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Tue 7th Sep 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Andy Laurillard – change in property usage could lead to hospitality circuits moving: Last year’s change to the use classes in order could lead to some traditional restaurant pitches being “left behind”, Andy Laurillard, co-founder of Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand backed by BGF, has said. He told Propel: “The ability to be able to get change of use for retail sites in higher footfall areas in some towns, means we could see traditional restaurant pitches being left behind. Footfall will move and these sites will become less profitable and less desirable.” Laurillard said Giggling Squid had looked at this when looking to secure a site in Winchester. He said: “We are set to take a site in Winchester, and normally you would look at say Jewry Street in the town, but I think as retail sites come up in the high street, trade will move and Jewry Street will be left behind. I can see that being repeated in other similar locations.” Last month, the company opened its first site in Nottinghamshire, in West Bridgford, in the former Gusto Italian premises in Bridgford Road. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed Giggling Squid would make its debut in the north west, with an opening in Manchester. The 40-strong company will open at the former Carluccio’s site in the city’s Spinningfields area. Propel understands Giggling Squid has another four sites in legals and is looking at locations in Liverpool and the north east, with Harrogate, York, Newcastle and Durham previously mooted as possible destinations for the brand. It plans to open in Chelmsford, Hornchurch and Welwyn Garden City before the end of the year. 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Harri secures growth financing from Golub Capital: Harri, the enterprise employee experience platform built for hospitality, has received a round of growth financing from Golub Capital as part of a broader funding round totaling $30m. Harri said the financing will be used to capitalise on its strong momentum in the enterprise market and amplify its position as the leader in human capital and workforce management technology space. Harri’s products are currently used at more than 26,000 locations and by more than one million employees per month, predominantly in the UK and US markets. Founder and chief executive Luke Fryer said: “We’re thrilled to partner with the Golub team to further accelerate the development of our enterprise SaaS platform. Harri is poised to offer service businesses a true end-to-end solution covering the breadth of their employee’s experience. The opportunity for our clients to drive the performance of their business through their people matters now more than ever before. This financing will accelerate our ability to enhance a market leading product platform and propel our growth in new verticals.” For more details about the funding announcement click here or learn more about the platform here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

62 new additions to Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are turning over £1.6bn: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 62 new companies, which are turning over £1.6bn. It will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 September), at midday, and will also feature Propel insight editor Mark Wingett’s “Propel Pick” – his pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. The Blue Book will now feature 408 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £30.7bn. The Blue Book has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 200 companies reporting a profit and 204 reporting losses. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Nicholls – ministers have put the staff shortages issue top of the agenda: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has told Propel that government ministers have put dealing with the issue of staff shortages top of the agenda. Nicholls said the issue was not just one impacting hospitality but the whole economy, and “short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions” are needed. She said: “It is the number one issue for operators, both in regards to their own staff and staff in the supply chain and the disruption to the supply chain that is causing and the challenges that is causing. That has been a constant theme throughout the summer, you have underlying and, in some parts, systemic labour shortages coupled with cyclical staff absences to do with the ‘pingdemic’, to do with case numbers, with travel restrictions, and that is a juggling act that many of the operators are familiar with. As furlough comes to an end this month, that will be another period when you have the unwinding of the changes that have been happening before you can get to some steady state and know where you are. It is still top of the government’s in-tray. I think that is really important, that we have managed to keep the issue at the top of its in-tray throughout the summer to look at short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions to some of the big challenges we face when it comes to staffing. It has changed over the summer – initially it was just we couldn’t get our front-line staff, and we had challenges around people not coming back from furlough. It then morphed into the absences due to the ‘pingdemic’, and now it is really acute in the supply chain. Things that are out of their control are impacting operators’ ability to deliver a good service to their customers. This is more than just a hospitality issue – this is a whole economy issue. It is quite telling now my steady drumbeat of regular ministerial meetings is restarting, all of the ministers I am meeting have put staff shortages at the top of the agenda.”

