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Exclusive – Brasseria Family launches crowdfund to open third site, already raised almost £1.2m

Brasseria FamilyNeighbourhood all-day Italian restaurant Brasseria Family has launched a crowdfunding campaign as it aims to open its third London site, Propel has learned. The campaign has already raised almost £1.2m with its backers including YO! founder Simon Woodroffe. Founded in 2018, Brasseria Family is planning to open a restaurant in Brompton Road in South Kensington, adding to its venues in Marylebone and Notting Hill, which served more than 260,000 customers in 2023. Brasserie Family was aiming to raise £1,050,000 and was offering 23.21% equity in return for the investment, giving the business a pre-money valuation of £3,862,745. Having opened the campaign to selected investors known to the business, the company has already raised £1,175,000 from circa 50 investors. The funds will go towards the building, promoting and opening of the new site. Owner Alberto Fraquelli said: “We have 10% of our workforce who now have ownership in the business and have become members of our family. The best way to touch people is involve them in the journey and we think crowdfunding is the ideal way to do that. Our first backer is a sophisticated industry specialist in Simon Woodroffe and the only way to be successful is if more people invest in Brasseria Family.”
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Stephen GouldStephen Gould (pictured), the outgoing managing director of Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards, is to become chairman of Hertfordshire brewer and retailer McMullen, Propel has learned. Gould will step down as managing director at Everards next February and then will take up his new role at McMullen. He started his career at Bass before joining Punch and subsequently Everards where he became managing director in 2005. Gould will remain on the board of Everards as a non-executive director. His appointment comes as Charles Brims announced his intention to retire at McMullen’s annual general meeting in February 2025 after 22 years as the company’s chairman. Brims started his career in the industry with Courage before becoming chairman of Gales and subsequently, in 2003, chairman of McMullen, which currently operates 86 managed pubs and 38 tenanted sites. Everards has appointed Andy Wilson as its new managing director. Wilson, former managing director of Greene King’s destination food brands division, joined Everards this month as joint managing director with Gould, who he will succeed next February.


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Yoh BurgerYorkshire forecourt operators Fuzail and Siddika Patel are set to take their independent burger concept national, with plans for up to 60 sites, Propel has learned. The husband-and-wife team own a network of four forecourts in the region, and Yoh Burger was initially founded in 2018 as an own-brand food and beverage unit within their petrol station at Fitzwilliam Road, Rotherham. A second soon followed when the pair converted a former Subway unit within their petrol station at Doncaster Road, Wakefield. This, in turn, has been followed by delivery-only kitchens in Huddersfield and Leeds, while Manchester and Sheffield sites are in the pipeline too. To assist with Yoh Burger’s growth, they have brought on board experienced operator Paolo Peretti as a franchise consultant. Peretti, former managing director at Patisserie Valerie, now runs his own consultancy business, Paolo Peretti Group, which is also helping grow brands such as Tikka Nation, Rice Guys and Karak Chaii. “The owners are looking to move away from forecourts and into larger eat-in areas,” Peretti told Propel. “Manchester will be their first high street location and will be a prototype for future openings, and that’s what we will franchise. We’re hoping to have the first open by the autumn. We’ve had enquiries from as far as Weymouth but will probably grow it locally to start with. Eventually, it has the potential to grow to 50-60 stores over the next five years.”

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Sticks‘n’SushiJapanese premium restaurant group Sticks‘n’Sushi, in which McWin, the backer of Gail’s and Big Mamma Group, acquired a majority stake last month, has secured a new £22m loan from OakNorth to support its growth plans. Founded in Denmark in 1994 by Thor Andersen, Kim Rahbek Hansen and Jens Rahbek Hansen, Sticks‘n’Sushi currently operates 12 restaurants in the UK, three in Germany, 12 in Denmark and three catering and delivery kitchens. The new loan alongside funding from McWin will aid the company’s plan to accelerate its growth in its existing markets and also enter new markets over the next five years. It previously said it sees “many opportunities arising with markets like France and DACH being top priorities for us”. Andreas Karlsson, chief executive of Sticks‘n’Sushi, said: “Our continued growth is really exciting – we’ve opened a restaurant every year since 2012 and we launched two last year in Shoreditch and Kingston, followed by Richmond this May – which will make it three in nine months. Over the years, we’ve built a loyal customer base that continues to choose us because of the quality of food we serve, and the quality of service we provide. We have identified great locations for several new restaurants in the coming years, and with the support of McWin and OakNorth, we will be able to take advantage of this.” The acquisition by McWin is understood to have valued Sticks‘n’Sushi at circa €80m (£68.5m).

