Two major London restaurant groups have announced plans to expand casual Italian off-shoot brands on opposite sides of the city this autumn: Soho House Group will open a new Cecconi’s on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, while Caprice Holdings — the mega group behind the Ivy and Sexy Fish — will open a Harry’s Bar on James Street in Marylebone.
Both groups, which are responsible for some of the most exclusive and celebrity-approved restaurants in the city, appear to be moving into the voids created by the recent wholesale collapse of a number of more accessible high street restaurant brands.
Where the likes of Byron, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, Gaucho, Prezzo, and, just this morning Gourmet Burger Kitchen, have been hit by the so-called perfect storm of rising rents, increased business rates, a devalued pound, and increased competition, Caprice Holdings has developed and expanded its Ivy brand — through Ivy Brasserie and Ivy Market Grill — nationwide with trend-bucking success.
Similarly, Soho House, whose majority shareholder is Caprice Holdings’ own founder Richard Caring, itself has grown its own portfolio of casual dining brands in the past five years. And though the national expansion of the Pizza East, Dirty Burger, and Chicken Shop has been more modest than first planned, the group has coupled its massive international private members club growth with a steadier domestic roll-out of the Cecconi’s brand this year.
Soho House has announced that the group will open a new hotel, bar, and restaurant on Redchurch Street — Redchurch Townhouse, borrowing the model of Dean Street Townhouse, the company’s first open-to-the public property, which opened in 2008 in Soho.
It is being branded the first Cecconi’s in east London, and less like the recent Cecconi’s pizza bar in Soho, it will take inspiration from “the modern day classic” Italian Mayfair restaurant (originally opened by Enzo Cecconi in 1978), but will be less formal. The restaurant will serve pasta, seafood and cicchetti (Venetian snacks), plus classic dishes such as lobster spaghetti and veal Milanese, as well as pizza from a wood-fired oven. (Curiously, Soho House Group’s original branch of Pizza East, which serves pizza from a wood-fired oven, is located on Shoreditch High Street, moments from the Redchurch Street location.)
As well as the original Cecconi’s in Mayfair, the brand has been expanded to the City of London (inside the Ned), Berlin, Barcelona, Istanbul, Miami, West Hollywood, and Dumbo (New York.)
Opens: September 2018
Harry’s Bar is a brand new all day dining destination opening on James Street this October. Set in glamourous 1950s style surroundings, the menu will “feature Italian favourites from dusk until dawn, serving a slice of the ‘Dolce Vita’ in the heart of the West End.”
Located just off Oxford Street, the restaurant and outdoor terrace will accommodate up to 150 guests, seven days a week. It promises “unfussy Italian dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a signature weekend brunch.” A special cicchetti menu — small plates traditionally served in Venetian Bacari bars — will also be available.
It too is inspired by a parent brand — in this case, its namesake, the Mayfair private members’ club that opened on South Audley Street in the 1970s.
The all-day menu, designed by chef Diego Cardoso (ex-Murano and Percy & Founders) and executive head chef at Harry’s Dolce Vita in Knightsbridge, will include antipasti such as insalata caprese, carpaccio di manzo, and calamari fritti; a selection of Pizze and pastas including Harry’s tagliolini, linguine vongole, and pollo Milanese. Prices start at £4.25 for cicchetti and £13.95 for main courses, giving Harry’s Bar the ability to describe itself as providing “affordable luxury in the West End.”
Opens: October 2018