Big Table Group plans 50 new restaurants & 70 revamps

The Big Table Group, operator of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, has announced its intention to open 50 new restaurants and refurbish 70 sites over the next three years, investing in excess of £50m and creating 1,250 new jobs in the process.

The group’s ambition is to invest £35m in new openings, which would take the estate to 200 restaurants across the UK, while the company intends to invest a further £19m to refurbish its restaurants, with 70 major renovations in the pipeline.

The Big Table hopes to almost double the current number of Las Iguanas restaurants in the next three years, opening 35 locations in major towns and city centres. The group recently appointed Paul Stokes – former Head of Franchise Development at KFC UKI – as Head of Acquisitions, and further expanded its acquisitions team, to deliver the growth programme.

Having traded well pre-COVID, Las Iguanas has exceeded all expectations on reopening, with its fun and relaxed Latin American vibes, cocktails, and authentic street-food menu hitting the right notes with consumers coming out of lockdown.

With 2for1 cocktails all day, every day, and a hugely popular Bottomless Brunch offering, the brand has consistently outperformed its competitors since reopening, and as a result, The Big Table is looking to accelerate its openings plan. The company opened a site in Plymouth’s Barcode last week, and is set to open its first restaurant in Southampton later this year.

Alan Morgan, Chief Executive, The Big Table Group, said: “Las Iguanas has consistently proven to be an extremely popular choice with consumers, and now is the perfect time to grow the brand across the country, targeting high footfall locations in major towns and city centres.”

The Big Table Group is owned by Epiris, which acquired the business with the aim of supporting and accelerating new site growth opportunities, and is probably the best capitalised restaurant group in the UK. With no external debt, the expected strong recovery in the sector, and the funding support of Epiris, the group is ready and able to proceed with its growth plan.

Epiris’ expertise as an investor includes far-reaching experience and knowledge of the leisure and hospitality sector, and its senior team has a proven track record of creating value in consumer-facing businesses by supporting management to invest in long-term strategic opportunities, helping create businesses which are simpler, larger, higher quality, and high-growth.

Alex Fortescue, Managing Partner, Epiris, added, “We are excited about the growth prospects of The Big Table. With strong recovery in the sector, we are ready to fund additional pipeline opportunities and look forward to expanding our brands. Given that we are probably the best capitalised restaurant group in the UK, we represent a compelling partner for landlords.”

While the company’s main priority is the rapid expansion of Las Iguanas, The Big Table is also looking to open new Bella Italia sites, targeting leisure parks as well as town and city centres. Every single existing Bella Italia site will be refurbished in the next three years, with renovations also planned for several Café Rouge sites.

The Big Table has recently extended its successful partnership with Center Parcs, and will add two more Las Iguanas sites to take its total number of restaurants at Center Parcs’ five holiday villages in the UK to fourteen.

The group is also trialling new brands, including premium Italian restaurant brand, Amalfi – a casual dining concept serving a menu of Italian food and drink inspired by the Amalfi Coast. After the success of the first outlet, which opened at Center Parcs, Woburn, there are further locations in the pipeline, including London’s Argyll Street, as well as other locations outside the capital.

In addition, The Big Table opened its first ever dark kitchen in Battersea this month, with a second site opening in Birmingham in the new year. The new delivery-only sites will sell menu items from Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas.