Urban Pubs & Bars has acquired the Opera Tavern in Covent Garden from the Salt Yard Group.

Urban Pubs & Bars has acquired the Opera Tavern in Covent Garden from the Salt Yard Group.

Nick Pring, who founded Urban with Malcolm Heap, told MCA that the deal was the first of four the currently 13-strong group hopes to conclude before the end of the year. This includes a second iteration of Well Street Pizza and Pring said further sites for the brand would be considered if the second was a success. He said that the group was also keen to secure a permanent venue for its Bat & Ball pizza and ping pong concept, which has been operating as a pop-up at Westfield Stratford for the past three years.

The Opera Tavern was the third for the Salt Yard Group when it opened in 2011. Pring said Urban had no plans to change the core offer of Spanish and Italian small plates, and said it was complementary to the style of existing Urban venue, the Gatehouse in Highgate.

On further expansion, he said: “Over the last year we have been bedding in all the new sites and strengthening the head office. We are now all set up for another little spurt. We have got three things in the pipeline, including a second Well Street Pizza. I would expect them to come through before Christmas, so a busy period ahead.

“We’re in a good position financially so we can fund these through cashflow.”

On Well Street Pizza he said: “The first one is very profitable and we had been keeping our eye out for a second site. The key thing now is to see how it works in a second location. If it’s a success, why wouldn’t we look at doing more?”

On the Opera Tavern: “We know the Salt Yard Group sites and we really like what they do. Our director of food, Nick Rochford, absolutely loves them and it’s a style of food we know well. We’d be crazy to change a winning formula so our aim is to just keep the standards high.”

The sale leaves the Salt Yard Group with three sites – its eponymous restaurant in Goodge Street, Ember Yard in Berwick Street and Dehesa in Ganton Street.

At the start of this year the management team of the Salt Yard Group, led by Georgina Laing and Sanja Moll, bought out Alcuin Capital Partners’ shares in the business.