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Jason Atherton (pictured, right) has revealed more details about the plans for his hotel restaurant in the former Bow Street Magistrates’ Court building, due to launch in Covent Garden in 2015.
The historic building – home to London’s first professional police force, the Bow Street Runners – will be turned into a hotel by the design studio behind Pollen Street Social, with Atherton’s as-yet-unnamed restaurant and bar as its flagship. The dining room will seat up to 90 diners and will incorporate elements of the building’s history in a tongue-in-cheek way.
‘We want to play a little bit to the history of the building,’ he explained. ‘Dr Crippen, Vivienne Westwood and Pete Doherty were sentenced there, and the Kray twins were locked up there, so it’s very much part of London legend. Although we want it to be a completely different concept, we’ve got ideas, like diners’ bills being a charge sheet. At the same time, we’re not going to do a prison-themed restaurant; it just wouldn’t work.’
Atherton was reluctant to give too much away about the style of food his restaurant will serve, but revealed that it would be a departure for him and his team.
‘It’s going to be a brand-new concept for us,’ he said. ‘I’m about to send one of my sous chefs off travelling to certain parts of the world to pick up ideas for what we want to do in the restaurant.’
Atherton’s restaurant empire has expanded exponentially since he launched Pollen Street Social in 2011, with three more London restaurants having launched in the capital in the past year, more on the cards for 2014 (including City Social in Tower 42), plus a host of international ventures. But the chef rejects the idea that he is expanding too quickly.
‘We turn down as many projects as we take on,’ the chef told Square Meal. ‘We take it one project at a time. It’s never about the money for us; we want to open more restaurants because we like opening them – they’re exciting and vibrant. And I feel a responsibility to keep London going as one of the best restaurant theatres in the world.’