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Sarah WillinghamSarah Willingham (pictured), chief executive of Nightcap, has told Propel that “it’s clear there is once again a love for live music” among consumers following its acquisition of Piano Works. The company – which owns The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group, Dirty Martini and the Barrio Familia of bars – has added Piano Works to its portfolio after acquiring the business for £200,000 following a pre-pack administration. Piano Works operates sites in Farringdon and since November last year in Covent Garden, where it has had a residency within Nightcap’s Barrio venue after relocating its West End site. Speaking following the deal, Willingham said: “We saw how well we worked together with the residency and the success of the Christmas trade. When the opportunity arose to continue the partnership with [Piano Works founder] Alan [Lorrimer] and his team it was a no-brainer. It’s clear there is once again a love for live music as we have seen in our Birmingham site, Luna Springs. It’s a great addition to the group. We have already seen how Piano Works has a dedicated following in London – when it moved to Covent Garden, its audience followed. We think it can sit nicely with our other brands. It’s about giving the audience an experience, which all our brands do in London and the regions. We have a very strong management team. We are able to pivot and move quickly as challenges (like train strikes) have shown us. We also have a huge offering for a wide ranging audience – from Generation Z to Generation X – we have something for everybody.”

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GooeyManchester brunch and bakery concept Gooey has told Propel it sees the potential for 30-40 UK sites and has signed its first international partnership, in the UAE. The bakery brand, which counts R&B star Lizzo among its biggest fans, was co-founded by Jake Ansbro, Sax Arshad and Paddy Brown in 2020, as a delivery-only service during lockdown. It then opened a kiosk in the foyer of the Ducie Street Warehouse before launching its debut bricks and mortar site, a 40-cover all day cafe and bakery, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It now has six sites in the city through a mixture of cafes and kiosks including a prime site in Selfridges Trafford Centre. It has recently opened a kiosk in Liverpool in Bold Street – its first site outside of Manchester – and sold its first overseas franchise, in the UAE. “The next two-year plan is to expand Gooey into an internationally recognised cafe/bakery concept,” said Charlie Mander, co-founder of Presman & Colard International, which is advising on Gooey’s expansion. The team behind Gooey also last year launched pasta concept Onda (meaning “wave” in Italian) in Manchester’s Peter Street, in partnership with Michelin-trained chef Sam Astley Dean, in the former Sao Paulo Bistro unit. The Manchester Evening News reports that Onda is now booked out months in advance due to a viral moment on social media that captured the attention of Hollywood A-listers like Florence Pugh.

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Roxy LanesRoxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Ball Room concept, is to open a third site in Nottingham, and its first in the city under its Roxy Lanes concept. The 18-strong company, which currently operates six Roxy Lanes venues across the UK, will open the new Roxy Lanes in the city’s Bottle Lane. The 15,000 square-foot site will open in The Pod, a development on the corner of Bottle Lane and Fletcher Gate. The concept features a bowling alley and other games such as American pool, air hockey shuffleboard, darts and arcade games. The city centre is already home to two Roxy Ball Rooms, in Thurland Street and the Cornerhouse. The company’s latest site – a Roxy Ball Room in York – will also open later this week, as the business aims to grow to a 40-strong estate in the next five years.

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Bloomsbury LeisureCraft beer bar operator Bloomsbury Leisure is planning to open three new sites across the UK, including a new competitive socialising concept in London’s Holborn. Propel understands that Bloomsbury Leisure, which is led by Jonathan Dalton, plans to open a site at 165 Fleet Street called Tokyo Hit. The site will comprise a themed mini golf course with bars and a food offering on the ground floor and a bowling alley and bars in the basement floor. The business is also planning to open a new tortilla chips-based venue called Thump in Bristol’s Bedminster. It is planning to open in a former Poundstretcher site in East Street, with plans including a licensed area where customers can drink alcohol. The company – which already operates Crofters Rights, The Lanes and Llandoger Trow in the city – has also been linked with opening a new venue on the site of the derelict Seamen’s Mission Church in Bristol’s Prince Street. Bloomsbury Leisure, which runs the Euston Tap and Hackney Tap in the capital, is also set to open a third Tap site in Manchester. The company, which already operates the Piccadilly Tap and Victoria Tap in the city, will open the Oxford Road Tap near Oxford Road station.

