The damage

Melanie Clulow discovers how much it costs to launch a 'destination' West End restaurant
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Indy Lifestyle Online
As Britain's economy hums and haws at the edge of the recessionary precipice, the London restaurant industry is showing few signs of pausing for breath just yet. The number of dining establishments in the capital has doubled to more than 6,000 over the past decade - about 50 open every week - with restaurateurs scaling new heights of culinary and decorative endeavour with each new opening.

There is no shortage of those prepared to take a punt on Londoners' seasoned palates. As long as there are megalomaniac celebrity chefs, bored artists and financiers with dreams of a dining room away from home, the capital's gastronomes will continue to be spoiled for choice. It's a costly gamble, however. "It's a lot more expensive than people think," says one industry veteran, noting investors can easily spend more than pounds 1m before a sweetbread had been sauteed.

Starters Acquiring 100-cover site (perhaps a converted bank), pounds 200,000; fitting-out kitchen, pounds 200,000; refurbishment and interior design (wenge wood chairs), pounds 350,000; legal bills pounds 75,000; tableware (including covetable ashtrays) and linens, pounds 3,000; kitchen staff and waiters (attitude comes free), pounds 190,000; designer uniforms for dining-room staff (sponsored by the label if you're sharp enough), pounds 8,000; design and printing of menus, pounds 25,000; contract with florist to supply flowers for a year, pounds 15,000

Mains Food for launch week, which delights with novel twists on current trends - think char-grilled quail on mizuna leaves dressed with shiso, and rhubarb crumble with custard, pounds 3,000

Drinks Starting a cellar: list of 90 "running" wines, pounds 25,000; a case of 1982 Chateau Latour, pounds 3,500 and a case of 1961 Mouton Rothschild, pounds 6,500; champagnes, pounds 5,000. Bar, pounds 10,000.

Specials Top chef (with a household name and a Michelin star) pounds 60,000; talking-point artwork by Saatchi collection bad boy/girl, pounds 30,000 plus half-a-dozen carefully culled graduate-show pieces, pounds 8,000; six-month PR campaign, pounds 30,000; launch party (free champagne - manufacturers are happy to sponsor high-profile events), pounds 10,000

Total: pounds 1,257,000

Sources: GBH Communications/Bibendum wines

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