The 2000 sq.ft Bromley site opened on 27 February and is the company’s biggest to date, seating 84 covers and featuring the new addition of a children’s menu.
Ben Fordham, managing director of Benito’s Hat told BigHospitality: “We felt that the restaurant was a good fit for Bromley. It’s a very family friendly environment at the weekend, something in central London we don’t see as much of. As our food is made to order it works well for parents, you can leave out the spicy stuff, and we can work around any allergy issues.”
The Bromley site the seventh Benito's Hat restaurant, and there are plans for further expansion later this year.
From 9 March the restaurant will run a two month pop-up site at Selfridges’ food hall as part of the stores ‘Year of Mexico’ season, in collaboration with Mexico tourist board.
There are also plans to open a kiosk in Liverpool Street, as well as a larger restaurant than the Bromley site in London Bridge this summer.
Though Fordham admits there is still ‘a lot to do in London’, the positive response received in Bromley has put nationwide expansion in the group's sights for 2016 and beyond.
He said: “We are super excited about stepping outside central London but are conscious of the fact that lots of businesses trip over themselves when they grow too fast too quickly. We’ve taken seven years to get to seven restaurants and want to make sure we have everything in place to maintain the high standards of food and service to make that slightly bigger step.”
Mexican boom in the UK
A former lawyer, Fordham founded Benito’s Hat alongside chef Felipe Fuentes Cruz when he returned to the UK after a year living in America.
He said: “When I first started planning Benito’s Hat nearly ten years ago the Mexican food in the UK was awful. I lived in Texas for a year and there you see all manner of Mexican food, from the street corner café to high end fine dining restaurants. That passion for simple, fresh, food was so underrepresented here, I came back to England and couldn’t believe how different it was.”
The demand for Mexican food has boomed in the UK in the last few years, and Fordham predicts that the growing public appetite will lead to a greater depth and variety of available dishes.
He said: “Good quality Mexican food is still very new even in London. The Selfridges pop up wouldn’t have happened even five years ago, there is lots more interest in Mexican food and room for the market to grow.”