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Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitalityA joint survey by UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping and Hospitality Ulster shows that a quarter of hospitality businesses have no cash reserves and a further 29% have less than three months’ worth. The research, which surveyed hospitality businesses from 15 January to 1 February 2024, also found 98% have seen food and drink costs increase; 96% have seen wage costs increase; 98% are concerned about the national living wage rise in April; and 85% have seen their energy costs increase. The rising costs experienced by businesses have left almost two-thirds (64%) not optimistic about their business’ prospects for the next 12 months, an increase of 6% compared with October 2023. Respondents were clear about their priorities for government action at the forthcoming Budget, with 94% prioritising a lower rate of VAT. A lower business rates multiplier for hospitality (80%) and business rates reform (71%) rounded off the top three priorities.

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The Railway in Ramsbottom, which is Punch's 150th retail sitePunch Pubs & Co, the Fortress Investment Group-backed business, has reported that all three of its divisions (leased and tenanted, management partnerships and Laine Pub Co) saw strong like-for-like sales growth in the ten weeks to 11 February 2024. The Clive Chesser-led business said trading in its second quarter to date has been “encouraging with profitability materially ahead of the prior year”. The group said it expects to benefit from inflation positively impacting leased and tenanted net income together with the improving margins and the “benefit of maturing sales and profitability in the pubs converted to its management partnerships estate since August 2021”. The business reported total revenue of £96m for the 16 weeks to 3 December 2023 (2022: £92m). It said all three divisions delivered like-for-like sales growth for the 16-week period compared with the prior year. Underlying outlet Ebitda for the pub estates (management partnerships, leased and tenanted and Laine) before central costs increased by £2.3m to £33.5m. Underlying Ebitda for the 52 weeks to 3 December 2023 was £83m (2022: £76m).

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Gourmet Coffee Bar & KitchenGourmet Coffee Bar & Kitchen, which has sites situated within or near train stations across the UK, is closing in on 30 sites following two new openings. The business, founded in 2007 by Nick and Liz Garnell, has opened at Brockenhurst station and on platform four at Didcot Parkway, where it already has a site within the station’s ticket office. It now has 28 locations, with six more “coming soon” according to its website – in Derby, Hereford, Milton Keynes, Portsmouth & Southsea, Shrewsbury and Telford. In December 2022, Gourmet Coffee Bar & Kitchen acquired six sites from AMT Coffee after it was placed into administration.

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Costa CoffeeCosta Coffee has said it will give its more than 15,000 hourly-paid workers an average 9% pay increase from 1 April. As part of an investment of more than £15m, the company’s starting national pay rate for its baristas will increase to £12 per hour, from £10.70 per hour. It takes Costa Coffee’s starting rate to 56p per hour above the national living wage and the company said it is part of its efforts to ensure team members continue to receive a sustainable pay rate that factors in the cost of living.

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ValiantValiant Pub Company, which was founded by Hawthorn Leisure co-founders Gerry Carroll and Mark McGinty at the start of 2021, has appointed Jennifer Sloyan, formerly of Next and Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned.

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Maggie & RoseA private members’ club set up for wealthy parents by a close friend of the Prince of Wales is on the brink of collapse after abruptly shutting its clubhouses in west London. Maggie & Rose, which charges from £140 per month for a membership, said in a message to parents that it was suffering “staffing and operational issues”, forcing the company to temporarily close its sites in Kensington and Chiswick. However, filings showed it has since instructed lawyers at Addleshaw Goddard ahead of an expected administration later this week. It is not known if the clubhouses will be able to reopen at any point.

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Lucky VoiceCharlie Elek, managing director of Lucky Voice, will be among the speakers at the first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2024. More than 350 places have been booked for the conference, which takes place on Thursday, 21 March, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington, and is open for bookings. Elek sets out how the company’s major programme of growth, expansion and investment has been galvanised through operating systems that ensure clearer, more systematic thinking and planning. Operators can book up to three free places per company while Premium Club members who are operators can book up to four free places. To book, email

