Mission Mars sees potential for 50-60 sites in the UK under its Albert’s Schenke concept, CEO Roy Ellis tells MCA.

The Bavarian-style tavern concept has a single site in Liverpool. At under 5,000 sq ft, it has different requirements from Albert’s Schloss in terms of scale, making it easier to expand.

“The only reason we haven’t expanded it is because we’ve focused on Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s,” Ellis says. “But the Liverpool site does great and has a strong USP around its Bavarian and local beer range.

“Is there more room for Schenke? I think there is.”

‘Schenke’ means tavern – as opposed to ‘Schloss’, meaning palace or castle – but has a similar look and feel to its bigger sister concept despite its smaller scale.

Schloss, on the other hand, works best with sites of around 20,000 sq ft, meaning the operator sees potentially for another half dozen across the country.

Ellis was speaking to MCA following Albert’s Schloss’ win for Best Concept at the MCA Hospitality Awards - it’s second win in a row.

“It’s fantastic for our team who work hard to keep Schloss fresh and exciting,” he continues. “I was surprised because I’d never heard of anyone winning twice in a row, and even more so as we were going up against some great competition.”

As Schloss prepares to make its London debut in July, Mission Mars has already identified potential locations across the capital as well as internationally to expand the concept.

Areas such as Shoreditch, the City, and Canary Wharf would work well, according to Ellis.

“I can only see two or maybe three other large sites in London. We wouldn’t want to oversaturate.

“What makes Schloss special is the scale of it. You need to have a trading footprint of 8,000 sq ft, with a large island bar, stage, and restaurant area.

“You need to be able to feel, touch, and experience those things. We’ve got to spend lots of money and therefore be able to generate the turnover. It takes footfall, location, and scale.”

The objective for now is to make the London debut – a £7m investment – as successful as those in Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham.

Mission Mars has also had an initial look at international locations.

“There are possibly three or four other cities we’d like to be in in the UK,” Ellis adds. “We’re looking at Dublin before we go elsewhere, and we’ve also had a look in Vegas, New York, and Miami.

“We haven’t found anything ideal for us yet, but we’re just familiarising ourselves with the US.”

A successful London launch will “transform” the operator’s ability to get the right locations and be attractive to landlords overseas.

“Getting London right could open a lot of doors.”

Tighter space in the capital means the London venue will have a more modest ground level space – about 2,500 sq ft as opposed to 9,000 in other venues.

However, the venue will have a grand staircase leading to its 10,000 sq ft space downstairs and “making a connection between floors.”

“We’ve had to adapt as our planning permission also requires us to have a small retail aspect,” Ellis explains. “We’ve created an exciting retail offer focusing on what we’re known for, like Schnapps and our Munich beer range.”

While Schloss has a strong late night entertainment offer, the concept does a lot more and is keen to raise awareness about its quality food offer.

“Schloss is not just late night and we don’t want it to be…it’s as much a restaurant as a bar.

“Our food is all freshly made on premises, including the in-house bakery. It’s also a decent price point for the quality, which is more representative of the premium casual dining market.

“We go to surprising lengths to make sure our food is surprisingly good at a surprising price point.”

One-third of the space is devoted to diners, creating a “friendly, convivial” atmosphere that goes on into the night and providing differentiation from other late night concepts, according to Ellis.

While he’s considering another Schenke opening in the near term, Mission Mars has more than enough on its plate for this year, Ellis adds.

“We don’t want or need another concept at this point…we’ve got our hands full.”