Metrodiner Limited

Telephone:

0117 970 6664

Activities:

Metrodiner is the privately-owned operator of the Las Iguanas line of Latin American-themed restaurants. Some of the earlier, smaller venues were originally called Café Iguanas.

The group is majority-owned by its co-founders, Sri Lankan Ajith Jaya-Wickrema and Turkish-Cypriot Eren Ali. Private equity firm Piper Private Equity also holds a stake in the firm.

The restaurants serve up authentic Latin American food against a backdrop of Latin design and music. The cuisine is a fusion of Latin American Indian, Spanish, Portuguese and African influences and the signature dish is Ximxim Brasilian lime chicken.
 
The restaurant bars (or Cachaçaria) serve Cachaça, a spirit distilled from sugar cane that is the national drink of Brazil. Metrodiner produces its own brand of the spirit (Las Iguanas Magnifica) from its own sugar field and production plant just outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Key People:

Managing director and co-founder: Eren Ali
Commercial director and co-founder: Ajith Jaya-Wickrema
Executive chef-director: Alan Craine
Mos Shamel: operations director

Commentary:

Now it has established an infrastructure for expansion, Las Iguanas is ready to step up its opening programme to around three of four restaurants a year.

It has drawn up a wish list of 63 sites in city centres and suburbs (including 33 in and around London) and, in 2005, hired Insight Retail Consulting to spearhead its search for suitable venues.

It is looking for city centre and suburban sites that can offer good daytime and night time trade that range from 2,800-4,500 sq ft in size.

It has three new openings planned for 2006, including its London debut at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

This prestigious venue, which attracted bids from 19 other operators, will open in May along with a new restaurant in Bristol’s Harbourside. Metrodiner will make its first move into Scotland at the end of the year in Glasgow.

The group is also planning restaurants for Milton Keynes, Oxford and Manchester.

Strategy:

The group plans to open around three to four new restaurants a year. Long-term, it sees scope for more than 100 Las Iguanas in the UK, including up to 25 within the M25.

Source: Commercial director Ajith Jaya-Wickrema, January 2006

Operating Data:

Like-for-like sales for the four weeks over Christmas 2005 increased by 18.3%

Number of restaurants: 9

Locations: Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol (Clifton), Cardiff, Leeds, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield

Total number of employees: more than 250

Average size of restaurants: 120-140 seats with another 20 to 40 seats in the bar

The largest Las Iguanas (in London’s Royal Festival Hall) covers 4,000 sq ft and has 225 seats inside and another 100 seats outside. The smallest branch (in Clifton, Bristol) has 70 seats.

Address:

113 Whiteladies Road

Bristol,

UK