K10 Appold Street will be the first new site to open under the K10 name in 12 years and signifies the start of moderate expansion plans for the contemporary Japanese restaurant brand after it received funding from Chrysalis VCT and former Wagamama chief executive and chairman Ian Neill last year.
Restaurant consultant Maurice Abboudi, who joined founder Christopher Kemper at the company in 2010, told BigHospitality he was already looking for more sites with the aim to grow to a 'very comfortable' five sites over the next two and a half years.
"We are aiming for a third site towards the tail end of this year," he said. "We won't just go after the first site that becomes available, though, it has to be right. The funding is in place for this one and another and we would be very comfortable with four to five restaurants in the next two to two and a half years.
"We are not looking at some mass roll-out or becoming a high street brand. We will make sure that sites are profitable and trading well and then look at opportunities in the City, Canary Wharf and the West End."
Mid to upper
K10, which started life as a 'City canteen' for workers with the opening of its 70-cover Copthall Avenue restaurant in 2000, has positioned itself in the mid-to-upper tier with regards to pricing, Abboudi said, with average spend per head of £18.95 for diners eating in and £7.60 for take away.
While the first restaurant has only opened during the day to serve sushi, sashimi and selected hot dishes to hungry city workers, its second site, a former Ping Pong restaurant, will open during the evenings.
Abboudi said: "The new site has got the opportunity to trade in the evenings Monday to Friday so we'll be opening for customers to come in for a quick meal or linger for an hour over some food and a bottle of wine. It's a flexible concept and very much built as a canteen for the City, so it could be attractive to the personal assistant coming in with her friends or the managing director who wants a quick business meeting over lunch.
"Chris (Kemper) really knows the food inside out and has focused on serving high quality Japanese food and providing great service, so now we have the funding we are looking at ways to really make the most of what we have and providing what the customers want every day."
While K10 has so far been a small operation it has not found it difficult to find staff specialising in Japanese cuisine. However with expansion plans afoot just as the Government is looking at tightening immigration laws further, Abboudi said finding staff for the future was a concern.
"We haven't suffered yet, but we most definitely will start seeing a squeeze with the law changes," he said. "You can teach people how to make ethnic food, but you can't teach them a culture which is engrained in them.
"As other restaurant groups feel, we think the Government is being very short-sighted over this issue. People come to London because of the variety of restaurants it has. If we don't allow that to flourish it will make London and other parts of the UK less attractive to visitors."