Joel Falconer, who joined the seven-strong Iberica estate as managing director last year, says that the group shelved a Bristol opening to due concerns about expanding too rapidly.
Falconer, who spent 12 years overseeing operations at Busaba before taking the role at Iberica, says his strategy is informed by having seen the impact “going too far too fast” has had on the casual dining market.
A second scheduled opening in Covent Garden was dropped as the group was unable to secure planning permission for a change of use.
“Expanding from London was challenging, and we made mistakes along the way. We have Manchester and Leeds, Glasgow is making progress, but we didn’t feel we wanted to add another one in Bristol. It didn’t feel like the right time,” he says
According to Falconer, the group will focus on simplifying and refining the aspects of the restaurants that originally made the brand famous, including the sourcing of exclusive and seasonal produce.
“Spanish cuisine is constantly evolving. Whatever level you operate at, you should be constantly finding a way to do better. Growth is not the be all and end all – getting better is.”
The group, now in its tenth year, will aim to keep London as its centre for growth, valuing longevity and long-lasting credibility over short-term growth.
“It’s not about rolling out, and opening in suburban and commuter towns,” he says.
“That’s not where we want to be. We have seven brilliant restaurants in big cities, and it’s about doing more with what we’ve got, and having clarity of vision and clarity of purpose.”