Best known for founding iconic establishments Habitat and The Conran Shop as well as the Design Museum, as well as his love for cigars, Conran was also an informative part of the London restaurant renaissance, helping transform areas of the capital and opening iconic restaurants that remain today.
Conran was responsible for rejuvenating Butler’s Wharf in London’s Shad Thames with restaurants including Le Pont de la Tour, Butler's Wharf Chophouse and Blueprint Café, and launching the careers of chefs such as Jeremy Lee and Henry Harris.
As part of his group Conran Restaurants, which later became D&D London, he also opened restaurants including The Orrery and Mezzo. In 2006 Conran sold 49% of his stake in D&D and two years later sold a large part of his remaining stake in the business.
In 1985 he bought the iconic Bibendum building from Michelin, turning it into Bibendum Restaurant and Oyster Bar and installing Simon Hopkinson as head chef.
The restaurant, which is now called Claude Bosi at Bibendum, currently holds two Michelin stars, with the French chef joining Conran in 2017.
Writing on Instagram, Bosi said: “Today I lost one of my business partners; Sir Terence Conran was a visionary and a real legend. I really wish I met him earlier. This restaurant was so important to him; we will do our best to continue to make him proud. Tonight I will have a cigar in his honour. All my thoughts with his family.”
Speaking with BigHospitality last year, Bosi described meeting Conran in his flat in Battersea to discuss him joining the restaurant on a consultancy basis. Although Bosi refused, the pair agreed that morning that he would take on the restaurant full time.
“He said let’s do it. He went to the side of this room and grabbed a cigar and I was smoking a cigar and drinking a gin and tonic at 10.30 in the morning.”
Conran’s influence on London’s restaurant scene has been acknowledged by many of those who worked with him and who experienced his restaurants.
Lee, who worked at Blueprint Café for 16 year, described Conran as “a magnificent luminary” while Sunday Times restaurant critic Marina O'Loughlin said of him: Terence Conran - a man who genuinely did change how we live and eat, and brought joy and voluptuous pleasure at a time when the country was starved of it. Game-changer: that over-used word for once truly fitting.”
The Michelin Guide tweeted: “Sir Terence Conran was a visionary who transformed the London restaurant scene. He made eating out glamorous, exciting and stylish. Bibendum restaurant, which he created in Michelin House, our former HQ, stands as a fitting tribute to his extraordinary talents.”
Conran was also part of restaurant business Prescott & Conran business, which was founded in 2006, and which took on sites including Covent Garden brasserie Les Deux Salons and The Boundary in Shoreditch.