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 warnings the energy crisis could lead to mass business failures, BrewDog shuttering six sites, and Operation: Falafel announcing its London debut.

- The soaring cost of energy threatens to cause 'mass business failures' across the hospitality sector, industry leaders have warned​ amid desperate calls for the Government to take immediate action. Two separate letters, one from the pub and brewery sector and another from the British Takeaway Campaign, have been written to the Government and both Conservative leadership candidates to plead for support. Additionally, UKHospitality has called on the Government to introduce a business rates holiday for the sector and reverse April's VAT rise to avoid the collapse of thousands of firms this winter. In a letter to Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has demanded ‘a comprehensive package of measures to the end of March 2023’ be implemented to help businesses​ overcome the threat from surging energy costs.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt has announced that six of the group's UK bars are to close permanently in the face of soaring energy and cost price increases​. In a LinkedIn post, Watt hit out at what he described as a 'clueless Government' for failing to support the hospitality through the current cost of living crisis, adding that he hoped the closures were not a sign of things to come. BrewDog, which operates an estate of around 75 bars in the UK, recently launched its biggest venue to date within the newly redeveloped The Sidings beneath London's Waterloo Station. Watt said the Waterloo bar had vastly exceeded BrewDog's already ambitious expectations, with over 20,000 visitors in its first two weeks of operation.

- Dubai-born street food concept Operation: Falafel is to make its UK debut next month in London's Camden​, ahead of plans for a wider roll out across the country The fast causal brand, which was founded in 2014 and also has sites in both Saudi Arabia and the US, is being brought to the UK by the Miso Group. Operation: Falafel pitches itself as balancing 'old-street flavours with 21st Century trends', featuring a menu shawarma pitas, kofta bowls, salads, and flavoured hummus. Its 'signature' dish is a stuffed falafel with sumac and tahini that is fried to order and available as a salad or in a pita. A small selection of sides also features, as do dessert options such as rice pudding; and baklava.

The Piazza restaurant at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House will open to the general public as well as ticket holders for the first time later this month​ following a relaunch. The fifth-floor restaurant located within the opera house will reopen on 27 September with a new menu, refreshed interiors, and a terrace with panoramic views of Covent Garden. It has been created in collaboration with Company of Cooks, the Royal Opera House’s longstanding catering and hospitality partner, with executive chef Richard Robinson, formerly of Tom’s Kitchen, The French Laundry and Per Se, overseeing a regularly changing menu. Dishes will include London burrata and heritage beetroots; lemon sole, English sparkling wine and mushroom; and Pershore broccoli with citrus and pine nuts, as well as a catch of the day, butcher’s cut and ‘market choice’.

- There has been a significant drop in the numbers of high street chain stores closing, with restaurants seeing net growth, according to new data from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The number of closures in the first six months of 2022 were a third less than in the first half of 2021​, said the accountancy firm. While shop openings are still below pre-Covid levels, closures are now at their lowest level for seven years. The analysis, which covers businesses with more than five outlets, found that 6,146 stores – from retail and hospitality to gyms and hairdressers – permanently shut their doors in H1 2022, compared to 11,120 over the same period in 2021, with 3,888 new sites opening. In terms of the net change by type of outlet, restaurant numbers up by 17, and the number of takeaways up by 73.

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

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