Amuse-bouches: The latest restaurant news bites

This week’s restaurant news includes the sale of Fullers’ pizza business, the launch of the world’s furthest from the winery ‘cellar door’ at a London pub, and the unveiling of Richard Corrigan’s oyster bar delivery service.

Main news

Pressure to reduce two-metre distancing: In its report published by UK Hospitality, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality put forward a series of recommendations to aid businesses as they prepare to reopen. One of these recommendations was the reduction of the two-metre social distancing rule. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to keep the guideline under constant review. Speaking at the Downing Street press conference on Wednesday this week, the chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, said the two-metre distance was not a rule, but “a risk-based assessment on when risk reduces”. He said: “It is wrong to portray this as a scientific rule that says it is two metres or nothing.”

Fullers sells pizza chain business: Pub group Fullers has sold its pizza chain The Stable to sourdough pizza and craft beer restaurant chain Three Joes. Three Joes has acquired the fourteen-strong chain, and the move sees it expand its presence into the south west, Wales and the Midlands. Before acquiring The Stable, Three Joes operated three restaurants in Winchester, Fareham, and Sheffield

Greene King pubs: Following the announcement by Young’s last week, brewer and pub operator Greene King has also announced plans for the reopening of its 1,700 managed sites. It said it has invested £15 million in safety measures for a phased reopening. Its pubs will follow a set of guidelines, known as Pub Safe. They will all have a safe socialising layout, with efforts to minimise contact and additional hand santising and hygiene measures. Tables will be spaced further apart and customers are encouraged to pre-book. There will be new one-in-one-out red and green indicators at the entrances to the toilets so customers can flip the indicator with their elbow as they enter and exit, with toilets cleaned every 15 minutes. Greene King said it will also be looking after its staff and appoint pub safe monitors to ensure that each pub in its estate is keeping customers safe.

New projects and delivery options

Red Lion and Sun launches world’s furthest from the winery ‘cellar door’: Two businesses on opposite sides of the world are working together to recover from the effects of Covid-19. While cellar doors are allowed to reopen in New Zealand, Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock in Central Otago said his tasting room was so remote, customers were unlikely to make the trek. As such, after speaking with Heath Ball of London pub Red Lion and Sun, the pair unveiled a plan to launch the world’s furthest from the winery cellar door. The pub has been operating a retail bottle shop from its front garden during lockdown, and will now be adding Prophet’s Rock wines to the range. These includes its dry Riesling, Pinot Gris, Infusion Pinot Noir, Home Vineyard Pinot Noir and Cuvée Aux Antipodes.

Trivet launches wine shop: Curated by Master Sommelier Isa Bal and head sommelier, Klearhos Kanellakis, London’s Trivet restaurant has launched its own wine shop. The specially selected range is being offered alongside a selection of Nude glassware. The restaurant is also offering a series of experiences, including the Trivet Interactive Wine Tasting with Isa Bal, Trivet Interactive Cookery Class with chef Jonny Lake and team, and a Trivet at Home Wine Masterclass.

Le Deli Robuchon: Le Deli Robuchon in London’s Piccadilly began offering home delivery this week, which is available through platforms Supper London, UberEats, Sevenrooms, City Pantry and Ritual. Available to order all-day, the menu includes freshly baked patisserie, breads and breakfast items, hot and cold sandwiches, quiches, a fish pie, salads and cheese pizza. Wine and Champagne can also be purchased. The deli will be launching an online shop this summer, which will feature a range of wines, teas, cheeses, store cupboard essentials and sweet treats.

Levan: Peckham’s Levan has launched a new delivery and collection service for Londoners. On the menu this month include the likes of smoked cod’s roe with fennel and radish, marinda tomatoes, elderflower vinaigrette and basil, the Levan potato, oyster mushroom and Vacherin pie, slow roast lamb with peas, broad beans and goat’s curd, tarte tatin and a dark chocolate pot with salted caramel and hazelnut. Wines are also available to order from the cellar.

Richard Corrigan’s Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill launches Mr Oyster Boy: Mr Oyster Boy will offer the likes of rock oysters with Champagne mignonette, lobster bisque with tarragon and brandy cream, Bentley’s shelfish cocktail, fish & chips, and dressed crab with soda bread. There will also be changing dessert option and also brunch hampers available for four people. An online shop is also selling Corrigan’s Irish treacle soda bread, rooftop smoked salmon, a Bentley’s oyster knife, and The Clatter of Forks and Spoons cookbook.

Hawksmoor to launch delivery service: UK steakhouse chain Hawksmoor is looking to launch a delivery service, which will initially be a small project and then be scaled up if successful. The company intends to reopen one restaurant in London to learn as much as it can about operating under the new rules, and then apply the lessons learned to the rest of its estate.

Closures and restructuring:

Lunya closes Manchester restaurant: Spanish deli and restaurant chain Lunya has closed its Manchester outpost on Deansgate due to the impact of Covid-19. Its sites on Hanover Street, Liverpool and the Albert Dock will reopen once restrictions are lifted.

Wahlburgers closes London outpost: US burger and bar chain Wahlburgers has closed its London site, its first restaurant in Europe, after just over a year in business. The impact of Covid-19 was cited as the reason behind the decision.

The Restaurant Group to close 125 sites: Casual dining operator The Restaurant Group has stated that it will close 125 of its under-performing sites, a move which will largely affect its Frankie & Benny’s Italian chain. The business has entered into a ‘company voluntary arrangement’, a form of insolvency proceeding which will allow it to restructure its business and renegotiate debts with creditors.

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