The Art School will be a 40-50 cover restaurant, situated behind Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall – a stone’s throw from Askew’s other ventures. The chef told BigHospitality he thinks there is a need for more high-end, independent restaurants in the Merseyside area.
“The bar scene is booming and the Liverpool One restaurants are thriving,” he said. “But if I was being honest I would like to see a couple more independents come into town to do something a little bit different – even the independents that are here are doing tapas, Italian or Spanish.
“The market is flooded in the lower and upper mid-range and what needs to happen now is for the next level to come into the city and raise the bar once more. The one thing the city doesn’t have is Michelin-star dining. It isn’t easy in Northern provincial cities and the guidebooks largely think it isn’t sustainable but you can see the desire for food and drink.
“We can hopefully offer our guests tasting menus and a different style with a proper gastronomic experience where you sit for three or four hours.”
Askew’s other two businesses are flourishing. “We have had the best three years we ever have financially – it has been the most incredible period of business,” he said. The 89-bedroom Hope Street hotel has doubled in size since it opened in 2004, but Askew admitted it has been difficult to achieve consistent fine-dining in the London Carriage Works, as it shares the same kitchen as the hotels other F&B offerings.
Now the question is whether the market is there for the new site? But Askew is happy to take the risk. “I am taking the plunge once more which is very exciting,” added the chef. The Art School will serve modern European food with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.
For years Liverpool was viewed from afar as the second-best city in the North West never mind being a destination in its own right, but in the last few years it has risen like a Liver bird from the flames due in part to its burgeoning hospitality scene.
Read what else Askew has to say about his city’s dining options in today’s ‘Spotlight on Liverpool’ Special Feature.
The Art School will open in Liverpool's Sugnall Street towards the end of the year.