Pret A Manger trials hydroponic fridge and filtered water stations as it opens third Veggie Pret: Pret A Manger has launched its third Veggie Pret, in Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, which features a hydroponic fridge and a filtered water station with reusable glass bottles. The store offers two sizes of reusable glass bottles for £3.99 (250ml) and £4.99 (500ml), displayed next to the bottled water, giving customers the choice to refill a bottle free rather than buying a new plastic one each time. The system will also be available in Pret’s Manchester stores from Tuesday, 31 October as part of a trial to see if they encourage customers to switch from single-use plastic water bottles. Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee said in his blog: “Pret has always tried to lead on food waste and we are making inroads on the problem of packaging waste by reducing where we can and making more of it recyclable. Plastic bottles present a real challenge and there are two schools of thought within Pret – the passionate environmentalists say stop selling them altogether while the pragmatists say make it as easy as you can for customers to use fewer plastic bottles. We are looking carefully at both options.” The hydroponic fridge will allow chefs to grow their own herbs for use in recipes, starting with basil. Pret A Manger brand director Caroline Cromar said: “The herbs grow in a perfectly controlled environment, free from pesticides, and use less water than conventional growing techniques. We’re keen to test this approach to in-shop growing to see if it could be beneficial to more of our shops in the future.” The other Veggie Pret stores are in Soho and Shoreditch.

Global Brands founder buys Derbyshire hotel operated by his father: Global Brands founder Steve Perez has bought a hotel and restaurant that was originally set up by his father and where he learnt valuable business lessons working as a waiter and chef, having left the business 40 years ago. The Red Lion Bar & Bistro was established in the late 1960s by Santiago Perez but the family were forced to sell it when he died in 1975. Since then it has had several owners and six years ago the 26-bedroom Peak Edge Hotel, which has three wedding suites, was added. Steve Perez went on to pursue a career in the drinks business. In 1997, he set up Global Brands and is a previous CBI winner of “UK Entrepreneur of the Year”. The company has evolved from Perez selling drinks from a van to an international outfit selling 17 drinks brands in 57 countries. Now he has bought his father’s venue back in a multimillion-pound deal. However, the deal isn’t his first venture as a hotelier – in 2011 he built and opened Casa, Chesterfield’s only four-star independent hotel. He said: “When I heard the Red Lion was possibly up for sale, I knew I had to seize the opportunity. I have many fond memories there and learnt the foundations of business from my father, which have helped me throughout my career. It is a great personal achievement to buy back the Red Lion but the decision was made for sound financial and business reasons and it fits perfectly with my ambition to expand my portfolio of quality hotels in Derbyshire.” Barclays and BRM Solicitors supported Perez with the purchase.

Fuller’s adds to New Forest estate with Christchurch acquisition: London brewer and pub retailer Fuller’s has added to its New Forest estate with the acquisition of The Manor in Burton, Christchurch. A spokesman said: “It’s a freehold pub with ten bedrooms and sun-trap terraces and we are planning a major refurbishment of the whole property in the coming months. It is a great addition to our managed portfolio and further strengthens our presence in the New Forest area.”

Benito’s Hat to open in Oxford this month for seventh site: Mexican restaurant Benito’s Hat is to open its seventh site, in Oxford this month. The venue will launch in the new £440m Westgate development on Tuesday, 24 October offering the brand’s signature burritos alongside several new additions to the menu. New additions include the El Presidente Burrito (pork, beef, chicken and guacamole), and Hat Trick Tacos (three soft tacos, one filled with achiote chicken, one with beef brisket barbacoa, and one with balsamic braised pork). Benito’s Hat also offers quesadillas, hand-cut tortilla chips, fresh guacamole, chipotle coleslaw, and desserts such as tres leches cake with vanilla and cinnamon. The brand also offers a children’s menu with appropriately sized taco and quesadilla options, while the drinks list includes frozen margaritas, Mexican beer, soft drinks, homemade “agua frescas”, and locally roasted filter coffee. Benito’s Hat will join other brands at Westgate Oxford that include boutique cinema Curzon, Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho, Pizza Pilgrims, US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones, and The Breakfast Club. Five of the other Benito’s Hat restaurants are in London, with one in Bromley, Kent.

