Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Fuller’s acquires Dark Star

London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has acquired West Sussex-based craft brewer Dark Star. The deal, which sees Fuller’s take a 100% stake in the business, will give Dark Star access to the funds it needs to invest in new markets and increase sales of beers such as Hophead, APA, Dark Star Original and Revelation as well as Dark Star’s range of seasonal brews. Brewing will continue at Dark Star’s Partridge Green site, managing director James Cuthbertson will remain at the helm and the brewer will continue to operate as a standalone business. The current Dark Star directors will continue to operate the four-strong pub business under a separate vehicle. Cuthbertson said: “Since our inception in 1994, we have continuously grown from those early days in The Evening Star Pub in Brighton to the current brewery in Partridge Green. The partnership with Fuller’s, another independent brewery with fantastic heritage and great beer at its very core, will allow us to take the brewery to the next level. The deal means we will continue to do what we do, but gives us huge opportunities to brew more one-off small batch beers hand-in-hand with exploring the export market and expanded bottle and can formats. We’ve always described Dark Star as more of a hobby that got out of control than a business, an ethos that will remain at the centre of what we do and what we’re about, after all, beer should be fun and accessible.” Simon Dodd, managing director of Fuller’s Beer Company, added: “Following on from the success we have had with our acquisition of Cornish Orchards, we have been looking at similar opportunities to invest in and work with young, exciting companies that have a similar ethos and commitment to quality as Fuller’s. Following discussions with James and the team at Dark Star, we could see that we could add real benefit to the Dark Star business and it provides a great new range of delicious cask beers that will enhance the Fuller’s portfolio. Both Fuller’s and Dark Star are brewers with quality and taste at their heart. I just can’t wait to see how Dark Star innovates further with the support of Fuller’s and access to our expertise in brewing, retailing and business elements such as finance, purchasing and IT systems.”

BrewDog reveals plans for craft beer hotel next to Scottish headquarters

BrewDog has revealed plans for a craft beer DogHouse hotel next to its headquarters in EllonScottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed plans for a craft beer hotel at its headquarters in Scotland. The company will launch The DogHouse, as the hotel will be called, in the first half of 2019. The 22-room DogHouse will feature beer taps in the rooms, a built-in shower beer fridge, and rooms will overlook the brewery itself, allowing guests to watch brewers at work. BrewDog introduced the DogHouse concept last year with the announcement of a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, at the site of its American brewery, and a recent property acquisition in Ellon has led to this further announcement of a hotel in the brewery’s homeland in Scotland. In addition to the construction of the hotel, BrewDog is expanding its brewery to include a 300-hectolitre brewhouse and a canning and packaging hall. The brewery expansion comes following the opening of BrewDog’s sour beer brewing facility The Overworks last month. The new brewhouse is also expected to be completed by the end of the year. The hotel and brewery will be built on a 3.25-acre site adjacent to BrewDog’s current one million-hectolitre brewery. The site has been purchased from screw jack manufacturer Power Jacks, who will move to a new purpose-built facility later this year. The funding for the hotel and brewery expansion has come from BrewDog’s record-breaking Equity for Punks crowdfunding initiative, which has seen the company raise more than £53m since 2009 from more than 73,000 investors. Priority booking for The DogHouse will be given to “Equity Punk” investors. In October last year, BrewDog launched its fifth round of Equity for Punks, looking to raise at least £10m, with a stretch goal of up to £50m, in order to further its global expansion. This includes planned construction of new breweries in Australia and China, the opening of 15 new craft beer venues in the UK, increasing production capacity in its UK brewery, and the creation of a dedicated craft beer television network. Equity for Punks V has so far raised more than £12.5m from more than 27,000 investors across Europe, and hit its initial £10m target ahead of its initial deadline in January. The raise was extended and is due to close on 15 October. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “The DogHouse is our gift to passionate craft beer fans making the pilgrimage to our brewery in Aberdeenshire. The idea of opening a beer hotel has always been high on our agenda, and now we are finally able to realise that dream, right here at our headquarters. This will be the ultimate destination for craft beer fans seeking hops with their holidays. This is a beer Nirvana.”

