Two new London openings are expected in 2012 – a result of the restructuring and review process that followed the acrimonious departure of chief executive Chris Hutcheson last year.
Union Street Café, due to open early next year, will occupy a two-storey site in Southwark, on the corner of Union Street and Great Suffolk Street. “I can’t think of a more exciting position to have a site – and it’s a big one at 12,500sq ft. It’s a project we really want to have fun with,” said Ramsay.
The restaurant is again likely to be pitched at the upper end of the middle market, though with a more neighbourhood feel than Bread Street Kitchen. Union Street will also feature a daily-changing menu – a characteristic that GRH has never previously employed.
The second restaurant in the capital is unconfirmed, but is expected to open pre-Olympics. Both ventures follow the full-scale strategic review undertaken earlier this year, which has prompted the disposal of ‘excess baggage’ within the group. “We’re offloading things that aren’t working and starting to home in on the core,” Ramsay said.
The process has also resulted in a major restructuring of Ramsay’s international business. Not only have a number of unsustainable restaurants been closed, including Maze in Melbourne last month, but the contracts governing the remainder have been renegotiated.
All 13 Ramsay-branded overseas restaurants are now run on a consultancy basis, rather than an operating lease. As a result, GRH should be less exposed financially.
The first Ramsay restaurant in Las Vegas – a consultancy partnership with Caesars Palace – is set to open by the end of the year as a steakhouse concept.
For a full interview with Ramsay and GRH managing director Stuart Gillies, see the October issue of Restaurant magazine, out today.