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Tue 4th May 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UKHospitality issues proposals to government to tackle £2.5bn rent debt ahead of formal statement on ‘call for evidence’: UKHospitality has issued proposals to the government to help tackle the rent debt crisis that threatens to “wreck the sector’s recovery” and risks up to one million jobs. The trade body wrote to Communities & Local Government Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP, ahead of submitting its formal statement on the government’s official call for evidence on commercial rent, stating while some landlords have adopted a collaborative stance to tenants, others are being heavy handed and aggressive. UKHospitality said the government’s strategy to date – introducing and repeatedly extending a ban on enforcement action – has provided businesses with welcome breathing space and protected jobs, but it has not dealt with the £2.5bn debt of commercial rent that is still owed and would be demanded by landlords once that ban expires. UKHospitality has recommended the following: extending protection for six months after covid restrictions are removed, targeted at sectors that have been severely affected by covid; expanding the protections to include all enforcement activity, and particularly county court judgments (CCJs), which undermine negotiations; the developing of a national-level adjudication process on “legacy rent debt” that should aim to share the pain of closure (with at least 50% of rent debt written off for this period, and at least 25% written off when the sector operated under restrictions); for landlords and tenants to come to reasonable repayment terms, led by guidance and further protections if necessary; and deals already agreed between parties would not be affected by any adjudication. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our overriding principle is that businesses and landlords have to share the pain caused by enforced closures and restrictions. With the right outcomes, we can help protect the hospitality sector in the short term and accelerate its recovery – contributing to more jobs and reviving high streets and communities.” Writing exclusively in Propel Friday Opinion, Robin Rowland, operating partner at Trispan, former chief executive of YO! Sushi and chair of UKHospitality’s Restaurant Working Group, said: “The idea this issue can be resolved without a government-sponsored solution is fanciful.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Treasury Wine Estates launches ethically minded, on-trade exclusive range of vegan certified wine: Premium winemaker Treasury Wine Estates has launched an ethically minded, on-trade exclusive range of vegan certified wine to provide operators with a sustainable choice on wine menus. The Coastal Reserve range, which is available through Molson Coors, features popular wine varietals from European regions including Merlot from Spain, Sauvignon Blanc from France and Pinot Grigio Rosato from Italy. The bottles have a premium look and feel, and have been designed to appeal to an increasing pool of consumers who seek environmentally friendly products and brands that have a purpose. “It is reported 61% of people living a vegan lifestyle have switched within the past three years,” said Tony Watson, commercial director UK & Ireland at Treasury Wine Estates. “Post-lockdown, more consumers have been looking to brands that are sustainable and have a meaningful mission.” Treasury Wine Estates has consciously made supply chain and packaging choices to minimise environmental impact, when creating Coastal. This includes sourcing and shipping European wines in bulk to minimise shipping miles and emissions, and using lightweight bottles and labels made from 100% recycled paper. The brand has also partnered with not-for-profit organisation, Plastic Oceans Europe, to focus on raising awareness around its sustainable efforts to reduce plastic pollution. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

164 companies sign up to Propel Premium in two months for exclusive access to the multi-site database and much more: A staggering 164 companies have signed up to Propel Premium since the start of March. A huge draw for businesses is the multi-site database that is now updated and sent to subscribers at the end of every month with a report on new additions. The database comprises 1,716 companies and is growing all the time. The latest version, which subscribers now have access to, saw 84 additions made to the database at the end of April since it was previously released at the end of March, along with a 5,000-word report. The go-to database has the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector – it provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Companies can also now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.
 