Other News:

KFCThe GMB union has said the chickens have “come home to roost” after a mass chicken shortage forced KFC to close 750 of its 900 UK outlets. The GMB said the crisis was down to KFC’s decision to award its delivery contract to DHL to “save money”, despite the union’s warnings. Until last week, KFC delivered poultry to UK outlets via food distribution firm Bidvest Logistics. However, KFC awarded the contract to DHL leading, the GMB said, to 255 redundancies and the closure of a Bidvest depot. Bidvest operates a network of distribution centres across the UK but, the union said, DHL was trying to do the job with only one. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “We tried to warn KFC this decision would have consequences – well now the chickens are coming home to roost. Bidvest is a specialist – a food distribution firm with years of experience. KFC are left with hundreds of restaurants closed while DHL tries to run the whole operation out of one distribution centre. KFC’s bird-brained decision has caused untold misery to customers, to Bidvest workers and restaurant staff who are not being paid.” KFC said the closures were down to “teething problems” relating to the new contract. Signs on many of the closed stores read: “Sorry, we’re closed. We deliver our chickens fresh into our restaurants but we’ve had a few hiccups with the delivery today.” On a day when chicken-related puns flew around the internet, KFC tweeted “some chickens have now crossed the road, the rest are at the pelican crossing”, with the company setting up a website so customers can find their nearest open restaurant. The tweet continued: “We are working round the cluck to get the rest back up and running as soon as possible.” DHL said “operational issues” meant several KFC deliveries over recent days had been incomplete or delayed.

Jamie OliverJamie Oliver Restaurant Group has announced Barby, the parent company that owns Barbecoa sites in St Paul’s and Piccadilly in London, has been placed into administration. The assets and lease of the St Paul’s site has been bought by another division of Oliver’s restaurant group, while the Piccadilly site remains in administration. In a statement, the company said: “We can confirm Barby has been placed into administration. AlixPartners has been appointed administrators for Barby. One New Change, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, has purchased the assets and lease of Barbecoa St Paul’s and will be trading as normal. The Piccadilly site has gone into administration with AlixPartners appointed the administrators.” Oliver established Barbecoa with friend and American barbecue specialist Adam Perry Lang in 2011 and opened the Piccadilly restaurant in February last year. A third restaurant had been planned for Victoria but was scrapped. The news comes in the wake of Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian UK business having its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) approved by creditors, which is set to lead to the closure of 12 sites. Under the terms of the CVA, the company will close sites in Bath, Bristol, Bluewater, Chelmsford, Greenwich, Harrogate, Kingston-upon-Thames, Milton Keynes, Piccadilly Diner, Reading, St Albans and Threadneedle Street in London. It will also be able to secure rent reductions on the remaining estate.

Andreas Karlsson, group chief operating officer of Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, has told Propel he believes being surrounded by high-quality operators is proving helpful rather than a hindrance to the business. Karlsson said the company, which has reported turnover rose to £15.6m in the year to 30 June 2017, was trading ahead of last year in terms of both revenue and customer numbers in what was a difficult time for the casual dining market. He added the company’s latest sites, which opened in Oxford and the Nova development in Victoria in November and December respectively, were doing “well”. “We are not seeing a drop in sales despite the increased competition, particularly in places such as Canary Wharf,” said Karlsson. “I think competition actually helps – if you have neighbours that are doing well then you do well. We need each other. Not everyone wants to eat pizza or sushi every time for example – the places that are doing the best have variety. Trading wise, we are in a solid place. It’s a pretty simple recipe for success – a nicely designed restaurant, a consistent high-quality product in a good location where every guest is the most important. If you have that and look after your team then you have a chance of survival.” Karlsson said the company remained on track to open sites in Beak Street, Soho, and the Radnor Walk development in King’s Road, Chelsea, this summer while it was now looking at building a cluster of sites in Berlin following its debut site in the German capital last year. He added: “I think the cluster approach works really well for us. It makes it easier from an operational point of view of having restaurants quite close together rather than dotted around the country and we’ll take a similar approach in Germany as we have done in the UK. I think the two London restaurants will be our only openings this year and we’ll look to do one or two more in 2019. While we are looking to open 15 restaurants in London and the south east, we may end up with a few less. I’d rather have fewer good-performing restaurants than a larger estate with a handful of underperforming ones.”

More than 160 sector companies have booked to attend the first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at Speakers include Tim Barrett, travel and leisure analyst at Numis; Ian Edward, who is leisure advisor to Canaccord Genuity and sits on the boards of Brasserie Blanc; Seafood Pub Company and Hippo Inns; Jon Collins, former chief executive of CGA Group, who has returned to the UK after living in Chicago for two years; Sarah Bridge, former Mail on Sunday leisure correspondent and founder of the hospitality website; Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Cinnamon Club and Roast; Max Hilton Jenvey, global head of franchise for Chopstix; Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure; Paul Wells, chairman of Charles Wells; Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers; Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality; and Yasha Estraikh, of Piper.

