Mid-market casual dining chain Coal Grill and Bar is targeting major towns and cities across the UK, as it plans to expand to 16 sites by the end of 2011.
John Gater, chief executive of Charterhouse Leisure, which owns the Coal Grill and Bar concept, told Caterer of the plans as his firm revealed that it was to open another three venues, taking its total estate to seven.
Charterhouse has taken on the site of Exeter restaurant Exeshed, and its sister restaurant Severnshed in Bristol, which is located in a former boathouse designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, on the bank of the city's floating harbour. The company has also bought a venue in Guildford High Street from a major restaurant chain, although Gater was unable to reveal the seller's identity.
Meanwhile he said that Charterhouse was in advanced negotiations to buy another three sites, which is likely to bring the total number of the company's outlets to 10 by the end of 2010. Gater is already looking at a further three sites for 2011, with the aim being to open six by the end of that year.
New sites are likely to include Richmond in Surrey, Sheffield and Manchester. But Gater said he was also interested in other major towns and cities like Cardiff, Oxford and Cambridge.
The planned expansion comes after Charterhouse took time to consolidate in 2009, having initially expected to open six Coal Grill and Bar outlets.
"The company did extremely well in 2009, which was a good test in very tough economic conditions. And although we had the opportunity and we had money to do things, we decided to stay as we were and pushed the whole programme back a year," Gater said.
The company has also resisted the temptation to offer heavy discounts. "If we did what our peer group does, we wouldn't be in business. I have no idea how they are doing it or how they are going to get out of it. We are not discounting. I think we are just hitting a slightly different market from those that are looking to sell their products for the cheapest possible price," Gater said.
By Neil Gerrard
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