NTIA to launch legal action against Scottish government over ongoing restrictions on hospitality sector: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is to launch legal action against the Scottish government over the ongoing restrictions on the hospitality sector. The trade body said it was proceeding with a judicial review challenging the validity of all legal restrictions currently being imposed upon hospitality and night-time economy businesses in Scotland under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. It said given the success of the vaccine rollout and with deaths and hospitalisations falling, the restrictions imposed on hospitality businesses by Scottish government with regards to capacity, activities and operating hours are “no longer justifiable or proportionate”. It stated: “The hospitality sector in general, and late-night sector in particular, has been driven to the edge of insolvency by the severe restrictions in place since the start of the pandemic. Scottish government support has been wholly inadequate to compensate for operating losses and a majority of businesses have now incurred unsustainable debt as a result. Even worse, all strategic framework funding has now ended while there is no end date for the restrictions that make these businesses commercially unviable and 39,000 jobs are now at risk as a direct result. We accept restrictions were initially necessary in the interests of public health and, indeed, we not only fully supported previous measures taken but also actively promoted the government’s public health messages via social media channels and to our customer base. However, thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS workers, vaccine researchers, and scientists, and the immensely successful rollout of the vaccine, covid-19 no longer presents the threat to public health that it did even a few short months ago.” The NTIA has retained the services of TLT Solicitors and the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Roddy Dunlop QC, to argue its case in court “at the earliest practical opportunity”.
 
Boris Johnson reveals there’s a ‘good chance’ current social distancing rules will be scrapped on 21 June: Boris Johnson revealed there is a “good chance” current social distancing rules will be scrapped on 21 June. The prime minister said he hopes it will be possible to axe the existing one-metre-plus rule when the nation reaches the final step in his lockdown exit roadmap. It was reported during the weekend that one-way systems, screens and mask-wearing – while moving around within hospitality sites – could remain in place beyond 21 June but customer numbers will no longer be limited. Audiences in theatres and cinemas will have to wear face coverings during performances, while there will be strict guidance on ventilation and staggered entry, according to The Times. Speaking during a visit to Hartlepool, Johnson said: “It looks to me as though, on 21 June, we’ll be able to say social distancing as we currently have to do it, the one-metre-plus, I think we have got a good chance of being able to dispense with [it]. That is still dependent on the data. We can’t say it categorically yet... but that’s what it feels like to me right now.” Johnson’s comments came after foreign secretary Dominic Raab said during the weekend that “some safeguards” would have to stay in place beyond the 21 June date, such as continued use of masks and physical distancing. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the industry would need to “wait to see the full detail of plans because any restrictions in venues will continue to impact revenue and business viability”. She told the Daily Mail: “A return to unrestricted trading on 21 June is critical and will mean hospitality businesses [can] come off life support and be viable for the first time in almost 16 months.”

£80.8bn worth of sales in hospitality sector lost in past 12 months: A mammoth £80.8bn of hospitality sales have been lost during the past 12 months, according to the latest edition of the UKHospitality Quarterly Tracker compiled with CGA. The tracker showed sales from the start of April 2020 to the end of March 2021 totalled £46bn, down by 64% on £126.8bn in the previous 12 months. The drop of £80.8bn is equivalent to about £220m of sales lost every day – or more than £9m every hour. The fall reflects the national and local lockdowns and trading restrictions experienced by hospitality businesses during the pandemic. UKHospitality said the figures show the sector remains in need of financial support if it is to help lead the UK’s recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It has been a catastrophic year for the sector and we are by no means out of the woods yet. Hospitality’s ability to reopen will remain massively hampered until the government delivers on its commitment to dropping covid restrictions and measures on 21 June.” 

BBPA – leased and tenanted pubs secure average support of £27,000 while landlords give pub companies ‘but a fraction’: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said leased and tenanted pubs have received, on average, £27,000 each in support from their pub companies – while commercial landlords have given just a fraction of that total to pub-operating businesses. The data was revealed by the BBPA as part of the government’s call for evidence on commercial rents and covid-19, which is due to close on Tuesday (4 May). It added the financial support received by operators has come in the form of reduced or waived rent, as well as other support such as help with reopening costs, refunds for spoilt beer and staff protective personal equipment. It added, in terms of reduced rent and charges waived, this equates to around 85% of average annual rent. Meanwhile, pub-operating businesses have received “but a fraction” of the same support for pubs they rent from commercial landlords, with many not receiving any rent discounts at all. The trade association said this contrast between leased and tenanted pub support and commercial landlord support highlights the benefits of the unique leased and tenanted model, which sees entrepreneurs work in partnership with pub operators to run their own pub businesses. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Although it’s been a difficult one, the last year has shown just how important the leased and tenanted model is in ensuring Britain’s unique pubs survive and thrive. Without it, thousands of pubs wouldn’t be in the position they are today to reopen and recover. The government is doing the right thing by consulting on commercial landlords who have not supported tenants in their buildings. However, any measures bought about from the consultation must not cut across the leased and tenanted pub model and undermine the successful collaboration between pub tenant and operator, which has only strengthened since the crisis.” 

