The Casa Maroc restaurant concept was launched by Unique Hospitality Brands (UHB) for the Lifestyle Hospitality Group in 2013 and was soft-launched in Exeter before Christmas, before successfully opening as an AIS franchise last week.
AIS is running Casa Maroc on Bartholomew Street site in Exeter. The restaurant offers menus that combine North African and Mediterranean dishes, including a range of tapas choices, Moroccan tagines, grill offerings like steaks and Italian food such as pizzas, pastas and paella.
The restaurant has a distinctive design with ceilings and walls swathed in fabric. It also features soft seating, super-sized cushions and hidden alcoves that each seat up to 16 people. Dishes start at £7.95 for a pizza.
The downstairs Casablanca Lounge can accommodate up to 120 people for events from wedding receptions to larger corporate functions.
On taking the franchise from UHB, AIS said: “There are many reasons why we decided to invest in Casa Maroc. Not only do we love the brand and enjoy eating there ourselves, but we loved the package that UHB offered us, which includes competitive marketing, state of the art equipment and systems and access to excellent and highly competitive food and drink supply chains. We have bought into a proven system.”
The Lifestyle Hospitality Group, which also launched the Tiger Bills restaurant brand, is hoping to reach a further five or six franchises of Casa Maroc by the end of the calendar year.
Chief executive of the Lifestyle Hospitality Group James Eyre said: “We are delighted that AIS have taken the first Casa Maroc franchise and know that it is going to go from strength to strength as a brand and as it rolls out nationally. We are looking forward to the announcement of further sites in the next six months.”
They are looking at various locations across the country with no sites confirmed as of yet. However there are talks of a franchise in the North East as well as particular interest from a group in London who would like to set up in the capital, which will possibly be the next site of Casa Maroc.
Eyre said: “Whether you are keen to start out in the hospitality industry and want to get stuck in with a hands-on role, or you’re an experienced restaurateur looking for an exciting new challenge, Casa Maroc presents a unique opportunity.”
The franchise fee is £37k, which includes a full franchise license, help with site selection and a design pack which suits the franchise guidelines. Restaurateurs will also receive training and support as well as a dedicated business development manager to aid in ensuring the restaurant is operating in the best possible way.
The menus will be very similar but there will be slight differences depending on location. The standardized menu can be regionalised.
UHB partner Craig Brittain said: “The restaurant concept is that it is for the neighbourhood dining market. Personalisation is important, but brand protection is equally so. We don’t want every restaurant to look exactly the same, but we’ve got a particular way, a formula that we know works.”