Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Hospitality

This week's main hospitality news stories include Individual Restaurants announcing a clutch of closures, Mowgli confirming its London debut, and research showing that trading remains 'well below' pre-Covid levels.

- Individual Restaurants, which owns the Piccolino, Restaurant Bar & Grill, Opera Grill and Bank high street brands, has announced a clutch of closures. The casual dining group is to shutter four sites from within its 28-strong estate​. They include Piccolino in both Clitheroe and York; The Restaurant Bar & Grill in Manchester; and The Alderley Bar & Grill in Cheshire. In total, 140 jobs will be affected by the closures, with the business entering a period of consultation at each of the referenced restaurants. The last day of trading for the restaurants will be 5 September 2021. News of the closures comes as Karen Forrester, former chief executive of TGI Fridays, is confirmed as executive chairperson of Individual Restaurants Company.

- Nisha Katona has confirmed she is bringing Mowgli to the capital​, launching on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia in October. In an Instagram post, Katona said bringing her primarily northern-based Indian street food group to London is an opportunity 'beyond her wildest dreams'. She said: "It is with grateful hearts that we open Mowgli London at 5 Charlotte Street Fitzrovia in October. It’s a street that I have dined upon and been fond of all my life. It is beyond my wildest dreams that we have this opportunity to open, heads down and humbly, in a sweet little building that feels like it was always Mowgli."

- Just over half of consumers have returned to hospitality venues since ‘Freedom Day’, new research from CGA reveals, with trading still 'well below' pre-Covid levels​. The latest Consumer Pulse survey found that 56% of consumers have visited venues in the ten days from Monday 19 July. It is five and 12 percentage points higher than the numbers who visited within ten days of venues reopening for outside and inside service in mid-April and mid-May respectively. In total, just under three quarters (73%) have returned to the out-of-home market since venues were allowed to open in April.

- The 50 Best organisation is to launch its first new regional list of ranked restaurants in almost a decade​, covering North Africa, the Levant and Gulf states. The inaugural Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants event programme will be hosted in Abu Dhabi in partnership with the city's Department of Culture & Tourism between 4 and 11 February 2022, with the gala awards ceremony taking place on 7 February. The ranking will reflect the best restaurant experiences collated from 250 voters, made up of anonymous restaurant experts from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It is not intended as a ‘fine dining’ list, but as 'a true reflection of the greatest eating destinations across the MENA region', comprising secret local spots alongside high-profile names, established classics next to daring innovators.

- TriSpan has acquired a significant majority stake in Vietnamese restaurant group Pho​. The investment has been made through the private equity firm's dedicated restaurant fund Rising Stars. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Under the deal, the founders and management have maintained a significant interest in the company, with former finance director Patrick Marrinan leading the group as managing director. Founders Stephen and Juliette Wall, who opened the first Pho restaurant in Clerkenwell in 2005, will remain in executive roles to help support the growth plan, alongside director of operations Ewan McDonald and marketing director Libby Andrews. Robin Rowland, TriSpan’s European operating partner, will chair the board, with current chairman Steve Hill remaining as a non-executive director.

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

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