Tonkotsu managing director, Stephen Evans, has told MCA that he sees the potential to grow through food halls and said the brand’s success in Birmingham has emboldened it for further regional expansion.

To help fuel its next phase of growth the currently nine-strong group is currently in second stage talks with a number of potential private equity houses which Evans says: “is very much our route of choice for development.”

He said: “We want to be involved with people who understand the business and have the capital to help us grow on a financial and strategic level too. It is a difficult time to do this process, but we understand good brands still attract the attention of good operators and private equity outfits and we are definitely seeing that.”

Tonkotsu currently has nines site in London and one in Birmingham, with its largest site its 140-cover Stratford restaurant, near to the London Stadium, and the smallest its food-to-go counters in Selfridges in London(opened six years ago) and Birmingham (two years ago).

Evans said: “We would like more penetration in London and feel there is plenty more scope for that, but equally there is more scope outside London. Birmingham has been a good test of how we operate outside the capital with things like logistics and training which are so important to get right. We would like another site in Birmingham.”

On the food hall potential, he said: “The Selfridges sites are neat sites, quite easy to operate and are very strong. The new food hall in Battersea could be a good complement to our current site in Battersea. The economics of a Box Park just don’t stack up for us, the concession model is very different. It is a bit more of a partnership.”

Further residencies and pop-ups are also possible, with the company just completing a year-long residency at London’s St James’s Market. Evans says: “Residencies offer a great opportunity for staff to progress. We would do more, and are opportunity led, but we ask ourselves quite carefully is the upside be it people, commercial or brand worth it.”

The company is also targeting half a dozen pop-ups in 2019, with plans including Goldman Sachs bank and building on last year’s success at the London Seafood Festival at Battersea Power Station and Time Out’s ‘Battle of the Broths’.