NTIA praises first nightclub reopening event, claims full reopening is only way to save sector: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has praised the first nightclub event in the UK for more than year and said opening the doors nationwide is the only way to save the sector. Liverpool nightclub Circus hosted two trial events on Friday and Saturday nights (30 April and 1 May) at The First Dance event that welcomed 5,000 clubbers to the city’s Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse. Speaking after the first night’s event took place, NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “It went extremely well, it’s an event that has been meticulously planned since last year. The team has gone the extra mile and delivered an amazing event under challenging conditions. This is a great step forward in educating the government, scientists and medical professionals in real time. We need to wait for the data to be released in the coming weeks to assess the next stages, but it is clear there is only one way that we will be able to save the workforce and businesses within this sector, and that is by opening the doors.” The trial did not require any social distancing or face coverings because it is hoped it will pave the way for more clubs to open across the country. 

Zero Carbon Forum welcomes ‘dream team’ to advisory board: The Zero Carbon Forum, the non-profit organisation comprising leaders from the hospitality sector, has welcomed a “dream team” of advisers to its advisory board to implement a roadmap to reaching net zero carbon emissions. The move comes with the COP26 climate change summit being held in Glasgow in November this year. The advisory board members include The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy Hornby, Adnams chief executive Andy Wood, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin, Pizza Hut Restaurants chief executive Jens Hofma and UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, to name a few. The forum has also welcomed environmental crisis expert Mike Berners-Lee, author of There Is No Planet B. He said: “Food is responsible for approximately a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and also about a quarter of the average UK person’s GHG footprint. A sizeable chunk of this comes through the hospitality industry.” Zero Carbon Forum founder and chief executive Mark Chapman added: “Our advisory board is integral to the success of the forum as we set a path to net zero.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a group of retail concepts to appoint a new marketing director. The position is based in London, paying up to £110,000. The marketing director will be responsible for the implementation and development of the marketing, PR and digital plan in order to support future UK growth. With an ambitious growth plan, the business is looking for a marketing professional who has the experience and vision to grow this brand. A confident decision maker, they will have led the marketing strategy to meet longer-term objectives of developing the brand and increasing revenue. With clear targets for increasing business through its existing sites as well as promoting new openings and ensuring their success, it will be essential for the individual to have a creative approach. This role provides the opportunity to make an impact in a short space of time, the autonomy to introduce new ideas and implement a strategy. Anyone interested can email to Gemma@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Caffe Nero – refinancing is one of a number of options business could explore: Caffe Nero, the Gerry Ford-led coffee chain, may consider a refinancing as one of its options going forward to ward off the threat of a hostile takeover by the Issa brothers, owners of the EG Group. A court case over the company voluntary arrangement, which gained approval from 93% of Caffe Nero’s landlords, is still ongoing, while, last month, the Issa brothers reportedly acquired some of the coffee chain’s junior debt from Partners Group. The brothers are seeking to get into a position to take control of Caffe Nero if the business was to default on the terms of its borrowing. Writing in his latest Propel Premium column on the battle for the circa 1,100-strong business, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett said: “It is thought the options for Caffe Nero, which is currently backed by Ford and a number of high-net worth family offices, include refinancing, bringing in a new heavyweight investment partner or trading their way out of the situation. There is a sense the Issa brothers will lose the court case but will ramp up their attempts to buy more of the group’s debt over the coming weeks.” On the issue of its covenant situation, a Caffe Nero spokesman said: “We have had a successful winter and spring trading, and are generating positive cash flow and are ahead of forecast for the past five months. We are forecasting no covenant issues in our projections over the next 12 months and look forward to an even brighter future post-17 May when we open our cafes fully to the public.” The Caffe Nero loans aren’t due for repayment for another 15 months. Wingett added: “Caffe Nero is a case study; a family-owned and operated business that started as an independent that Ford has nurtured from success to success for 24 years. Yet, due to government restrictions placed on him, he finds himself in a situation few would wish on anybody. It just can’t be right that a high-quality business such as Caffe Nero, forced to close through no fault of its own has become potential prey to an opportunistic bidder due to circumstances that everyone must agree were not of its making and totally out of its control?”