Russell Hume, the Derby-headquartered specialist meat supplier at the heart of a food scandal that hit pub and restaurant operators last month, has called in administrators with the loss of “more than 300” jobs. The company supplied meat to hotels, restaurants and pubs across the UK and came to attention last month when operator JD Wetherspoon was forced to cancel its weekly Steak Club following a product recall. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) stopped any products from leaving sites operated by Russell Hume following “concerns about non-compliance with food hygiene regulations”. In a statement Russell Hume’s directors said: “We will continue to work with the FSA with regards to the issues it raised but we still feel its action has been out of all proportion to the concerns it says it has identified. Had it worked more closely with us in the crucial early stages of the situation, then more than 300 jobs may not have been lost.” An FSA spokesman said: “We do not take these decisions lightly and we recognise this will be a worrying time for employees and their families. It is for food businesses to ensure the food they produce is safe and our role is to provide assurances that a business is meeting its responsibilities.” Chris Pole, of KPMG Restructuring, who is handling the administration with Mark Orton, said the product recall and halt in operations “caused significant customer attrition and trading difficulties”.

Deep Blue Restaurants, PortsmouthDeep Blue Restaurants chief executive James Low has told Propel the company is looking to acquire at least eight sites annually over the next three years as the fish and chip market continues to perform “robustly”. Low also revealed the company, which last week reported sales increased 26.4% to £7,541,402 in the year to 26 September 2017, was on course this financial year to hit run rate turnover of £14m having made a series of acquisitions. Run rate Ebitda is also set to increase to £1.4m, including central costs, due to organic growth and the contribution from recent acquisitions. At the end of last year, the company acquired the six-strong Harpers chain in Yorkshire and a third site in Southsea, Hampshire. Meanwhile, this month it bought The Fish House in Notting Hill, north west London, and it is close to securing a deal for another site in West Sussex. Low said the company, which has 31 sites in the UK, was also “going to expand” its two-site franchise in Spain with partner Airfoods in the next 12 months. Low added: “We’ve got off to a good start in 2018 and over the next three years we want to add another eight sites per year – depending, of course, on the right opportunities being available. We’ve got two sites in London and I’d like to open more there but want to get a better understanding of the London market first. However, there is always demand for a good-quality fish and chip proposition. Airfoods operates in eight airports so there’s scope to expand our franchise following the latest opening in Alicante.” Low said for its most recent period to 31 December 2017, like-for-like sales were up 3.5% and added: “While consumers are cutting back on their spending they continue to buy fish and chips – the market is pretty robust.” Meanwhile, Low said he expected all the recent acquisitions to be rebranded as Deep Blue restaurants by the end of this year.

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsThe Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has strengthened its pubs focus by adding St Austell Brewery, Lancaster Brewery and the independent Arnos Arms in London to its membership. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The addition of St Austell and Lancaster breweries and the Arnos Arms to the ALMR’s membership helps cement our reputation as the unrivalled voice for UK pub operators. We are looking forward to working with them to help promote this valuable, iconic part of UK culture and ensuring pubs remain an important part of our high streets. This means we now represent more than 90% of the UK’s managed pubs, cementing our unrivalled position as the voice of the operator. The hospitality sector is evolving and the ALMR along with it, but our focus remains supporting those fantastic businesses working at the sharp-end of hospitality and our support for pubs has never been stronger. Our pub members are going to be more vital than ever as we evolve into UKHospitality. These members, that formed the backbone of the ALMR when it was founded 26 years ago, will play an integral role in the new association.” St Austell, Lancaster Brewery and the Arnos Arms join a host of recent high-profile additions, strengthening the ALMR’s pub arm, including Marston’s, Mighty Local Pubs, The Woodman, Urban Pubs and Bars and Windmill Taverns.

Slim Chickens logoAmerican fried chicken franchise Slim Chickens is to open its first site outside the US next month with the launch of a flagship site in London’s West End. The restaurant will open in James Street, Marylebone, on Thursday, 15 March offering Slim Chickens’ signature hand-breaded chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, marinated wings and 12 homemade sauces. Exclusive items on the UK menu will include Texan toast and fried pickles. Boparan Restaurant Group, which owns Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Harry Ramsden’s, has partnered with Slim Chickens USA to bring the brand to the UK market. Slim Chickens co-founders Tom Gordon and Greg Smart launched the brand 15 years ago and it now has 60 sites across the southern US including its native Arkansas. Gordon said: “In the past few years, London has established itself as a bustling hub for foodies. We are excited to finally bring a taste of true and authentic southern USA fried cooking to the UK and stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the leading players within the industry.” Last month, Boparan Restaurant Group chief executive Tom Crowley said: “We have firm plans to open restaurants around the UK over the coming months and years securing Slim Chickens as a renowned market leader.”

