Friday Five: the week's top news

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news
We round-up some of the top hospitality stories you might have missed this week.

- Emily Watkins and her husband and business partner Miles Lampson have sold The Kingham Plough after 12 years at the popular Oxfordshire gastropub​. It has been taken over by Matt and Katie Beamish, who have worked with Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver and in hotels across the country. The couple say the don't intend to make many changes to the pub, which is ranked 22nd on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list. 

- The chairman of Loungers, the 142-strong all-day restaurant group, has said the company could grow to up to 500 sites in the UK.​ Alex Reilley told the Casual Dining Show growing the business was "addictive" and he saw potential for 400 Lounges and 100 Cosy Clubs sites - adding this was a "conservative" estimate.

- London's St Martin's Hotel has closed its Asia de Cuba restaurant after 20 years ahead​ of a shake-up of its food and beverage offer by its US-based owner SBE Entertainment Group. It will relaunch later this year alongside the hotel's Blind Spot bar under one of the brands from the SBE portfolio. The company owns the largely US-based Disruptive Restaurant group, which has partnerships with chefs Jose Andres and Michael Schwartz.

- The number of casual dining restaurants in Britain fell 0.1% in the 12 months to December 2018, ​the first decline in the sector for nine years. According to the Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners, this followed a five-year boom in branded restaurant openings, which are still up 27% since 2013.

- The first two episodes of our new Behind the Brigade series, where we join The Ritz's executive chef John Williams and his team for a lunch service at the five-star hotel, are now live. See part one here​, and part two here. 

For more of this week's news click here. 

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