Opening in mid-October, the 120-cover, 3,700 sq.ft restaurant is almost double the size of the original, benefitting from a late-night refreshment licence which will allow food and drink to be served 24 hours a day.
VQ’s managing director Simon Prideaux told BigHospitality that he won’t be taking a cookie-cutter approach with the new venue, as he expects more to follow in the capital and eventually further afield.
“I think it’s really important that every site we take has its own character, he said. “But there will of course be elements of the Fulham Road site’s design. Since revamping the original site,we’ve been tweaking the menu over the past year and I think we have it right – so the menu at Great Russell Street will be 99 per cent the same.
“We are definitely now looking to grow. I would like us to be opening another site every nine months to a year. We need to do at least three in London before contemplating moving outside of the capital. The area focus for the third site will be East London, in the Shoreditch are, and also in the south, around the Southwark area. But it’s all about finding the right site.
“It’s definitely one step at a time for us, though. We’ve got to prove that this new site can be successful and the concept works. If it does then we will start looking for site number three very quickly."
Although linked to the 720-bedroom St Giles Hotel by a corridor, the new restaurant is self-contained and will trade separately. Funding for the venture has come from existing shareholders and RBS. Prideaux explained that one of the difficulties expanding a 24-hour concept like VQ is obtaining the later licences.
“Licencing has always been an issue,” he said. “As a concept, we’re very much a café and diner - we’re not a bar or a nightclub, which usually worry local authorities. We’d rather ‘put the fire out’ when people come here, rather than fuel it any further.
“We decided not to go for a 24-hour alcohol licence with the second venue - we figured that people might object and we’d risk not getting the late night refreshment. So we have an 8am to 2am alcohol licence, which we got without any objection.
“I’d always been looking in this area, which is basically Camden. The authority here was much more forthcoming about giving us the necessary licence.”
Many of the existing restaurant’s staff members will shift over to the VQ on Great Russell Street, including general manager Elise Sanz and executive chef Richard Brooks, along with the senior night manager and chef.
Prideaux, who has been involved with the business on-and-off since its launch back in 1995, concluded that he ultimately wants VQ to hit other major UK cities, including Brighton, Manchester, Cardiff and Bristol. Meanwhile, the revamped VQ Fulham Road continues to trade well, with turnover up by more than 20 per cent year-on-year.
VQ Great Russell Street will open in mid-October.