Button opens his own restaurant (but it won't be serving fast food)
Jonathan Brown visits F1 star's new business venture in ... Harrogate
Formula One fans hoping that Jenson Button's new restaurant venture will be some kind of homage to the high-speed exploits of the British driver are set for the culinary equivalent of a blow-out on the starting grid.
Apart from a few oblique asides – a copy of his autobiography included among the carefully arranged bookshelves and a print of his Japanese tattoo displayed artfully on the wall – there is little to suggest the presence of the former world champion or indeed the sport in which he has made his fortune.
Even the name Victus is not a reference to Button's frequent podium finishes, but taken from the Latin for the nourishment of life. On Sunday, the Guernsey-based McLaren driver, currently fourth in the drivers table, was there to help the launch of the restaurant in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
But yesterday, when it opened to the paying public, he was nowhere to be seen, perhaps enjoying warmer climes in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza this weekend. According to Button, the eaterie, of which he is the founding backer, combines "all my favourite elements of dining out with friends. Tasty food, great atmosphere and friendly staff".
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on the site of a former sports shop on a busy shopping street opposite the bus station, Victus one day hopes to roll out into a national and even international chain. The menu was apparently selected based on the driver's interests in different cuisines cultivated while globetrotting on the F1 circuit.
Manager Samantha Bradbury, 38, who has returned to her home town with her husband to run the restaurant, said customers had already developed a liking for the salmon with nori rice from the selection of "grazing dishes", crayfish noodle salad and the spicy pulled pork chilli "hot meal box".
"We wanted to create a vibrant atmosphere for people to have good tasty food that is freshly prepared and to have it all through the day whether they are in a rush or are out shopping and want to take things leisurely," she said.
But how did it go down with Harrogate's diners? With falafel apparently off the menu, Michael Carr, 43 and Sharon Hardcastle, 40, both of whom work in the restaurant business, had settled for sharing a hot New York sandwich, which they described as "not bad", washed down with a Coke and a "good" coffee.
Marketers Sue Higgison, 46, and Lynne Mee, 60, said they thought the restaurant with its exposed brickwork and plastic seating might appeal to a younger, London crowd, although it was a "bit too egg and bacon" they said. "We'll give it six out of 10."
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