UK hoteliers experienced another year of encouraging growth in 2017 helped by a significant rise in international visitors, according to the latest data from the Expedia group. Travellers from Spain increased almost 150%, while Brazil (110%) and Argentina (105%) also saw triple-digit year-on-year growth. There was also strong demand from Ireland (85%), Mexico (85%), India (70%) and Poland (60%), while there was another year of strong demand from the US (40%). Tech-savvy travellers from Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland and Spain fuelled a growth of more than 70% on orders made via smartphones. While London remained the top destination with almost 40% of total market share, several other UK destinations witnessed encouraging year-on-year growth. Demand for London was up almost 20% compared with the previous full year, while Surrey increased almost 40%, and Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, Oxford and Yorkshire all increased by about 35%. Other regions to enjoy healthy growth included Bristol, Birmingham and Chester. The average daily rate for UK rooms rose overall, notably with travellers from India, Poland, Australia and Austria choosing to spend more. Krishan Kadodwala, director market management, JET UK & Ireland, the Expedia group, said: “The UK as a destination of choice is on the rise. In 2017, hoteliers benefited from a strong marketing campaign from VisitBritain, highlighting a range of events and activities across the nation that no doubt contributed towards a rise in visitors choosing to holiday in the UK. With two royal weddings set to take place this year, 2018 is certainly shaping up to be another good year for the UK market.”

Leeds-based food delivery app Delhop, which is led by former Hungryhouse head of sales Mandeep Singh and last week launched a £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, has signed a deal with hospitality payment app Zapaygo. Singh, who founded the company in October, is offering a 20% equity stake in return for investment to expand the app to other major UK cities. So far, 31 investors have pledged £104,020 with 22 days remaining. The day after Delhop’s fund-raise launched, Zapaygo closed its own campaign on Crowdcube after exceeding its £500,000 target for expansion. The app allows users to pre-order and pre-pay for food, drinks or goods before arriving at a venue or have them delivered to their table or home. A Delhop spokesman said: “Delhop will be providing delivery services to Zapaygo. We are pleased to say so after learning all about Zapaygo’s already signed contracts with large companies that will give them many thousands of venues and millions of users. These contracts will now also increase the use of Delhop services nationally and internationally.” Having raised £200,000 from angel investors in 2017, Delhop has delivered more than 30,000 meals in Leeds in its first three months of operation. Through word of mouth and personal recommendations, it said it has accumulated a waiting list for restaurants to join the service. The pitch states: “Delhop is an on-demand delivery app that allows takeaways to request drivers to deliver food to their customers without the hassle of managing their own fleet of drivers. The team is now raising investment to expand to other major cities.”

Wing Wing“Chimaek” concept Wing Wing is to launch its second site in London next month. Originally a Korean phenomenon, “chimaek” was perfected on the streets of New York offering Korean-style chicken and ice-cold beer. Wing Wing has secured a 5,000 square foot site in Hammersmith Broadway, which will open on Tuesday, 13 March offering double-fried Korean-style chicken with a choice of three glazes – soy garlic, hot or liquorice. Wing Wing also offers Asian-inspired comfort food such as katsu bao, seaweed fries and kimchi coleslaw, while the venue will offer ice-cold beer via self-serve Bottoms-Up beer dispensers. The new venue will be almost twice the size of Wing Wing’s debut site in Woburn Place, Bloomsbury, which opened last May. The split-level restaurant will feature a dedicated ground-floor takeaway and delivery counter, with a 180-cover dining area downstairs. The venue will also feature two “coops” – private dining rooms for two with 60-inch television screens, karaoke equipment and their own cocktail bars. The Hammersmith location will also see Wing Wing launch a corporate delivery service for local offices.

Damian Wawrzyniak, who operates House of Feasts in PeterboroughChef restaurateur Damian Wawrzyniak (pictured) is leading a global call to end no shows after revealing missed bookings cost his Peterborough restaurant House of Feasts about £3,000 in one weekend. Wawrzyniak’s #StopNoShow campaign has received support from hundreds of operators in the UK and around the world, including American restaurateur Grant Achatz, co-owner of Alinea. Wawrzyniak said: “No shows are pervasive in the restaurant industry. We lost about £3,000 because of no shows in one weekend. Usually they are big groups of eight, 12 or 20 people who book a table and then simply don’t turn up. We’re left with empty tables and have likely had to turn other bookings down in good faith. It’s incredibly frustrating. I understand plans change at the last minute but it shouldn’t be too much to ask that those not able to make it let the restaurant know so they can rebook that table.”

