Ringland Group launch work on £9.5m expansion of Belfast hotel The Flint

The work includes the development of a new 200-seater Italian restaurant on Howard Street, the construction of 63 new bedrooms and a new rooftop bar

Work is under way on a £9.5 million expansion of The Flint on Belfast's Howard Street. Picture by Hugh Russell.

THE hospitality firm behind Belfast hotel The Flint has started work on a £9.5 million expansion project that will more than double its size and add a 200-seater bar and restaurant.

The Ringland Group is investing £2.5 million in transforming two ground level units on Howard Street into a new Italian themed eatery.

Phase two of the project will see around £7m invested in adding another 63 rooms and a new rooftop bar and restaurant.

Phase one of the work was launched just days after Flame restaurant vacated its premises for a new unit at The Ewart office development.

The ongoing demolition project includes the former Richard Owens Opticians unit on Howard Street.

Work will then progress to the construction and fit-out phase, with the as yet unnamed restaurant due to be open by the Spring of 2024.

Ganson, which recently completed work on Oakland’s new 175-room aparthotel on Belfast’s Queen Street, is the main contractor.

The Flint opened on Howard Street in 2018. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Once the new restaurant is complete, the company is expected to remain on site for another 18 months to build the 63 new rooms and the new rooftop venue.

The Ringland Group is principally run by brothers Peter and Ben.

Their main base of operations is on Lower Crescent, just off Botanic Avenue, which is home to The 1852 Hotel, Town Square restaurant and the group’s latest hospitality offering, Southside Social, which opened last November.

Peter Ringland described the Howard Street project as “a big build”.

“It should be a considerable asset at the end.”

He said the expansion, which was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, is in direct response to demand for The Flint’s 55 bedrooms.

“Business is great,” he said. “We’ve had an average occupancy rate of 97 per cent since opening in 2018.

“It has been pretty much full since day one and we just need more rooms and a food and beverage offering.

The former Flame restaurant, which has relocated to The Ewart building on Bedford Street.

“I think Belfast is just very busy with tourism and a lot of the supply of the hotel market has been taken out of the market by the Home Office,” he continued.

“That I suppose has pushed demand up for the remaining rooms.”

The hospitality entrepreneur said the group has already secured finance, working closely with Ulster Bank’s Richard Lusty.