Retailer View – Benito’s Hat


Founded in 2008 by Ben Fordham, Benito’s Hat is a Mexican-style restaurant chain serving a menu of burritos, tacos and salads.

Having opened first site outside of London at Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre in October 2017, which trialed a smaller A1-focused restaurant format, Benito’s Hat now operates six London locations and another shopping centre location at Leicester’s Highcross. The new concept has opened growth opportunities for Benito’s Hat in new locations that were unable to support a full concept restaurant.

Michael Pearson was appointed Benito’s Hat MD in November 2017 as founder and chief executive Ben Fordham exited the business to pursue new opportunities.

Given the well-documented challenging nature of the casual dining market coupled with the worrying figures that 1,123 restaurant businesses have filed for insolvency in the first three-quarters of 2018 alone, the news that Benito’s Hat had secured investment for expansion in August 2018 was welcome.

The £1m investment to expand in London and across the UK came from existing investors, with the majority provided by Calculus Capital, and will support a 3-year growth plan that will focus on both larger full concept restaurants as well as smaller A1 units. There is also the potential to expand the brand through franchising in the UK and overseas.

Kicking off the expansion plans, Benito’s Hat will open in St Albans in December 2018 and at the O2 Arena in early 2019.

Now at 10 years old, Benito’s Hat has the opportunity to succeed as consumers look for something different than the mainstream operators, seeking experience as well as value for money.