Airship secures £500,000 to help cope with post-lockdown demands: Hospitality software platform Airship has raised £500,000 to “take advantage of increased demand following the reopening of bars and restaurants”. Despite the restrictions in place during the pandemic, the Sheffield-based company increased its customer base by 400% since the start of the first lockdown and has grown its annual revenue by 200% to more than £1m. Its products are now used by about 400 brands across more than 4,000 locations including YO!, Leon, Revolution Bars Group, Welcome Break and Roadchef, and the company, founded by former publican Dan Brookman and IT specialist Rob Marcer, also launched its own track and trace app, which was used by Costa Coffee, Greggs, JD Wetherspoon and Pret A Manger among others. During the past year it has taken on 12 additional staff, and the funding – which comes from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, managed by Mercia Equity Finance – will allow it to create four further jobs. Brookman said: “The past year has been one of the most difficult in living memory for hospitality operators and we have done all we can to help them survive. However, there is now a strong sense of optimism and operators are expecting a boom in business. The funding will help us to further develop the products and take advantage of the opportunities ahead.” Will Schaffer, investment director with Mercia, added: “The pandemic has increased uptake of technology and made hospitality firms more aware of its role in driving their business forward. Dan and the team have bucked the trend over the past year, and with the hospitality sector now reopened, there is lots of potential for further growth.” 
Airship is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a luxury wedding business that has two venues and is looking to grow. To support the team and the growth of the business, the owners are looking to appoint a group operations manager, paying circa £50,000 plus bonus and car. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The purpose of this position is to provide inspiring and strategic leadership while directing the activities of the portfolio operations in support of the mission, core values, standards and goals established by the company. This role will sit along site the systems and revenue operations manager who will focus on the back-office side of the business while this role will focus on people, culture and quality of product and service. The group operations manager will support two sites and their site managers who have exceptionally high standards and currently are fully booked until 2022. The ideal background will be from a luxury or boutique hotel setting or a high-quality multi-site wedding venue business. This is a great opportunity to join at the early stages of growth and work with a passionate and tight-knit team.” Anyone interested can email Lara@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Crown Partnership begins rollout of Bird concept across ex-Dining Street sites: Crown Partnership, the backer of fried chicken and waffle chain Bird, has begun the rollout of the brand across some of the sites it acquired that were previously operated by Dining Street, the company behind the Richoux, Friendly Phil’s, Villagio and The Broadwick restaurant brands, which was placed into administration at the start of the year, Propel has learned. Propel understands Crown Partnership agreed to pay just over £106,500 for eight of the former restaurants operated by Dining Street and the trademarks for the Friendly Phil’s and Villagio brands. The first site to be converted to the Bird concept will be the ex-Broadwick site in Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre in Gillingham, Kent, in August. A further site will then come online in Port Solent Marina, Portsmouth. A second site at Port Solent Marina will also be launched under a different concept. Bird currently operates sites in Camden, Islington, and Canary Wharf, plus two dark kitchens units in Nottingham and Brighton. Crown Partnership senior partner Charles Beer said: “Bird’s soul comes alive through its people and its food, so we are delighted to be able to touch on both; creating 400 job opportunities in the local communities as well as introducing fantastic new menu items. We’ve also listened to our wonderful Bird fans and we’ve introduced some fun new dishes and reinvented some old classics with some new recipes. This is an exciting time for Bird with more ventures in the pipeline.” Propel revealed in January that KPMG had been appointed joint administrators to the company and its two subsidiaries, Richoux and Newultra. Between them, the companies, which were led by former Prezzo chief executive Jonathan Kaye, operated 15 restaurants predominantly across London and the south of England under the brands Richoux, Zintino, Friendly Phil’s, Villagio and The Broadwick. Crown Partnership acquired Bird via a pre-pack administration in August 2019.

Thunderbird Fried Chicken to open near Clapham Junction: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, is to open a site near London’s Clapham Junction station, Propel has learned. The Paul Gilchrist-led business is to take on the former Good Morning Vietnam site in St John’s Hill, with an opening planned for November. Later this month, the company will open a new site at Westfield Stratford City in east London. The business will replace the Crown Partnership-owned concept Bird at the scheme. Founded by Matt Harris, Thunderbird Fried Chicken has been backed by TriSpan since January 2019 and continues its expansion across London and beyond. Earlier this summer, it opened its second franchise site with holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts, at Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl, south Wales. Thunderbird Fried Chicken operates restaurants at Earl’s Court, Charing Cross and The O2, and delivery kitchens at Battersea and Shoreditch. 