Wilkinson – we could potentially add further complementary brands: Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Famously Proper, the Calveton UK-backed owner of better burger brand Byron, has told Propel the company could potentially add further complementary brands to its portfolio, after acquiring Mother Clucker, the London-based, buttermilk-fried chicken concept. Wilkinson said there was potential for Famously Proper to do so and it was “always looking”. Propel revealed at the weekend Famously Proper had acquired Mother Clucker and retained key members of the concept’s team and brand identity, and would now look to expand the brand nationwide. Propel understands that, at this time, no current Byron sites will be converted to Mother Clucker as part of the planned expansion of the fried chicken concept. In terms of how big Mother Clucker could become, Wilkinson told Propel there were no set number but Famously Proper wanted to first “win the hearts and minds of the people, understand the business and then decide”. In terms of using Mother Clucker as a delivery brand out of existing Byron kitchens, Wilkinson said: “Potentially, but we want to get to know the brand first.” Founded in 2012 by Ross Curnow and Brittney Bean, Mother Clucker operates sites in Flat Iron Square in London Bridge, Truman’s Brewery in Brick Lane, BackYard Cinema in Wandsworth and at Stansted airport in partnership with transport hub foodservice specialist SSP. Last year, it secured a site in White City, at the White City Place development, which is yet to open. It also operates delivery-only units in partnership with Deliveroo in Whitechapel, Kentish Town and Elephant & Castle in the capital. Last year, Byron was sold via pre-pack administration to investment vehicle Calveton UK under the newly formed company Famously Proper for £4m. Propel revealed earlier this month that Byron, which currently operates 19 restaurants and five dark kitchen units, is set to open its first new site for five years as part of its expansion plans. It is understood the new site, which is believed to be located in north west London, is currently in the hands of lawyers but Byron hopes to open it by the end of May.

Starbucks to hire 400 staff members as demand rebounds: Starbucks has begun a recruitment drive to fill 400 positions across the UK as demand rebounds. The jobs are available at almost 200 of its city centre, suburban high street and drive-thru stores to deal with higher demand as lockdown restrictions ease. The Seattle-founded company said it did not make any redundancies or take furlough support in the UK after the pandemic struck. It said its hiring plans would fill “natural vacancies” from staff members who left the business during covid-enforced closures. Starbucks, which currently employs 3,664 staff across the UK, said about 98% of its estate is now operational. Starbucks UK general manager Alex Rayner said: “It has been incredibly difficult to be a high-street retailer in the past year as the covid-19 pandemic has placed operating restrictions on our business, which have impacted our profitability dramatically. But our priority the entire time has been to keep our people employed, avoid making redundancies in our company-operated stores and be prepared to safely reopen as restrictions ease.”

