Richard and Nikki Cooper, who opened their first restaurant in a former stable block at their Bridport hotel The Bull in 2009, will add sites in Poole and Falmouth to their estate over the next year, joining existing restaurants in Weymouth, Bristol and Bath, while the search continues for suitable sites in areas outside the South West.
"We've got agents looking for us in London, but it took a year for us to get our sites in Bristol and Bath and we are so specific about what we want that we think we probably won't see any movement until the end of next year," Nikki told BigHospitality.
"We've also got agents looking at highly-populated areas where we think the brand will fit, such as Brighton and Winchester as well as more in the South West.
"We certainly want to continue to grow more within the South West where we've established ourselves. We are quite far down the line with another site in Cornwall, which could be our flagship if it goes ahead, but nothing is finalised yet."
Nikki said because the open-plan style pizza and cider concept favoured large sites (around 160-covers) in unusual buildings it made it tricky to find sites. However, she said the brand's authentic, local ethos and simple, pared-back approach with communal-style dining which served gourmet pizza alongside a choice of 55 different ciders was one that could work in many locations which was why she and Richard were keen to press forward with expansion.
She also said the company's passion for quality produce and celebration of the West Country's 'fantastic producers' would continue with new sites with produce sourced from suppliers close to each site.
"Whether in Bridport or Bristol, we source top quality fresh ingredients from suppliers local to each specific restaurant. At the original Bridport Stable, pizza toppings include bacon from Denhay farm, the famous Dorset Naga chilli from West Bexington and cheese from Ford Farm in the Bride Valley – all produced within six miles of the restaurant. Pizzas are named after local icons; the smoked mackerel-topped ‘Joe Gundry’ after a legendary local net-maker and the vegetarian ‘Bucky-Doo’ after the town square," she said.
While the couple, who moved from London to Dorset in 2006 to take over The Bull, received investment for the initial development of The Stable, subsequent openings have been made through organic growth, a strategy that is expected to continue as the estate grows, said Nikki.