With two openings scheduled for this month alone – an Algarvian piri piri restaurant and a pub with an Italian menu – and a fine dining restaurant in the pipeline, The Collective MJMK is looking to stamp its mark on the capital. BigHospitality spoke to founder Marco Mendes about the group’s story and future.
What is The Collective MJMK?
It was started by myself, Jake Kasumov, and Reza Merchant, founder of property company The Collective. Jake and I have been operating MJMK since 2013, so we have been working in hospitality projects since then.
What sites do you have?
Our first project was the S11 bar, the largest and longest-running bar in Pop Brixton, which we launched at the same time as our health food café, Homegrown. They went well, and we decided to pursue other hospitality projects together, so we will launch chicken concept Casa do Frango next week and our pub The Belrose the week after.
What is the concept behind Casa do Frango?
It is a piri piri restaurant. I am half Algarvian and half English, so it is a concept I am very familiar with. I introduced the team to it at my home in Portugal, and we decided it would be an amazing concept to bring to London.
So it’s not another Nando’s then?
There are a lot of Portuguese concepts coming to London but this particular style of Algarvian cuisine is very special in its own right. People equate it with Nando’s but the way they do chicken has nothing Portuguese about it.
What makes Casa do Frango authentic?
We only cook chickens of 900g or below. We cook them over a charcoal grill for about 18 minutes, we don’t marinate them, and then we brush them with an age-old garlic-based recipe of either piri piri or lemon and oregano. That is the Algarvian way. It is important to have to have the procedures, conditions and ingredients just right, otherwise it isn’t piri piri.
Is it scalable?
It will never be a high street concept like Nando's, but it could become a neighbourhood restaurant in busy and vibrant areas like Soho, Brixton or Bermondsey.
What will the price point be?
It will be around the same price as Nando's, with half a chicken for £8. But that’s where the similarity ends.
And then you’re opening The Belrose…
The Belrose is a pub with an elevated Italian food offering. We love British pubs, but we found that people often leave when it comes to lunch or dinner because they don't think the food offer is up to their standards. We love Italian food, and there’s no reason why elegant Italian cuisine can’t be a part of the London pub scene.
What kind of dishes will it serve?
We thought classic pizza Romana could be a great pub staple. We have Italian chefs to keep things authentic and to make the dough.
Will you expand any of your existing concepts?
We would like to take Homegrown to other areas, and we think The Belrose would work in other places too. It is very exciting to have such a wide spectrum of good concepts to work with.
Anything else in the pipeline?
We have another very exciting concept that we will launch in November. It will be a fine dining concept with a very special young chef who we are extremely proud to be working with.