Doner Shack and Gloria Jean’s to open at Manchester Arndale as part of expansion plans: Casual kebab restaurant Doner Shack is to double up with an opening at the Manchester Arndale – with two more sites also set to open this year. Australian coffee house concept Gloria Jean’s is also opening at the shopping centre for its third UK site – with another nine set “to open soon”, according to its website. The pair will be joined by Edition Capital-backed Pizza Luxe, which revealed in 2019 it was launching its third site at the centre. The trio will be based at Halle Place, the centre’s food court, which is also home to north west-based burgers, shakes and waffles concept Archie’s, Mexican brand Barburrito and Italian street food restaurant Wolf. Doner Shack will sell a mix of “authentic” kebabs using different ingredients – including halloumi, falafel, and chilli. It has a site at Leeds Trinity and has outlets lined up at the Highcross shopping centre in Leicester and Silverburn in Glasgow, according to its website. Gloria Jean’s, which opened its first store in a small town outside of Chicago in 1979, now serves coffee in more than 50 countries around the world. It currently operates sites in the UK in Newcastle and Sutton, with five openings planned in Scotland and four in England. Scott Linard, portfolio director at M&G Real Estate, which owns Arndale Manchester, said: “Being able to welcome a trio of new food and beverage operators is a testament to Manchester Arndale’s position as one of the leading shopping centres in the UK. The centre has remained robust and resilient during 2020 and we are confident we will continue to add to our strong food and beverage offering throughout 2021 and beyond.”
 
Barkby Group seeing expansion opportunities ‘even stronger than anticipated at time of AIM admission’, outside trading ‘very encouraging’: Premium gastropub operator Barkby Group has said the opportunities it is seeing for expansion are “even stronger than the board had anticipated at the time of the company’s admission to AIM” and outside trading since reopening was “very encouraging”. The company said its six-strong pubs business and Workshop Coffee were poised for “significant growth” and a return to profitability as the economy reopens. For the period ended 31 December 2020, pre-tax losses narrowed to £2m from the £3.1m seen in the 15 months period through 2 July 2020. Revenue fell to £7.8m from £12m. The company stated: “The opportunities Barkby is seeing in the hospitality sector, in terms of available sites and potential business acquisitions, are even stronger than the board had anticipated at the time of the company’s admission to AIM. The board is confident the current dynamics in the hospitality property market will allow the group to secure new sites at significantly reduced rents and with lower capital costs per site. All of our pubs have now reopened for outside service only and early trading has been very encouraging. We are also seeing strong bookings from 17 May onwards and the board is optimistic that trading conditions will remain strong over the summer months due to pent-up demand and staycations. With Workshop Coffee, we are seeing a very encouraging pick-up in wholesale revenues as venues reopen. We are planning to reopen two of our retail locations around 17 May as lockdown restrictions are lifted. While the pandemic has seen excellent growth in Workshop’s online platform, the board is optimistic we can also return to strong growth across our retail business once restrictions are lifted fully.”
 
Stonegate launches head office career pathway scheme: Stonegate Group has launched an in-house training pathway – Albert’s Interesting Map to Success (AIMS) – for its head office support staff. The pathway is available across all head office roles – amounting to more than 600 different specific learning pathways and spanning from level 2, all the way to level 7 (Masters level). AIMS hopes to engage more than 1,000 support staff, across both the managed and leased and tenanted divisions, once established. The pathway has been designed to include both online and in-person learning to reflect the changes of the past 13 months. Although not officially a part of Stonegate’s multi-award winning Albert’s Theory of Progression, the new pathway does nod to the company’s front-of-house programme, both in its name and in the naming of its learning areas, all of which are named after Stonegate pubs. The “map to success” is, in effect, a pub crawl, kicking off at the College Arms for qualification lead learning, before stopping at the Churchill Inn, for leadership framework; The Discovery, for internal development; and finishing off at The Graduate, which houses the senior leadership development programme. The framework also includes the “Oasis”, which is an online space where delegates can access materials surrounding well-being and mental health. 
 
