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North London Empire Builders Aren’t Satisfied With One Killer Bakery

Jeremie Cometto and David Gingell will open Big Jo on Hornsey Road in May with a view to 10 satellite openings in two years

Raisin bread at Jolene bakery, restaurant and wine bar in Newington Green, London Samuel Ashton

The duo behind essential London restaurant Westerns Laundry, neighbourhood favourite Primeur, and the wildly successful Jolene in Newington Green will open a huge new bakery project on north London’s Hornsey Road in May. Big Jo, named for its forerunner, Jolene, will be Jeremie Cometto and David Gingell’s fourth London opening, with Cometto telling Eater that: “The current Jolene model of bakery and restaurant has been amazingly successful but we feel that we need to do more to bridge regenerative farming, grain economy, sustainable food systems with the consumer at large. For this to happen, we need a bigger loud speaker.”

The unit in question is a disused council parade at 318 Hornsey Road, with 9,400 square feet of space and housing association flats above. Cometto says that “Big Jo is essentially a large production bakery in a forgotten stretch of road between Holloway and Highgate in a disused council parade with grain silos, flour mills, pizza ovens, a small fermentation lab for our drinks offerings which will enable us to produce more of what we do not only for our existing restaurants but also for the 10 “hole in wall” sites which we intend to open across the capital in the next 24 months.” It will also be home to a 60-cover restaurant.

Such a project, satellites sprawling across the city with a hub at its heart, would be a huge accomplishment if quality held — it might leave bread-loving Londoners thinking of Tartine’s breadth of influence in California, but also remembering that its recent struggles in Los Angeles are testament to the fact that the course of true bread never did just prove. Jolene itself has only recently hit its stride on consistency, after an uneven first few months; it now joins Primeur and Westerns Laundry as object lessons in giving restaurants time to breathe and grow on their terms — a key benefit of self-investment.

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