Neil Gatt, founder of Spanish restaurant chain La Tasca, plans to open three more pubs over the next six months under the Pesto in the Pub concept. It follows strong trading at the first Pest in the Pub site at the Cabbage Hall in Tarporley, Cheshire, a Punch Taverns leasehold. Gatt runs four Pesto restaurants with business partner Sara Edwards, and their first pub opened in November. The Cabbage Hall offers an Italian piattini menu, while the bar serves a selection of real ales. Gatt said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the Cabbage Hall. This was a bit of an experiment for us but the feedback is excellent – it’s been very well received. “Customers at our restaurant in the Trafford Centre tend to want to be in and out quickly. The dwell time at the Cabbage Hall is longer which means spend per head is around £18 to £20 compared to £12 to £15 at our restaurants.” Gatt and Edwards are lining up several more pubs, including a second with Punch. Gatt said: “Pesto in the Pub is going through a proof-of-concept stage. We will target opening three more Pesto in the Pub sites in the next six months. If it progresses well we will go flat out on a big expansion.” Gatt sold the La Tasca business to Penta Capital and a management team led by James Horler for £28.2m in 2001.

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