International pizza and pasta restaurant chain Vapiano is looking to branch out beyond London into Yorkshire and has set its sights on Leeds and Sheffield as key cities for the new concept chain.
Vapiano has swiftly built up a loyal following among younger diners who want very fresh food cooked in front of them at competitive prices.
They have also welcomed the chain’s card concept, whereby diners are given a card on entering the restaurant and they swipe it on a reader when they queue up to buy fresh pasta, pizza, salads or desserts.
They settle up individually on the way out, avoiding the hassle of splitting the bill at the end of the meal. The concept cuts costs and avoids a service charge, which means the chain can focus on generous portions which can be tailor-made to customers’ needs.
Main course prices range from £7 to £10.
The chain is aimed at twenty and thirtysomethings who don’t mind queuing for a few minutes in order to get their personalised order and who dislike the concept of having to book to go to a restaurant.
Vapiano operates over 140 restaurants worldwide in 29 countries and has two restaurants in London with a third opening in Soho in June.
Its UK managing director Phil Sermon said the group now wants to branch out to the rest of the UK and is looking at Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle as its key target areas.
“We think we could have 20 restaurants in London and Leeds is of such a scale it could support two or three Vapianos,” he said.
The plan is to get to 50 Vapianos around the UK.
The restaurant works on a franchise basis. “There is an opportunity for a regional investor to get involved.
“We want their knowledge and passion for the city,” said Mr Sermon.
“We’d like to open in Yorkshire when we are confident we have the right franchise partner. The restaurant would open within a year of signing the franchise agreement.
“The most important thing is to get the right person.”
Mr Sermon said the group has a wide variety of franchisees.
“Some have come from other franchise businesses such as McDonalds. Others have experience of international business,” he said.
“They are making excellent returns.
“There is good demand for our franchises.”
Vapiano says it doesn’t necessarily target people in their 20s and 30s and it is open to all age groups, although visitors are noticeably younger than in rivals such as Pizza Express and Prezzo.