Benito's Hat King's Cross site a 'statement of intent'

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: High street, Restaurant

Benito's Hat Mexican Kitchen at the new King's Cross concourse will be the fourth site for the company and is described as a 'statement of intent' for the business
Benito's Hat Mexican Kitchen at the new King's Cross concourse will be the fourth site for the company and is described as a 'statement of intent' for the business
Benito's Hat Mexican Kitchen founder and director, Ben Fordham, has declared the forthcoming opening of a King's Cross site a 'statement of intent' for the restaurant chain with plans for two more sites this year and a move outside London in 2013.

The 1,300sq.ft restaurant at the new King's Cross concourse will be the first site in an internal development for the business and is slightly smaller than the three other current high street restaurants in the chain.

Speaking to BigHospitality, Fordham said alongside other operators such as Giraffe, Prezzo and Wasabi, Benito's Hat was one of the smaller names. He said being asked to be part of the project was recognition of the current success and future ambitions of the company.

"It is obviously quite a big step for us. It is super exciting for us, it is a real statement of intent I think in terms of its visibility. A real big mainline station with all the people going through it and particularly with the names that we're sitting alongside," he said.

More dwell time

Although King's Cross will be the first site in a transport hub, Fordham said the core offer would remain the same.

"The way that King's Cross is set up with this little group of restaurants that we are part of there is a fair amount of seating, it's designed to cater for the customers with a bit more dwell time. We want to give them the full experience," he said. Some of the minor tweaks for the new site include the addition of breakfast, an express queue and a shortened cocktail menu.

The difficulties, Fordham admitted, had come with a relatively expensive fitting out process, which would top £300k, and the differences in logistics of working in an internal development as opposed to a high street.

Mexican growth

Fordham was approached by Network Rail to make a bid for a site at the new concourse a year ago when Benito's Hat was in the process of opening a third restaurant at Oxford Circus. After the third site opened and with King's Cross on the horizon, the company chose to take stock and draw up expansion plans.

"We certainly plan more sites. We can really push forward and so our goal is to take on two more sites before the end of this year. In 2013 we would start to look outside London," Fordham said.

Expansion of the company and Mexican restaurants in general was still possible despite recent popularity of similar style of concepts, Fordham said.

"Take away the buzz and look at how many there are and there really aren't that many relative to the amount of people there are in London so I think there is still a lot of room for expansion and there will be some people who are maybe not as good who will fall away," he said.

Good Mexican food, Fordham claimed, had taken a long time to arrive in London and was now very popular with some companies pursuing aggressive expansion strategies but the competition was welcome and the belief in the concept would help Benito's Hat survive and grow.

Related topics: Business, Restaurants, Venues

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