Gourmet Burger Kitchen to axe 362 jobs and 26 restaurants despite rescue sale

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) is to close 26 restaurants and axe 362 roles despite being saved from administration.

The chain has been bought in a rescue deal by Boparan Restaurant Group, which also snapped Carluccio’s out of insolvency earlier in the pandemic.

GBK said it had started to see improvements in trading last year after a major restructuring process in 2018, which saw it shut a raft of sites.

However, the company, which had been owned by South African group Famous Brands, said it slid into administration after the virus impacted upon its liquidity and potential to be sold as a solvent business.

The sale will secure the future of 35 GBK restaurants (Rick Findler/PA)
The sale will secure the future of 35 GBK restaurants (Rick Findler/PA)

The group has now been sold in a pre-pack administration deal after working with insolvency specialists at Deloitte.

It said the move will save 35 sites and 669 jobs from its original network of 61 restaurants and 1,031 employees.

Gavin Maher, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “As with a number of dining businesses, the broader challenges facing ‘bricks and mortar’ operators, combined with the effect of the lockdown, resulted in a deterioration in financial performance and a material funding requirement.

“We have been working closely with the management team under very difficult market conditions to try and find a funding solution and I am glad to be able to announce the rescue of this well-loved brand together with a large proportion of the sites and workforce.

“However, it’s clearly disappointing that a number of sites have had to close resulting in today’s redundancies.

“We would like to thank all of those involved in the transaction, including our legal advisers, DLA Piper, and wish the management team, workforce and the new owners, Boparan Restaurant Group, every success in now taking the business forward.”

It is the latest expansion in dining for Boparan, which is owned by “Chicken King” Ranjit Boparan and also owns the chains Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner.

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How Kolkata’s Chowman launched two new restaurants and a cloud kitchen amidst the pandemic

Bengal and Bengalis can go on for years debating over Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, CPIM and Trinamool, and Ilish and chingri. But one thing that all bengalis seem to agree on is Chinese food and music. And Kolkata-based Debaditya Chaudhury seems to have made it to the heart of Bengalis through both. 

The musician-turned-entrepreneur is the founder and Managing Director of Kolkata’s leading chain of Chinese restaurants, Chowman. Starting as a small restaurant in Kolkata in 2010, today Chowman has 15 outlets spread across the city. It has also extended its wings and recently launched a cloud kitchen in Bengaluru

“My aim was to create a human character, similar to KFC and McDonald’s. I wanted to go with Mr Chow in Town, but we were not able to get registration for that name. I then decided on Chowman, which sounds similar to Chowmein — the first thing Indians think of when they think Chinese,” Debaditya tells SMBStory

Chowman claims to have recorded a ten-fold increase in its delivery and takeaway services during the pandemic, and has also managed to retain its set of loyal customers. 


Debaditya Chowdhury, Founder and Managing Director of Chowman

Love for food and music 

After completing his graduation from St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, Debaditya went on to pursue MBA from IISWBM. However, his mind and heart was always towards music and food. 

“Growing up in a house next to Kim Wah (a popular Chinese restaurant in Kolkata), my passion for Chinese food started at a tender age. I dreamed of opening a restaurant in my hometown since my college days,” says Debaditya, who is also the founding member and keyboardist of Bengali rock band Lakkhicchara.

His love for the cuisine was almost innate and it took physical form in 2010. Debaditya invested Rs 15 lakh and started Chowman as a 20-seater restaurant in South Kolkata’s Golf Gardens. 

Along with his brother, Shiladitya Chaudhury, Debaditya has also founded Oudh 1590, a period dining Awadhi restaurant. 


Debaditya is the founding member and key guitarist of Bengali rock bank Lakkhicchara | Image Source: Team Chowman

Swimming through hurdles 

 “My goal with Chowman was to democratise fine dining and make the five-star quality experience available at affordable prices,” Debaditya says. 

When he first started the restaurant chain, he sourced all the raw materials — spices, sauces, and even chopsticks from various parts of Hong Kong and Thailand. “Even the decor at our outlets were designed by craftsmen from China,” he says. 

However, with expansion, Debaditya made a shift and now sources all the raw materials from various parts of India in order to “support farmers in our country,” he adds. 


