Bel & The Dragon targets larger sites for expansion as it aims to capitalise on accommodation: Bel & The Dragon, the Longshot-owned collection of country inns across the south east, is targeting larger sites for expansion as it aims to make the most of accommodation. Hector Ross told Propel the six-strong company, whose five sites with accommodation will each have between five and 18 rooms by the end of 2018, was looking to acquire coaching inns with 20 to 40 bedrooms to add to its portfolio. He said as with its current country inns, sites needed to be within an “hour-and-a-half” of west London in an area spanning the A3 to the M40. Accommodation currently accounts for about £1m of Bel & The Dragon’s turnover and Ross is keen to increase that figure further especially, he said, as 80% of people who stay at its sites also dine. Ross said: “What we want is bums in beds – it’s critical for us because of the impact it has on our dining figures. The staycation market is also growing. We currently have about a 70% occupancy rate, which is growing every month. We’ve worked hard to improve the quality of food and drink in our country inns but we want to create a good all-round guest experience. Accommodation is now a very important income stream in the sector.” Earlier this week, the company announced it is adding 12 bedrooms to its estate that will take the total number to 59 by 1 March. It will have accommodation available at all its sites by the end of the year. In most cases, Bel & The Dragon has taken employee accommodation and turned it into guest bedrooms, with the company renting nearby flats for its teams. Ross said that with further expansion on the cards, the company was now looking at underutilised areas to add more rooms. Ross also said the company expected turnover for the year to 30 March 2018 to increase from last year.

Boxpark secures planning permission for Wembley site: Boxpark and developer Quintain have secured planning permission from the London Borough of Brent for their ten-year Boxpark Wembley joint venture. The casual dining and events destination is due to open in Olympic Way at the end of the year. It will be the largest Boxpark to date, featuring 27 independent food and beverage operators, 20,000 square feet of dedicated events space, and a 300-capacity venue. Boxpark will cater for the millions of visitors to Wembley Stadium and SSE Arena as well as the growing Wembley Park community. Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Quintain, Brent Council and Wembley Park stakeholders Wembley Stadium, SSE Arena and LDO to deliver a world-class fan village and street food destination.” Quintain chief operating officer James Saunders added: “The opening will mark a huge step change in the transformation of the area. Boxpark Wembley will be a new destination for local people and the growing number of visitors to the area to experience some of the best street food London has to offer.” Earlier this week, Boxpark appointed W Communications as its retained agency as it embarks on its next phase of expansion. The other Boxparks are in Croydon and Shoreditch.

Online food-ordering firm Appetise doubles equity stake in £500,000 crowdfunding campaign as it reduces valuation to £1m: Birmingham-based online food-ordering firm Appetise has doubled the equity stake in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to scale up before expanding to “other key regions in the UK”. The company, which has Revolution Bars Group executive chairman Keith Edelman as its non-executive chairman, is now offering a 33.33% equity stake instead of the original 16.67% in return for the investment. This has resulted in the company’s valuation being reduced to £1m. The company stated: “Despite a high level of interest in Appetise, including more than 260 requests for our restricted documents and a number of positive comments from the press and an independent crowdfunding rating agency, it was clear our campaign was not generating sufficient investment. We mainly attribute this to the lack of EIS relief available and so we have listened to the market and responded accordingly. Although the current owner has spent about £2m on Appetise so far, it is prepared to carry the investment at a loss, with the hope it will quickly grow to exceed that valuation.” Appetise is targeting further growth in Birmingham, where it has 370 restaurant partners and 60,000 customer accounts. After that it would look to expand to London and other key UK cities with further fund-raising planned. So far, the campaign has raised £116,890 from 91 investors with 14 days remaining.

