Updated 25.10.18 at 12:43, with comment from Harneet Baweja, co-founder of Gunpowder.
Custard was originally conceived as a standalone “bakery and wine bar” inspired by the coffee houses of Kolkata, India, in the same building as the new Gunpowder restaurant announced last year. That restaurant, on the first floor, was delayed — as is common — and opened September this year; the bakery, planned for the ground floor, had been scheduled to open in August, before being pushed back further to October. At the time of writing, the bakery’s website is dormant, and the Custard Instagram account — bellwether of London restaurant activity — has not been updated since April. In the interim, founders Devina and Harneet Baweja closed their two sister restaurants, Gul and Sepoy and Madame D.
A spokesperson for Gunpowder said that “Gunpowder is thriving at Tower Bridge and the kitchen is not big enough to house both the bakery offering and the restaurant.” They went on to say that, for now: “Putting a halfhearted/limited offering at Tower Bridge isn’t for us. So we are in search of an off site pastry kitchen near London Bridge/Bermondsey, that will allow us to do the level of breads and pastries we want to do.” In other words, the bakery isn’t going to be open for a while.
With the bakery originally scheduled to open prior to the restaurant, the limitations of the shared kitchen would have in theory been taken into account when planning both sites; the project was designed, from inception, as a two-tier space. Harneet Baweja later told Eater that the delays on One Tower Bridge “were with the landlord handing over the site to us.” As might be expected, “this affects everything relating to the site.”
When asked about the logistics of building a kitchen capable of fulfilling both Gunpowder and Custard’s demand, Baweja answered a question with a question: “Plans are one thing but in reality, how do you build a kitchen for high volume in a new mixed use development (One Tower Bridge)? Additionally, also in an area that traditionally has never seen much footfall?” He later clarified that “with a busy Gunpowder restaurant, space is tight and I don’t want to put a below standard product out there in terms of Custard [...] If I had to look for a new site to accommodate both, I would look for double the space.” Baweja is keen to point out that the response to Gunpowder Tower Bridge exceeded the group’s expectations.
As an increasing number of London restaurants open either individual or adjacent bakeries — Jolene in Newington Green by Westerns Laundry / Primeur, St. John at Neal’s Yard, Michelin-starred Hedone in Chiswick, to name a few — its Twitter-anointed status as a savvy financial move is only growing. More soon on Gunpowder’s addition to that group.