Artist impression of the new cafe at the Everards Meadows development for which an operator is being soughtLeicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards is seeking an operator to run the cafe at its new food, drink and leisure development in the county. The cafe will be a key part of the Everards Meadows development next to the Fosse retail park. The complex will house Everards’ new headquarters and brewery as well as a cycle centre nestled among fields and cycle paths. The cafe will be a natural gathering place and will complement events at the site. Visit for further details.

A Bristol tourism tax could have a “devastating effect” on businesses and deter visitors from coming to the city, according to Mark Payne, chairman of the Bristol Hoteliers Association. The outcry follows reports a tourism tax could be introduced to help plug a £108m deficit Bristol City Council is facing by 2023. Payne said: “Being one of the first cities in the UK to introduce a tax on tourists would be detrimental. Why put people off coming here? We don’t get enough footfall in the city to sustain restaurants over a weekly basis and should be encouraging more footfall not turning it away with a regressive tax on individuals looking to stay overnight.” Payne said a tax on hotels would drive business towards Airbnb. He said: “There are between 500 and 1,500 active rooms on Airbnb in Bristol, the highest for a city outside London. These are unregulated, don’t pay business rates, don’t employ people or pay any tax. Our view is the council should set up a bespoke Bristol Airbnb tax, not hit tourists who are here to spend.”

Delivery company DHL has apologised after multiple KFC branches were forced to close when their chicken wasn’t delivered. The problems arose just four months after the courier company promised to “set a new delivery standard” as it was awarded the KFC delivery contract. Multiple closures were reported across the UK including Newcastle, Suffolk, Surrey and Berkshire. In a tweet, KFC UK said: “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants. We’ve brought a new delivery partner on board, but they’ve had a couple of teething problems – getting fresh chicken out to 900 restaurants across the country is pretty complex! We won’t compromise on quality, so no deliveries has meant some of our restaurants are closed, and others are operating a limited menu, or shortened hours. Shout out to our restaurant teams who are working flat out to get us back up and running again.” A DHL spokeswoman added: “Due to administrative issues a number of deliveries have been incomplete or delayed. We are doing our utmost to rectify the situation as soon as possible and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Craft Beer CoMartin Hayes, co-founder and managing director of The Craft Beer Co, has bought the virtual freehold of his iconic first pub in London, Cask Pub and Kitchen, from Greene King. Opened in 2009, it is considered by many to have led the way in London for a new type of pub focused on craft beers. It was the launch pad for The Craft Beer Co which since 2011 has opened nine sites, the most recent in Old Street. The deal was concluded privately for an undisclosed figure. Hayes said: “I am extremely grateful to Greene King for all the help and vision it showed in helping me get my business off the ground back in 2009 when free-of-tie agreements and craft beer was not the fashionable trend it is today. Bob Luke, David Carless, Clive Chesser and Simon Longbottom were all instrumental in helping me to realise my dream.”

The UK operation of Danish company Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has reported turnover rose to £15.6m (2016: £12.8m) in the year to 30 June 2017. Ebitda increased to £2.3m compared with £1m the year before. Profit before tax was £1,256,000 compared with just £6,000 the year before. The company stated: “The sales and results were significantly better than budgeted in view of restaurant opening and growth plans. The growing number of guests together with the increasing volume of takeaway and catering sales is encouraging for future years of growth in the UK. Our UK business is strong, especially in our first two London restaurants, located in Wimbledon and Covent Garden.” The company reported trading in Greenwich and Canary Wharf was “satisfactory” and trading in Cambridge, which opened in May 2016, had produced satisfactory “business levels and guest feedback”. New locations have opened in Nova, Victoria, in December 2017 and in Oxford in October 2017. The company stated it wanted to open between ten and 15 restaurants in London and the south east and its next step will to be open a number of restaurants in Berlin, Germany. It also said it did not believe Brexit would have a serious negative effect on its existing business. The company was boosted by a £177,000 exceptional item related to a VAT refund “regarding takeaway sales for a period older than the financial year”. The UK operation has been financed with a £5.53m loan from its Danish sister company, which is accruing interest of 5% per annum.

D&D London chairman Des Gunewardena (left) with co-founder David LoewiD&D London has revealed further details of its rooftop restaurant 20 Stories that will launch in Manchester on Thursday, 1 March. The restaurant on the 19th floor of No.1 Spinningfields will offer a restaurant, grill, two bars and a roof garden with views of Manchester’s skyline. New York-based company CetraRuddy collaborated with UK design agency DesignLSM to create interiors for the 15,263 square foot space. The main bar will sit between the restaurant and grill, with a second bar on the rooftop terrace. Chef director Aiden Byrne’s modern British menus will celebrate local produce with vegetables from the restaurant’s own farm in Cheshire and meat sourced from small suppliers in Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. He said: “The different food we’ll serve in the restaurant and grill means we will have something for everyone. I am equally passionate about both styles of food – what matters to me is they share the same ethos and integrity and are prepared using the same excellent local produce.” Last month, D&D London chairman Des Gunewardena (pictured left) told Propel the company remained focused on expansion with a number of “good opportunities” for the second half of 2018 and beyond. D&D London was founded by Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants. The company currently operates 34 restaurants and a hotel.

