Pan-Asian restaurant group Tootoomoo is poised to take its first steps into the pub sector.

Founder Philip McGuinness told MCA’s sister title, the Morning Advertiser, that pubs would be a main focus going forward for the London-based group, which operates three “pan-Asian tapas” restaurants in Islington, Crouch End and Whetstone.

He said: “I would be very interested in a large pub chain which has struggling pubs where we could develop a joint venture to roll Tootoomoo into their premises, either on a lease basis or joint venture.

“This will be our main focus for expansion – I think the pub estate has great potential as we plan to go regional and outside of London.”

Tootoomoo plans to open eight new sites over the next 12 to 18 months. As well as working with pub companies, McGuinness has identified several standalone sites where he believes the concept could work.

He said: “We’ve identified a few pub sites – I start with areas and then target pub landlords to lease or purchase outright.

“Turning towards the wet trade and potentially opening a pub site offers flexibility to the Tootoomoo concept – most pubs are large so we could have 100 plus seats and a cocktail bar with a takeout area and our Asian Market retail area, which houses fresh and packaged Asian products.

“Increasing wet trade raises spend per head as people stay in the venue longer, so I think it also means we will be able to expand quicker.

“We have some great cocktails currently available at Tootoomoo that work well with our pan Asian tapas dishes. Pub chains are struggling and I think we have a concept that would work well in a pub.”