You’re doing just fine in Brighton, why take on London?
We already have two restaurants in Brighton (The Coal Shed and The Salt Room) so it would have been tough to do anything else there. As much as everyone talks about it being London by the sea, it's a seasonal location with peaks and troughs. The idea of being consistently busy in London appeals, but obviously for that to happen we need to get it right. It's very exciting for a small Brighton restaurant group to be going up to London - we have a lot to prove.
Where will the restaurant be?
It’s south of the river within Berkeley’s One Tower Bridge Development. Our neighbours will be The Ivy Café and the Welsh fine dining restaurant from Masterchef: The Professionals winner Tom Simmons, plus a fair few more high profile people that have yet to be named. We're on site in July and we expect to open in October.
And what’s the name of the new restaurant?
It’s going to another The Coal Shed steak restaurant. I originally thought it would be a good spot for The Salt Room – which is a fish restaurant - as it's right on the water but the developers were more keen on The Coal Shed.
You're near a number of well-known steak restaurants, not least the new Hawksmoor in Borough and the huge Gaucho at More London Riverside…
All three have a different offering. We do great steaks but we also serve some more creative and refined, non-steak dishes. The Coal Shed also offers great fish sourced largely from the South coast. As the restaurant will be busier, we’ll look at extending the menu and introducing some different beef breeds to further differentiate what we do.
What attracted you to the location?
The area is really taking off. There are a lot of offices nearby and you can also pull in trade from the City and tourists. The ongoing work at London Bridge station will bring in a lot more people to the area, too.
Tell us about your opening team...
I’m promoting Dave Mothersill to executive chef of the whole group and he will come down to London to oversee the opening. We've yet to name a head chef but we'll probably look to promote from within. The dining room will be initially run by Fiona Warde, who heads front of house across the group. One of the things we're most excited about in London is access to good staff. You have to work very hard to find good staff in Brighton.
What’s the new restaurant going to look like?
It will be a more grown-up version of the original. We’ll be working with the Hove-based Design LSM again. It’s a very different site to the Brighton The Coal Shed, which is located in an awkward townhouse. The London site is a glass box but a very high spec one, Berkeley has not cut any corners. We have full control over the layout of the space at the new site, which will make it much easier to run.
The Salt Room recently got a glowing review from The Observer's Jay Rayner...
It was great timing for us. It all happened around The Salt Room's second birthday and just at the moment we wanted people from outside Brighton to know about what we do. The review has had a big impact on bookings, particularly lunchtimes, which are often tricky in Brighton.
What’s your take on the Brighton restaurant scene at the moment? There are lots of high profile openings coming up...
I think it's fantastic that so many want to open up in the city, and they're such talented people too. It can only be good for the city's restaurant scene. Ten years ago there was very little choice. If Brighton can further secure its position as a foodie destination it will attract a lot more people down here.