A pair of cult-followed restaurants is coming to one of London’s biggest event spaces. Insta-famous vegan “comfort food” operator By Chloe and globally successful Chinese hot pot chain Hai Di Lao will join the restaurant roster at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, as originally reported by Big Hospitality. The restaurants will soon be up and running in southeast London, along with other new names including Beer + Burger — which, as the name suggests, majors on beer and burgers — fried chicken specialist Thunderbird, and Indian restaurant Scarlet.
Diversification of its restaurant offering is a fairly dramatic change of direction for the venue, which has previously focused on household name chains like Nando’s, Ask Italian and Frankie and Benny’s. “These latest additions bring an exciting food theatre to our existing food and beverage line-up,” says the arena’s leasing director Marion Dillon.
Hai Di Lao, which has 310 sites worldwide, has made a name for itself by taking an unusual approaching to entertaining diners in the legendarily long queues for tables at its sites: people are offered free massages and manicures while they wait, and staff twirl ribbons of noodle dough acrobatically. The formula has been so successful that it was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study in 2011. The chain will also be opening a 10,000 square foot restaurant beneath the Trocadero on Shaftesbury Avenue, and is currently advertising for staff at all levels.
By Chloe, which already has sites in Covent Garden and Tower Bridge, and is the subject of a controversial lawsuit with its eponymous founder, was one of last year’s most hyped new openings, thanks to its photogenic menu of vegan “comfort food” like mac and cheese with shiitake ‘bacon’ and quinoa tacos. Not everyone has been impressed by its offering: in his review for Evening Standard Magazine, Eater London contributor George Reynolds took issue with the “unappetising” burgers, ‘meatballs’ that “disintegrated at the merest notion of downward pressure” and chips that were “all over the place.” “This is about taking something natural, putting a logo on it and mega-upselling it,” he wrote.