Karl Chessell, director hospitality operators and food EMEA at CGABritain’s leading hospitality groups generated like-for-like sales growth of just 0.1% in January, the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals. The flat start to the year indicates pressure on consumers’ spending after a bumper festive season that saw the tracker finish 8.8% ahead in December 2023. Trading was also constrained by Dry January resolutions, poor weather and further rail strikes, the findings showed. The tracker – produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK – indicates like-for-like sales growth of 0.9% for restaurants in January, while pubs’ trading finished 1.5% ahead. After strong growth in December, bars suffered a 13.6% drop in January sales, while the on-the-go segment was 1.1% behind. Trading patterns were even across the country, the tracker shows. Groups’ sales within the M25 in January were 0.7% up on last year, while sales outside it were exactly flat (0.0%). Karl Chessell (pictured), director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “After spending freely in the run-up to Christmas, consumers were clearly watching their outgoings very carefully in January. It is a reminder that while people remain eager to eat and drink out when they can, rising costs continue to limit discretionary spending. With hospitality operators’ margins also still squeezed by inflation, the sector needs sustained government support on taxes and other issues if it is to unleash its full potential to invest and create jobs.”

Vapiano general viewVapiano, which has its main investor as McWin, is set to launch a promotion after seeing a growing trend for solo diners. Last year, the Michelin two-star restaurant Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal in London’s Regent Street had to defend its policy of charging solo diners double. By contrast, Vapiano will launch the first annual National Solo Dining Day on Tuesday 16 April, offering single diners 40% off their meals. “I started realising about 2018-19, when I did a shift at a Vapiano, that there’s so many people coming in to dine on their own,” Vapiano’s global marketing, Vikki O’Neill, told Propel. “In one particular lunch shift it was 43%. We went into lockdown a few months later and it was forgotten about, but I did another shift last year and was again amazed at how many people came in on their own – we’ve seen a real increase. I said to the team this is a cultural shift and we’ve got to do something with this, let’s own this and encourage it. Why wouldn’t you take the business of one person over none? In the bigger fast causal market we’re in, I’ve not heard anyone else talking about it, but we’ve been talking about it for quite some time. We’re not breaking science and the feedback has been incredible. Our attitude is it’s never ‘just a table for one’ but ‘a table for one’. Nobody comes in shy about it and it’s part of the eating out culture now.” Before that, Vapiano is this week launching its first UK loyalty scheme, having introduced one in its French restaurants in 2022. Members will receive ten points for every £1 spent leading to a variety of perks, including 50% off their next visit after downloading the app, birthday discounts and a friend referral scheme. “We’ve changed things around a bit for our UK market,” O’Neill added. “People rightly expect something for their time and investment in your business, and coffee shops have had that nailed. When it comes to fast casual dining you’ve got greater competition and people don’t necessarily want to keep going back to the same place as they would with coffee, so you need to reward based on behaviour and what people want. We’ve got a really simple tiered system where you can use your points to get anything from an extra in your pasta all the way up to an £18 voucher, which is essentially a meal on the house. A recent survey showed 89% of our guests would use a loyalty scheme, and those who wouldn’t don’t live close enough to make it worth it as we only have five sites. Using data is the obvious win here, and working with Datahawks means our CRM communications and the Como app messages are always targeted and personalised.”

Heston BlumenthalRestaurateur and chef Heston Blumenthal (pictured) has called for greater urgency in tackling fraud on Companies House after an investigation revealed more than 750 fake firms using restaurant names have been set up in the past six weeks. Blumenthal’s business was one of those targeted and the chef is writing to Louise Smyth, chief executive at Companies House and registrar for England and Wales, asking for greater transparency on how her organisation is tackling the issue. Experts have warned that action against fraudsters damaging the reputations and legacy of a wide range of restaurants could take as long as 18 months. Blumenthal is asking for a faster response from Companies House to help the restaurant industry, which is already struggling with the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. He estimates that failing to move swiftly could lead to as many as 9,750 restaurants being victims over an 18-month period. He said: “Our legal team has been scanning the Companies Register for years and has regularly needed to notify Companies House of bogus companies claiming to be part of our group. The process for removing fake companies has to be speeded up and made easier. We need greater transparency from Companies House and a clear timeline. In some cases, it is being reported it can take up to 18 months to rectify. Checks by Companies House on the identity of people registering companies would reduce the risk of frauds and be a major help for restaurants and other businesses facing problems with fraudsters. The protection of our brands is absolutely paramount to our customers, our partners and our teams who excel every day in our kitchens and restaurants. We will not allow fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting patrons or partners and risk the legacy that we have collectively built with hard work, dedication, innovation and a grain of eccentricity.”

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