After investing £1m in its first venue, Tops has revealed it is already eyeing up further sites with Liverpool and Leeds slated for new openings in the next year.
The business, owned by Chinese restaurateur Kevin Liu, opened in the 14,000sq.ft former Jumping Jacks site on Portland Street in Manchester city centre last month. It is the latest world buffet concept to enter a crowded marketplace with a number of operators, including Red Hot World Buffet, enjoying continued success in Northern cities.
"We’re extremely excited to be opening our first restaurant in Manchester, as our research tells us that the people in and around the city are keen foodies who thoroughly enjoy eating out," business manager Robin Wang said.
Cater for everyone
The 335-cover restaurant features 10 live cooking stations focusing on Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Indian meals alongside other Asian and European cuisines and a number of dessert options.
Featuring a marble lobby, the restaurant has a high-end finish and is positioned as a luxury incarnation of the popular buffet concept with prices varying from £7.99 on weekday daytimes to £14.99 on Friday and Saturday evenings.
"Tops’ range of over 300 dishes will cater for everyone’s tastes, to create the perfect setting for families, friends and couples, as well as businesses looking for a venue for corporate functions," Wang added.
As previously reported by BigHospitality, multi-cuisine buffet concept restaurants are quickly expanding across the UK and are increasingly succeeding outside of their traditional strength areas of Northern cities and the Midlands.
- Red Hot World Buffet, which launched its first restaurant in Nottingham in 2004, recently told BigHospitality that, as well as opening a second floor in its Manchester site in Deansgate, it would relocate its Nottingham restaurant. The company is aiming to have a portfolio of 25 sites by 2015 with Glasgow and Sheffield on the target list.
- Za Za Bazaar opened a 1,000-cover restaurant it described as the largest in the UK in Bristol last year. Earlier this year the company revealed to BigHospitality it was targeting a new opening in Norwich. A spokesperson for the business today confirmed it was still on the hunt for sites with a minimum of 25,000sq.ft of space in towns around the UK.
- The previous holder of the title of the UK's largest restaurant, Cosmo, has recently expanded into Scotland and Northern Ireland and is expected to open in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Derby over the next three years.
- Jimmy Spices now operates eight restaurants focused in the Midlands but including a site in Bath.
- Flaming Dragon has expanded to nine sites.
- Several operators with single sites have also recently entered the market including Fiesta World Buffet in Walsall.
Despite the recent boom in world buffet restaurants Varun Singh, general manager of Za Za Bazaar in Bristol, told BigHospitality last week he did not believe the popularity of the concept was revolutionary or marked a trend.
"It is not about being cheap; it is more to do with taking the waiting service time out of the equation. The concept is not new - it has been there since food has been there. Kings would have had banquets that were pretty much the same."
"We are trying to reengineer the process by having the self-service element but with the food quality of a fine-dining restaurant because everything is cooked here. The concept is here to stay," he added.