A POPULAR restaurant started by a Leigh Park man who left school with no qualifications is set to expand into Gunwharf Quays.
The Relentless restaurant hit the headlines last year after soft drinks giant Coca-Cola threatened to sue owner Scott Matthews, saying the sign outside his Elm Grove restaurant looked too much like the logo for its energy drink, also called Relentless.
But Mr Matthews has put all that behind him, and has agreed a deal to open a second restaurant in Gunwharf, in a small unit which used to be an estate agents.
The deal has not been signed off, as there are still a few hoops for the Relentless team to jump through.
Mr Matthews said: ‘We’re planning on opening on October 1. We haven’t signed the deal yet, as there still has to be permission from the council to change the use of the unit.
‘All the builders have to meet the people from Gunwharf on site to discuss how we’re going to refurbish it.’
The building is also listed, so Mr Matthews has to work closely with Gunwharf management and the council to ensure his renovations are in keeping with the property.
He has also been given a deal by the management which will see him have the unit rent-free, but he will have to hand over a percentage of his profits.
The deal has been struck because he is a local trader looking to expand, rather than a chain restaurant.
He added: ‘Because we’re an independent and they love us and think we can go somewhere they’re offering it to us rent-free, but charging a percentage.
‘We will have to turn over a minimum of £1m, but we are hoping for £1.2m.
‘We’re also going to be spending £250,000 on the inside, and Gunwharf will be helping us update the outside.
‘We’ll have seating outside, which should be a draw in the summer, and the unit is small enough that we’ll be booked out all the time.’
Mr Matthews was born in Leigh Park and moved to Wymering, eventually settling in Portsea.
And despite having no formal qualifications, he has built up his steak and lobster restaurant to be one of the most popular eateries in Southsea, gaining support over the Coca-Cola threat.
Mr Matthews said: ‘I left school with no qualifications, and I am not going to be leaving Portsmouth, ever.’