Man about town: A trip to Mr Chow's

What's the secret behind his 45 year success in the restaurant business?

Related Topics

It’s very fashionable for today’s restaurateurs to spend vast sums of money making brand new venues look very old.

Dark tones on the walls, very low lighting, everything distressed, to the point that the look seems even older than the buildings they are housed in. The apparent desire to make us feel like we’re stepping into how restaurants should have looked many years ago. Of course we do have a few old restaurants such as J. Sheekey, the Criterion and Rules, but we don’t have the endless old brasseries of France.

So I was surprised when I received an invitation arrived to the 45th Anniversary of Mr Chow’s restaurant. Not only that it had made it to such a grand age in restaurant years, but also because I realised that in a few years of covering London nightlife, I had never been (when looking up the oldest restaurants in London, I realised that there were several I’d embarrassingly not made it to either), and I always think that those venues who last such a long time deserve to be celebrated.

It was strange that I had never made it. I love Chinese food, and I’m always going past the place. In fact the building next door has been three different restaurants in the past six years and I’ve been to all of those. So I realised that I had to go and meet the famous Mr Chow and ask him what his secret was.

Michael Chow, an interior designer, art collector, philanthropist and sometime actor (I was also keen to find out how he juggled all his careers) opened the first venue on Valentine’s Day 1968. After impressing the local Knightsbridge crowd, it expanded: in addition to London there is an outpost in Beverly Hills, one in Malibu, another in Miami and two in New York.

At the anniversary party, it felt as though everyone who had ever been stopped by, so popular was it. After working my way through the crowd (and checking out the great art on the walls), I couldn’t find Mr Chow. But I did find Mrs Chow. She explained Mr Chow’s absence (a bad cold), and said that the secret to its longevity was 'good food and good staff'. Another reason is surely its classic design-look, the sort which people pay millions now to recreate.

I’ve no excuse not to go back now, and maybe this time, find Mr Chow himself.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Senior Application Support -Fidessa, Charles River, Oracle, FIX

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Application Support - Fide...

Product Specialist - (Application Support, UNIX, SQL)

£45000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Product Specialist - (Application...

Technical Specialist - (Application Support, UNIX, SQL)

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Specialist - (Applicati...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

The 'caliphate'? We’ve heard Obama’s language of the Crusades before

Robert Fisk

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home