Nicola Horlick, the investment manager dubbed 'superwoman' for balancing her career and family, has described her latest venture, a Barnes restaurant with Trinity chef Adam Byatt in tribute to her late daughter Georgina, as a 'good business proposition' as well as a personal mission.
Horlick decided to launch the restaurant after sitting with Georgina in Great Ormond Street hospital in 1998 discussing her favourite food during a 10-week period after a bone marrow transplant when her daughter was suffering from leukaemia, unable to leave her hospital room. Georgina was diagnosed with the disease when she was just 2 and died aged 12.
While the 50-cover Georgina's, which opens in May, is the result of a promise Horlick made to her daughter she told BigHospitality she had consulted with the right people to work towards creating a successful and growing business.
"I wouldn't do it unless I thought it was a good business proposition because there is no point otherwise. It is really important to me, obviously, that it succeeds and therefore that the offering is as good as we can possibly make it. Also I wouldn't have embarked on this without having professionals involved," she said.
Adam Byatt, who runs Trinity restaurant and opened Bistro Union earlier this year , has joined the business and has worked on the menu with his existing team.
Horlick said it had been key to her to partner with restaurant experts to make the venture a success. "It is very foolhardy when people rush in and throw their life savings into a restaurant and don't know what they are doing because it is a very difficult business," she said.
The restaurant, Horlick explained, would be very different to both of Byatt's current Clapham eateries. It will focus on the salads, cakes, grilled fish and fresh fruit that her daughter loved while taking note of newer child-friendly food developments such as frozen yoghurt.
Georgina's will be serving breakfasts and will cater for a lunchtime crowd and the after-school trade before transforming into a slightly more conventional, but informal and relatively low price-point, restaurant in the evening.
"There will be amazing homemade granolas and yoghurts in the morning and then fantastic salads at lunchtime but a full service dinner in the evening. A lot of restaurants in London do very, very little trade at lunchtime and don't do any breakfast or teatime trade and that is actually rather a waste when costs are so incredibly high," Horlick said.
Horlick, while explaining the business had been backed financially by a number of investors, admitted she had put in a large amount of her own funds and starting up a restaurant chain remained difficult for many people in the current economic climate.
However the chief executive of Bramdean Asset Management said she had been watching the figures from restaurant companies closely and now was actually the best time to open a restaurant with cheaper access to premises.
"This is a good time. You should be adding capacity at the bottom of cycles, not at the top of cycles," Horlick concluded.
Horlick is certainly thinking big with Georgina's. A second site in Barnes has already been acquired and Putney, Wimbledon, Richmond, Kew and Chiswick are all being considered for the initial expansion stages of the company.
It is expected the main custom will come from the local neighbourhood within walking distance allowing the company to operate several sites in one area of London before moving further afield.