Benito's Hat secures £1.4m private investment deal for accelerated roll-out

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Investment

(L-R): Graham Ford (chief executive), Ben Fordham (co-founder) and Rick Jones (Calculus Capital)
(L-R): Graham Ford (chief executive), Ben Fordham (co-founder) and Rick Jones (Calculus Capital)
Private equity investor Calculus Capital has invested the majority share of £1.4m into Benito’s Hat, with the fast-casual Mexican chain planning to grow from four to 10 sites by the end of next year.

To facilitate Benito’s Hat’s expansion plans, former Wagamama operations director Jay Travis has been brought in as chairman while Graham Ford – previously at Strada -  comes in as the new chief executive.

The original Benito’s Hat founders remain in place and the group’s founder and director Ben Fordham will now be able to focus on site acquisition and growth. Meanwhile executive chef Felipe Fuentes Cruz will be concentrating on menu development.

“We are very excited to announce our investment from Calculus Capital, which allows us to accelerate the roll-out of Benito’s Hat,” said Fordham. “It is a testament to the team’s commitment to deliver exciting, fresh food and drink with passion and character, that has enabled us to step up our growth.”

Benito’s Hat launched in the UK with its first site in Goodge Street in 2008. This was followed by a site in Covent Garden in 2010, and Oxford Circus in 2011. Their first foray into railway dining then came last year with a restaurant at the newly developed King’s Cross station concourse.

The Mexican wave

The deal represents the first investment in a restaurant group for Calculus Capital, with the group’s investment director Rick Jones adding: ““We are delighted to be backing this fantastic business whose founders have created a restaurant brand centred on high-quality and authenticity, at an affordable price point.

“We are confident that demand will continue to increase in this sector and with the strengthened team and our investment, Benito’s Hat will be able reach out to new customers through new openings across London and the UK.“

Upon the opening of the Benito’s Hat restaurant at King’s Cross, Fordham told BigHospitality that the  expansion of the company and of Mexican restaurants in general was still possible - despite recent popularity of similar style of concepts.

"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.

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