Even the décor at Chowman’s outlets are designed by craftsmen from China | Image Source: Team Chowman

The Chinese restaurant chain initially faced challenges in terms of finding the right neighbourhood to set up the restaurants. Since most of Chowman’s restaurants are located at key locations across Kolkata, neighbouring

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‘Dark kitchen’ chain works with local restaurants to sell over food delivery apps

The coronavirus has left many restaurants struggling as the pandemic forced them to temporarily close their doors and still has many operating at a lower capacity than normal.

Owners are looking for ways to bring in more revenue. Fast-casual Asian chain Wow Bao has one idea: open their restaurant inside an existing restaurant as a delivery-only “dark kitchen” eatery.

Wow Bao, which serves up steamed bao, potstickers, dumplings, rice and noodle bowls, announced on Wednesday that it has added 100 locations in just six months by partnering with other restaurants. Its food is offered via third-party delivery services like UberEats, Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates and Caviar.

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Geoff Alexander, president and CEO of Wow Bao, said the company came up with the partnership plan last November.

“Although we didn’t envision this initiative as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are proud to say our dark kitchen platform is assisting operators to help pay rent and employ staff in order to survive this difficult time,” Alexander said in a press release.


Wow Bao isn’t the only “virtual restaurant” to take advantage of the proliferation of meal delivery services during the pandemic. Chuck E. Cheese has been selling pizza under the name Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings on Grubhub. An increasing number of eateries operate “ghost kitchens,” renting out kitchen space to other restaurants or adding other restaurant brands to its offerings for takeout and delivery only. And there are also “cloud kitchens,” which work exclusively with delivery brands.

These kinds of deals aren’t just good for restaurants seeing a slump in business. The brands they work with can use them to test out their products in new markets. The California-based Lemonade Restaurants recently opened its first ghost kitchen in Long Beach, allowing it to expand to the city “in record time and with a very low investment,” co-CEO Anthony Pigliacampo told QSR Magazine.

“In just three months, we moved from site identification to delivering food to guests,” Pigliacampo told QSR. “This would have been impossible with a brick and mortar site.”

Wow Bao said its partnership is different from ghost kitchens because it ships frozen items to its partner restaurants to be prepared by their kitchen staff.


Edmund Woo, the owner of the Saskatoon Lodge in Greenville, S.C., and a Wow Bao partner, said in a written statement that the process of integrating Wow Bao into his kitchen was “seamless.”

“I have trained existing employees to handle the production at virtually no incremental cost,” he said. “The ability to not only continue operating during such a vulnerable time, but to help increase margins, is instrumental to help maintain

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Lhorlao Home Kitchen | Restaurants in Thonglor, Bangkok

“There are actually loads of Sichuan eateries in the city, but none of them do what we do,” Suppasin “Win” Jongjeamdee and Paramee “Tuck” Thomchotpong, the two founders of the new delivery-based Sichuan restaurant Lhorlao Home Kitchen, affirm.

Win and Tuck were once exchange students in Sichuan, China where they discovered the province’s reputation for numbing hot cuisine. Having developed an intense gusto for Sichuan fare, they couldn’t help but flame this passion once they got back to Bangkok.

And so Lhorlao Home Kitchen was born. The name is a combination of “Thonglor”, where the kitchen is located, and “lao”, the Chinese word for restaurant. The Lhorlao crew and Chef Ratthawoot Hemathulin—a veteran chef who has years of experience in high-end hotels like Hilton, Avani, and Pullman—collaborate to come up with all menus that you can basically find in most Sichuan eateries, but here it’s done with much love and care.

The ubiquitous mapo tofu (B180) stays true to its origins with a mildly spicy sauce on top of scrumptious pork and tofu, whereas other Sichuan stars like kung pao chicken (B220), Sichuan dry-fried green beans (B160), and twice-cooked pork (B230) all give the familiar zing and tongue-numbing hit of mala, one of the signature flavors of Sichuan cuisine.

The delivery service also has more creative dishes. There’s a grilled 250-gram pork glazed with five spices and mala seasoning (B290) that will surely appeal to meat lovers, and Lhorlao’s Chinese Stir-Fried Tomatoes & Eggs (B150), which can be considered equivalent to the stir-fried chicken with sweet basil that’s common in many Chinese households.

But of all the dishes its offers, Lhorlao recommends its Spare Ribs and Potato Stew (B290) the most. This Chinese stew has soft-to-the-bite pork ribs and big potato chunks that soak up an aromatic and delicious sauce. It’s a bit heavy, but definitely one you need to try.

To a certain extent, dining in a traditional Sichuan eatery may not be a pleasant experience. They’re usually cramped and busy and have so many things going on. With Lhorlao, you can escape the chaos but have your share of spicy Sichuan flavors in your own home.

Lhorlao Home Kitchen is open daily during 10:30 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 21:30 only for delivery, which you can order via  LINE MAN, Grab, and Gojek. Drop them a call at 09 9093 9797 for more information.

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Walk to restaurants, shops from this $1.7M Birmingham city house

This is a high-end city house — a house that packs luxury finishes and open space onto its narrow 43-foot lot.  

Walk to restaurants, shops from this $1.7M Birmingham city house



Side to side, this house is slid onto its land like a hand into a glove — snugly. But the lot is 186 feet deep, and both front and back have been made into pleasing outdoor space. 

It has neighborly, sheltered front porch, deep enough for furniture, where the owners like to sit in the evening and watch the cars and dog walkers. It has a compact backyard set up for entertaining with stone paving, outdoor furniture and a handsome fireplace. 

a small clock tower in front of a house: A walkable distance into Birmingham, this "city house" fits 3,900 square feet, plus a finished lower level, onto a lot just 43 feet wide. Like its lot, the house is narrow and deep.

© Nev Muftari
A walkable distance into Birmingham, this “city house” fits 3,900 square feet, plus a finished lower level, onto a lot just 43 feet wide. Like its lot, the house is narrow and deep.

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Most significant for a city house, it has a half-mile walk to the attractions of downtown Birmingham.  “There’s a ton of restaurants, shops, the events in Shain Park,”  the owner said. “You can walk to town.” 

That was a deliberate choice for these owners, who came to the area about two years ago. The kids were grown, and they wanted a site with some bustle. “We wanted city-type living,” the owner said. “We’d done that house in the suburbs with a big yard.” 

On the narrow, deep lot the house also is deep. It packs 3,900 square feet into its two main floors, with rooms lined behind each other and open space between. Its finished daylight lower level adds another 1,800. 

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The biggest open space on the main floor is where the large kitchen, 18 by 18 feet, flows into the large family room, 17 by 18. At the other end of the kitchen, a butler’s pantry opens into the dining room. You can see through this four-room stretch from one end to the other. 

This family room is the last room at the back of the house, and French doors open out to the paved back yard. Two sides of the room are windows.  

At the front of the house a distinctive office has the view out the front window, which has an inset of beveled, leaded glass.  

The room is painted dark chocolate brown, almost black, over lavish built-ins and woodwork. The crown molding starts at the top of the door and goes the rest of the way up the wall, then out across the ceiling till it reaches a central step-up.  

a living room filled with furniture and a large window: The lavish office is lined with layer after layer of crown molding and more trim, all painted very dark. It has a large stone fireplace and a view of the front street. Its window is topped with diamond-pattern beveled glass.

© Nev Muftari
The lavish office is lined with layer after layer of crown molding and more trim, all painted

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Olive Garden Parent Darden Restaurants Just Reinstated Its Dividend

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Same-restaurant sales slid 28.2% at Darden’s Olive Garden chain.

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Darden Restaurants

stock was rising in premarket trading Thursday, following the Olive Garden parent’s fiscal first-quarter earnings report. The company reinstated its dividend and returned to profitability, despite the headwind of Covid-19, and gave an upbeat forecast.

Darden (ticker: DRI) said it earned an adjusted 56 cents a share, on revenue that fell 28.4% year over year to $1.53 billion. Analysts were looking for Darden to earn just a nickel a share on revenue of $1.56 billion.

Same-restaurant sales slid 28.2% at its Olive Garden chain, 18.1% at LongHorn Steakhouse, and 39.1% at its fine-dining segment, which includes the Capital Grill.

Darden’s board of directors reinstated the quarterly cash dividend of 30 cents per share, for shareholders on record as of Oct. 9. The company also repaid a $270 million term loan in August, “given steadily improving cash flows in the quarter.” It said it has access to $1.4 billion of liquidity, including $655 million of cash on hand.

For the current quarter, Darden said it expects to earn between 65 and 75 cents a share on revenue of $1.685 billion; consensus estimates call for EPS of 37 cents on revenue of $1.77 billion

Darden shares were up 3.6% to $93.21 around 9 a.m. Eastern time even as

Dow Jones Industrial Average

futures fell 0.6%.

The quarter was much better than Darden—and analysts—had feared in June, when the company said it could break even or turn a small profit. At the time, consensus called for a 34-cent loss. So the better-than-anticipated profit—compared with a wide per-share loss in the prior period—is an obvious positive for investors.

