Flat Iron, the London steak restaurant chain, opens a seventh site on Shoreditch’s Commercial Street today, 1 July. It replaces Pizza Express, which closed in December 2018, with Flat Iron’s expansion joining the likes of Honest Burgers, Rosa’s Thai, Franco Manca, and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs in demonstrating how sensible scaling — and, sometimes, sizeable private equity investment — can enable growth in trying times for the London restaurant industry.
Flat Iron’s lean menu, competitive pricing, and ability to innovate according to location are in many ways object lessons for the reason why it thrives and Pizza Express struggles; London’s seemingly inexhaustible appetite for queueing for dinner is undoubtedly another boon to the group.
Little is new — aside from an apparently randomly reconstructed stove from the 1800s devoted to sticky toffee pudding, and a ‘beef tasting club’ — and it must be remembered that the likes of Byron Burger, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and even Jamie’s Italian were once at this embryonic stage: investment deals with unrealistic opening targets, stagnation, and changing tastes remain potential pitfalls in Flat Iron’s future, which at some point must reach a crossroads between stick and twist. Its ‘workshop’ at the soon-to-open Arcade Food Theatre at Centre Point is one potential direction, but perhaps London’s appetite for single-item, affordable steak restaurants has a little further to go before it’s full.