Frank Yeung, co-founder of burrito brand Poncho8, has started expansion of his Taiwanese concept Mr Bao by opening a sister site in Tooting, south London. Yeung, who launched Mr Bao in Peckham, has opened the new restaurant, Daddy Bao, in Mitcham Road offering speciality bao buns and Taiwanese snacks. The new venue is named after Yeung’s restaurateur father Joe, who was instrumental in the success of Mr Bao. Steamed buns come with fillings such as slow-braised chicken with red cabbage pickle and spicy honey sauce, and beer-marinated prawns with pickled mooli and spiced spring onion. There are also sharing plates such as golden kimchi and pork dumplings, while there is bottomless brunch at weekends and a drinks list focusing on cocktails.

Randy’s Wing Bar has started expansion by opening a second site in London, in Aldgate. Following pop-ups and pub residencies, founders Richard Thacker and Andy Watts opened a permanent site for their concept in Hackney Wick in 2016. They have now signed a 15-year lease on a 2,000 square foot, ground-floor site in the Minories. New items on the menu at the 56-cover venue include boneless wings, baked oysters, sliders and a homemade sauce. The venue also offers City workers salad boxes, wraps and boneless wings to take away, alongside cocktails and craft beer. Oliver Green, director in the central London retail team at Savills, which brokered the deal, said: “The brand has established an excellent reputation in the past few years and will be a strong addition to the hub of food and beverage operators in the Minories.” The debut Randy’s Wing Bar opened at Here East, the canal-side dining and drinking area on the site of the former press centre for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Hustyns Resort, which has been acquired by Aston Management CompanyAston Management Company, led by Ravi Gupta, has acquired Hustyns Resort, a four-star hotel near Padstow, Cornwall, for an undisclosed sum. Agents Christie & Co completed the sale on behalf of CLC World Resorts & Hotels. Hustyns is in the village of St Breock and is set in 70 acres of grounds. The 37-bedroom hotel also offers two conference and banqueting suites, a restaurant and brasserie with bar. CLC World had owned and operated Hustyns since 2006. It has moved exclusive membership operations to its sister resort, Trenython Manor in Tywardreath, near Fowey, but will continue to operate luxury lodges in the grounds of Hustyns. Aston Management Company operates 12 hotels in the UK and the US. Matthew Smith, director at Christie & Co’s Bristol office, said: “The sale of Hustyns Resort further demonstrates the demand for hospitality businesses that offer a clear upside to developing the trading performance. Ravi Gupta is known to Christie & Co as this is the third hotel he has purchased through us in 12 months.”

Independent fresh fruit and vegetable supplier Reynolds has acquired Wimbledon-based greengrocer Solstice in a pre-packaged administration sale. Solstice has supplied speciality fruit and vegetables, dairy and ambient products to the hospitality industry for the past 20 years. The deal has secured all jobs at the company. Reynolds managing director Tony Reynolds said: “Both businesses share similar family values of excellent quality and service but have their own unique and enviable customer base. I am incredibly excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.” Solstice founder Philip Britten added: “I am delighted at the prospect of working with the Reynolds family. I’ve no doubt that, by sharing best practices across both businesses, Solstice will have a very exciting and sustainable future.” Reynolds was advised on the transaction by Surinder Bougan, of EY, and Russ Hill, of Squire Patton Boggs.

Gino D’AcampoIndividual Restaurants has said it will open at least five sites this year under its joint venture with chef Gino D’Acampo (pictured) as the company’s turnover approaches “£100m across all brands”. Manchester-based Individual Restaurants also operates the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands. The next Gino D’Acampo restaurant launch will be in Birmingham before the summer, followed by a venue in central London. The 8,000 square foot, 200-cover, all-day restaurant in Birmingham will open over two floors at a property in Temple Row and feature a prosecco bar, delicatessen, ice cream bar, open kitchen and a leisure space that will include a private bar, private dining and a games room featuring “posh bowling”. Individual Restaurants founder Steven Walker said: “We are delighted by our partnership with Gino as our business goes from strength to strength, with turnover now approaching £100m across all brands.” Last month, accounts for Individual Restaurants showed a turnover of £67m for the year ending 31 March 2017, up 7% on the previous year’s figure when it broke the £60m mark for the first time. The company said the record sales were driven by like-for-like growth of 1.8%, while it also generated its second-best Ebitda performance of £7m.

