Harts Group, which owns Barrafina, Quo Vadis and El Pastor, has confirmed that it will open three new restaurants in Coal Drops Yard — a new dining and retail development at Granary Square in King’s Cross — before or on 26 October this year. The group has also announced that for the first time, it will seek £750,000 in crowdfunding investment. It confirms what was rumoured to be taking place in the development last summer.
The new openings will be led by brothers Sam and James Hart, and their business partner (in Mexican restaurant brand, El Pastor) Crispin Somerville. The group has confirmed to Eater that the three restaurants moving into the new canal-side space this autumn will be Spanish tapas restaurant Barrafina; Mexican taqueria Casa Pastor; and a new modern British (and European) wine bar and restaurant called The Drop.
- Barrafina — the fourth in the group will have 34 covers inside plus an outside terrace for with 60, and a private dining room, which will accommodate 20. Barrafina is widely considered to be London’s foremost Spanish tapas bar. (Its original site, in Soho, has a Michelin star.)
- Casa Pastor — a new 80-cover Mexican “big sister to Borough’s El Pastor,” with its own outside space for a further 80. The Mexican-inspired wing of the business takes its name from the al pastor taco, found on the streets of Mexico City, which was “enjoyed immensely” by Sam Hart and Somerville when they ran nightclub El Colmillo there during the 90s and 00s. This, the third site, adds to El Pastor in Borough Market and soon-to-open Torterilla Pastor in Bermondsey.
- The Drop — a wine bar with largely, but not strictly, modern British plates — will have 55 covers inside and 24 on the terrace. It is named after Coal Drops Yard, the colloquial name for a small measure of wine, and the moment in a big dance tune when the beat “drops.” A small space outside is expected to be used for an oyster cart. The only real rule, cuisine-wise, here will be that “there will be no Spanish or Mexican food served.”
No chefs have yet been appointed, however the group confirmed that Barrafina’s Angel Zapata Martin’s executive chef position will expand to include the new site.
The group were first invited to look at space in the King’s Cross development almost ten years ago, but given then how unproven it was, decided against even a viewing. Fast-forward five years, to around 2013, and the Harts were invited back. In the intervening years, Granary Square and the surrounding regeneration of King’s Cross has proven a major success for operators — such as Dishoom, Caravan, and Granger & Co — who took a chance, albeit with comparatively favourable rent agreements. The area has set a new template for developers elsewhere in the city.
No site was then available, but plans for the Coal Drops Yard — a series of warehouses originally built to accommodate the eight million tonnes of coal delivered to London each year — were discussed. They have been reinvented by the acclaimed designers Heatherwick Studio. Sam Hart tells Eater that the the character, authenticity and heritage of the site, compared to the many new build, so-called ‘glass box’ developments, was the thing that encouraged them to engage in this new phase of growth for the group. With major footfall anticipated at the site from tourists, workers and shoppers, the three new restaurant openings will double the size of the Harts Group’s business. Plans on what Hart calls a “game-changer” began in earnest last January.
With that, the Coal Drops Yard opening announcement also coincides with the customers’ “first ever outside opportunity” to invest in Harts Group Ltd, the parent company of Barrafina and Quo Vadis.
The group is seeking to raise £750,000 to fund the Coal Drops Yard Barrafina expansion, as it says it aims “to invite as many of their patrons and friends as possible to be part of the company.” Harts Group Ltd. is using Crowdcube, and investments in the project can start at just £10. Details about the initiative, which is expected to launch in a month’s time, can be found here.
In sum, Sam Hart said: “This is an incredibly exciting project for Harts Group. When we saw the site plans we immediately fell in love with Coal Drops and since then we have been relentlessly planning how to create amazing places specific to the area. We are progressing these with enthusiasm and look forward to opening in October.”
Jeremy Hall, project director at Argent (the developer) meanwhile offered: “We are delighted that Harts Group will bring their signature touch to Coal Drops Yard. Already becoming established as a hub for forward-thinking retailers, ranging from fashion to design, the quarter will now play host to one of London’s best culinary offerings, with King’s Cross as a whole now boasting a restaurant line-up to rival Soho and Shoreditch.”