Friday five: the week's top restaurant stories

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday five: the week's top restaurant stories

Related tags Restaurant

This week's top news stories include a delay to the implementation of the Tips Bill, Niall Keating's new restaurant venture, and Tortilla's plan to accelerate expansion through franchising.

The implementation of a new tipping law has been pushed back from July to October​ to allow more time for businesses to introduce any changes required. The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023, which is designed to ensure hospitality staff receive all money left to them in tips by customers and received Royal Assent back in May last year, had originally been expected to come into force on 1 July. However, the Government confirmed in an update this week that the date had been pushed back three months to 1 October in order to allow businesses more time for implementation. It comes as the Government publishes its newly finalised code of practise on the fair and transparent distribution of tips, which will have legal effect under the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023.

- Chef Niall Keating will take on the restaurant site at Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel for a new concept this summer​. Keating, who earned two Michelin stars at The Dining Room at Whatley Manor Hotel and who is behind Lunar Restaurant in Staffordshire, will open Tender at the Gary Neville-owned hotel in June. Named after the care put into crafting each dish and with a nod to the heritage of the hotel, Tender will serve ‘gourmet food for everyday dining’ and will serve weekday brasserie lunch, a la carte dinner, afternoon teas, a special Sunday roast and chef’s table and special tasting menu, all created by Keating. In addition to the main dining room will be 'The Bank', a private space for up to 12 guests. The restaurant will be run by newly appointed general manager Tracy Harrison, who was previously worked at venues including The Midland, The Principal in York, and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.

Tortilla is aiming to accelerate its expansion by ‘doubling down on franchising’​ as it looks to capitalise on UK and international growth opportunities. The initiative forms part of a five-point plan of refined strategic priorities developed by Tortilla to drive profit in the years ahead. It comes as the group, which is the UK’s largest fast-casual Mexican restaurant group, reported a 14% increase in revenue to £65.7m in its results for the year ended 31 December 2023. Tortilla attributed the revenue rise to ‘continued momentum’ driven by new openings, the annualisation of the openings from 2022, and the full-year impact of the Chilango acquisition. Like-for-like sales rose by 3.6%, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) saw a 16% increase from £4m in 2022 to £4.6m in 2023. In total, Tortilla reported a loss before tax of £1.1m for the period, widening slightly from £0.9m the year before.

- Cheltenham-based fine dining restaurant Journey will close in June less than two years after launch​. In a statement owners Jeff and Kenni Lewis say the restaurant continues to be a success but they have made the decision to close to enable them to have a better work-life balance. “When we took the gamble and opened Journey in 2022 we had no idea how successful and fun it would prove to be. We set out to provide something a bit different and it really was an instant hit with people from far and wide," they say. "It’s obviously not been an easy decision to make whilst at the top of our game, but timing is everything. "With so many ideas and projects to fulfil outside of the restaurant, we cannot be in two places at once and have decided to focus on opportunities that allow us a better work-life balance and to continue our passion for travel, food and wine without the obvious restrictions of the restaurant commitment."

A fresh wave of strikes across the rail network have been announced by the main train drivers' union, Aslef, for the week of the early May Bank Holiday​. A rolling programme of national walkouts will take place between Tuesday 7 May and Thursday 9 May, with different train companies affected on each day (see boxout below). The union has been locked in a row with train companies over pay and working conditions for more than 18 months now. As part of the latest round of industrial action, drivers will also refuse to work any overtime from Monday 6 May, the day of the early May Bank Holiday, and Saturday 11 May.

For more of this week's headlines, click here​.

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