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 Byron's estate falling to single figures, Simon Attridge joining Claridge’s as culinary director, and Ashley Palmer-Watts being named as co-founder of The Devonshire.

- Beleaguered burger chain Byron has seen its estate reduced to single figures following a further wave of closures​. The group, which was acquired in a pre-pack deal by Tristar Foods Limited back in January, has closed its restaurants in Ipswich, Oxford and Norwich in recent months, adding to the nine sites that were permanently closed as part of that administration process. The latest closures leave Byron with just nine restaurants in operation. They include four based in London and single sites in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Liverpool, Edinburgh and York.

Simon Attridge has been appointed culinary director at Claridge’s​ replacing chef Dmitri Magi. Attridge was most recently executive chef at Gleneagles Hotel and Estate, where he held the role since August 2017, and played a key role in the extensive refurbishment of the hotel and development of the estate. Prior to this, he held senior culinary positions with Baxter Storey and Shangri-La, across London, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. In his new role at Claridge’s, Attridge will oversee all culinary operations across the hotel, recently voted the best hotel in the UK at The World’s 50 Best Hotel 2023. This will include at the recently opened Claridge’s Restaurant.

Ashley Palmer-Watts has been revealed as a co-founder of the newly-launched The Devonshire pub and restaurant in London's Soho​. The former The Fat Duck executive chef has worked in partnership with co-founders Oisin Rogers and Charlie Carroll to launch the multi-storey pub and restaurant, which opened this week on Denman Street. It's the first restaurant project from Palmer-Watts since leaving Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, the opening of which he oversaw in 2011.

- The Leon brand will be found within Asda supermarkets in the future following the supermarket's acquisition of EG Group’s UK business for £2bn​. Asda says the acquisition accelerates its move into the £62bn foodservice market and alongside ownership of the Leon brand includes the transfer of 462 Greggs, Burger King and Subway outlets as franchise agreements. The supermarket agreed to buy EG Group’s UK and Ireland operations back in May. The deal, which completed this week, brings together the two businesses that are both owned by the Issa brothers and British private equity firm TDR Capital. Asda adds that the acquisition of EG Group’s UK business will create a group with expected combined revenues of nearly £28bn, serving some 21m customers every week. It will also bring together convenience, fuel, GM, grocery, foodservice and omnichannel retailing.

Gilgamesh is to reopen on the former Tredwell’s site in Covent Garden following a four-year hiatus​. First opened in Camden in 2006, the 800-cover restaurant fused a pan-Asian menu with a £12m interior that depicted the epic of the Babylonian king Gilgamesh and was a key noughties celebrity hangout. The restaurant was launched by a consortium of Israeli businessmen but was taken over by Richard Caring - who at the time owned the huge Camden Stables site - less than two years’ in after the restaurant's owners allegedly failed to meet rent payments. The original Gilgamesh site closed in 2018. Its sister venue Shaka Zulu - which was also located in Camden Stables - closed at the end of last year. It is currently unclear who is behind the relaunch of the brand, but according to the restaurant's recently created Instagram account it will launch in December.

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

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