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 top news stories include Emerald Hospitality Group's next venture, restaurant insolvencies jumping 64%, and the price of a McDonald’s cheeseburger increasing for the first time in 14 years.

- The restaurant group behind London venues El Norte, Zuaya and Como Garden is to take on the former Sake no Hana site on St James’s Street. Emerald Hospitality Group will launch southern French restaurant Riviera​ at the location in November following an extensive refurbishment. The restaurant will have space for 170 covers inside with an additional 35 on its outdoor terrace. “This is a very exciting launch. Arian and I have a deep appreciation for the south of France, a region that celebrates life, honouring friends and family reunions, artisanal fine art, and superb food. Riviera is set to represent and embody the luxurious lifestyle found in the South of France, in a unique London location,” says Alberto Zandi, co-founder of Emerald Hospitality Group.

- UK restaurant insolvencies have jumped 64% from 856 in 2020/21 to 1,406 in the past year​ with 431 of the casualties occurring in the last quarter alone. That’s according to new data from accountancy network UHY Hacker Young, which puts the rise down to spiralling inflation, decreased consumer spending and a shortage of labour. Insolvencies within the restaurant sector are even higher than in the wider hospitality industry, which has seen a 56% increase in company insolvencies in the past 12 rising from 1407 to 2193.

- The price of a McDonald’s cheeseburger is to increase for the first time in 14 years - from 99p to £1.19 - as the fast food giant is forced to pass on rapidly rising costs to its customers. Writing in a newsletter sent to customer this morning (27 July), chief executive office Alistair Macrow said that McDonald’s UK and Ireland would add either 10p or 20p to a ‘number of menu items impacted most by inflation’​. Some prices remain unaffected, while others will continue to vary across the group’s circa 1,400 restaurants in UK and the Republic of Ireland. The price rises are due to hit later this summer, with McDonald's so far only revealing the single cheeseburger - which is on its low-cost Savers Menu - as an item that will see a rise.

- High-profile Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pessoa will open an upscale restaurant and bar at the new art’otel in Battersea Power Station later this year​. JOIA will explore Sá Pessoa’s culinary heritage and travels across the Iberian Peninsula, using the best of British and Iberian produce. Chef Sá Pessoa owns the two Michelin-starred Alma and relaxed trans-Iberian tapas spot Tapisco in his native Lisbon, and is also executive chef at ARCA restaurant within art’otel Amsterdam. JOIA will comprise three distinct spaces, a 15th floor restaurant; a bar on the 14th floor; and a rooftop bar with infinity pool, all overlooking Battersea Power Station. The menu at JOIA will be particularly influenced by the ‘robust flavours and techniques of Catalonia and Portugal’ with a focus on seafood, pork and rice. Dishes will include grilled carabineiro, creamy orzo bisque, tomato, coriander; and salted cod crudo, pickled onions, tomatoes and olive oil caviar.

Thousands of hospitality businesses ‘could be forced to close’ over the next few years unless the Government intervenes to help with spiralling utility bills​, a procurement firm has warned. Alex Demetriou, managing director at Regency Purchasing Group, says the rising cost of utility bills combined with increases to food and drink costs, supply chain issues and rises to the minimum wage have contributed to a ‘perfect storm’ that has left many businesses struggling to survive. And he fears the situation is set to worsen further with hundreds of businesses now forward planning their closures in line with forthcoming utility renewals.

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

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