Papa John’s franchisee opens two new Bedford stores, eyes 40-strong estate: Papa John’s franchisee Abdul Sattar Askar has added two more Bedford outlets to his portfolio – bringing the total to 12 – and has set his sights on more than tripling that number. Askar, who joined Papa John’s in 2013, will now completely refurbish the store in Greyfriars, while keeping the one in Kempston open for business. He said: “I have exciting plans for expansion over the next few years, with ambitions to run up to 40 Papa John’s. The two Bedford stores are close to my other outlets, so I’m building a cluster in the region. All the staff will stay with us, and my aim is to add to the team.” Amit Pancholi, Papa John’s UK director of business development, added: “Abdul’s focus and best approach to store management, putting his valued staff right at the heart of his operation, is inspiring.” Last month, fellow franchisee Abid Hussain added three new stores to his own portfolio – in Totton, Southampton and Southsea – while earlier this summer, the company announced it was targeting small UK towns as part of its expansion strategy. Papa John’s was founded in the United States in 1984 and now has more than 450 stores across the UK, and more than 5,000 worldwide.

Giraudi Group to bring Le Petit Beefbar concept to UK: Monaco-based hospitality group Giraudi will make its debut in the UK with its fledgling Le Petit Beefbar concept. Propel revealed in July that Giraudi, which was founded by Ricardo Giraudi, had secured the former Tom’s Kitchen site in Cale Street, for its UK debut. It was originally believed the group would open a restaurant under its core Beefbar brand on the site. However, it is now thought it will open a Le Petit Beefbar restaurant there. On the concept, the company said: “Le Petit Beefbar isn’t a steakhouse. However, the best meat origins and cuts of the world are carefully selected and then cooked as whole ingredients. Through these meats, often offered in exclusivity, we sublimate international and local recipes.” Launched in 2005, Beefbar currently operates circa 15 sites, which includes venues in Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. The concept, which says its street food sharing style has been breaking “the classic and stiff codes of steakhouses since 2005”, had previously been linked to the Mirabelle site in Mayfair’s Curzon Street. The company launched a variation of its Beefbar concept in partnership with Relais De Paris earlier this year in Paris. At its peak, Tom’s Kitchen, the concept from chef Tom Aikens, operated five restaurants across the UK – four in London and one in Birmingham – as well as one in Istanbul. However, the group was subsequently reduced to just its original site in Cale Street in Chelsea, which closed earlier this year.

Kurt Zdesar to open three new international sites and sister restaurant in London for Chotto Matte brand: NZR Group, the Kurt Zdesar-led business, is set to open three new international sites in 2022 – in Doha, Riyadh and San Francisco – alongside a sister location in London for its Chotto Matte brand. Following on from Soho’s Chotto Matte, Zdesar will opening another restaurant in Marylebone Village in January. Also, new to the scene will be Doha’s Chotto Matte, in the heart of the St Regis Marsa Arabia. Guests will be able to enjoy the brand’s Nikkei experience at The Pearl, the man-made island near Doha's  West Bay District. The branch will include an extensive open terrace overlooking the harbour and an intimate private dining room. Chotto Matte also welcomes Riyadh to its list of new global locations, where the restaurant will be located in the King Abdullah Financial District. This launch will be part of the brand’s strategy to continue its growth within the Middle East and increase clientele globally. Both Doha and Riyadh sites will be franchised but managed exclusively by Chotto Matte in line with its global strategy. Zdesar will also be opening a new Chotto Matte in San Francisco. The restaurant will be on the rooftop of the former Macy’s department store in Union Square. The venue will feature an open sushi counter, a wine display as well as live DJs. Zdesar has 30 years of experience in the global hospitality industry including previously being European director for Nobu, consulting for Alan Yau for the launch of Hakassan and founding the global dining chain Ping Pong. Chotto Matte currently has sites in London, Miami and Toronto. Zdesar said: “We are delighted to continue our expansion plans for Chotto Matte internationally. We cannot wait for the new phase of growth to allow more people to experience the very best of authentic innovative Nikkei cuisine, in stylish architectural spaces across the globe.”

Hagen secures Belgravia site for fourth venue: Danish espresso bar concept Hagen is to open its fourth site, in Pimlico Road in Belgravia. Born out of Copenhagen and founded in London, Hagen focuses on creating hygge spaces and serving premium speciality coffee in London’s affluent locations. Colliers represented Grosvenor Estate on the deal in which Hagen has agreed a new lease on 30a Pimlico Road, a 732 square foot premises, across a basement and ground floor. George Collison, of the London restaurants team at Colliers, said: “It is testament to the strength of Hagen’s brand that it continues to expand into some of the most prestigious areas of London.” Hagen operates sites in Chelsea, Mayfair and South Kensington.