North east-based multi-site operator teams up with Star Pubs & Bars for Newcastle ventures: North east-based multi-site operator Howard Eggleston has teamed up with Star Pubs & Bars to bring his Tomahawk Steakhouse and Boat Club casual dining and cocktail bar concepts to Newcastle. Eggleston operates Tomahawk Steakhouse in Potto, North Yorkshire, while The Boat Club has built a following in Durham. The partnership will see Eggleston bring both brands to the former Jolly Fisherman on Newcastle Quayside. The pub closed last summer after only a year in business. So far, about £300,000 has been invested into fitting out venue, transforming the ground floor into the steakhouse with The Boat Club upstairs. The venues are due to open at the end of March, creating 50 jobs. Eggleston told Chronicle Live: “I know it’s not an easy site and it hasn’t been successful so far but we’ve got two very different offers so people can come in for a meal at Tomahawk and if they don’t want to leave they can go upstairs for a couple of cocktails.” Eggleston has also teamed up with Star Pubs & Bars to take over the licence of The North Terrace in Newcastle from Locked Inns. A Tomahawk Steakhouse is also set to open in Yarm, while a North Terrace venue is being sought in Harrogate.

Tart London to open first permanent site featuring restaurant and events space: London-based catering company Tart London is opening its first permanent site – a multipurpose venue that will incorporate a restaurant, retail space, fashion photography studio and events space. Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison will launch the venture in partnership with Lock Studios founder Tom Warren in Eccleston Yards in Eccleston Place, Belgravia. The new venture – Eccleston Place by Tart London – will feature a restaurant that focuses on all-day seasonal dining, a retail space showcasing products and homeware discovered on Jones and Carr-Ellison’s travels, and a large photography studio with Warren at the helm. The elements will open in stages from early summer, starting with the studio. Jones and Carr-Ellison said: “It has always been our dream to open a permanent site and we couldn’t have thought of a better place than historic Eccleston Yards. This is more than a restaurant, we want to create that sense of warmth and home in busy central London with a light space that marries food, fashion, lifestyle and photography – the ‘photographer’s kitchen’.” Housed in a former power station and coal store, the restaurant and studio will retain the building’s 19th century arched roof and skylights. The venture will be the flagship restaurant and lifestyle tenant of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s new Eccleston Yards development.

Crussh introduces re-usable cup discount as part of extensive sustainability plans: Crussh, the London-based healthy food and juice brand, has introduced a 25p discount for customers who bring in re-usable coffee cups. The company has also pledged to remove plastic straws from its estate and replace them with compostable alternatives, launch a compostable cutlery trial in select stores, find a recycling solution for disposable coffee cups, and work to minimise items sent to landfill. Crussh head of marketing Helen Jones said: “As well as removing plastic straws from our business by Easter, we’re delighted to introduce a discount on all hot drinks to customers bringing in re-usable coffee cups. We’ll also sell Ecoffee cups in our stores and give customers a free coffee when they buy one.” In December, Crussh reported like-for-like sales increased 2.9% for the year ending 2 April 2017. Turnover rose to £14,404,673, compared with £13,800,507 the year before. The company operates 30 stores across London.

Fever Bars to open Plymouth nightclub next month: Fever Bars, led by Mark Shorting and Nigel Blair, is to open a nightclub in Plymouth city centre next month under its Fever & Boutique brand. The twin-themed brand features two rooms catering for different tastes in music – one a retro-chic discotheque for pop and party, while the boutique room pumps out house and R&B music. The nightclub will open in Derry’s Cross on Friday, 9 March at a site formerly occupied by Pitchers sports bar. Fever Bars opened a club in Exeter in September. Director Duncan Squires told Devon Live: “Like our club in Exeter, Plymouth is a student-based city so it made sense to bring Fever here. We are really excited about the opening and the unit is perfect.” Fever Bars, which operates 28 sites under the Fever, Boutique, Beach, Kukui and Moomoo brands, said in December it aims to have 36 sites by the end of 2018.

Sourced Market to introduce evening menu as part of Marylebone taproom relaunch: Sourced Market is introducing an evening menu at its Marylebone site and has relaunched the venue’s taproom following a refurbishment. The new menu will launch on Tuesday (20 February) focusing on “bites, sharing boards and small plates” that showcase British producers and seasonal ingredients, with some ingredients available to buy. A wide range of British-brewed beers are available on draught at the refurbished taproom, alongside wine on tap and bottled brands sourced from Les Caves de Pyrene. In October, Sourced Market founder Ben O’Brien told Propel the success of the brand’s new small-format store in the Barbican – part of a deal with hotel group Citadines – had left it looking at similar partnerships, especially since the company launched its production kitchen. Sourced Market, which is led by O’Brien and Dan O’Neill, raised £960,000 in a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 for expansion. The brand launched in St Pancras International station in 2009 followed by sites in Marylebone and Victoria, with two new units planned for 2018, O’Brien said.

