He has set up a new company to take on the UK licence for the restaurant established in Puerto Banus in Marbella (pictured) which has become a destination for the rich and famous.
The La Sala concept offers the “ultimate social and dining experience day and night”, with a menu of international and Spanish dishes alongside live music and a bar serving cocktails.
James is chief executive of 3Sixty Restaurants, including Rocket restaurants and bars in London and Nottingham, and is also a director for groups such as Red Hot World Buffet and Ping Pong.
Previously, he grew the La Tasca brand from 16 restaurants in 2001 to 74 in 2007 when the business was sold for £134million.
He will be joined by Steve Tatlock as finance director and Barry Aldridge to guide on licensor conditions and strategies.
The roll-out of the “casual premium” restaurant concept will be financed through an EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) which will raise between £3.5million and £4.5million.
La Sala UK aims to roll out quickly over a three-year period with two sites to be launched in the first year. The first site is likely to be in south-east England and relatively close to London.
A number of sites are under consideration, particularly in Essex – La Sala featured in hit reality TV series The Only Way Is Essex in its one-off special The Only Way Is Marbs.
James said: “The La Sala brand already has international recognition and celebrity-style status and is a firm favourite with Britons who holiday in southern Spain.
“We are aiming to bring a little bit of sunshine to these shores transferring the La Sala blend of atmosphere, quality, exceptional service and value that is part of the proven formula for success.
“I am really excited about this opportunity as this a totally different concept and the right brand to bring to the UK at this time.”
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