Charlie Carroll, founder of the four-strong Flat Iron, has told MCA that he believes the ‘single-steak’ dining concept could work anywhere in the UK, as he looks to open a fifth site before the end of the year.
Carroll said he was actively seeking more sites now and is hopeful of opening another restaurant this year. London is the focus for now, but he has had approaches regarding sites in Brighton, which he thinks would be a particularly easy transition for the brand.
He told MCA: “People who have opinions I respect have said it could be a 100 to 200-site chain and I think it could be. With about £16 per head spend and serving something as mass appeal as steak, there are very few places it couldn’t go. But do I want that? Probably not imminently. Am I conscious of expanding too quickly? Definitely.”
The group currently operates sites in Soho’s Beak Street and Denmark Street, Covent Garden and Shoreditch.
Carroll said that his consultancy work gave him a strong commercial and analytical outlook from day one and he set up the company to have the systems and processes in place to make growth as painless as possible – capex required is relatively low with operations fairly simple and front-of-house stripped back.
All of the sites have differences, not just in their look, which Carroll has worked on with his design and creative partner Ben Chapman, owner of Smoking Goat, the Thai barbecue restaurant also in Soho’s Denmark Street.
He said that group bookings and cocktails are more of a thing at the Covent Garden site, for instance, and Shoreditch has a focal point open ember spit roast oven and, due to its less central location, will try and become an all-day operation with free Wifi and cheap coffee for morning workers (Carroll hopes this will build atmosphere and drive lunch trade).
Also, each site does its own specials, which make up about 15% of sales.