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Frankie & Benny’s is permanently closing 125 restaurants in the UK

Terrible news..

Alex Watson

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Frankie & Benny’s has announced it will be closing 125 of its restaurants in the UK, but has renegotiated rent fees on all the other branches.

The restaurant chain that we’ve all had a birthday party at will, unfortunately, be closing many of its doors immediately, according to the owner of the company.

The Restaurant Group, which manages the brand, said 125 restaurants will be permanently closed but the remaining 85 have managed to renegotiate rent fees.

The news comes one week after the firm told hundreds of workers that many sites are ‘no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently’.

Andy Hornby, the chief executive, said: “The issues facing our sector are well documented and we have already taken decisive action to improve our liquidity, reduce our cost base and downsize our operations.

David Lally / Odeon and Frankie & Benny’s / CC BY-SA 2.0

“The proposed CVA will deliver an appropriately-sized estate for our Leisure business to ensure we are well positioned despite the very challenging market conditions facing the casual dining sector.

“I would like to wholeheartedly thank all of my TRG colleagues for their continued understanding and extraordinary commitment during this unprecedented period.”

The changes will have no impact on the group’s Wagamama, Airport Concessions and Pub operations.

Brian Robert Marshall

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), added: “These situations are never easy, particularly now for the retail and hospitality businesses on our high streets at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Property owners, however, need to take into consideration the impact on their investors, including the millions of people whose savings and pensions are invested in commercial property, as they vote on any CVA proposal.

“The Restaurant Group and Alix Partners engaged with the BPF before launching this CVA proposal.

“This has provided us an opportunity to improve understanding of property owners’ interests and concerns, but ultimately it will be for individual property owners to decide how they will vote on the CVA.”

The company also owns Wagamama and Garfunkel’s and is one of the largest operators in Britain. It currently has 22,000 staff on furlough. 

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Bonfire Night, Christmas lights switch-on and NYE fireworks cancelled in Manchester

JUST IN…

Proper Manchester

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Mike Peel / Wikimedia

Some of the biggest festive events in Manchester have been cancelled, in some sad news this afternoon.

The council has scrapped its official Bonfire Night displays, as well as the city centre’s Christmas lights switch-on and the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

With coronavirus still affecting our everyday lives, it was always likely this could be the case, especially considering Manchester has overtaken Bolton as the worst affected hotspot in our region.

David Dixon / Geograph

However, there is still a glimmer of light, as it’s also been revealed there’s hope the Manchester Christmas Markets might still return to our streets this year.

The event remains ‘under review’, as the council works out whether they can safely go ahead.

Some parts of the event have already been given the green light to return, like the ice rink in Cathedral Gardens, which will be open from November 7th to January 3rd as things stand – with a larger rink and reduced capacity so people can social distance.

And Christmas lights will still be put up around Manchester, even though there’s no switch-on ceremony.

The giant LED Santa – who appeared in Piccadilly Gardens for the first time last year – will also be back, accompanied by a trail of light sculptures throughout the city.

David Dixon / Geograph

Councilor Pat Karney, Manchester’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “Christmas in Manchester is an incredibly important time for the city’s economy.

“The city attracts millions of visitors each year, which local businesses rely on – and it’s important to the city’s recovery that we can bring people back into the city safely.

“Covid means that Christmas will be different this year, but we are working hard towards celebrating the festive season as safely as possible. So watch this space.”

However, the council has made it clear that all events are subject to coronavirus restriction updates at both a local and national level.

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Manchester bars launch #CancelTheCurfew campaign to end ‘disastrous’ 10pm curfew

Everything you need to know about the campaign…

Alex Watson

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Louis Hansel/Unsplash

A new campaign, launched by the hospitality industry in Manchester, is calling for the government to scrap the 10pm curfew in a bid to save the industry.

Hospitality professionals from around the country have grouped together to help launch the #CancelTheCurfew campaign.

It’s been designed to raise awareness to consumers about the impact the 10pm curfew is having on the industry, and with hopes that the government make a U-turn on their policy. 