The Hop Stuff Brewery teamHop Stuff Brewery has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube having raised more than £780,000. The company, founded by James Yeomans, exceeded its initial £400,000 target within 48 hours of launch. It has now closed the campaign with 1,030 investors pledging £780,050 in return for a 3.03% equity stake in the business. Earlier this week, Yeomans told Propel he was closing the campaign to secure funds required for a site in the City of London. Yeomans is in negotiations over a property in Farringdon, which he estimated could add circa £3m of revenue to the company annually. As previously reported by Propel, Yeomans is also in negotiations over a site in Greenwich, south east London, as he looks to add to taprooms in Woolwich and Deptford with a third launching in Ashford, Kent, next month. Yeomans said: “We want to open two more taprooms this year after Ashford so if both these deals come off that would be great – but it’s not critical. If we are able to secure both then in the second half of the year we would probably look at investing in our infrastructure and maintaining the current sites rather than acquisitions.”

Famous Cock Tavern manager Carl Hufton outside the refurbished up in IslingtonStonegate Pub Company has reopened The Famous Cock Tavern in Islington, north London, following a £600,000 refurbishment – its highest capex project this financial year. The venue in Upper Street has been relaunched with the addition of 1920s-themed bar Jam & Rye. The basement bar was previously under different ownership and had been closed for years until Stonegate added it to the footprint of the pub, creating a “themed bar of jazz and refined spirits”. Sports and craft beer remain at the heart of The Famous Cock Tavern, with seven high-tech screens, a range of craft and cask beer, and a menu focusing on sourdough pizza and tapas. Manager Carl Hufton said: “The previously closed underground bar has come into our fold this year and, while we’ve protected its music legacy, it’s a contemporary bar that meets the needs of a vibrant Islington. That’s only half of the story, though. Islington is socially alive all times of the day and we’ve invested as much in an upbeat Famous Cock Tavern, alive with neons, industrialised finishes, extended love of sport, craft beer, gin botanicals and, of course, urban-style food.”

A Swansea city centre property let to Scottish & Newcastle has been sold by agent Savills on behalf of Quidnet Capital for £1.575m to a private property company, reflecting a net initial yield of 8.67%. Number 10 Wind Street is a freehold property comprising 32,698 square feet of leisure space over five floors. Currently let to Scottish & Newcastle and trading as Idols Bar, the property generates an income of £145,000 per annum. Located in a prime leisure pitch, the property is also in a strong student catchment area. Ross Griffin, investment director at Savills Cardiff, said: “The property is centrally located in the heart of the leisure offering of the city, ensuring its continued popularity.”

Latin American restaurant, wine bar and bodega concept Paladar has launched in SouthwarkLatin American restaurant, wine bar and bodega concept Paladar has launched in London. The 50-cover venue has opened in St George’s Circus, Southwark, offering Latin American food, drink, art and music. The venue features a bar counter, an eight-seater chef’s table and an open kitchen. It will also host events, while a courtyard garden will open in the spring. The menu draws most inspiration from Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, alongside Brazilian-influenced music and cocktails, Argentinian and Chilean wine, and Cuban and Nicaraguan rum and cigars. Chef Jose Rubio-Guevara’s menu is divided into five sections – Nibbles, The Sea, The Farm, The Land and Sweet Endings – while Latin American specialities are available to purchase. Paladar, which means “palate” in Spanish and Portuguese, is the brainchild of Charles Tyler, who was behind Malay-Asian restaurant Champor-Champor near London Bridge. He said: “When I first travelled around Latin America in 2013 I was blown away by the delicious local cuisine, the quality of the wine and spirits, the friendly people, and the energy and zest of the region. Ever since, the thought of showcasing the products and experiences I found was never far from my mind.”

McDonald'sMcDonald’s has revealed plans to offer more balanced children’s meals around the globe by the end of 2022. The company said at least 50% of children’s meal options on its menus would meet new global Happy Meal nutrition criteria – a maximum of 600 calories, no more than 10% of calories from saturated fat, no more than 650mg of sodium, and no more than 10% of calories from added sugar. These goals build on McDonald’s commitments to improve children’s options. In many cases, these goals represent small tweaks. McDonald’s UK said Happy Meals in its British restaurants already met the nutrition targets and didn’t advertise cheeseburgers or milkshakes. A spokeswoman added: “We take our responsibility to families very seriously and in the UK we have been committed to evolving our Happy Meal menu for a long time to keep in step with what parents want.” The company said it would aim to use its size and scale to leverage innovative marketing to “help serve more fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein and water in Happy Meals”. Last month, McDonald’s in Italy introduced a new Happy Meal item – Junior Chicken – a lean, grilled chicken sandwich. McDonald’s Australia is “exploring new vegetable and lean protein options”, while McDonald’s France is looking at “new vegetable offerings”. Outside children’s meals, McDonald’s has introduced vegetarian and vegan burger options in parts of Europe.

