Hubris and opportunism from one restaurant chain to another
Bill’s, the restaurant chain backed by Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings, has courted minor controversy in Soho after photos emerged on social media of notices fixed to the windows of a just-closed branch of Jamie’s Italian. As reported by the i, the sign, which was placed over the menus in the Denman Street branch, read: “We’re sorry to hear the news about Jamie’s [the celebrity chef’s restaurant empire collapsed yesterday] as fellow restaurateurs we do not want any guest to be disappointed that their booking cannot go ahead, and we will happily accept any bookings.” Huge behaviour from Bill’s, which one imagines, needs all the help in can get; the mid-market casual dining sector will be on fresh alert following news out of Jamie’s Italian.
A tweet this lunchtime called the move by Bill’s “awful.” Bill’s, whose own Soho restaurant is situated around the corner, on Brewer Street, responded — to six separate users, with a copy-and-paste job — “Our team have been in contact with the senior team at Jamie’s to discuss roles for their teams, and also ensuring customers are not inconvenienced, for example by honouring bookings. This was a very short term measure to avoid inconvenience and the poster will be down today.” Sure.
A spokesperson for Bill’s has since sought to emphasise that the company has already found roles for some of those made redundant at Jamie’s Italian. They said:
“We have been in contact with the Jamie’s CEO and People’s Director in an effort to help find appropriate roles... and have already managed to place a number of team members in Bill’s restaurants. As always, customers are at the heart of what we do and welcome those to our neighbouring restaurant in Piccadilly to minimise any inconvenience caused to prior bookings.” [i]
And in other news...
- Here’s an entirely random, evergreen guide to the best milk-based beverages available in the city of London. Enjoy lactose responsibly.
- Vegetarian versions of Pret are soon going to be absolutely everywhere, following the chain’s acquisition of competitor brand EAT.
- A hugely important, 18-year-old restaurant credited with introducing London to brunch, small plates, no reservations, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, will close at the end of July.
- The new bar beneath Momo on Heddon Street in Mayfair by mixologist Erik Lorincz, opened this week. It is called Kwant. [Hot Dinners]
- An interest series of thoughts on why Jamie Oliver’s celebrity “rock star” status contributed to the demise of his restaurant business. By Financial Times restaurant critic, Tim Hayward. [Twitter]
- Good tweet: