The new restaurant, which will be his second Fish & Grill, will take over the site previously occupied by Café Rouge at 200-204 Putney Bridge Road.
“Putney is a great location,” he told BigHospitality. “It’s near the river and it’s a great neighbourhood. All my restaurants are in neighbourhood locations as these are not usually served by independents and I wanted to tap into that market – that’s what excites me.”
John opened his first restaurant, Le Vacherin in Chiswick, in 2004. He followed this with Brasserie Vacherin in Sutton and Fish & Grill and Le Cassoulet, both in Croydon.
The growth of his business, he says, has come about because of the recession.
“Premiums are down, you can negotiate rents with landlords and you get a much better deal. It’s all down to the costs. The consumers are still out there even though there’s less of them, you just have to target your market and give them value for money.”
“The formula is to deliver on product, quality and service. It’s not rocket science.”
Site and menu
The new venue will have 100 covers inside and 20 on the terrace. By August, John said he hoped to convert the basement into a bar that will seat around 40-50 guests.
The menu will be changing on a daily basis, based on fish supplies.
“We work on a daily basis with the fisherman. I have fish supply coming from the coast four days a week and they’ll call me on any given day, saying what they’ve caught and we put it on the menu. 25 per cent of the menu changes every day based on what we get from the fishermen,” said John.
The focus will be on locally-sourced fish and also on under-used species such as gurnard, dab, whitting and flounder. Cornish lobsters will also make their way onto the menu in the summer months.
On the grill side, the focus will be on dry-aged Aberdeen Angus or Hereford beef.
When the bar opens later this year, it will serve ‘high-end’ snacks such as home made pork pies, fish and chips, whitebait and crab or lobster cocktails.
John secured the new site from previous owners Café Rouge with an off market deal through property consultants Selsian.
According to Selsian’s Marc Rogers, a deciding factor in securing the site was the rental income from two large flats located above the premises, which reduced overall rental liability. John will be paying £62,500 per year in rent, and also forked out an undisclosed sum for the lease.
The new Fish & Grill will be open for breakfast from 9am in an attempt to capture the good breakfast trade previously held by Café Rouge. It will also be serving brunch.