Gloucestershire-based hotel and leisure group Calcot Health sees turnover almost halve as result of pandemic: Gloucestershire-based hotel and leisure group Calcot Health saw its turnover almost halve in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it had also ensured it remained in business in the first half of 2021 by securing a three-month capital repayment holiday on bank loans with its sites remaining closed until April this year due to lockdown. One of the directors also provided a £1m loan to assist with cash flow and there is no fixed date for repayment. Calcot Heath said it continued to benefit from “significant” government subsidies and the furlough scheme. In January this year, Calcot Heath reached the end of its lease notice period for outside catering at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire, “allowing increased focus on hotel operations”. The company saw turnover fall to £9.8m for the year ending 31 December 2020, compared with £17.8m the previous year as a result of the prolonged closure of the business due to lockdown measures. It reported a pre-tax loss of £1.5m, compared with a profit of £371,000 the year before. The company operates the Calcot Manor, Painswick and Barnsley House hotels in the Cotswolds and The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel in Blanchland, Northumberland.

London opening sees Pitaya make UK debut following covid delay: Pitaya, the rapidly-growing Thai fast casual brand based in France, has opened its first UK site, in London’s Covent Garden. The venue, which is operated by Mountever Restaurants at the former Egg’cellent site, was originally due to open in March 2020, but this was put back by the pandemic. The brand has more than 150 locations in Europe, both company-owned and franchised, plus development plans in Africa and the Middle East. The London location seats 108 inside and ten people on its Strand terrace, and there are plans for more sites in the UK. Guests can watch as dishes such as yellow curry and bo bun Thai are cooked fresh to order on an open fire to eat in or take away. The restaurant is part of Mountever’s area development franchise agreement, which was brokered by franchise consultancy Seeds Consulting. The off-market property deal with Capital & Counties was brokered by Seeds and KSA Property, and it’s understood Pitaya paid no premium for the A3 site, which measures 1,985 square feet across two floors. Celebrity chef and MasterChef France finalist Nathalie Nguyen has created Pitaya’s recipes, which are inspired by Bangkok street food.

London baker to open Regency-themed afternoon tea experience at Theatre Royal Drury Lane: London-based baker Lily Vanilli’s is launching an afternoon tea experience at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The rich past of the theatre has inspired the venture, which opens next month and will be based in the historic venue’s Grand Saloon. It promises to be a “playful, modern-day take on the glamorous Regency era”. Open to all and not just theatre-goers, the menu will include pink lemonade tarts set in elderflower jelly with gilded chocolate cherubs, while drawing on the era’s trend of exotic ices, a trolley will roam the room serving scoops of absinthe mint choc chip ice cream. A self-taught baker who started out selling cakes from a stall in Brick Lane in 2008, Vanilli said: “I’ve always wanted to put my spin on a classic afternoon tea, so working on this has been so much fun. I can’t wait to see guests sitting in the incredible Grand Saloon to get stuck in and revel in the hedonism and decadence that the Regency period was so well known for.” A best-selling author whose innovative cake designs have attracted clients including Elton John, Lady Gaga and Madonna, Vanilli also owns another London outlet, in Columbia Road, and a second site in Tbilisi, Georgia. Afternoon Tea at the Lane will cost £49 per person (from £57 with champagne).

Galvin brothers unveil new London venture: Chris and Jeff Galvin, best known for their French-inspired cooking at the likes of La Chapelle in Spitalfields, will later this month introduce a modern British menu at Bloomsbury’s Kimpton Fitzroy hotel. The brothers, who have named their new project Galvin Bar & Grill, will take over from Neptune, the Margaret Crow and Brett Redman restaurant that closed during the pandemic. They already currently operate Galvin at Windows on the top floor of the Hilton in Park Lane, and have worked previously at The Ritz, The Lanesborough and The Savoy. Heading the kitchen will be chef Adam Gray, whose previous ventures include almost a decade at Rhodes Twenty Four, a spell as head chef for Skylon on the Southbank and helping set up The Ethical Butcher. With room for 100 guests, the Galvins’ grill will offer a menu reported to be built entirely around ethically-sourced produce when it opens on Monday, 27 September. “Each dish on the menu has a story of how it is sourced,” Chris Galvin told the Evening Standard. “Ethical and sustainable eating is very important to us. To understand fully where and how your ingredients are grown and sourced, and what impact they have on our environment, is immensely important to the Galvin team. We are very proud to use ethically sourced ingredients wherever possible.”

