As part of its refresh, the 65-strong chain will abolish discount vouchers, introduce breakfast menus and expand the capacity of its bar areas, allowing for more informal after-work dining.
The brand has changed its name to La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar & Kitchen to reflect a renewed focus on ‘being more passionate, contemporary and sincere to Spanish roots’, and has updated its logo accordingly in the style of Picasso’s famous signature.
La Tasca has so far tested the changes in its Leeds and Windsor restaurants, but intends to roll its new concept out to eight restaurants by Christmas (St. Martin’s Lane in London, Victoria, Canary Wharf, Glasgow, Portsmouth Gunwharf Quay and Bluewater), and the rest of the estate within the next two years.
In addition, the group intends to increase its presence both in the US, where it currently has five restaurants, and the UK, doubling its estate within three to five years.
The move comes following the separation of La Tasca from its previous holding company Bay Restaurants earlier this year. At the time Simon Wilkinson was appointed chief executive while David Myers, chairman at sister pub company Town and City became chairman also.
Natalie Martin, digital media manager for La Tasca Restaurants, told BigHospitality that a refreshment of the brand had been a long time coming.
“We’ve found that we’ve been quite a tired brand for the last few years and we want to be more competitive within the casual dining market.
“Our new personality has become passionate, contemporary and more sincere to our Spanish roots, so we’ve taken steps like halving our menu so it’s a lot fresher and introduced a 100 per cent Spanish wine list.
“As we’re a chain it’s very hard to be authentic but we’re looking at how we can be sincere as a brand and take it forward, as we’re the only Spanish chain. We’re going back to our roots at the beginning and bringing it to the forefront.”
New menus and design
The new restaurant design features less dark wood and more cast iron with contemporary lighting making the décor fresher and brighter.
The bar capacity in each restaurant will be extended to allow for more covers sitting directly at the bar – places will be set out as standard throughout the day. The bar menu will also feature Iberico hams, Manchego cheese and olive selections, mimicking the authentic tapas bars of Barcelona.
The new-look La Tascas will no longer accept the group’s popular vouchers, and will instead feature a more refined menu with consistent meal deals such as Tapas and Wine for £9.95 per head, and Family Spanish Feast for £9.95 per adult and £4.95 for children.
The general menu, devised by executive chef Antonio Bennetto, has been updated to feature different paellas, more wholefood salads and dishes ‘representing the higher end, finer aspect of tapas’.
La Tasca will also now be open for breakfast, with a morning menu serving cooked Spanish dishes, granola with yoghurt and fruit compote.
Wilkinson said: “We want to keep our current customer base but attract plenty of new ones too, it’s been a frantic but very exciting few months, and we can’t wait to roll out another six before Christmas for people to enjoy.”
The group has also today launched a new website showcasing the evolved brand with a more simplified booking system. It is also implementing a new training regime in its restaurants with a better focus on recognition and reward.
Bay Restaurants, which has now ceased trading, sold its Ha Ha brand last year to Mitchells & Butlers while management of the Slug & Lettuce chain was taken over by Town & City in February 2010.