In this week’s Diary we ask how many Clive Watsons it takes to complete a pub deal, have a look at the new Drake & Morgan site and find out where you can find out which city spends the most on beer.

Costly advice

Champagne corks have been popping at Greene King HQ – or at least bottles of Old Speckled Hen uncapped – after the successful acquisition of Spirit, but they are not the only ones celebrating. GK’s financial results for the year to 3 May, published today, show the company incurred £15.8m in exceptional advisory fees in relation to the deal and open tax positions. For the record, Diary is always available for advice at a considerably lower fee.


When Clive Watson met Clive Watson

This journalism lark is not always as easy as Diary makes it look and the challenge of reporting a story about Clive Watson selling a pub to….. erm…. Clive Watson brought this home yesterday. When Diary spoke to Watson (that’s the one from City Pub EIS, not Village London… see what I mean?) he said the connection may have helped in negotiations. He told Diary: “When you’re selling something this close to your heart, you always want to make sure it goes to a good home. Clearly, Clive wanted to make sure it went to a good name as well.”


In for the grill

Last month, we revealed that Drake & Morgan’s next site, its ninth site, would be called Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross. The company has now revealed further details of the new bar and grill concept, which will open this September. It will be the group’s biggest yet at 14,500sq ft, spread across two floors and comprising two bars and a restaurant, deli and lounge, private dining room and a series of bookable kitchen ‘pods’ as well as an outdoor terrace. The group said that the site’s design is inspired by innovation trips to places such as Istanbul, California and New York. With the site carved up into smaller spaces, each with their own identity and separated via reeded glass screens, stand-out features include an emerald-green staircase connecting the two floors, an island bar punctuated by swivel stools, and an open-plan kitchen with sit-at dining where the grill is the focal point. Jillian MacLean, managing director, says: “Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross will be everything that our regular customers have come to love about our brand but with bold new touches introduced across all aspects of the operation from the new menus to the interiors and unique experiential element.”


Bay of Yorkshire

Turtle Bay, the fast-growing, Piper-backed concept, is gearing up for a triple opening in Yorkshire, after confirming plans to launch in York. The company is investing £800k in its first York restaurant, creating 60 jobs in the process. The former Laura Ashley site on Little Stonegate will have 130 covers and will feature a six-sided cocktail bar. Further openings in the county are lined up for Leeds and Huddersfield, with Harrogate also mooted as a future destination.


From PoundPub to £7Pub

Tim Martin may think pubs in the UK are at a disadvantage in relation to supermarkets but spare a thought for the bars in Hong Kong. The latest Beer Price Index reveals that customers in the city pay an average of £7 (the highest in the world) for a 33cl beer in a bar but just 94p in the off-trade. Geneva’s pubs do not fare much better, with a £6.95 to £1.21 difference. London comes in at £4.74 and £1.09 respectively. The cheapest pint in the on-trade is in Bratislava at £1.43. Other British cities on the list include Liverpool (£2.66 and 75p respectively); Leeds (£2.99 and 93p) and Edinburgh (£3.33 and 76p). In terms of average annual spend per capita on beer, Helsinki tops the list with £995, followed by New York and Sydney on £858. London does not make it into the top five. Cairo sits at the bottom of the list with a £16 annual spend – which wouldn’t even buy eight beers at the average bar price of £2.11.


Healthy figures

A new poll from HospitalityGEM has shown that 62% of customers think healthy food choices are more readily available on lunchtime menus than a year ago. The figure is 54% for dinner and 47% at breakfast. Healthy choices when eating out are seen as a priority for two thirds of those questioned but for almost half of respondents it is supermarkets which offer the best variety of healthy choice with counter service outlets closing the gap, closely followed by restaurants. Over half of those questioned believe grab and go operators are leading the way in providing healthy choices, with Pret a Manger and Tossed the favoured brands. However the survey suggests pubs are failing to respond to the desire for healthy options with two thirds saying pubs do not provide enough healthy options.


Hardy stuff from Stonegate

Bold, and smooth. That’s the taste promise Stonegate is making to its customers this summer as it introduces four specially created cocktails from Caribbean rum producer Sailor Jerry. The bar operator is teaming up with Sailor Jerry to create an exclusive summer drinks menu for its bars which include Missoula, Edwards, Label and Home. Commencing tomorrow and running until 27 August, the bars will serve the four cocktails or “cuptails” as they are known, all made with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, in tattoo themed limited edition cups. The bars will also be promoting Sailor Jerry’s competition to win an all-inclusive trip for two to California, the birthplace of Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins and the home to cowboys, indians, outlaws, artists, bikers, hotrodders and other life-outside-the-lines types. Customers, who purchase a cuptail, upload a photo of themselves with it via instagram or twitter using #sjcalifornia mentioning the bar they are in, will automatically be entered into the competition.


Upper crust

To celebrate the launch of its 300th store in the UK in Wimbledon, Papa John’s broke the Guinness World Records title for the most people tossing pizza dough simultaneously. Yes apparently that is a category! With a target of 300 participants required to set the record, they exceeded expectations after 338 people successfully completed the challenge. The company hired Potters Field Park, beside Tower Bridge in London to hold the attempt, led by founder and chief executive John Schnatter. He said: “Today has been a fantastic way to showcase the passion we have at Papa John’s for pizza and to demonstrate how much skill goes into making pizzas. I am delighted that we have broken the record today – a great way to begin our 300th store opening celebrations in Wimbledon tomorrow.”


A wine time

Taillevent Paris, the Gardinier family-owned group behind the two-Michelin starred Le Taillevent, has confirmed Dairy’s story from last October that it will open a 70-cover wine and food matching brasserie, Les 110 de Taillevent London, in Cavendish Square this September. Featuring a 110 wines by the glass, paired with contemporary and seasonal French dishes, the company said that guests will “experience the spirit of Le Taillevent in a relaxed setting”. That’s some wine list!


Cool idea

Novus Leisure is getting into the summer spirt by introducing alcoholic ice lollies. The Popsicles, which cost £4 each, are available at Landmark, Premium Bar & Kitchen and Tiger Tiger Novus sites across London and the UK throughout the summer months. They come in mojito, gin and tonic and Grey Goose, lime and soda. Sorrel Ward, head of marketing, said: “We’re incredibly excited to introduce our latest summer drinks offering across our sites; Novus Leisure is dedicated to offering customers an exceptional experience and variety, and these are sure to be a real talking point. With our new and exclusive summer Popsicle range, available in well-loved flavours, customers can cool down in style.”