The San Carlo restaurant group will focus its expansion in London with its Cicchetti brand, its founder and managing director have revealed.
The move comes despite San Carlo's roots outside London. The company opened its first restaurant in 1992 in Birmingham, and has prominent sites in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol and Leicester.
Cicchetti started as an offshoot of San Carlo's Manchester site, offering small plates of Italian food in a relaxed, all-day format.
A Cicchetti has since opened up in London's Piccadilly and the brand has benefited from a tie-up with renowned Italian chef Aldo Zilli.
Marcello Distefano said: "Cicchetti is where we are going to see our biggest growth over the next few years. It is going to be the focus of a lot of new openings and we are looking to do that mainly in London and them come out to the provinces."
The advantage of Cicchetti, whose sites rely on a smaller footprint than the San Carlo format, is that more available sites should make expansion easier.
Marcello added: "The reason why Cicchetti works well for us because it gives us a better opportunity to get sites. It doesn't require as much square footage as a San Carlo does. And also this style of food, the whole small dishes concept, is working very well at the moment in London with all kinds of cuisine. People are enjoying it and I see this as the way forward."
The Distefanos do not currently have plans to bring outside investors on board to help grow the Cicchetti brand, although Carlo said it was a possibility for the future.
For a full interview with the Distefanos, watch out for next week's Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, available from newsagents on 22 February 2013.