A sale of Ed's Easy Diner is likely to take place later this year but won't lead to any changes in the way it is run, its chief executive Andrew Guy has confirmed.
Guy, who was speaking at the Arena Summer Event at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel last Friday, also said that he expected to continue to be involved in the business after any sale had been completed.
Addressing media speculation about a possible deal, Guy said: "It has been flagged in the media that Ed's Easy Diner is likely to be sold later this year and that is true. But the change will simply be to the financial structure of the company and not to the brand, not to the philosophy of the way it is run. I personally expect to be involved in the next phase of Ed's future."
And he joked: "As I said to a group of our managers who couldn't name many, if any, of our current shareholders, the ownership will go from one group of people you can't name to another group of people you can't name. For them the opportunity remains the same."
The group, whose venues are designed to look like 1950s American diners, now has 41 sites following the opening of its Belfast restaurant last week.
A new site is expected to open in Woking next week, with the business growing to a total of up to 57 restaurants before Christmas, Guy said.
Next year is likely to see the opening of another 25 restaurants, taking Ed's Easy Diner to around 80 sites.
The company currently employs 800 people, swelling to around 1,100 by the end of this year.
"Expansion like that with quality of service standards maintained at the levels we want can only be successfully achieved by hiring, training, motivating and keeping a lot of exciting and talented people," Guy said.
Ed's Easy Diner is one of several casual dining groups that is facing a potential sale. Côte, Las Iguanas, Yo! Sushi and La Tasca are all also thought to be potential sale targets for this year.