Yorkshire Meatball Company sets out city expansion plans

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

The owners of Harrogate restaurant - Yorkshire Meatball Company - see their 'balls, beds and blankets' concept as one that could work well in cities
The owners of Harrogate restaurant - Yorkshire Meatball Company - see their 'balls, beds and blankets' concept as one that could work well in cities

Related tags: Yorkshire meatball company, Restaurant

Harrogate's meatball-based restaurant Yorkshire Meatball Company is looking to expand into other cities following a successful first year of trade. 

The business, which currently comprises a 50-cover restaurant, founded by father and son David and Gareth Atkinson last year, is looking for investors to help it expand into cities Leeds and York and is exploring options to launch a franchise model for pubs. 

"It's always been our intention to grow it into a group of restaurants," said co-founder and brand and marketing director Gareth. "Our initial goal was five restaurants in five years and I think that's quite a conservative goal, but one we think is a good starting platform."

Atkinson, who had not worked in the industry before, said the launch in Harrogate last year had been done on a limited budget and in a cheaper area to allow the company a chance to 'proof the concept' and refine the model. 

Based on a 'simple concept' of 'balls, beds and blankets' - meatballs, paired with a 'bed' of mashed potato or wilted greens and a 'blanket', or sauce - diners are given a choice of six of each type, leading to 279 different options. The menu also includes starters and a selection of ball-shaped desserts, from chocolate fudge brownie ice-cream balls to profiterole balls. 

"It's so simple, but there's also loads of choice, which I think is the beauty of it," said Atkinson. 

City concept

Atkinson said although the Harrogate restaurant, which employs 10 full-time staff members, was 'healthy', turning over £330,000 in its first year, it needed external funds to help it grow rapidly. 

"Although there has been organic growth it is not quick enough to as we are looking to get investors on board. We have had a level of interest from investors already looking to help us find sites in Yorkshire and Leeds, but we're looking to secure a high level of investment to secure a quicker roll-out."

Atkinson said he saw cities as its key focus for the brand and larger sites were preferable. 

"I think it is a city concept. It works in Harrogate, because it's a foodie town where people eat out a lot, but we've got to a stage where we've got healthy margins on the food and we need to give it bigger exposure," he said. 

Yorkshire Meatball Company is also looking at running pop-ups in pubs and pursuing the opportunity to run a franchise concept within wet-led city-centre pubs. 

Atkinson said: "The pub franchise is an idea we've had from the beginning. We can put our main concept into the upstairs of city-centre pubs and I think it will work as the simplicity and speed is something drinkers are looking for.

"We are having talks with a local venue about a kitchen takeover and testing the concept like that. We'll be looking for pubs that offer something a bit different and see how that goes." 

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