Pesto, the Italian restaurant chain founded by La Tasca founder Neil Gatt, is to open three more sites under the Pesto in the Pub concept in the next six months after the first under the brand was successfully opened at a Punch Taverns site in Cheshire last year.
Pesto in the Pub at the Cabbage Hall in Tarporley, Cheshire, was opened in November 2011 and was the first pub site for the company which also operates four restaurants in the North West and Glasgow.
The concept claims to offer a 'fresh original piattini menu with a selection of real ales in a traditional pub environment'. Although the Cabbage Hall site had traded as a restaurant for a decade before Pesto in the Pub opened the company has overseen a rise in drink trade to 35 per cent of turnover, five per cent stronger than the average for a Pesto restaurant.
Neil Gatt, who founded Spanish tapas chain La Tasca and now runs Pesto with business partner Sara Edwards, said the brand had proved successful.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the Cabbage Hall. This was a bit of an experiment for us but the feedback is excellent – it’s been very well received. Customers at our restaurant in the Trafford Centre tend to want to be in and out quickly. The dwell time at the Cabbage Hall is longer which means spend per head is around £18 to £20 compared to £12 to £15 at our restaurants,” he said.
Pesto said working with Punch Taverns had been very positive and a second Punch venue is among the potential targets for Pesto. The company plans three new pub openings in the first half of 2012 but Gatt said this could just be the beginning for the brand.
“Pesto in the Pub is going through a proof of concept stage. We will target opening three more Pesto in the Pub sites in the next six months. If it progresses well we will go flat out on a big expansion,” he said.
The fourth Pesto restaurant was opened in Glasgow in August 2011.