- Pizza chain Rudy’s is looking to reach 15 sites this year, as it fills in the white space around the North West and casts the net wider towards Yorkshire and the Midlands. Following last week's announcement that it would be opening its tenth restaurant, in Chorlton, the company says it will open further sites in Sheffield’s Division Street, alongside a fifth site in Greater Manchester, on Portland Street. The pizza brand, which is owned by Mission Mars and backed by the BGF, is also looking at opportunities in Didsbury and Heaton Moor, as well as a second Birmingham city centre site, and Harbourne, near Birmingham, according to managing director Neal Bates. The Sheffield restaurant, which will open in June or July, represents a new area for Rudy’s as it looks to cast its net wider. The company is also looking at further expansion in the Midlands on the back of the success of its Birmingham restaurant, which is recording sales up 40% on like-for-like figures on 2020.
- Soho House will make the move south of the river in the capital this summer with the opening of a club in Balham, south London, as well as going north for the first time with a Manchester venue. Its new House on Balham Hill will be a 5,300sq ft venue featuring a club space, bar and Club Cecconi’s restaurant. It will be the tenth Soho House to open in the capital and its first in south London. Soho House founder Nick Jones said the group wanted 'to offer members more spaces outside of central London'. The new club is part of continued expansion by Soho House both in the UK and overseas. Speaking at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show this week, Jones said the group will open a club in Manchester hopefully by the end of the year.
- MJMK founders Marco Mendes and Jake Kasumov have confirmed that their Portuguese restaurant brand Casa do Frango will make its central London debut later this year in Mayfair. Speaking at this week's Restaurant R200 conference, the pair announced that Casa do Frango will open on Heddon Street. It will be the lauded Algarvian piri piri chicken restaurant's third site in the capital. The first Casa do Frango opened in London Bridge in August 2018, and the group expanded to Shoreditch the following year. Kasumov said: “We’re still planning to grow Casa. We are opening our third one, which is going to be our first central London site on Heddon Street. It’s a real test of the brand to see how it works in central London, and we’re very excited about that.”
- Restaurant insolvencies jumped by a fifth in the last quarter of 2021 to reach highest levels since the Coronavirus pandemic began. The number of restaurant insolvencies rose to 354 in period, up from 296 in the third quarter of the year, according to national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young. Despite the end of Coronavirus restrictions, the sector faces considerable challenges with the invasion of Ukraine and resulting sanctions on Russia already causing a sharp spike in oil and gas prices. With Russia and Ukraine both major exporters of crops, such as wheat and corn, food prices are likely to increase dramatically, it says. Restaurants will also have to contend with the upcoming hike in National Insurance rates, which means employers will be forced to pay an extra 1.25% per employee, per month from 6 April. Rising interest rates will make borrowing more expensive for restaurants, as well as increasing the amount they need to pay back on existing loans. Given the huge number of restaurants that took on extra debt during the pandemic, this is likely to be substantial.
- Chef-couple Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer have found a new home for their beloved Middle Eastern restaurant, Honey & Co, on Bloomsbury’s Lamb's Conduit Street. The small but influential Warren Street restaurant closed earlier this year after 10 years following the landlord’s decision not to renew the lease. The new iteration of Honey & Co is expected to open this Spring and will be on the former site of Spanish restaurant Cigala, which closed its doors in 2019. With sister sites Honey & Smoke: Grill House and Honey & Spice: Food Store all within walking distance of one another in Fitzrovia, Honey & Co Bloomsbury sees the chef duo move their original concept to a new neighbourhood.
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