Friday five: the week's top hospitality stories

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday five: the week's top hospitality stories

Related tags Restaurant

This week's top news stories include tributes to the late Russell Norman, shareholders approving the sale of TRG to Apollo Global Management, and administrators announcing the closure of Birch Selsdon.

Tributes from across the hospitality sector have been paid to Russell Norman​, the multi award-winning restaurateur and author who died last week at the age of 57. In online tributes, Norman was described as ‘one of the most gifted of restaurateurs’ and credited with ushering in an era of more informal but no less considered dining. “[He was] such a big and creative personality, larger than life, generous and charming,” said Rachel O'Sullivan, who led the kitchen of Norman’s American diner-style restaurant Spuntino. “He injected so much energy into the hospitality industry, stripping it of its somewhat stuffy and serious ways and bringing some much-needed joy in dining out to the forefront. “The right lighting and the right playlist were just as important to him as the service and food offering.” Norman's death was announced last week by his friend and business partner Richard Beatty​. He said: “It is with the greatest sadness I announce the loss of my best friend Russell Norman. After a short battle in hospital, he died surrounded by family and friends. Russell is survived by his wife and three children, and I ask that you respect the privacy of his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”

Shareholders of The Restaurant Group (TRG) have formally approved its sale to private equity company Apollo Global Management for £506m​. In total, 93.5% of shareholders by value voted in favour of the cash acquisition of the restaurant group, which includes restaurant brands Wagamama and Barburrito, and pub group Brunning & Price. Following approval, the sale is expected to complete on 21 December. The cash deal will see the group become a privately-owned company and values each of the company’s shares at 65p.

- Two restaurants overseen by chef Lee Westcott have closed with the hotel in which they were located being forced to shut. Administrators have closed Birch’s Selsdon hotel​, home to Westcott's Elodie and Vervain restaurants, a week after the group’s Chestnut hotel in Hertfordshire was also forced to shut its doors. A statement on the Birch Selsdon website confirms that Milan Vuceljic and Andrew Pear of Moorfields Advisory have taken the decision to close the hotel with immediate effect having been appointed joint administrators on 17 November.

Claude Bosi and his wife Lucy will launch their first joint venture early next year​ – a new neighbourhood-style French bistro in London’s Fulham. Named after Claude’s late grandmother, Josephine is described as being ‘reminiscent of the traditional bouchons’ found in the chef’s hometown of Lyon. Taking over the former Colette site on the corner of Callow Street and Fulham Road, the restaurant’s menu will feature French bistro classics and regional Lyonnaise specialities. The wine offering will tie in with the classical French style, offering Bouchon-inspired metre wine that allows guests to only pay for what they drink and thus encourage them to try something new. Holding 76 covers, the dining room has been designed by Fabled Studio and will draw inspiration from Lyon’s historic bouchons and the city’s cultural heritage.

- London-based Persian restaurant brand Berenjak has launched its first international location in Dubai’s Dar Wasl district​. The Dubai restaurant will have space for 54 covers inside and a further 40 outside and will serve a menu centred on charcoalgrilled kababs served with taftoon and sangak breads, and mazeh small plates. In addition, there will be a number of dishes exclusive to the Dubai menu including lamb chops marinated in dried lime, saffron and strained yoghurt. Berenjak, which was developed by chef Kian Samyani and is backed by JKS Restaurants, opened its first restaurant in Soho in 2018 and launched a second site in Borough last year. It is the second brand operated by JKS to expand into the Middle East, and the first to open in Dubai.

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

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