Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is to launch a fast-casual concept based around burgers and steaks called Son of Steak later this spring, MCA has learnt.

The first site under the new concepts, which will feature counter service, will open in mid-March on the site of the Harvester in Trinity Square, Nottingham.

The new concept is being overseen by M&B divisional director Dennis Deare, who currently oversees the group’s premium estate, including Miller & Carter and Premium Country Inns.

Deare told MCA that the group’s thinking behind Son of Steak started by analysing what was going on in Miller & Carter and the success of that format.

The group currently operates 57 sites under its steak-led Miller & Carter format, with a target of having 100 sites operating under the brand by the end of 2018.

Deare said: “We then did some market mapping etc and worked out that the fast casual segment hadn’t got to steak, which is kind of understandable because the entry point for steak prices is a bit north than the usual fast-casual model. However, when you start to look at what Nando’s has done with its menu and how they have extended price you realise that the occasion isn’t limited by price and is broader than you think. We realised there could be a counter service offer that would sell high-quality serve steak.

“We have gone gourmet on everything, the burgers are from aged steak, the chips will be made on site and the steak will be both wet and dry aged. We are using the same sorting policy that we use with Miller & Carter, but we are cooking them in a Josper oven and using a different slow cook process for the feather blade and flat iron steaks.

“We developed this from scratch affectively after spending some time in New York, which is probably the capital of fast-casual and put all those things together in a design and a product. We have honed down the service model but kept the quality of the product high, with a menu that starts with burgers and goes up to a sirloin, but we will probably run a ribeye as a special if we feel that people are ready to spend a little bit more with us.

“We will have draught beer and cans of craft ale. We will also going to have a ‘tap tail’ with a draught mojito we have worked with Bacardi on. It is about speed with a counter service offer.

“The average spend we think we are going to get will be about £12, but that is hypothetical because the way we are doing it is to allow the customers to buy the steak and the sides separately. Whilst there is a benefit of buying more sides because it is better value you can also buy just a steak and chips. It is down to you to make up your meal. Because it is counter service and there is that customisation, you have to keep the menu narrow.

“It is proper gourmet food, we are not cutting any corners on the equipment, the way we are cooking or the ingredients. We would consider more sites and an estate review is an ongoing process, but we are concentrating on getting the first one started at present. Because this is quite innovative it does have some challenges.”

The development of Son of Steak comes after the group launched a trial of a new premium, full-service, rotisserie chicken and duck concept called Chicken Society in Finchley, north London, late last year.

Talking to MCA following his appointment as M&B chief executive, Phil Urban identified the need to increase the pace of execution and innovation across the business as one of his three key priorities. He also touched on the need for more brand extensions within the group’s Heartland business.