Mildreds team confirms launch of new restaurant Mallow in Borough Market: Vegetarian restaurant group Mildreds has confirmed it will launch a new concept called Mallow in London’s Borough Market this autumn. As previously revealed by Propel, the restaurant, which will be in Cathedral Street, will serve “great value, fresh, colourful and internationally inspired plant-based food and drinks”. A one-off concept exclusively for Borough Market, Mallow will be an extension of the market, “bringing to life the history of the market and the produce that it sells”. The company said: “As a 100% plant-based restaurant, Mallow will bring a dining and lifestyle experience not found anywhere else within Borough Market and will offer a modern, informal dining style, serving seasonal plant-based dishes where fruit and vegetables will always take centre stage.” Managing director Sam Anstey said: “We’re excited to join the fantastic community of traders and restaurants who have made the market an iconic food destination across London’s food scene. We hope to bring a unique dining experience to the area, with Mildreds’ 100% plant-based offering on an elevated scale, while incorporating produce from Borough Market traders where possible.” Food menus at Mallow will be designed by Sarah Wasserman, head of food development at the four-strong Mildreds, and will have a strong focus on sustainability, seasonality and provenance. The company continued: “The restaurant will be open to guests from early morning with a plant-based breakfast offer, transitioning from day into evening with the addition of a considered bar menu of vegan wine, beer and handcrafted cocktails.” Distrkt acted on the Mallow deal.

Islington-based Japanese tea room Katsute100 to double up with Shoreditch launch: Islington-based Japanese tea room Katsute100 is to double up in London, with an opening in Shoreditch. The outlet is opening on Tuesday (7 September) in Brick Lane. The new tearoom and cafe will offer the same menu as its original Camden Passage space, including matcha crepe cake, the fruit sandwich and yuzu scones. There will also be matcha lattes and a selection of tea import directly from Japan. Also planned for the Shoreditch store are tea tasting events as well as a weekend brunch menu.

Wagamama launches ‘Plant Pledge’ campaign to get UK eating more plant-based dishes: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, has launched ‘Plant Pledge’ – a campaign to encourage guests to eat more plant-based dishes in response to helping tackle climate change. Following the UN’s recent IPCC report, which demands urgent and collective action globally, and in the lead up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November, the brand has announced the initiative to “empower the nation to eat more plants – dubbed one of the most powerful actions to tackle climate change”. An Attest survey commissioned by Wagamama revealed 80% of people acknowledge eating more plants is important to curbing climate change. However, many of those questioned said there remain obstacles to switching to a plant-based diet including not wanting to give up favourite meat dishes (36.1%), the taste is not as good (29.8%) and there’s not enough choice (26.4%). In line with the survey results, the company said from Wednesday, 6 October, 50% of its menu will be officially plant-based; a commitment made during Veganuary 2021. The company is urging guests to pledge a “small choice for big change”, whether that’s trialling plant-based for the first time or making one meal a week plant-based. As part of the Plant Pledge, Wagamama said it will encourage this trial and get people started on their journey by offering a free vegan side when they join. Wagamama chief executive Thomas Heier said: “At Wagamama we’re making choices big and small at a business level to tread more lightly on the planet. Now, it’s time we use our platform to ask guests to join that journey with us.”

Reading pub let to Wetherspoon sold for £2.5m: A private investor has acquired the freehold of The Hole Tap pub in Reading, which is let to JD Wetherspoon, for £2.5m. The purchase price reflected a net initial yield of 4.93%. The property is let to JD Wetherspoon on a 40-year lease with fixed uplifts. Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, which acted for the vendor, AEW UK, said: “Investors continue to come back into the public house investment market, with this transaction being one of a number of pub transactions we have completed in recent weeks. We believe the strength of this investor confidence – as we predicted back in March with the easing of restrictions – will continue to grow. We have a pipeline of agreed transactions in the sector and expect an extremely strong finish to the year.”

BrewDog unveils first international JV with Asahi link-up: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has announced its first international joint venture, as it seeks to boost sales in the Far East. The company is aiming to increase sales in Japan sixfold over the next five years after agreeing the deal with Asahi, the Asian country’s largest brewer. The partnership will see BrewDog beer such as Punk IPA, Hazy Jane and Elvis Juice marketed and sold in Japan, where the beer market was reported to be worth $28bn last year. Founded in 2007, BrewDog already owns a bar in Tokyo and could even later establish a Japanese brewery. The company, which will own 51% of the venture, is seeking to take a greater share of the Japanese beer market, and the venture will be led by chief operating officer Daisaku Okuda, an almost 20-year veteran of Asahi Japan. The move follows BrewDog, which is estimated to be worth £1.85bn, appointing Rothschild as independent advisor ahead of a planned listing – most likely an initial public offering in London. The company is private equity-backed and has repeatedly raised cash through various rounds of crowdfunding.

Superbowl UK to open new Barnsley site next month: Tenpin bowling operator Superbowl UK will open a new site in Barnsley next month. The company will launch the venue at The Glass Works retail and leisure complex, creating at least 30 jobs. As well as bowling alleys, the Barnsley site will have amusement arcades, bar and soft play area. The Glass Works will be opening in phases over the coming months with Cineworld’s state-of-the-art 13 screen multiplex due to begin operating early next year. The first new openings, which will take place on Thursday (9 September), will see Next, TK Maxx and Sports Direct unveil their Barnsley stores.

The Londoner opens featuring six F&B concepts: The Londoner, “the world’s first super boutique hotel”, has opened to guests, who can enjoy a series of hospitality offerings. The one-of-a-kind eateries include Whitcomb’s (a day-to-night brasserie and bar), The Stage (a champagne-centred breakfast, tea and caviar spot), The Residence (a private club and whisky bar for residents only), Refuel (healthy snacks site, including post-workout smoothies), 8 at The Londoner (world-class Japanese rooftop dining and cocktails) and Joshua’s Tavern (neighbourhood pub and gin bar). Spread across 16 floors, the luxury Leicester Square resort offers “an exclusive, cosmopolitan playground that unites the aristocrat and the libertine with a range of day-to-night experiences”. The Londoner’s food and beverage concepts have been created by Amir Jati, creative director at Edwardian Hotels London, and The Londoner’s executive chefs Matt Downes, Shailesh Deshmukh and Neil Armstrong.

Kindle opens in Cardiff: Kindle, a new sustainable, wood-fired restaurant in Cardiff, has opened as the latest venture from husband-and-wife team Deb and Phill Lewis, the duo behind Dusty’s Pizzeria, a micro-chain of Neapolitan pizzerias in south Wales, and Nook, a small plates bistro, also in Cardiff. Kindle occupies an old warden’s house in Sophia Gardens. The project, which has been two years in the making, saw the couple raise an initial £43,000 with their Kickstarter campaign. Tom Powell, former head chef of The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, one of Wales' top Michelin-starred restaurants, has joined the restaurant team to create Kindle's “fire food” – local produce cooked over an open fire. Customers can expect seasonal menus with a focus on small plates and natural wine, using the restaurant's on-site kitchen garden and greenhouse. In keeping with the restaurant's sustainable menu and supply chain, almost every element of the original building has been reused and repurposed, and a high proportion of the materials are reclaimed. Meanwhile flagstones, railways sleepers and scaffold boards have been used to create the garden and planting beds. The venue also makes use of energy efficient lighting and sheep wool insulation.

Travelodge secure Rotherham town-centre deal: Travelodge will build a new 69-bedroom hotel in the heart of Rotherham after striking a deal with Muse Developments and Rotherham Council. The hotel will become the latest addition to Rotherham’s Forge Island complex, as part of the area’s wider regeneration, and it is anticipated construction will begin in 2022. This follows the news earlier this year that Irish boutique cinema operator The Arc had joined the scheme with an agreement to build its seventh site. Muse and the local authority are planning a number of food and beverage outlets at Forge Island, complete with a new public square and pedestrian bridge leading to the wider town centre. Tony O Brien, Travelodge’s UK development director, added: “We are delighted to be opening our first hotel in Rotherham at Forge Island – our 23rd local council hotel partnership. There are no branded budget hotels in the centre of Rotherham, and this hotel will help attract new visitors to the area.” Dan Needham, Muse’s development director, said: “Bringing a major occupier in Travelodge to Forge Island further highlights our collective commitment with the council. Forge Island represents what can be done when the best of the public and private sector come together with a clear vision.” 

Newport-based operator launches retro bar for third site: Newport-based operator Rob Steed has opened a retro bar for his third site in the Welsh city. Steed has launched Rewind Retro Bar in High Street after taking over the premises previously occupied by Lebanese restaurant Falafino Island. Steed, who also runs The Lamb and Maindee Hotel in the city, told Wales Online: “I thought hard about it after the landlord offered it to me a while back, and last month I decided to go for it. We’re confident it will do well. I’ve noticed since restrictions lifted my pubs have done well. Lots of people are out and about, and the city is busy again.” Falafino Island owner Oskar Ali shut the restaurant in April, due to pressures of the pandemic, and citing issues around pedestrianisation of the High Street impacting deliveries.

 
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