Dunkin’ Donuts drops ‘Donuts’ from branding during smaller menu trial: Dunkin’ Donuts is trialling a smaller menu at 1,000 of its US stores, while also dropping the word “Donuts” from signage at a number of the sites taking part. The company is testing a simplified menu to focus on convenience, ditching afternoon sandwiches and bakery items such as cookies and Danish pastries. The company will shelve 16 doughnut varieties, only making between 18 and 24 flavours rather than the usual 40. Dunkin’ Donuts will tweak the line-up based on customer feedback, possibly putting up to six flavours back on the menu before launching the downsized section across the US. David Hoffman, president of Dunkin’ Donuts US and Canada, told QSR Magazine: “Simplification will continue to be a cultural mindset for our system. The goal of the smaller menu is to increase customer satisfaction and streamline back-of-house processes. Some of the locations testing the smaller doughnut menu have taken ‘Donuts’ from their store signage.” During the second quarter, Dunkin’ Donuts experienced a 0.8% drop in like-for-like sales in the US, attributed to an increase in the average ticket amount despite a drop in traffic. The company also indicated a focus on drive-thrus, with 85% of traditional store openings featuring a drive-thru – up from 70% five years ago.

London-based startup Feast It launches £500,000 crowdfunding campaign to attract more restaurants: London-based startup Feast It, which describes itself as an Airbnb for catering and works in partnership with more than 250 of the capital’s street food traders and restaurants, has launched a £500,000 crowdfunding campaign to help it attract more venues. Founded by Digby Vollrath and Hugo Campbell, Feast It offers a platform that enables event planners and businesses to discover, compare and book their ideal caterer on one site. Since launching in January, Feast It has generated more than £550,000 in sales and fed 120,000 diners. Now it is looking to raise £500,000 through the Angel Investment Network, which connects startups with angel investors. The pitch states: “The platform allows you to search available caterers for your event by date and location and further refine this by cuisine, dietary requirement and budget. You can easily compare all available options and instantly book them through a custom-built booking engine. Feast It is growing quickly at 12% per month and will soon expand its offering to enable any restaurant, bar or drinks brand to cater events via our web-enabled widget. We are raising funds to continue our exciting expansion, both in terms of supply of restaurants and street food traders and geography, and to continue building our technology.”

BII licensee of the year takes on second Hook Norton Brewery pub: British Institute of Innkeeping licensee of the year Mark Higgs has expanded his pub portfolio by taking on his second Hook Norton Brewery site. Higgs, who runs The Castle at Edgehill in Oxfordshire, is taking up the tenancy of The Sun Inn at Hook Norton. A stone’s throw from Hook Norton Brewery, The Sun Inn features a restaurant, six en-suite bedrooms, a function room, and a large beer garden and terrace. Higgs is partnering with executive chef and director Matthew Ayers, who has learned his trade in numerous Michelin-starred restaurants. The menu will focus on “everything local and seasonal” with a “keep it simple” approach. Higgs and Ayers officially take over running The Sun Inn on Wednesday, 1 November. Hook Norton Brewery managing director James Clarke said: “The Sun Inn is a very important site for us being in the centre of Hook Norton and we are excited to see what Mark, Matthew and the team can bring.”

Be At One launches bartender incentive scheme: Cocktail bar specialist Be At One has launched a staff incentive scheme with a one-off Harley Davidson Street 750 motorbike up for grabs. The company has partnered with spiced rum brand Sailor Jerry and challenged its bartenders across its 33 bars nationwide to champion cocktails featuring Sailor Jerry. Like-for-like sales versus the previous month will be measured and the site with the best sales in each region will make it through to a final round. A party for the finalists will be held at Be At One’s Greek Street bar in Soho on Tuesday, 7 November, when the bartender with the most Sailor Jerry sales will win a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Harley Davidson motorcycle accompanied by complementary motorcycle lessons. Be At One chief operating officer Andrew Stones said: “We’re a business committed to recognising and rewarding our people, so working with a brand like Sailor Jerry to offer such an incredible prize is fantastic. Having the right team behind the bar is critical to delivering an outstanding guest experience as well as driving sales across all our bars. We look forward to seeing the results of this incentive scheme.”

Manchester multi-site operator MAD to open third Hula site, eyes further expansion: Manchester-based multi-site operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) is to open a third site for its tiki bar concept Hula, this time in Stockport. The company will launch the site in Shaw Road in the Heaton Moor suburb and is eyeing further expansion for the brand. MAD is refurbishing the former Time and Place bar ahead of the opening on Thursday, 19 October. It will join the Hula branches in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and West Didsbury. The concept offers tiki cocktails, beer, wine and spirits. The new venue, which is the group’s ninth site in total, will also be MAD’s third site in Heaton Moor, joining Tusk and The Fitzgerald. Managing director Mark Andrew told the Manchester Evening News: “Hula is such a great brand – it’s fun, cheeky, with lots of personality and will bring another great venue to the area.” MAD announced plans to expand Hula across Greater Manchester in August after securing a multimillion-pound funding deal. Andrew added: “We’re already eyeing further sites to bring the Hula experience to more people across the UK.”