The curfew is a devastating blow to the hospitality industry that reopened just 12 weeks ago to the public, after being closed throughout lockdown.

The curfew means some businesses are losing multiple hours of trade a day, including over 40 hours a week in some of those worst hit. 

Tom Lord, founder of Hospitality Gin and hospitality consultant, says: “The industry that we love is in grave danger of being suffocated by this curfew. Some venues were starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel before it was announced as customers returned and we all settled into ‘the new normal’. Now we’ve been plunged back into uncertainty.

“We want the British public to know the impact that the curfew is going to have, not just on our businesses, but on our friends and colleagues. We have borne the brunt of the measures announced over the past fortnight.

“We are vilified as breeding grounds for the virus, yet Public Health England’s own figures show this is not true. In fact, the latest figures show that we have one of the lowest infection rates outside of the home.

“Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs as a direct result of this disastrous policy, thousands of businesses will close their doors forever, and the hospitality industry will never be the same again. Stop blaming hospitality, let us serve”

In an Instagram post, @cancelthecurfew wrote: “The UK Hospitality Sector directly employs 10% of the working population and contributes £39 Billion in tax revenue.

“The newest legislation and government advice is paralysing our industry and we must be heard; as a unified voice, to protect what we have left and what our futures might hold for us.

“You can show your support by using the hashtag #cancelthecurfew and by signing our Google sheet document. We hope to raise awareness of our cause and get to those who make these decisions before it’s too late.”

The movement started this week on social media, with the explanation that the worst hit venues are reporting a more than 60% drop in revenue since the curfew has been imposed. 

Adding to that, they said: “Latest figures from PHE show that only 3% of transmissions outside of the home are from the hospitality sector.”

Mojo’s Manchester has also now banned the MPs from their bars until the curfew is changed.

Michael Greenhow of Mojo said: “With neither evidence to support the assumption that hospitality is driving infection – only 35 cases reported in the sector and as of yet no sign of the threatened dramatic upturn in deaths, the move to curtail the operational hours of our already crippled industry seems unjust and punitive, not to mention illogical and irrational.

“Are people more infectious after 10pm? Hospitality has slaved to work responsibly within the constraints laid out for us and now we are being thrown aside with scant concern for the impact these measures will have on our businesses and the wider economy.”

The movement begun this week by asking hospitality leaders, operators, employees, and anyone with a love for the hospitality industry to share the #CancelTheCurfew images on social media.

They are then following this up with a silent protest and social media ‘thunderclap’ at 10pm this Saturday, October 3rd, with venues and workers all over the country standing outside their venues and posting images of this on their social media.

You can show your support by signing the contact form here, and there’s also a petition in the pipeline pending approval from government. 

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‘Hero’ Asda worker pays for customer’s shopping after he forgot his card

What a top bloke!

Alex Watson

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Asda/Facebook

An Asda worker that paid for a shopper’s food after he forgot his debit card has been hailed a ‘hero’.

Alex works at the Omagh branch of Asda in Northern Ireland, and has been hailed a hero on the internet after he footed the bill for a customer who forgot his wallet.

Asda shared the news on their Facebook page, writing: “A big well done to our colleague Alex who went out of his way to help a customer at our Omagh store who’d realised he’d forgotten his debit card when he went to pay for his shopping just as the store was closing.

“Rather than leaving the customer stuck, kind-hearted Alex went ahead and paid for the shopping himself.”

Asda/Facebook

Alex said: “I just didn’t want to leave the customer stuck. It was very late at night, and I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone!”

His store manager added: “This is just one example of Alex going the extra mile for our customers.

“Not many would trust that the person would come back to pay for their goods, but Alex did as he didn’t want to see them stuck.

“He’s a very caring member of our team, and I think he has a very bright future here.”

Facebook users have congratulated Alex, one saying ‘What a top block. Give the guy a medal”.

Another added: “Well done young man I bet your parents are really proud, they have every reason to be.”

A third wrote: “Well done Alex, not many would have been so kind. So glad your store manager applauded you on your kindness to one of its customers.”

Well done Alex! 

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