Yet the market is likely just as pleased with the company’s dividend payment, as well as its decision to clear some debt, because that projects confidence about Darden’s capital position at a time when many peers are struggling.

Dine-in restaurants have largely been hit harder than fast-food and other delivery-oriented strategies, given their higher price points and many consumers’ reluctance to congregate indoors. Darden, though, has earned analyst praise for how it has handled Covid. While the stock is off more than 17% this year, it has more than tripled from its low this spring.

Write to Teresa Rivas at [email protected]

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Darden Restaurants (DRI) Q1 2021 earnings top estimates

A customer carries a to-go bag outside a Darden Restaurants Inc. Olive Garden restaurant in Clarksville, Indiana, U.S., on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Darden Restaurants on Thursday reported that its revenue fell by more than 28% in its fiscal first quarter as the company’s business slowly recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of the company fell 2% in premarket trading.

Here’s what the company reported for the quarter ended Aug. 30 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 28 cents vs. 5 cents expected
  • Revenue: $1.53 billion vs. $1.56 billion expected

The Olive Garden parent reported fiscal first-quarter net income of $36.1 million, or 28 cents per share, down from $170.6  million, or $1.37 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting earnings of 5 cents per share.

Excluding losses from discontinued operations, Darden earned $37.3 million in the latest period, compared with $171.8 million a year ago.

Net sales dropped 28.4% to $1.53 billion, missing expectations of $1.56 billion. Same-store sales across all of its restaurant brands plunged 29% during the quarter. 

The company’s fine dining business is under the most pressure, with same-store sales shrinking by 39%. Olive Garden, which accounts for roughly half of Darden’s revenue, saw its same-store sales decline by 28%. LongHorn Steakhouse’s same-store sales fell by just 18%. 

Darden expects its fiscal second-quarter sales to fall 18% compared with the same time last year. The company is also forecasting diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations in a range of 65 cents to 75 cents.

Darden also said that it fully repaid its $270 million term loan on Aug. 10, citing its “steadily improving cash flows” in the quarter and greater confidence in its cash flow projections. It is also reinstating its dividend and will pay out 30 cents per share for this quarter’s results. The company has $655 million of cash on hand.

Read the full earnings release. 

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates. 

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Men Who Cook and local restaurants teaming up for Hope House and abused kids | St. Tammany community news

While demand for the services of a local center that combats child sexual abuse increased right along with COVID-19, the prospects for the big fundraiser the nonprofit Hope House depends on for half its budget appeared diminished.

At that point, supporters of the Children’s Advocacy Center-Hope House in Covington got creative.

The group has decided to pivot in order to bring the popular culinary competition (and Hope House fundraiser) “Men Who Cook” to a larger audience than what St. Tammany Parish residents are used to seeing, said Thomas Mitchell, the executive director of Hope House.

Instead of a traditional one-night event, celebrity chefs on the Men Who Cook 2020 Team will partner with more than 10 local restaurants between Oct. 5 and Nov. 8 to present “Hope House Weeks.”

Donations can be made on-site or online through Nov. 8 at support.cachopehouse.org/MWC2020.

The restaurants will offer special deals for patrons who donate to help their celebrity chef compete for the Most Money Raised for Hope House award. And a panel of judges will sample a highlighted dish from each restaurant to determine the winner of the Judges’ Choice award.

It will be a win-win because it has been so been difficult for both nonprofits and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, Mitchell said. And he hopes the public will patronize the restaurants and the teams to help create more public awareness of Hope House.

“While there is a pandemic, there is also an epidemic of child sexual abuse,” Mitchell said. “We’re seeing greater numbers because kids are stuck at home or because parents have to rely on child care they otherwise would not have relied on before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center-Hope House is the only agency in St. Tammany and Washington parishes that provides mandated forensic interviews for children when there are allegations of abuse.

The center does not investigate allegations on its own; there must be a law enforcement investigation, Mitchell said.

“There were 336 kids who came into the CAC in 2019 to disclose sexual abuse because of a pending investigation,” Mitchell said. “When the forensic recordings were used, 96.1% of those cases charged, resulted in convictions.”

From January through June, the CAC has already served 189 youth, which puts the group on track to surpass its 2019 sex abuse numbers.

Hope House provides a child-centered environment that houses a staff of eight and a multidisciplinary team with representatives from 12 other agencies who are part of the investigations.

