Conran Holdings' Mezzo-Mezzonine operation in Soho is to be transformed into a new restaurant and Cuban bar concept, the group exclusively revealed to Caterer last week.
Chief executive Des Gunewardena confirmed he was about to sign a deal with Havana Holdings to convert the 25,000sq ft Soho site into a completely new operation, but denied that Mezzo had been losing money.
He added that the restaurant consistently made a "very good" contribution to the company's profits.
Three distinct concepts are planned for the site: a Cuban bar-restaurant called Floridita, a cigar retail outlet and caf‚ called La Casa del Habano - both joint ventures between Conran and Havana Holdings - and a new 168-seat Conran restaurant called Meza.
The new restaurant's chef hasn't been announced yet, but Gunewardena confirmed that although it would serve some Cuban dishes it would not have a Cuban-style menu. Pricing would be similar to current levels.
Gunewardena said profits and turnover across the group were up, but London's restaurants had performed best, boosting their profits by 25% to 31 March 2004.
"This has been one of our most successful years for quite a long time," he added.
The company's financial results will be available later this year.
The growth comes after a series of successful new openings, including Plateau in London's Canary Wharf and Zinc in Glasgow, and the closure of the lossmaking Bluebird store.
Conran also plans to convert Bluebird's first-floor private members club into a new 80-90 seat restaurant headed up by Tom Conran. The new venture will open in November after a refurbishment and serve "hearty British" food.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 3 June 2004