Swingers to open second London site next month: Street food and crazy golf concept Swingers will open its second London site next month. Swingers will open two 1920s English Riviera-themed crazy golf courses inside a former BHS store off Oxford Street on Thursday, 15 March. Caddies will serve cocktails to guests as they navigate courses inside a 20,000 square foot venue in John Princes Street. A “promenade” lined with lamp-posts and beach huts will house street food stalls between the two courses alongside two seaside-themed bars. The street food line-up will consist of better burger brand Patty & Bunn, Ennismore’s Mexican street food concept Breddos Tacos, pizza concept Made of Dough and Hackney Gelato.

Brunning & Price opens Cheltenham pub at former Jamie’s Italian site: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub division of The Restaurant Group, has launched a site at a former courthouse in Cheltenham that was previously occupied by Jamie’s Italian. The company acquired the site in September and has reopened it as The Old Courthouse. Trading over two floors, the pub offers cask ale, craft beer, whisky, gin and an extensive wine list. The food menu focuses on “freshly prepared, classic British dishes complemented by more exotic influences”. The opening has created about 40 jobs. At the end of January, Brunning & Price told Propel it aims to step up its rate of openings in 2018. The company, which operates 62 sites, has already added the former Greene King-operated Loch Fyne restaurant in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, and the Arrow Mill in Alcester, Warwickshire, to its estate. Both sites are expected to reopen under the Brunning & Price banner this summer. A spokeswoman told Propel: “We are always on the lookout for opportunities, especially in new territory for us around the Midlands.”

Deltic Group to convert Tamworth nightclub to Atik brand as part of £400,000 investment: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs with 57 venues, is to convert its Kuda nightclub in Tamworth to its Atik brand as part of a £400,000 investment. Atik will join retro room Vinyl, which is downstairs in the Spinning School Lane venue. Kuda will continue to operate until Friday, 16 March before Atik launches a week later. Atik will showcase the “best in light and sound technology”, playing club hits with a regular line-up of guest DJs. Vinyl will continue to play “guilty pleasures and pop classics” while the entire venue is given a fresh new look, including eight pre-bookable VIP booths with table service. General manager Stacey Penney said: “We’re really looking forward to reopening as Atik and Vinyl to deliver a fantastic venue and night out for customers.”

Dublin-based food hall operator Fallon & Byrne to anchor Dundrum development: Fallon & Byrne, which operates a fine food emporium in Dublin that features a restaurant, wine cellar and ballroom, is to anchor the redevelopment of a shopping centre in Dundrum. Fallon & Byrne will launch a 10,000 square foot food hall, delicatessen and restaurant at Hammerson’s Pembroke Square development in the Dublin suburb. Pembroke Square will feature an additional 3,500 square feet of restaurant space, 8,000 square feet of leisure space and 6,000 square feet of public realm. Fallon & Byrne managing director Fiona McHugh told Insider Media: “Our aim is to create something special in the heritage buildings that lie at the heart of Pembroke Square, which we believe will be a dynamic new quarter within the centre.” Simon Betty, Hammerson director of retail in Ireland, added: “Fallon & Byrne is a fantastic brand to welcome to Dundrum. Bringing the finest Irish and international artisan foods and a high-quality dining experience, the brand will deliver a real step change in the food and beverage offer at the centre.” Fallon & Byrne also operates a restaurant and cafe in People’s Park, Dun Laoghaire.

Former Callooh Callay pair launch ‘social club’ cocktail bar concept in Haggerston: Simon Thompson and Jake O’Brien Murphy, who worked together at Shoreditch cocktail bar Callooh Callay, have launched a “social club” concept in Haggerston with plans for further sites across the UK. Horatio Street Social Club has opened in the basement of The Nelson’s Head. It is an “intimate space” where guests sit on stools at the bar or at low-slung tables. The venue also features low lighting, nautical lanterns, artwork and “eclectic, upbeat tunes”. The regularly revolving cocktail menu includes Naïve Melody (Campari, white wine and kola nut cordial) alongside classic cocktails, beer and wine. The look of the physical menu will change monthly to feature new artwork inspired by random themes.

