Brasserie Blanc operator revives Bishopsgate Chez Gérard as trial for possible rollout

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Brasserie blanc, Restaurant

The Chez Gérard brand had disappeared with the administration of parent company Paramount Restaurants but is being revived by Brasserie Bar Co, the operator of Brasserie Blanc
The Chez Gérard brand had disappeared with the administration of parent company Paramount Restaurants but is being revived by Brasserie Bar Co, the operator of Brasserie Blanc
The Chez Gérard restaurant brand is to be revived by Brasserie Bar Co, the operator of Raymond Blanc's Brasserie Blanc concept, with the re-opening of a site in Bishopsgate.

The opening will serve as a trial ahead of a possible expansion of the concept.

Eight restaurants across London were acquired by Brasserie Bar Co,​ the company led by chief executive Mark Derry, at the end of last year after Paramount Restaurants, the operator of Chez Gérard, entered administration.

Since then, seven of the eight venues have been converted to operate as Brasserie Blanc restaurants, however Brasserie Bar Co has now revealed it plans to reopen the two-floor Bishopsgate site under its original name with a menu which takes the concept back to its original aims.

High hopes

Speaking to BigHospitality earlier this year ahead of the opening of a flagship Brasserie Blanc at the former Chez Gérard site in Covent Garden,​ Derry said the acquisition had allowed Brasserie Blanc to grow in London. 

With the Bishopsgate opening planned for 10 December, John Lederer, managing director of Brasserie Bar Co, said the restaurant would serve as a trial to see if the concept could be expanded to more sites, including outside of the capital.

"Obviously if this works we will move onwards - it is a bit of a test in itself. I have got high hopes for it," he admitted.

"It is a lot less complicated (than Brasserie Blanc), as far as the kitchens are concerned. As Londoners, we often forget what great choice we have so some things can look quite humble and boring but they tend to become less so.

"There are an awful lot of people who may not eat out quite as much and they don't particularly want to try anything wonderfully new," he added.

Simplicity

Lederer, who previously ran Chez Gérard, revealed the decision to potentially revive the brand had been made early on in the acquisition process.

"There was always the distinct possibility," he said. "When you talk to people about Chez Gérard their reaction was 'it was so sad it went south'. People were saddened by the fact it lost its way. They wanted that simplicity back."

The team have decided to take the concept back to its roots. "It wasn't trying to be anything other than a bloody good steak and chips," Lederer argued. 

Instead, the restaurateur explained the business had tried to become a more complex restaurant while the kitchens hadn't kept pace - the equipment in the venues converted to operate as Brasserie Blanc had to be replaced to cope with a brasserie offering.

Revolutionary

The venue will be open for breakfast at a bar which will then become a 'steak express' takeaway concept. The main restaurant upstairs will offer a lunch and dinner menu focused on simple, classic dishes.

An element of theatre will also be present in the new Chez Gérard - diners ordering a Caesar salad will have the dish prepared to their taste at the table.

While the food may be playing safe, the drinks list sees a development Lederer calls 'revolutionary'. No bottle of wine will have more than a £22 mark up on the price the restaurant originally paid - reducing the gap between lower and higher-priced bottles on the menu and meaning certain drinks might sell for a lot less than in other establishments.

Although the business model is untested, the restaurateur said he believed he may take a small hit on Friday or Saturday nights but reap the benefit in the so-called 'shoulder' or 'cinq à sept' trading period - early weekday evenings.

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