HOP, the Vietnamese inspired concept, has secured the former Bel-Air site at the Cheesegrater building for a flagship, new format restaurant and bar site, MCA has learnt.
The 2,500sq ft site will have all-day service, with an evening offer of small plates and cocktails for the first time.
It is the first time founder Paul Hopper has explored an assisted service format, having been so far focussed on the lunchtime grab and go market.
Meanwhile Hop has appointed Deniz Safa, previously of Coco di Mama, as head of food.
Hopper also told MCA he was looking to raise a further £500,000 in the coming months to fund further additions to head office and three-four new sites next year.
On the new site, Hopper said: “It will have a streamlined offer - we are not there to compete with All Bar One or the pubs in the area. This is a very specific experience, we are deliberately keeping the drinks range very light, with a handful of small plates
“It’s a premiumised version of Hop, because of the iconic nature of the building. We’ve pimped up the brand, and it will have a casual lingering feel, with cool furniture, and less emphasis on in and out. There will be a bit more mood lighting, and is the kind of place you could go for afternoon meetings – it’s an all day affair.”
He likened the format style to Wahaca, and the assisted service model to Nando’s.
Small plates will include items like sriracha wings, sticky ribs and cauliflower poppers, with a dedicated bar serving Asian inspired cocktails, draught beer and wine.
On the appointment of Safa, he said: “To date we’ve always been very light touch in the head office, and I’ve been personally doing everything do to with supply chain, product development, new menus. But it’s got to the stage where it was too much to be juggling everything.
“She is now in charge of all our seasonal product launches, and obviously the whole procurement piece. Having someone dedicated to that full time means we are now doing volumes which justifies having someone on procurement.”
He said the hire would allow Hop to chance its menu more frequently, in order to compete with the bigger grab and go players such as Pret, Leon and itsu.
Davis Coffer Lyons advised on the Bel-Air deal.