Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Restaurant

This week's main hospitality news stories include the reopening of indoor trading, more expansion for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, and the return of the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards

- Sales at Britain’s restaurants, pubs and bars were up by a quarter on pre-Covid levels​ as consumers returned for the first day of indoor service on Monday (17 May). Data from CGA shows that reopened managed venues’ average sales were 24.9% higher than on the equivalent Monday in May 2019. Food sales jumped 29.6% as consumers took advantage of the opportunity to eat inside again for the first time this year in England and Wales, while drinks sales were up by 21.2%. These latest figures follow recent CGA data indicating strong sales for pubs, bars and restaurants over the first fortnight of outside-only service from 12 April, but more difficult trading conditions amid poor weather in early May. CGA’s Market Recovery Monitor with AlixPartners has indicated that only around a third (32.9%) of Britain’s licensed premises were able to trade in April, meaning the majority did not reopen until this week.

- Gordon Ramsay Restaurants is planning to open another 10 sites in the UK by the summer​ as the group pushes forward with an 'ambitious' expansion strategy. Within the last few weeks the group has launched five new restaurants, including three further openings under its fledgling burger brand Gordon Ramsay’s Street Burger in London's Charing Cross, Kensington High Street and Woking, respectively. The group is now planning another 10 restaurant openings in the UK by the summer, with dozens more sites currently under review. It comes as Gordon Ramsay Restaurants announces the appointment of Antony Perring as the group’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

- The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards are making a return this year​ after a one-year break, with the awards ceremony being held on 19 July. The awards, and the announcement of the UK’s top 100 restaurants, will take place at Allegra at The Stratford hotel in London as well as on Allegra’s stunning seventh-floor garden terrace at what will be one of the first large restaurant industry gatherings since the start of the pandemic early last year. Allegra chef-patron Patrick Powell and his team will be cooking at the summer event, with the food offer to also include dishes from The Frog’s Adam Handling among others.

- Dominic Lake and Rohit Chugh are to launch an izakaya-inspired venue within the Shoreditch site that was once home to Merchants Tavern​ later this month. Located on Charlotte Road close to Old Street Station, Apothecary will echo the high-energy and sociable environments of Japan’s famed izakaya bars, offering Japanese small plates alongside music and DJs curated by Lake’s bar and live music brand Spiritland. The space will accommodate over 130 covers and will ‘reflect a contemporary Tokyo-style tavern through a Shoreditch lens’, combing the site’s exposed brickwork with wooden screens to create a dining room that is 'simultaneously intimate and connected'.

- Data from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed that more than 8,000 licensed premises have closed across Britain since March 2020​. According to the latest Market Recovery Monitor, the number of restaurants in Britain fell from 43,126 to 38,922 between March 2020 and April 2021, a drop of 9.7%. Drink-led venues suffered slightly less, with a 5.6% fall from 61,229 to 57,783 across the same time period. In total, the number of licensed venues across Britain has fallen by 7.4% from 115,108 to 106,548; a deficit of 8,560.

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

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