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BBC’s The Restaurant winners open cocktail bar with Raymond Blanc

By Lorraine Heller , 26-Oct-2010

The winners of the BBC’s TV show The Restaurant – JJ Goodman and James Hopkins – will open a cocktail bar with Raymond Blanc at the end of November

The winners of the BBC’s TV show The Restaurant – JJ Goodman and James Hopkins – will open a cocktail bar with Raymond Blanc at the end of November.


The pair, who entered the show as directors at The London Cocktail Club, competed against eight other couples to win the final series of the reality TV series last year and the business support of top names in the industry.


As well as Raymond Blanc, who will back the duo with his culinary expertise, other partners in the venture are his advisers on The Restaurant, David Moore and Sarah Willingham.


The new venture will carry the same name – The London Cocktail Club – as Goodman’s and Hopkins’ previous establishment, which has now been closed down after the lease expired.  It will serve cocktails and tapas-style food.


They can’t cook but…


“We wanted to harness the young energy and skills of the boys, which is why we thought it probably wouldn’t work to throw a new idea at them.  So we used the same name and a similar concept,” said partner David Moore. 


“The input from all of us has been massive.  Sarah has negotiated a great deal with the landlords, Raymond is all over the menu and I’m helping on the operational side.


“The boys want to grow this into a whole chain and we want to help them do that.”


When Goodman and Hopkins won the show last year, there was a fair bit of public outrage since the couple clearly lacked experience in the kitchen.  However, they won on their business acumen and the potential they showed to make an establishment successful.


“We all know they can’t cook. But they understand the business and they have Raymond Blanc on board. Sarah and I are totally motivated to show the British public that we made the right decision in bending Raymond’s arm in selecting them,” said Moore. 


He said the ultimate goal will be to make the cocktail club a highstreet concept – “something we can grow quite quickly”.  The whole team will be behind the expansion of the brand, he said.


Quirky British fusion


The London Cocktail Club will be located on Goodge Street in London, and will be housed in a basement site previously occupied by the Manouche wine bar.


The interior of the 50-seat site, which was acquired by the leisure specialist Restaurant Property, will be developed by the B2 Design Group and will include a mix between the contemporary and the historic.  It will have quirky features such as an old phone box guests have to walk through to get to the main bar.


The food will be “British fusion tapas dishes".


“There will be a small but good offering of simple dishes.  It’s a difficult process to get ideas that will suit the highstreet, make a profit and also that the boys are behind.  They have to be happy with what’s on the menu and we’re guiding it,” said Moore.


Since they won the series last year, Goodman and Hopkins have worked in several Hart Brothers establishments, including Barrafina, Quovadis and Fino.


For the past three months, they have also had office space at Pied à Terre, with Moore said has been “very useful” for them in the run-up to the opening of their new cocktail bar.

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