- The Government is being called on to allow people to be able to order at the bar from the indoor opening of restaurants and pubs on 17 May, and for customers to be allowed to consume drinks while standing outdoors. Trade body UKHospitality is also calling on the Government to allow diners to be able to order via a hatch or outdoor till - rather than rely on table service - on outdoor reopening on 12 April after revealing that 600,000 jobs and 12,000 businesses in the hospitality have so far been lost as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. With only a minority of pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities being able to trade outdoors from 12 April, UKHospitality is warning that even more jobs are in danger and even more businesses face closure.
- Time Out Group has confirmed it will no longer push ahead with plans to open a food market in London Waterloo, due to the financial hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. The company signed a lease agreement back in late 2018 for a 32,500sq ft site in the former International Eurostar Terminal that would have been split over two floors and accommodated around 500 seats. It was originally slated to open this year. In a statement confirming it would no longer proceed with the development of Time Out Market London, the group, which operates six food halls internationally, primarily in the US, said the decision does not change the need for it to secure additional funding as a result of the financial impact of repeated periods of pandemic-related containment. It added that it is currently reviewing an equity funding proposal to ensure it has 'financial and operational flexibility'.
- One hundred and ninety six ex-employees of Jamie Oliver’s collapsed restaurant group have won up to £500,000 in compensation following a tribunal. As the company, which called in the administrators in 2019 resulting in the loss of over 1,000 staff, cannot pay the payout will be funded by the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) which is part of the Government's Insolvency Service. One former employee alleged that they ‘were only told through email’ of the restaurant closures. Oliver, who has previously described the loss of his once unstoppable restaurant empire as ‘very, very painful’ paid around £1m himself to make sure staff were paid before administrators had to be called in.
- US fried chicken chain Popeyes is to launch its first UK restaurant this year as part of an expansion drive to open more than 300 sites across the country. The group, which was founded in New Orleans in 1972 and runs 3,400 restaurants globally, says it sees the UK as its 'next big opportunity' for growth. The group will enter the UK market as part of an agreement between PLK Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of owner Restaurant Brands International Inc (RBI); Ring International Holdings; and Elias Diaz Sese, who is also non-executive director of Dominos Pizza UK. In total Popeyes is aiming to open 350 sites across the UK over the next 10 years, with a potential flagship site in London understood to currently be under consideration. The chain says the move will create a number of new jobs and provide 'a direct boost' to the UK hospitality sector.
- Jo Fleet, former managing director at Flat Iron and Wahaca, has joined steakhouse group Hawksmoor to head up its nationwide meal kit distribution and London restaurant delivery operations. Fleet will oversee the continued development of Hawksmoor’s popular At Home meal kit offer, which launched in July last year, as well as the seven-strong retail range of steaks launched in February on Ocado. She will also look to develop further Hawksmoor's London restaurant delivery service that allows customers to create their own personal Hawksmoor meals that are either delivered to certain London postcodes or can be picked up from Hawksmoor's Air Street restaurant in Piccadilly.
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