Mitchell moved here from Tennessee to become the executive director three years ago and has since implemented a program of recovery for the young clients. Hope House can provide up to 12 or 16 months of free “trauma-focused counseling,” an evidence-based treatment program for PTSD and recovery from sexual abuse.

“We’re privileged to work with kids and see their recovery,” he said.

Mitchell also initiated a free education program to prevent child sexual abuse. The age-appropriate classes for youth in prekindergarten through high school is called Play it

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Baileys’ Restaurants introduces Wing Ding Dong ghost-kitchen concept | Off the Menu

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wing ding dong

Smoked chicken wings are the featured item from Baileys’ Restaurants’ new Wing Ding Dong concept. Handout photo by Kara Bailey.

Baileys’ Restaurants has announced a new ghost-kitchen concept, Wing Ding Dong. The concept, which operates out of Baileys’ Range at 920 Olive Street downtown, features smoked chicken wings and fried-chicken sandwiches for takeout and delivery.

Owner Dave Bailey tells Off the Menu the restaurant has been testing the Wing Ding Dong menu through neighborhood delivery in recent months.

“So it’s all vetted,” he says. “We’re not just throwing something out there to see if it sticks. We’ve gotten really good feedback on it already.”

Wing Ding Dong’s wings are marinated, dry-rubbed, smoked and finished in the oven, but not deep-fried.

“They don’t need a deep-fry to be awesome,” Bailey says. “They just need a crisp-up on the skin and then they’re juicy and smoky and delicious.”

Wings are available in orders of 10, 20 or 30. Each order comes with an Alabama white-style dipping sauce. Bailey says the Alabama White’s hit of vinegar and horseradish goes especially well with poultry. Other available dipping sauces include buffalo, ranch, honey mustard, Caribbean jerk, pineapple teriyaki and peach habanero.

Wing Ding Dong’s fried-chicken sandwich features buttermilk-marinated whole breast with pickles, lettuce and Baileys’ Restaurant’s go-to Rooster mayo on a Civil Life Brewing Co. American Brown Ale beer bun.

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9/11 Day And World Central Kitchen To Deliver 30,000+ Meals From Local Restaurants To First Responders And Healthcare Workers In 35 Cities Nationwide

NEW YORK, Sept. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In observance of the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, now a federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance, 9/11 Day, founded by 9/11 families and others from the 9/11 community, and World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by chef and humanitarian José Andrés, are teaming up to deliver more than 35,000 meals from local restaurants to support first responders and frontline healthcare workers in more than 35 cities nationwide.

The program will provide a much-needed infusion of revenue for independently owned restaurants struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen said that the goal of the program is to ensure that at least 50 percent of the meals will come from minority-owned restaurants. 

“Preparing and sharing a meal is an expression of love,” said Nate Mook, CEO of World Central Kitchen. “Our aim is to create a groundswell of support for those working tirelessly on the front lines of the COVID-19 response while extending help and hope to restaurants and restaurant workers nationwide.”

Individuals can sponsor a meal for a first responder or healthcare worker for just $10.00 by visiting 911day.org. The Principal Financial Group Foundation has joined as a leading supporter of the program, helping to make those individual dollars go further with a grant of $250,000 made from the Principal Financial Group Fund.

Nationwide Day of Virtual Volunteering Planned for 9/11

Sponsoring a meal is one of 11 featured “good deeds” 9/11 Day will be promoting on its website this year as part of its nationwide day of virtual volunteering in observance of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America. 9/11 Day is the nonprofit that successfully worked to establish the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as a federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance (“9/11 Day”).

“This program is reminiscent of how, 19 years ago, meals arrived at fire stations and hospitals as a show of solidarity and appreciation from the community,” said Jay Winuk, 9/11 Day co-founder and 9/11 family member. “This year, anyone, anywhere can get involved by sponsoring a meal and supporting local businesses in the process.”

“Principal Foundation maintains our commitment to empowering underserved communities especially during these challenging times,” said Paula Juffer, Interim Principal ® Foundation Director. “This association with 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen provides another opportunity to support minority owned small businesses as well as providing meals to over 200,000 first responders.”

Other major contributors to this program include Raytheon Technologies, Stifel, Turner Construction, Zurich Insurance, Citi Foundation, Bank of America, Kroger, Pfizer, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and other national service programs.

For more information on 9/11 Day please visit 911day.org.

Emily Walsh/Omar Renta
9/[email protected]   

SOURCE 9/11 Day

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