Stuart Gillies, the man who departed Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant group last year with no explanation, has revealed further details about his forthcoming solo restaurant project. The Caterer reports that the chef-turned-group-CEO will open a European style wine bar called Bank House, serving a menu of daily changing small plates in Chislehurst, the suburb of south east London where Gillies has lived for a number of years.
The restaurant and bar, which will occupy a three-storey former bank on Chislehurst’s high street, is scheduled to open in mid-July. He told the Caterer: “I’ve lived in Chislehurst for years and it’s never really had anything of London quality...I’d never really stopped to look until I left last year, and I saw how much opportunity there was.” He will be joined by chef Bobby Brown, formerly of Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, and general manager Angelika Oparczyk, who will be in charge of a wine list, which will include a number of organic natural varieties; both have previously worked with Gillies.
Gillies’ departure from Ramsay’s restaurant group — which recently announced it had made a profit — happened in strange circumstances: after initially refuting reports and denying he was leaving, he left and said nothing. The Ramsay restaurant group kept similarly quiet before company filings confirmed that former managing director Andy Wenlock had been appointed as director, leading many to believe he was Gillies’ replacement.
Then, last summer, it was reported that Gillies had set up a new company Alfa-Zero and applied for a trademark, Wood & Wood, after having worked as Ramsay’s right-hand man and chief executive since 2016; he’d been managing director since 2011. The former chef had worked in different roles for the celebrity chef’s empire for over 15 years.
Gillies was credited with making Ramsay restaurant’s group profitable in the year to August 2016, after five years of losing money in addition to “changing the company’s business model” and making the group’s restaurants more accessible as the reason behind the upturn.
He told the Financial Times: “Making [eating out] more accessible was the key element: making it [a] less special occasion, and making people actually feel like they could eat out a lot more and enjoy it more regularly as a lifestyle accessory, rather than being a special occasion.” It seems he is applying the same principle of accessibility — with some aspiration thrown in, too — in Chislehurst.
As well as holding the position of CEO, Gillies was a significant shareholder in Ramsay’s restaurant company. In 2015, The Telegraph reported that Ramsay had rewarded him with £2.7m in shares.