Former The Ivy chef acquires Lowry & Baker coffee shop in Notting Hill: Former The Ivy senior chef Ondrej Petras has acquired award-winning coffee shop Lowry & Baker in Notting Hill, north west London. Petras has bought the site in Portobello Road in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. He said he hoped to enhance the reputation of excellence Lowry & Baker had established. He added: “Lowry & Baker has a warm, welcoming and laid-back attitude that makes you feel at home immediately. This quality is what caught my eye when I first walked into this little gem and is the type of local cafe most people dream about. I am extremely excited to be the new owner of this well-established independent cafe and I will certainly do my best to keep it as close to the original Lowry & Baker as possible as I appreciate the local community love it how it was.” Lowry & Baker won a Timeout Magazine Love London Award 2016 for being the best cafe in the area.

Lantana opens fourth site, at London Bridge: London-based cafe chain Lantana has launched its fourth site in the capital, this time at London Bridge. The brand, which has sites in Shoreditch, Camden and Fitzrovia, has opened its latest venue at Thrale House in Southwark Street, on the edge of Borough Market. The 84-cover site consists of 3,313 square feet arranged over the ground floor and basement. In May, Lantana signed a new 25-year lease at a rent of £65,000 per annum exclusive. Rob Meadows, director of agents Davis Coffer Lyons, which acted for landlord Amazon Properties, told CoStar: “The Lantana concept has been a pioneer of the Australian-run modern cafe scene in London, testament to the growth and proliferation of some exciting boutique coffee-led concepts in the sector of the market. There is a distinct and growing trend for these brands to offer a quality, all-day food menu, which can evolve to also capture evening trade.” Lantana was launched in 2008 by Shelagh Ryan, Michael Homan and Caitlin Ryan. It offers dishes such as Mauritian chilli cakes, shredded duck tacos, and twice-cooked chicken wings.

Tesco Hospitality wins national cafe chain of the year award: Tesco Hospitality has been named National Café Chain of Year in the Foodservice Quality Food Awards. Tesco Cafes beat A Slice Of Heaven, Circus Café, TY Soho and Morrisons Market Street Café, which had won the award for a number of years running. Tesco Family Dining communications co-ordinator Leanne Henniker told Propel: “Tesco Cafes is an area of the business we are continuously investing in – from great menu development and developing our own Tesco coffee brand to remodelling the look and feel of the cafes and ensuring our teams are expert in all things. Our Tesco Hospitality business is something we are extremely passionate about and this award gives us a chance to celebrate our progress to date while acknowledging the exciting times that lie ahead.”

Hall & Woodhouse bids to build 48 homes, some for staff, behind Hampshire pub: Dorset brewer Hall & Woodhouse has applied for planning permission to develop 48 homes behind its Hampshire pub The Plough Inn. The company bought the venue in Bursledon in 2015, spending £1m on refurbishment projects. Managing director Anthony Woodhouse said the company wanted to build homes for pub staff as well as the community. He told the Daily Echo: “We would like to invest in the pub further to provide a larger kitchen and better facilities for our team members, including housing for those who work at The Plough and at our other pubs in the area. To do this we need to raise funds from selling surplus land. The residential development in turn will support the long-term viability of The Plough as it increases the number of potential guests in the locality. All the money is reinvested in our business and helps secure the future of our pubs and ensures they sit at the heart of the community in which they operate.” Hall & Woodhouse operates more than 200 pubs across the south of England.

JD Wetherspoon has plans rejected in long-running bid to open Headingley pub: JD Wetherspoon has had its bid for an alcohol licence for the grade II-listed Elinor Lupton Centre in Headingley, Yorkshire, rejected. The long-running saga dates to late 2014, when the company bought the building, submitting an initial application to convert the building into a 500-capacity pub in June 2015. That application was rejected by Leeds City Council but Wetherspoon won an appeal in September 2016. The building, which has been derelict since 2010, is in an area subject to a cumulative impact policy. Leeds Magistrates’ Court has now sided with Leeds City Council in refusing to issue the alcohol licence. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are disappointed with the decision. There has been a lot of support for the pub from people in the area. We are considering the judgement carefully before deciding our next steps.”

