Friday Five: the week's top news stories

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news stories

Related tags: Coronavirus

We round-up some of the main hospitality news stories from the past week including Mitchells & Butlers announcing a raft of closures and TGI Fridays launching a new bar concept.

- Harvester and All Bar One operator Mitchells & Butlers is to close up to 20 of its UK pub and restaurant locations​. The group is working with advisors CBRE to offload a number of leasehold sites, which will face permanent closure if buyers cannot be found. Mitchells & Butlers, which operates more than 1,700 sites across the UK and has around 44,000 employees, did not say how many jobs would be affected by the move. Since July the group has reopened 95% of its estate since, with the remainder closed subject to a review. It was reported last month​ that Mitchells & Butlers had entered into redundancy consultations with staff, although it was not disclosed at the time how many jobs were at risk.

- TGI Fridays UK is launching a cocktail-led bar and restaurant brand called 63rd+1st​ that it intends to roll out across the UK. Inspired by the original Fridays founded in 1965 in Manhattan by salesman lan Stillman on the corner of 63 Street and 1 Avenue - which featured in the Tom Cruise film cocktail - the first venue under the new brand will open in Cobham on 8 January 2021. The new bar and restaurant will have a bar as its central focal point with space for 96 covers inside and an additional 20 covers outside. It will serve a New York influenced menu with brunch available seven days a week. The move marks what the company describes as a “visible departure” from the Fridays brand and will be designed to have the feel of a Manhattan loft with exposed brickwork, polished concrete, reclaimed timber flooring and bespoke fittings that hark back to the sixties.

- Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala are relocating their Indian restaurant Café Spice Namaste​ after 25 years in the capital. The pair will close their restaurant on Prescot Street in east London at the end of January 2021 having occupied the Grade II-listed former magistrates court since 1995 before moving to new premises nearby. “It has been and will be a very difficult time for us, but there is hope too. Our anniversary falls on the Festival of Diwali where light overcomes darkness and brings hope over gloom,” says Cyrus. “Early in the New Year, Café Spice Namaste will be moving to different premises, not too far away.” To help with the transition, three of the Indian restaurant’s most loyal customers have launched a Friends of Café Spice Namaste appeal. In the appeal, Nick Gooding, John Minton and Howard Townson have released a message discussing how much Café Spice Namaste has helped to enrich their lives over the years, and highlight the difficulties borne by restaurateurs like the Todiwalas due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

- The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) says it fears nightclubs will become 'extinct' in UK culture​ as businesses continue to face no roadmap for reopening and growing financial pressures. It claims business owners within the night time economy are 'frustrated and angry' at being forced to remain closed despite working within the Government guidance and 'many' are now considering taking legal action. Most nightclubs have been forced to remain shut since the beginning of the first national lockdown in March.

- Filipino fast food chain Jollibee is to open a new flagship UK site in London's Leicester Square next year​. The group launched its third UK location in Leicester this week; a 134-cover site that's noted as being the first Jollibee in the country to sell all Halal meat. Back in August Jollibee announced plans to open 50 restaurants across the UK in the next three to five years, as well as grow its presence in Italy, Spain and other European markets. Alongside Leicester Square, Jollibee is currently planning to open in Edinburgh, Leeds and Cardiff, with Manchester and Birmingham also expected to be targeted during the course of its expansion drive.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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