Assemblage restaurant closes as James Knight-Pacheco and Alicia Whitby part company

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Assemblage closed less than three months after Alicia Whitby and former The Restaurant contestant James Knight-Pacheco opened the restaurant
Assemblage closed less than three months after Alicia Whitby and former The Restaurant contestant James Knight-Pacheco opened the restaurant
Assemblage, the restaurant set up by former The Restaurant contestant James Knight-Pacheco and art lover Alicia Whitby, has closed less than three months after opening at a site close to Spitalfields market.

First-time restaurateur Whitby, who was the investor behind the project, told BigHospitality she had felt she had no choice but to close the restaurant after head chef Knight-Pacheco informed her he was leaving for 'personal reasons'.

The chef, who was a previous contestant on Raymond Blanc's BBC2 series The Restaurant, sent a letter to Whitby's accountant informing her of his decision and when the rest of the kitchen staff followed him, Whitby said she didn't feel able to continue.

Assemblage officially closed on 3 January with an announcement made via the restaurant's Twitter feed and on its own website. Whitby has since started to sell off the contents of the restaurant and said she would not be continuing in the industry for the foreseeable future.

Tough climate for new restaurants

Whitby said that although December had been 'good', financially the restaurant, which attempted to explore the link between art and food, had been suffering.

"The restaurant was doing well with deals through Groupon, but in the end the numbers were just not adding up," she said. "It is a tough climate out there and quite a few restaurants have launched in the last few months and have suffered."

Art movement inspired restaurant

Assemblage was inspired by the art movement of the same name as well as the process that chefs use to bring dishes together for service. Art-lover Whitby first met Knight-Pacheco at Ashburton Cookery school in June 2010.

The head chef rose to prominence after finishing as runner-up in Raymond Blanc's BBC2 TV series The Restauarant with his friend Alasdair Hooper. After the show the pair were given the chance to work at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons before appearing together in another BBC TV series.

Knight-Pacheco previously worked at The Crab at Chieveley, Gordon Ramsay at Claridges and The Square.

The chef was unavailable for comment on the closure of the restaurant but on December 23 had taken to Twitter to write: A massive thank you to all who came and ate at Assemblage this year, thank you to all the chefs and guests on Twitter who supported us too."

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1 comment

Refund?

Posted by Tara,

Does anyone know if the restaurant will refund Groupon vouchers?

I feel violated that they have not honoured their end of the agreement.

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