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 another new venture for Jeremy King, price hikes creating a new tier of 'hyper-luxurious restaurants', and BrewDog calling time on its Hawkes taproom.

- Jeremy King will relaunch historic London dining destination Simpson's in the Strand next year​, saying it will be 'the apotheosis' of his career. King will run the restaurant, which is part of the Savoy Buildings and first opened as a chess club and coffee house back in 1828, in partnership with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, owner of both Simpson's and the The Savoy hotel. “Reopening Simpson’s in the Strand will be a truly momentous occasion for The Savoy and we couldn’t be more delighted to be in partnership with Jeremy King,” says Franck Arnold, managing director of The Savoy. “We know he will successfully breathe new life and vigour into this almost 200-year old prized London institution and we can’t wait to welcome guests back through its storied doors.” The relaunch is the third project announced by King in recent months under his new business group called Jeremy King Restaurants.

- Average price hikes of 10.7% in London and 14.7% outside London are ‘swelling a new tier of hyperluxurious restaurants’​, the new edition of Harden’s London Restaurants claims. The 2024 guide notes there are now 54 restaurants in London charging over £150 per head for a meal, a 46% rise of last year’s figure of 37. This trend is replicated outside of the capital, where the number of restaurants charging over £150 per head for a meal has risen from 40 to 56, representing a 40% rise. Growth is most pronounced in the number of restaurants charging over £200 per head, with the number of such entries growing 59% (from 17 to 27) and 46% (from 13 to 19) respectively inside and outside the capital. Additionally, the number of London restaurants charging more than £250 nearly doubled from six to 11.

- BrewDog has closed its Hawkes taproom in Bermondsey, south London, citing economic pressures​. The Scottish brewer says that it has struggled with 'rampant inflation, soaring utilities costs and relentless cost-of-living pressures'. “Unfortunately, the slowdown in trade on the Bermondsey beer mile, combined with exorbitant rent increases, has meant we have had to permanently close the much-loved Hawkes tap room," it says. “This also meant we ceased production on the site, but little else has changed for Hawkes Cider; it remains steadfastly part of the BrewDog family, and will continue to be available in BrewDog bars, across the On-Trade and online, and we are working with a partner for production who we’ve built a strong relationship with over the past few years.”

- The owner of PizzaExpress has pulled out of the running for The Restaurant Group (TRG). Wheel Topco has announced that due to ‘market conditions’ it no longer intends to make an offer for the high street restaurant group​, which owns brands including Wagamama and Brunning & Price. TRG revealed last month that an approach for the business had been made by Wheel Topco. However, no bid was formally submitted.

- A fall in the number of food safety officers is ‘putting unsustainable pressure on existing teams and increasing the potential for food safety issues going unchecked’, a new study warns. According to the annual Our Food report from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) for 2022, there has been a ‘substantial decline’ in the number of allocated food safety officers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last decade or so​. Figures show there were just under 14% fewer food hygiene posts held by local authorities in 2022/23 compared with 2010/11. Additionally, approximately one in seven (13.7%) posts across the three countries were vacant in 2022, higher than the prepandemic figure of 9.6%. In Scotland, meanwhile, the shortage is more acute. The number of occupied food law posts, which covers food safety, fell by 25.5% in 2021/22 compared to 2016/2017. Overall, food standards remained 'stable' in 2022, according to the report, but it warns that long-term reductions in local authority staffing numbers, coupled with growing recruitment challenges, are putting ‘unsustainable pressure’ on existing teams and ‘increase the potential for food safety issues going unchecked and undiscovered in the future.

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

Related topics Trends & Reports