The four-strong group led by Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake plans to secure an additional eight sites in London before looking to grow the modern British canteen concept elsewhere.
All these will be A3 sites, suitable for a full-service restaurant operation. However Clayton-Malone told BigHospitality the group would be looking to acquire an indefinite number of A1 sites for a fast-service, hot and cold food offer.
The smaller concept, he said, would allow Canteen to grow faster in a market where competition for quality A3 sites was strong.
“We have been approached by a lot of landlords to see whether we have an A1 offer because there’s a lot of A1 sites available,” he said. “We can quite easily tailor our offer to an A1 and it’s something we’ve discussed with landlords over the last five years, but until now haven’t been ready to exploit or look at.”
Operating from an A1 site would restrict Canteen to serving hot and cold food to be eaten off the premises.
He added: “To the outside world there's not necessarily much of a change to the offer, apart from there would be less on the menu. We wouldn’t be frying chips or cooking items but we’d be able to serve hot food. Some of these offers may go into smaller A3 units but it gives us the flexibility to go into heat and serve licenses.”
The group also intends to introduce an outside bar offer at its existing London restaurants, starting with Canary Wharf.
“We’re looking at ways we can speed up service at some of our sites,” added Clayton-Malone.
The group also recently announced the appointment of Richard Edney, formerly of the Swan Collection, as executive head chef following the departure of co-founder and executive chef Cass Titcombe last month. Former Claridges chef Mark Sargeant has also joined the company as a consultant chef, and completes Canteen’s “food development team”.
Clayton-Malone added that the evolution of both the team and the group’s offer was born from a business decision to remain ahead of the market.
“We don’t feel like we’re reinventing ourselves – we’ve been at the front of the fast casual market since we launched and that’s always been our positioning. Any business like ours has to remain current.
“We’re keen to remind people that we’re constantly updating and progressing what we do. We’ve been spending a lot of time building our teams to ensure that through this expansion we maintain high quality and quick service.”
Canteen have so far been looking at sites of 1,000-2,000sqft within shopping centres and high streets for the new fast-service concepts.
For its regular restaurant format the group will continue to look at central London locations such as Covent Garden, Kensington, Soho and the City for sites of between 2,500-3000sqft, and is currently engaged with a couple of landlords.
Canteen also operates restaurants in Spitalfields, Royal Festival Hall and Baker Street.