S&M Café, the sausage and mash casual dining operator, is to spend £5m on expanding its portfolio to 20 sites within the next three years, M&C Report has learned. The four-strong company was set up in 2002 by Kevin Finch, the former founder of the Ofex-listed Montana Group that included the Dakota restaurant, which in 2000 he sold to the Hartford Group, currently known as the Food & Drink Group. The company has just completed on two new sites in the City of London, including the former Hamiltons Restaurant in Leadenhall, which it plans to open as a 206-cover restaurant in June. It has also acquired the site of the former The Barley Mow pub in Smithfield, which will be converted into a 112-cover eaterie scheduled to open in September. Finch said that while the company had embarked on a new growth spurt, with up to three new sites set to open this year, it was holding back slightly to see the impact of the economic slowdown on the sector. Finch said: I don’t expect S&M Café to suffer that much, but the depth and breadth of the consumer slowdown needs to be looked at. “We are still, however, actively looking to acquire new sites, all located within the London area.” The investment capital for the expansion will be provided by private equity firm Court Cavendish, which acquired a 50% stake in Smash Foods, the restaurant operator’s parent company, in July 2007. At the beginning of this year, the group also entered into an agreement with Thames Clipper to launch S&M Ahoy, which has seen it open branded units on 10 commuter boats. Davis Coffer Lyons brokered the Leadenhall deal.