“Whatever anyone says about Gordon, he knows what people want and he is incredibly resilient,” said restaurant expert Simon Davis, speaking at last night’s pre-opening party ahead of the venue’s opening next Monday.
“But Cheapside is not a particularly easy location; people tend not to go into the City at the weekend, so it is a bit of a gamble.”
Davis, a former Telegraph and Evening Standard journalist, is the founder of the London Restaurant Festival, which he started with critic Fay Maschler in 2009 to celebrate the fact London’s restaurant scene has gone from “a global laughing stock to something pretty impressive”. Among the 775 participating restaurants in this year’s festival, which runs from 3 to 17 October, are Le Coq d’Argent, 1 Lombard Street and Bonds at the Threadneedle Hotel, which are all offering three-course menus for £25.
Grosvenor Estates, Canary Wharf Plc and the Savoy Hotel are also on board as sponsors of the event, which includes a culinary pub crawl on a Routemaster bus and London’s biggest-ever pub quiz. “Times are tough out there, but there is still a good market for sponsorship,” said Davis. “Despite what they might say at the LibDem conference.”
WITH GLAMOUR model Katie Price and singer Kym Marsh of Hearsay fame on the guest list, there was a solid case for calling the party the Crème de la Crème Ball.
Tamara Ecclestone, the daughter of Formula One tycoon Bernie, and Wayne and Coleen Rooney were also spotted at the event, hosted by ex-Wrexham FC player Ashley Ward and his wife Dawn (bottom left) up in the footballers’ spiritual home of Alderley Edge.
Sponsor for the night was Leo Caplan, the entrepreneur who bought the kitchen-maker Mark Wilkinson out of administration from PwC in 2009, who donated £60,000-worth of cabinetry to the evening’s charity auction in aid of Destination Florida.
LUCIEN Freud immortalised banker Nathaniel Rothschild as the “Man in a Chair”, so perhaps the late artist (right) would have approved of Bank of America Merrill Lynch supporting the most ambitious exhibition of his work for ten years.
“We believe that investing in the arts makes good sense,” said the bank’s head of international communications John McIvor at yesterday’s press breakfast to unveil the collaboration. “Arts projects and cultural organisations such as the National Portrait Gallery are key economic drivers and help to strengthen communities.”
McIvor was joined at the gallery by colleagues Rena de Sisto, global arts and culture executive, and Gwendolyn de Silva, vice-president, global banking and marketing, who saw preview highlights of the 100 paintings, drawings and etchings that are on loan to the NPG from museums and private collections from next February.
ANOTHER DAY, another ceremony for Lord Mayor Michael Bear to preside over at Mansion House – this time, the annual Dragon Awards.
Last night’s awards recognised companies’ social contributions that benefitted not only community organisations but also – through “increased staff morale and reputational benefit”, said the mayor – the businesses themselves.
So it was unfortunate that UBS, which could do with the lift, lost out to Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the education category, despite working to improve the Bridge Academy in Hackney for the last four years.
Representing BofA Merrill Lynch was chief operating officer Rob Everett, who was joined by William Maltby, vice chairman of investment banking at Deutsche Bank; Catherine Usher, head of UK real estate at DLA Piper; Paul Jardine, group chief operating officer of Catlin Holdings; and Deloitte’s UK chairman David Cruickshank.