Co-founder Faraz Ahmad said the group, which is set to open in Ealing and Watford this summer, made the change from its existing Tooting unit after hiring chef and self-styled “bacon wizard” Jasper Aykroyd as its new executive chef.
He said that the group were looking at opportunities in the UK and the Middle East, with a site lined up to open in Q1 2016 in Manchester’s Corn Exchange development.
M&C Report understands that the concept is backed by Sheikh Holdings Group, which is also behind the launch of PotBelly, the US sandwich concept, in the UK.
Ahmad described the competition for new sites as fierce, which has led the concept to look outside central London for expansion opportunities.
He said: “We have three lined up for the next 12 months, after that we will evaluate the new model and where the business is at and where it needs to be next. We obviously have ambitions to be a national player but we will be very steady in our approach.”
He said that the change in direction was down to wanting to differentiate itself in what was becoming a saturated burger market.
Both upcoming restaurants are undergoing extensive building works, with Meat & Shake in Ealing, a former Cafe Rouge outlet, due to open first, in July.
The site will cover 2,300sq ft and will cater for 100 covers. The refit, worth over £500,000 will create more than 20 full-time jobs.
Meat & Shake Watford, in the Harlequin shopping centre, will be the larger of the two new locations, with 140 covers over 3,200sq ft. The restaurant will open in August, with a fit -out cost of around £850,000.
Aykroyd will take the role of executive chef, in charge of food development.
Ahmad said: “This is a particularly exciting and busy time for us. After the success of our first restaurant in Tooting, we’ve had lots of opportunities to open more, but have been careful in making sure we’ve picked the right site for us. Operationally, opening two sites in close proximity will be a challenge, but one we’re geared up for.”