Coffee business Allpress Espresso sold to Asahi: Allpress Espresso, which operates sites in Dalston and Shoreditch, has been sold to Asahi. The New Zealand-founded coffee business sells more than 1,500 tonnes of coffee beans to boutique cafes and restaurants worldwide every year, and this figure is expected to grow under Asahi’s ownership. More than 240 full-time employees work at Allpress globally and all jobs are said to be safe. Allpress Espresso founder Michael Allpress said: “It’s been an amazing journey but after 30 years, the time is right for the business to go to the next level. The expertise, craftsmanship and relationship-based culture it has developed mean it’s very well placed to take this next step.” Asahi Beverages Group chief executive Robert Iervasi added: “Asahi Beverages and Allpress are a great fit. We’re thrilled to extend our portfolio of brands into the large and complementary coffee category, which will also help us meet more of our customers’ needs whether they be cafes, restaurants, pubs or retailers.” Allpress Espresso chief executive Vaughan Magnusson added: “Asahi share our focus on quality and have values that align with ours. They are the right organisation to take Allpress to the next level while preserving our heritage, culture and integrity.” 

Crime-themed immersive escape room experience to launch in central London next month: A crime-themed immersive escape room experience is to launch in central London next month. Produced by Rogue Productions, the creators of the sell-out experience Heist in 2014, The Perfect Crime “will combine immersive theatre, live, action, a gripping story line, problem and puzzle solving, and a race against the clock”. Groups of two to six will have an hour to get their hands on the stolen painting of Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and claim the $1m reward being offered by the FBI or chance their arm on the Black Market. They will have to overcome extensive security systems by unlocking high-tech locks, cracking unbreakable safes, crawl through the laser matrix and disable alarms to complete the mission. Afterwards, participants will be able to grab a brink from the Deli Bar. Rogue Productions director Dean Rodgers said: “We have taken the best of immersive theatre and escape games to make this the cutting edge of both. We have designed every detail, so you feel the real thrill of committing the perfect crime. This is a high-octane experience that makes you the star of your own heist movie. Nothing could be more fun than getting away with it.” The Perfect Crime, which has been designed in line with current covid-19 guidelines, will launch at the Theatre Deli in Finsbury Avenue on Thursday, 24 June.

Burmese restaurant concept Lahpet to double up with Covent Garden restaurant opening: Burmese restaurant concept Lahpet is to open its second site, in The Yards, Covent Garden. The 2,500 square foot site at 21 Slingsby Place is set to open later in the year. Lahpet opened its first site in Shoreditch, east London, in 2018. Founders Dan Anton and head chef Zaw Mahesh, who are both of Burmese heritage, will offer a menu serving small and large plates and noodle bowls, including the restaurant’s namesake dish, Lahpet Thohk, the infamous pickled tea leaf salad, and also other classic dishes such as Mohinga (catfish and lemongrass chowder) and coconut noodles with chicken. There will also be a creative cocktail list and house-made fermented drinks offering. Anton said: “Covent Garden’s bustling and vibrant community is the ideal place for us to branch out. We are sure Lahpet Covent Garden will be a huge success and we can’t wait to get started on our latest venture.” CBRE is the asset manager on behalf of Longmartin Properties – a joint venture between Shaftesbury and the Mercers’ Company – and Colliers, and DCL acted for The Yards. Lahpet represented itself.

New owners of George’s Great British Kitchen to reopen trio of sites: The new owners of fish and chip restaurant concept George’s Great British Kitchen, are to reopen three of the brand’s sites. All four sites are presently closed due to the current lockdown restriction. The Newcastle site will remain closed, however, the sites in Liverpool, Nottingham and Leeds will be opening under new ownership on 17 May. Adel Investments, the company previously behind the fish and chip restaurant concept George’s Great British Kitchen was wound up earlier this year after accruing estimated debts of more than £442,000. Adel Investments acquired the business at the end of 2019 from founders Andrew Constantinou and Nick Hogan. The first George’s Great British Kitchen opened in Nottingham 2014 on the back of George’s Tradition, a 10-strong chain of fish and chips shop run by Constantinou and Hogan, which continues to trade.

Winchester-based garden-themed cafe-bar to open second site, in Salisbury: Winchester-based garden-themed cafe-bar The Winchester Orangery is to open its second site, in Salisbury. The company is opening the 647 square foot venue in Crane Street, in a former art supplies shop, after agreeing a 20-year lease in a deal brokered by agents Myddelton & Major. Surveyor Gary Mead said: “The Winchester Orangery is expanding its existing operation to provide breakfast, brunch and lunchtime food in this beautifully refurbished building in an idyllic city centre setting.” The Winchester Orangery’s original site in The Square in its home city.

