Restaurant group La Tasca is set to open the first of a new format of "independent" tapas bars which will have no universal branding and will be run like a single, privately-owned independent site.
La Tasca will close its existing site in Brighton this Sunday, and it will re-open under the name of Bellota Bar Y Tapas, with no obvious association to the La Tasca brand.
Bellota will serve high-quality tapas including ingredients like Jamon Iberico de Bellota from Guijuelo in Salamanca, famous for its black hoofed Iberico pigs, which gives the site its name. It will also incorporate a standalone Cava Bar, in partnership with Grupo Cordoniu.
Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of La Tasca, said: "We want the public to perceive that it is completely different and a one-off venture, which it is."
Should the format prove successful, up to eight other existing La Tasca sites could be converted. A new site may open under the format in Edinburgh, with the name Norte.
Wilkinson added: "Bellota will operate totally independently and will have no branded signals whatsoever. It will be a contemporary independent Spanish tapas bar serving high-quality food and drink products. We have identified a further eight sites that would potentially convert pending a successful trial in Brighton, with Norte in Edinburgh and a yet-to-be named London site being next in the pipeline.
"There are certain demographics that demand innovation and independence alongside quality and Bellota in Brighton will tick all those boxes."
"Strategically within our portfolio we want Spanish concepts positioned across every market segment except for fine dining for the time being that is]. We believe this will be achieved with Bar y Tapas, a rejuvenated and re-positioned La Tasca and our successful La Vina concept."
Meanwhile, La Tasca said it was "ahead" on sales and EBITDA for trading over the festive period. Wilkinson commented: "It is a great achievement by the team considering we have a largely un-invested estate and the kicking the high street is taking from on-line Christmas shopping. Particularly pleasing was the continuing double digit growth within our flagship Victoria La Tasca site for the second year running and the performance of our latest minor investments, namely La Tasca Covent Garden and La Vina in Hale both of which were in double digit growth.
"The best performing site in the country was La Vina in Manchester, which illustrates our resurgence within our North West heartland, which will be further strengthened by the refurbishment of the Trafford Centre site at the end of February, where stage two of new look La Tasca will be launched."
By Neil Gerrard
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