My Pasta Bar, the new fast-casual Italian restaurant fronted by TV chef Gino D’Acampo, is on track to reach its target of six sites by the end of next year with the city and shopping centres its main focus for expansion.

Operations director David Mackay told M&C Report’s sister title BigHospitality that the business, which opened its first site on Fleet Street in August, had been well-received so far with customers, who were mostly made up of city workers, responding positively to its pasta and sauce offering.

A site will open at Lakeside shopping centre in Essex in April next year with a second site in the city expected to open in the interim. An initial investment of £600k through EIS was now being boosted with cash from new investors, Mackay said.

“We are always looking at new sites. We want to have a site at St Paul’s and have agents looking for new sites for us there,” he added.  

“We are also looking at smaller sites, such as those in shopping centres where we can focus on only doing takeaway. We’re experimenting with a few different ideas and are getting some new investors on board to help us with that. It is so much easier when they can see what we are about.”

Mackay said Gloucester Quays, where D’Acampo had expressed an interest in earlier this year, and Manchester were ‘distinct possibilities’ for further expansion and the company was also exploring the idea of launching several pop-up restaurants.

Mackay told BigHospitality that D’Acampo was very supportive of the business and while his TV commitments did not allow him to have a regular presence, he worked closely with executive chef Fabrizio Morelli and his team to ensure the product was right.

“Gino was the one who started this. He wanted to provide local workers with authentic Italian food and pasta was the obvious choice,” he said. “When he is between filming he might be here once or twice a week. He is very much involved as it’s his name above the door.

“Gino has been a big draw for the business. He’s very passionate about the food and we have very strict methods of how we cook and any new product is tested by him. He does have a big day to day involvement and is well aware that we are going to expand quickly. “

Mackay said My Pasta Bar was continuing to innovate its food offering. The Fleet Street site opens for breakfast Monday to Friday with Italian offerings, such as the Rosselino pastry, juices and smoothies available. 

The lunch menu centres around different pastas mixed with a range of sauces which are sold for the set price of £4.95 (for vegetarian sauces) and £5.50 (for meat sauces).
Rustic sandwiches, salads and a selection of pastries and cakes are also sold on-site alongside D’Acampo’s Italian food range and his own brand of Italian coffee which is also served in-store. 

Mackay said menu development would continue with expansion, which he was confident would continue through to next year and beyond. 

“My role is to move the business on. We have the infrastructure to cope with up to 40 shops. Our back-office systems and everything is set up for that, so we’re ready to go,” he said.