Swingers announces reopening dates for both London sites with cocktails and pizza offer: Street food and crazy golf concept Swingers has announced it will open both its London sites on Wednesday, 19 May. Both sites – City and West End – will be offering a cocktail special to tease customers back after partnering with Tanqueray to serve “Back in the Swing” that includes Tanqueray gin, Aperol, honey, lemon juice, rosemary, egg whites and prosecco – priced at £11 for two on Wednesday, 19 May and Thursday, 20 May. Meanwhile, customers attending the West End site on Wednesday, 19 May, can take advantage of one of 100 free slices of pizza from new street food trader Slice by Pizza Pilgrims. Early bird crazy golfers will be able to enjoy toppings on their signature 12-inch slices, including Smashed Mamma’s Boy Meatballs, Double Pepperoni & Spicy Honey and Mushroom & Truffle. Bookings are open now at both sites. 

Manchester-based fried chicken street food vendor South Manny Flavaz signs for first permanent restaurant: Manchester-based fried chicken street food vendor South Manny Flavaz is to open its first permanent bricks-and-mortar venue, at the city’s Great Northern Warehouse – and is eyeing further sites. South Manny Flavaz has agreed a deal with landlord Trilogy Real Estate for a 980 square foot double height unit in Deansgate after a pop-up takeover they took on with Tokyo Industries’ events space and bar, Impossible, located at the Great Northern. The Great Northern Warehouse location is the first in South Manny Flavaz’s plans to roll out further outlets in the coming months. Meanwhile, independent Polish restaurant Platzi, which has traded at Great Northern Warehouse for three years, has embarked upon a new lease on site, relocating from a 531 square foot unit in Deansgate Mews to a 1,012 square foot unit in Deansgate. Platzki and South Manny Flavaz will initially provide takeaway from their units and will serve food on site when indoor dining is once again permitted. 
 
Mark Greenaway launches takeaway pie and mash concept, in London: Chef Mark Greenaway has launched takeaway concept, Greenaway’s Pie & Mash, in London. Greenaway has opened the outlet in Villiers Street in Westminster. With the number of pie shops in London dwindling – there used to be more than 110 and now there are barely 20 – Greenaway, who is opening a fine-dining restaurant in central London this summer, said he saw an opportunity to “bring back a classic to the capital”. Along with classic pies such as chicken, mushroom and tarragon; and beef short rib and pearl onion, the menu also includes new combinations that change with the seasons such as confit duck, lentil and orange; and braised lamb shank, pea and mint. As well as takeaway, pies are also available via Deliveroo along with an at-home ready-to-cook range. Greenaway said: “Opening a pie and mash shop is not something I would have thought about doing a year ago. However, living and learning the culture here in London during lockdown has pivoted my thinking and almost excited me to look for other opportunities ahead of my signature restaurant opening in the summer.” Greenaway currently runs Grazing by Mark Greenaway at Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh hotel.
 
East London distillery passes £750,000 crowdfunding target for global expansion: Gin, vodka and whisky distillery East London Liquor Company (ELLC) has reached and passed its £750,000 crowdfunding campaign to realise global expansion. ELLC was founded by ex-bartender Alex Wolpert in 2014 and successfully raised £1.5m with a similar campaign in 2018. Wolpert said on Crowdcube: “Our ambition is big: to become a distillery that crosses the ‘craft’ divide by producing the best drinks we can, priced so they don’t break the bank and delivered to our friends from our East London home. To achieve that, we need to grow our off-trade channels further, both in the UK and abroad, expand our direct-to-consumer output, update our brand home to welcome more people through our on-site bar, restaurant, bottle shop and on distillery tours, and increase our whisky production to meet demand.” The company is offering 2.8% equity in the business with a pre-money valuation of £26m and share price at 9p. It had raised more than £755,000 from about 470 investors with 12 days of the campaign remaining.

 
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