Ei Group launches scheme to help pupils into ‘future-proofed’ pub jobs: Ei Group has launched a programme to help pupils into “future-proofed” pub jobs. In collaboration with education organisation Stride, Ei Group will run its Pub Pros campaign with the help of six publicans across its Ei Publican Partnerships estate. Pub Pros is a work readiness programme that aims to inform and inspire sixth-formers about careers in the pub sector while building teamwork, leadership, assertiveness and critical thinking skills. Up to 12 pupils from each of the six schools involved will take part in a series of half-day workshops followed by a meet-the-publican session, concluding with an in-pub taster day this summer. The move comes as the Department for Work and Pensions promotes Hospitality Works, a month-long campaign that promotes careers in the hospitality sector that has created more than 8,000 work placements since its launch in 2015. Pub Pros will also give publicans a chance to connect with local schools, engage with prospective employees, and give something back to their community. Ei Group commercial director Paul Harbottle said: “The pub sector is often overlooked as a potential employment opportunity for young people so, together with Stride, we’re trying to change that. By partnering some great Ei Publican Partnerships pubs with local schools, we’re giving pupils the opportunity to explore the sector and meet people who run pubs. We hope that will inspire them to add our sector to their career choices.”

Rosa’s founder Saiphin Moore to launch second cookbook: Saiphin Moore, founder and head chef of Thai restaurant group Rosa’s Thai Cafe, is to launch her second cookbook. Moore, whose debut book Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Cookbook has sold more than 25,000 copies, will release Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Vegetarian Cookbook on Thursday, 31 May. The new book will feature more than 100 vegetarian recipes, many suitable for vegans, as well as dishes available at Rosa’s vegetarian pop-up, which launched at its Dean Street, Soho, site earlier this year. Moore said: “The new book is a collection of my favourite family recipes, veggie reinventions of some Thai classics and some dishes from the menu at our current veggie pop-up in Soho. I really hope the book and its recipes will inspire others to cook more with vegetables and gives a further insight into my passion for the food of my homeland.”

Wadworth gives away 4,000 pints for Random Acts of Kindness Week: Brewer and retailer Wadworth is giving away 4,000 pints during Random Acts of Kindness Week. Throughout this week, guests in Wadworth’s managed houses will be randomly gifted with a pint of 6X beer. Managers at the participating pubs got behind the mission to “spread happiness across Wadworth’s south of England pubs”. Random gifts of beer are also being sent to unsuspecting social media users who happen to mention they need a beer. Wadworth chief executive Chris Welham said: “Random Acts of Kindness Week provides the perfect opportunity to give something back and thank our customers for their ongoing support. We’ve already had some brilliant stories from across our pub estate and I am thrilled so many people have walked away with a smile on their face thanks to our random acts of kindness.”

Three Cheers to offer free drink on International Women’s Day: Three Cheers Pub Co, led by Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox, is to give women a free drink on International Women’s Day. The company will make the offer available at its eight pubs on Thursday, 8 March between noon and 7pm. The company stated: “There is no gimmick. No catch. Just a little appreciation for a lot of hard work and determination. Three cheers to, and for, strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them and may we most very definitely drink with them!”

Trafford hotel and restaurant sells off guide price of £1.25m: Chester’s Hotel and Luigi’s Restaurant in Trafford, Manchester, has been sold for an undisclosed figure off a guide price of £1.25m. The 24-bedroom hotel and recently refurbished restaurant is in Chester Road, close to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. The freehold business was sold by way of a going concern asset sale and has been purchased from John and Elaine Wilkinson, of Wilkinson Star, by VK Developments. GVA acted on behalf of the seller, while VK Developments was represented by Faisal Rafiq. Martin Davis, director of the hotels and leisure team at Manchester’s GVA office, said: “This established hotel and restaurant provides a fantastic opportunity for the new owners to enhance and further develop trade.”