Amuse-bouches: Latest restaurant news bites

This week in restaurant news: we present the latest on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, Hallgarten Wines donates 100,000 free glasses of wine to help the hospitality sector in September, Gordon Ramsay announces a major expansion in the UK, and the Ritz Hotel is targeted by scammers.

Dishes at Ampéli

Almost half of English adults return to pubs: A survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by UK alcohol regulator the Portman Group found that the English are the most likely to have returned to pubs. This is compared to 37% of Welsh adults and 30% of Scottish adults who have revisited pubs since they reopened. The so-called Gen-Z, aged between 18 and 24, are most likely to have been to a pub, with over half (51%) visiting a pub at least once.

Eat Out to Help Out latest: Figures from the UK Treasury show that over £35 million has been claimed by businesses for discounted meals in the first two weeks of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Over 85,000 restaurants have signed up for the scheme, which enables eateries to reduce prices by 50% (up to a £10 discount per head) on Monday through Wednesday in August, and claim back the money. The government has put £500m behind the project. Restaurants including Brindisa and Gaucho have pledged to continue the scheme through September. However, Big Hospitality reports that only a third of businesses believe the scheme will have a lasting impact

Hallgarten Wines supports the hospitality sector with 100,000 glasses of wine: Importer Hallgarten & Novum Wines has vowed to support the hospitality sector next month by providing over 100,000 glasses of wine free of charge. The investment, with a retail value of over £700,000, will be offered to on-trade customers. Hallgarten hopes its project will boost restaurant reservations in September. The scheme is open for applications from 19-28 August, and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gordon Ramsay set for major UK expansion: The Daily Mail reports that chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay is set to open a further 50 sites in the UK, as well as 200 in Asia over the next five years. Ramsay’s restaurant group made a profit of £15 million last year, and Ramsay told the paper that it was “more important than ever before to invest in our industry, to support suppliers and to create jobs”.

The Ritz targeted by scammers: The BBC reports that London luxury hotel and restaurant The Ritz has been targeted by sophisticated scammers who posed as hotel staff to obtain bank details of guests. It was reported that fraudsters called diners with bookings at the restaurant and asked them to confirm their card details. The perpetrators were able to obtain the exact booking details for guests, and were even able to make the number appear as if they were calling from the hotel. The Ritz told the BBC it was investigating a “potential data breach”.

Diogenes The Dog launches house white with a difference: South London wine bar and shop Diogenes The Dog has unveiled its first house white wine, made in partnership with the Morasinsi Winery in Puglia. The wine will be available for £5 a glass, or for just £10 a bottle if guests bring their own bottle to be filled. Called Harvest 1, it is a blend of 40% Manzoni Bianco, 10% Chardonnay and 50% Moscato and has an ABV of 11.7%. It is made with no added sulphites and is left unfiltered.

Ampéli launches eastern med brunch: Ampéli in Fitzrovia is launching a new weekend brunch menu next month, inspired by the food served in Athens cafés. Dishes include hortopita, a filo pastry parcel filled with spinach and parsley and topped with coconut yoghurt; pulled beef brisket with feta and pickled jalapeño on fricassee bread; socca, a courgette fritter with poached egg, tomato chutney and lambs lettuce; and tiganites, Greek pancakes with blackcurrant compote, tahini yoghurt and spiced granola. There will also be NV sparkling Retsina.

Pizza Express to close 73 restaurants: Pizza Express has formally declared that it’s entering into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) and will be closing 73 of its 449 sites. Around 1,100 jobs will be affected.

New openings: 

Rondo: Restaurant and wine bar Rondo will open at The Hoxton in London’s Holburn on 1 September. Created in collaboration with Will Lander of Quality Chop House, Portland and Clipstone fame, the site will feature an “ambitious wine list” with former St. John chef Chris Gillard heading up the kitchen.

Vista Bistro: Vista Bistro, a glass-paneled site set over Nidderdale’s 80-foot How Stean gorge has opened as part of a trial scheme this month. It is hoped it will subsequently become a permanent fixture. The Yorkshire Post reports that chef Jowyane Marshall, formerly of Michelin-starred the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, will be taking the helm in the kitchen.

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