margins on new contracts, or greater investment to win contracts. The situation appears similar to a year ago when all the companies reported weaker fourth-quarter sales growth, except that the current issues are more related to margin."
 
Bistrot Pierre opens Southport site: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre has opened a restaurant in Southport, Merseyside, for its 22nd site. The company has invested £1m to convert a former Russell & Bromley shoe shop in Lord Street into a 140-cover restaurant, creating 50 jobs. Bistrot Pierre was set up in 1994 by school friends Rob Beacham and John Whitehead. Beacham told the Visiter: “Southport is a beautiful town steeped in history and culture with beautiful scenery, shops and restaurants. I’m thrilled Bistrot Pierre is able to support this thriving local economy.” The company received £9.8m from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans. In August this year, the company secured another £3m of funding that will be used to open new restaurants in line with its strategic plan. Sites in the pipeline include Coventry, Preston and Worthing. Last month, the company reported turnover increased 32% to £25,760,000 in the year to 30 June 2017. Gross profit increased 32% to £9,530,000, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
 
Gorgeous Group founder launches Mediterranean mezze and cocktails concept in Edinburgh city centre: Robbie Bargh, founder of London-based hospitality agency Gorgeous Group, has launched eastern Mediterranean mezze restaurant and cocktail bar concept Baba in Edinburgh. Bargh has teamed up with Gorgeous Group commercial director Katherine Arnold, and Jonathan MacDonald and Daniel Spurr, who operate Glasgow restaurant Ox and Finch. They have opened the standalone venue as part of Principal’s multimillion-pound rebrand of the Roxburghe Hotel in George Street. Baba features a bespoke charcoal grill as the centrepiece of its open kitchen, with Scottish lamb, beef and seafood spiced and grilled Levantine-style over coals side by side with whole cauliflowers and harissa pumpkin. Traditional mezze such as hummus with zhug and baba ganoush and muhammara is served alongside kibbeh pastry, with haggis replacing traditional lamb. The bar offers cocktails using unusual ingredients such as apricot, mint, cumin and honey. MacDonald said: “Eastern Mediterranean cuisine is extremely versatile and developing this menu with the team has been a journey for us all. We have been overwhelmed by the success of Ox and Finch and are excited about bringing a new offering and dining experience to Edinburgh.”
 
McDonald’s launches Christmas campaign: McDonald’s has launched its Christmas campaign, which features a film about a girl saving carrots for Santa’s reindeer as well as a features hub on Snapchat. The two-minute film, which was created by advertising agency Leo Burnett, is designed to tap into the excitement and anticipation of the festive season. McDonald’s UK head of marketing Katie Parker told Campaign: “The ad also reminds people that McDonald’s has a role to play in providing a brief respite during the busy Christmas period – particularly when out shopping.” Parker said the film would be supplemented by secondary media activity throughout November and December, including a partnership with Snapchat. It includes a hub on the platform with three McDonald’s-inspired features. The first is a game that tasks players to collect carrots, the second is an augmented reality lens that allows users to see a dancing reindeer through their smartphones, while the third is a series of geofilters, which will be available at McDonald’s restaurants throughout the UK. The PR is being handled by Red Consultancy. McDonald’s Christmas campaign last year followed Juliette, a vintage doll destined to spend another Christmas alone. It achieved almost 100,000 views on YouTube, while a follow-up ad about the chain’s festive menu that featured the doll spying on a family was viewed more than 500,000 times.
 
Ivy Collection opens Harrogate site: The Ivy Collection has opened a brasserie in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The company has launched the venue in Parliament Street in the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill unit. The menu serves modern British and international Ivy-inspired classics, reports The Business Desk. The company is set for further expansion in the region with The Ivy York set to open in December, while a site has also been lined up in Leeds. It now has venues across the capital as well as Bristol, Bath, Cobham and Edinburgh and is preparing to launch in Cheltenham, Guildford, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells and Winchester.
 
Plans submitted to develop 63-bedroom hotel and restaurant to support theatre in Lincoln: Plans have been submitted to the City of Lincoln Council for a new 63-bedroom hotel and restaurant in the city centre. Submitted by Mike Hayes-Cowley, who currently leases the New Theatre Royal, the hotel would be based in Clasketgate, which is currently occupied by an office block and car park. The hotel would sit between the New Theatre Royal and Danesgate accommodation. The plans include a top floor restaurant pitched as a great stop-off for theatre goers to the city. Hayes-Cowley told The Lincolnite: “The New Theatre Royal is a struggling venue and we’re hoping the development will serve as a dual purpose. The theatre doesn’t receive the public funding that other theatres across the country receive and it will be used to help with an income stream. This will help the needs with the city in the needs of tourism and the restaurant can be used as a selling point and a tourist attraction. We also hope this will assist the theatre and hope to offer ticket deals for those who could stay in the hotel in an area that needs redevelopment.”
 
Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts launches Indian street food concept Bombay Bustle in Mayfair: Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has launched Indian street food concept Bombay Bustle in Mayfair. The company, which brought Michelin-starred Jamavar to Mayfair last December, has opened the venue in Maddox Street at a site formerly occupied by Hibiscus. The restaurant was originally going to be called Dabbawala, taking its name from the dabbawalas of Mumbai who used the city’s railway network to deliver home-cooked meals. However, the company decided to change the venture to Bombay Bustle due to Dabbawala clashing with a similarly-named restaurant. The new venue still takes its design lead from Mumbai’s trains, with seating inspired by first-class dining coaches and a dining bar made from pewter. The restaurant is split over two levels with the lower ground floor echoing waiting rooms. Jamavar executive chef Rohit Ghai heads the kitchen with the menu inspired by family recipes and the lunch boxes co-founder Samyukta Nair enjoyed at school. Sharing dishes are based on Indian dabbas – tiered, tiffin-style lunchboxes used to carry the food during delivery.
 
Sommelier and restaurateur Xavier Rousset launches free-to-join wine club: Master sommelier and restaurateur Xavier Rousset has launched a free-to-join wine club. Rousset has named the club Pinot & Chardo after his favourite grape varieties. Members can access special dinners and wine tastings, exclusive weekly offers on fine wine, and monthly wine-by-the-glass and dining offers at Rousset’s restaurants Blandford Comptoir in Marylebone and Comptoir Café & Wine in Mayfair. Members will also receive a monthly newsletter with tasting notes and wine tips, Harden’s reports. In addition to the membership, Pinot & Chardo will deliver wine experiences such as team-building events or bespoke tastings for corporate or private clients, personal guided tours with Rousset of select wine regions, and wine sourcing and cellar management services. Members can also order from Pinot & Chardo’s online wine collection. Rousset opened French fine dining restaurant Cabotte in Gresham Street in the City of London with fellow sommelier Gearoid Devaney in September.
 
Cromer-based Craft Burger heads to Norwich for second site, plans further expansion: Cromer-based Craft Burger is to open a second restaurant, in Norwich, with its owner planning further expansion. The company will open the venue on Friday, 1 December in the former Lillie Langtry pub in Unthank Road. The restaurant, which will have 40 covers inside and 20 outside, will serve a selection of gourmet beef, chicken, pork, fish, vegetarian and lamb burgers, hotdogs, steak, ribs and chicken dishes. Andrew Hubbard launched Craft Burger in New Street, Cromer, three years ago. There are plans to create Craft Burger restaurants in other areas of the country, with Hubbard hoping to increase his portfolio in the coming year, reports the Eastern Daily Press.
 
Brains brewery redevelopment to feature restaurants, bars and hotel: Plans have been submitted to turn SA Brain’s brewery in central Cardiff into a new development featuring restaurants, bars and a 200-bedroom hotel beside the River Taff. The first phase of the plans by developers Rightacres Property include a 12-storey financial centre, which would be the biggest commercial property scheme in Wales. The centre would feature a dedicated food hall targeting local food and drinks producers. There would also be a 200-bedroom hotel and a multi-storey car park built on SA Brain’s car park, allowing the brewer and retailer to continue operating while seeking a new site. The listed brewery and iconic chimney would remain as central features. The Central Quay riverfront regeneration scheme could eventually feature 2.5 million square feet of new offices, homes, restaurants, bars and shops. Rightacres chief executive Paul McCarthy told Wales Online: “Central Quay will become an integral part of the city for businesses, visitors and residents.”
 
Doner & Gyros to make UK debut, in Aylesbury: A new restaurant is set to open its first UK location, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, next month. Döner & Gyros is described as “a vibrant new eatery concept that offers the best of Berlin and Chicago street food”. It is set to open in Buckingham Street, Aylesbury, on Monday, 11 December. Owner Numan Choudhury said: “Aylesbury is a suitable choice for the first location to open in the UK as it is an up-and-coming town with great people who are ready to try new things. Future plans will be looking to spread across the UK.” The Doner story began in 1971, when Mehmet Aygu adapted the traditional Iskander-style kebab of north west Turkey to a more “Berliner” taste.

 
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