Two former meat industry professionals have teamed up with chef and consultant John Benson-Smith to launch a new steak and burger restaurant business called Chop Bloc.
Brothers Steve and Dave Patten are expected to open the new £2m restaurant in a three-storey building in the centre of Chelmsford in November.
The pair used to sell meat wholesale to customers including Tesco, McDonald's, and the Co-Operative, and hope to use their contacts in the industry to buy meat directly from abattoirs and pass the savings on to customers.
Steve Patten told The Caterer that the site, which used to be a Field & Trek and Early Learning Centre retail outlet before its use was changed was a lot bigger than they had originally anticipated, and will cater to 200 covers on the ground and first floors, with a cocktail bar on the second floor.
They plan to dry age their own meat on the site, as well as making their own burgers which will be cooked using the ‘smash' burger tecnhique, which sees the patty formed by placing a ball of meat on a flat top grill and flattening it with a spatula to create a crust on the outside why keeping the meat on the inside juicy.
Steve Patten said he expected the site, which is being designed by Design LSM, to sell around 60% steak and 40% burgers.
Speaking about the idea for the Chop Bloc, Steve Patten said: "We found that most traditional English steak houses can create a quite intimidating atmosphere to people who are perhaps not used to that environment. Our idea is to bring a top quality food offering into a more welcoming environment and in line with what would be at home on the average high street.
"Dave and I spent a couple of weeks travelling the US looking at both burger and steak restaurants to examine what they do well. We visited steakhouses such as Peter Luger's in NYC and BOA in LA, and many of the main burger chains as well as a few of the smaller ones."
Speaking about John Benson-Smith's involvement, he added: "John's expertise in this area is second to none and we decided we really needed someone like him to be involved with the project."
Benson-Smith, who is currently consultant executive chef for Manchester City Football Club is a former Northern Chef of the Year (1999), as well as being a former judge of BBC TV show MasterChef when it was presented by Loyd Grossman. He and his wife Alison run the The Food Consultancy.