An incredible 2,500 bookings were taken at David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant within four hours of its website going live – and Friday and Saturday tables are now full until November.
The amazing demand for the pair’s Union Street Cafe in Southwark, London, suggests the new opening is going to be one of the hottest tables in town this winter.
But it seems it won’t be alone, as industry experts are expecting an ‘unprecedented’ boom in new restaurants in the capital over the coming months.
Overwhelmed: Gordon Ramsay said he couldn’t believe the response his and David beckham’s new food venture had received
Airy: An artist’s impression of how the Union Street Cafe will look when it opens in September
New eatery: Gordon has joined forces with David Beckham to launch Union Street Cafe which will open next month
Urban feel: The design will incorporate the building’s existing industrial-style ceilings and exposed brick
Twenty new establishments in the next four weeks alone are set to open in London, including from former Ramsay protege Jason Atherton, who will be heading up the Berners Tavern at the Editon Hotel in Soho, and Angela Hartnett, who is launching Merchant’s Tavern.
Next month will also see the relaunch of Boulestin in Mayfair, Koya noodle bar in Soho, Marianne Lumb’s eponymous restaurant in Notting Hill, and serial restaurateur Richard Caring’s latest, Grillshack, also in Soho.
According to Adam Hyman, the publisher of restaurant-industry newsletter The CODE Bulletin, the number of openings is without precedent in recent years.
He told the Independent: ‘There are usually quite a few launches in September, as restaurateurs traditionally hold off until people return from their holidays and London Fashion week begins – but this year it’s a step beyond. We’re not just talking chain openings either – you are seeing a growth in both fine dining and casual restaurants, too.’
Chef Jason Atherton is opening up a new venture in Soho, one of a number of top names opening eateries in what industry experts are calling an ‘unprecedented’ boom in new ventures
Two demographics in particular are driving the resurgence, according to Hyman. ‘First you have the increasingly important 25 to 34-year-olds, who consider eating out a replacement hobby, and spend a large proportion of their disposable income on eating in informal places in Soho and east London. Then you have wealthy businessmen from Europe, Russia and Japan who are driving the high-end boom in places like St James’s.’
The level of growth underlines the capital’s disconnection from the rest of UK’s service economy, according to Neil Gerrard, restaurants editor at Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine.
He said: ‘London is the real focus. The economy in the capital has remained buoyant throughout the recession and consumer confidence with it – that is only increasing, too. London is now the great testing ground for new eating concepts.’
Other experts say central London is highly attractive for overseas investors, especially from the Middle East and Russia, who see it as a safe haven with lots of high-spending consumers.
Some restaurateurs, however, complain that the growth is unsustainable because of a lack of staff. Dan Doherty, head chef at Duck and Waffle in London’s Bishopsgate, said many workers don’t see the industry as able to provide a viable long-term career.
Fred Sirieix, the general manager of Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows, pictured, has started National Waiters Day, to try to draw people to the the industry amid fears of staff shortages
Fred Sirieix, the general manager of Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows, has started National Waiters Day, to try to draw people to the profession. ‘What we need is a big shout to all the UK people: ‘Come and join the hospitality industry’,’ he said. ‘It’s the land of opportunity.’
Ramsay, though, has no such worries. Speaking of Union Cafe’s allure, he said: ‘In London right now we’re spoilt with the range and sheer number of phenomenal restaurants available, so it’s amazing to see the response today when bookings opened.
‘We can’t wait to get the doors open and start welcoming guests.’
There’s still another few weeks before David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay’s new business venture will be ready to be seen by the public.
However, London’s foodies have been given a sneak peek at what to expect when the stars’ new restaurant Union Street Café opens in September with these illustrations.
This move into the restaurant business is the first of many new ventures David will no doubt be taking now that his footballing career is over.
As a partner in Gordon’s latest food establishment in Borough, just south of the Thames, he is no doubt one of the biggest draws for budding diners hoping to grab a table at their place.
Artists impressions of the café show an attic feel with factory-style windows, exposed brick and furniture in neutral colours.
Designed by Russell Sage – who also created the interior of Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen – the space has been influenced by the local area of SE1 and has been described as an ‘urban warehouse destination’ which will offer Mediterranean-influenced food with ingredients sourced from nearby Borough Market and directly from the continent.
The food will be cooked in an open theatre-style kitchen so diners could watch the chefs in action.
Located on the corner of Union Street and Great Suffolk Street in Southwark, it’s a short walk from the famous market, London Bridge train station and The Shard, with neighboring buildings including the Union Jack pub and the Union Theatre.
Destination dining: The cafe will be located in the Borough area of London, a short walk from Borough Market
Announcing the venture back in February, Gordon enthused: ‘We’re really excited to be opening Union Street Café in September and it’s great that David wants to come on board and be partner.
‘We’ve been working on the new site, which is near Borough Market, for the past couple of years and the amazing large warehouse space will offer quality Mediterranean-influenced food with a daily changing menu.’
He joked: ‘David Beckham is going to be my sous chef.’
Still a way to go yet: The cafe’s official Twitter feed showed the site on Tuesday
The Union Street Café will be Gordon’s first new venture without his former business partner, Chris Hutchenson, father of his wife Tana, who he parted ways from several years ago.
Although the building isn’t quite ready for furniture just yet, a photo on the eaterie’s Twitter feed showed the progress so far.
A tweet on Tuesday said: ‘Cables, cables everywhere! Coming along nicely – not long to go now.’
Union Street Café will open at 47-51 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1 0BS on 16 September.
New career: David was spotted visiting the site in early July with wife Victoria