Bryan Wardman has stepped down as joint managing director of community pub operator Amber Taverns. Wardman, who joined in 2005 and led the company with James Baer, has decided to retire. Wardman’s decision has led to head of property Sam Frankland being promoted to property director. Frankland joined Amber Taverns in February 2016 to work alongside Wardman to expand the estate. Amber Taverns, which plans to open ten to 12 sites this year, owns about 135 pubs across the north, Midlands and Wales.

Bel & The Dragon, the Longshot-owned collection of country inns across the south east, is targeting larger sites for expansion as it aims to make the most of accommodation. Hector Ross told Propel the six-strong company, whose five sites with accommodation will each have between five and 18 rooms by the end of 2018, was looking to acquire coaching inns with 20 to 40 bedrooms to add to its portfolio. He said as with its current country inns, sites needed to be within an “hour-and-a-half” of west London in an area spanning the A3 to the M40. Accommodation currently accounts for about £1m of Bel & The Dragon’s turnover and Ross is keen to increase that figure further especially, he said, as 80% of people who stay at its sites also dine. Ross said: “What we want is bums in beds – it’s critical for us because of the impact it has on our dining figures. The staycation market is also growing. We currently have about a 70% occupancy rate, which is growing every month. We’ve worked hard to improve the quality of food and drink in our country inns but we want to create a good all-round guest experience. Accommodation is now a very important income stream in the sector.” Earlier this week, the company announced it is adding 12 bedrooms to its estate that will take the total number to 59 by 1 March. It will have accommodation available at all its sites by the end of the year. In most cases, Bel & The Dragon has taken employee accommodation and turned it into guest bedrooms, with the company renting nearby flats for its teams. Ross said that with further expansion on the cards, the company was now looking at underutilised areas to add more rooms. Ross also said the company expected turnover for the year to 30 March 2018 to increase from last year.

Propel is staging its fourth Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday, 22 March in London, this time exploring the burgeoning beer scene in Bermondsey and Brixton. The tour, led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit eight venues during the day-long tour, including leading craft beer retailers, a cider specialist and a street food market that features its own brewery. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends, while CGA commercial director Graeme Loudon will give further insights. Site visits will include question-and-answer sessions with some of London’s leading retailers looking at award-winning sites, beer-centric retail, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site, and a host of other issues. The day includes travel between venues by coach where appropriate. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £395 plus VAT for non-Propel Premium members. To book, email

Operators have the chance to give their thoughts and experiences on food delivery and the effect it has on their business in a new survey. Propel has partnered with Piper, investors in fast-growing consumer brands, to conduct the survey. It should take no more than ten minutes to complete and participants will be sent a copy of the research. All individual responses are confidential and data will only be viewed in an anonymous, non-attributable and aggregated way. Neither Piper nor Propel are compensated by any company to conduct the survey and will not sell individual responses or pass them to third parties.To take part in the survey, click here. The findings will be presented by Yasha Estraikh, of Piper, at the next Propel Multi Club Conference. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Supply Chain Masterclass, which will look at how to achieve best-in-class supply chain efficiency, is open for bookings. The one-day event, launched by Propel in partnership with Food Partners founder and managing director Campbell Askwith, will take place in the Fifth Floor State Rooms at 30 Euston Square, London, on Wednesday, 21 February. The event will pose the question: “Who should be responsible for a restaurant, pub or hotel group’s purchasing strategy?” Askwith will ask a panel including James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns, Christian Hall, finance director of Thai Leisure Group, and John Wood, a former Michelin-starred and world-renowned executive chef and now managing director of Kitchen Cut, who does purchasing best – chef, purchasing manager or outsource? Other speakers will include brand, growth and development strategist James Hacon, who will ask if there is a commercial strategy around “provenance” or whether it’s simply marketing and provide thoughts, facts and recommendations. International business coach Gerard Hargreaves will share his thoughts on how best to leverage the most from your supplier meetings. Tickets are £295 for Propel premium members and £345 for others. To book, email Anne Steele on or call 01444 817691.

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David Bruce, NITAs 2007

National Innovation in Training Awards

21st November 2017

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