The Ivy Collection opens Bath brasserie: The Ivy Collection has opened a brasserie in a grade II-listed building in Bath city centre. The venue is at a former bank branch within the Somersetshire Buildings, which were built in 1783 in Milsom Street. Special additions to The Ivy Bath Brasserie include an apple and Bath blue salad, incorporating locally made cheese, and a baked apple tart with vanilla ice cream accompanied by a Somerset cider brandy flambe. During the process of designing the restaurant, the Ivy team visited local libraries to gain inspiration for the interiors. Restaurant manager Katja Kammerer told the Bath Chronicle: “A lot of the decor is about Bath. Some of it is Roman inspired and there are Georgian-inspired photos and paintings. We have embraced the culture and history of Bath, along with the classic Ivy flair.” This week, The Ivy Collection submitted plans to open a site in Winchester. The Bath opening is the company’s 11th brasserie site, with others “opening soon” in Cheltenham, Guildford, Harrogate, Tunbridge Wells, and York. There are currently four Ivy Cafe sites, all in London. The company has forecast a total of 30 venues by the end of 2018.

BrewDog joins forces with 35 brewers as it takes annual #Collabfest event overseas for first time: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is staging its annual #Collabfest this month and will take the event overseas for the first time. BrewDog is joining forces with 35 craft brewers in the UK and Europe for the multi-venue craft beer festival, which takes place from Friday, 20 October until Sunday, 22 October. BrewDog launched #Collabfest in 2013 to celebrate the wealth of independent breweries local to its bars and this year’s event will take place simultaneously across 25 cities in the UK, Sweden and Germany. The #Collabfest event sees up and coming independent brewers from across Europe team up with staff at a local BrewDog bar to develop and brew a new, limited edition beer. All collaboration beers are released at the same time in participating BrewDog bars. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “This is our biggest #Collabfest to date and it’s exciting to see what amazing new brews have been developed as part of the project. It’s also awesome to have five of our international bars on board for the first time. Sweden and Germany are home to some of the most passionate beer fans in the world and their brewing scenes are offering some really incredible new styles and twists on the classics. Having seen the beer list, 2017 is a year not to be missed.”

Japanese ramen restaurant Yamagoya opens first permanent UK site: Japanese ramen restaurant Yamagoya has opened its first permanent UK site – in The Cut, near Waterloo station. Yamagoya, which previously ran a residency above Chinese hot pot restaurant Shuang Shuang in Shaftsbury Avenue, offers authentic ramen and Japanese cakes. The brand’s signature dish features hand-made noodles in tonkotsu broth topped with pork belly, marinated bamboo shoot and mushrooms. Consumers decide which toppings to add, including nori, kimchi and pickled mustard leaves. Additions to the new site’s menu include a charishi sushi bowl, while Yamagoya offers Japanese desserts including the Instagram-friendly raindrop cake with a new option of matcha flavouring. The drinks list includes imported sparkling yuzu juice, melon tea and an aloe vera drink, alongside sake, house wine and beer.

Inverness-based hotelier acquires city centre offices in £5.5m plan for third site: Inverness-based hotelier Tony Story has acquired Highland Council’s former service point office block in the city centre, with plans to transform it into a £5.5m hotel. Story also owns the city’s upmarket Kingsmills Hotel and is behind a £6.4m development of the former Maple Court Hotel. He is seeking planning permission to create an 80-bedroom, four-star hotel called The Bridge, which would involve adding a fourth storey to the office block. Story told the Inverness Courier: “I want it to be something cutting edge, new and different. Our intention is to have deluxe rooms along Bank Lane with river views and slightly smaller versions looking on to a cityscape. Inverness is crying out for good-quality accommodation and there is a huge international market, especially on the back of the golf industry and now the North Coast 500 road trip route.” This latest development will represent a total investment by the hotelier of £35m in Inverness.

Hucknall-based micro-pub operator to open second site: Hucknall-based micro-pub operator Richard Darrington is opening his second site in the Nottinghamshire town. Darrington, who operates the Byron’s Rest in Baker Street, will launch the Boatswaines in Watnall Road later this month on the site of the former Total Look For Men hair salon. Both micro-pub names are a reference to the poet Lord Byron, who was buried in Hucknall, with the new pub named after his dog. Darrington said the two venues would work “hand in hand”, as the Byron’s Rest specialises in real ale while the Boatswaines will focus on craft beer. He told the Nottingham Post: “We want to put the heart back into the community by having a nice, friendly environment that will be different to the mainstream. There will be craft beer, traditional ale and continental lager on the bar.”