RESTAURATEURS FLOCK TO RENT 1 BISHOPSGATE IN CITY’S DINING BOOM

IT IS not big enough for the new headquarters of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, which requires a capacious 100,000 square feet.

But the four vacant office units at 1 Bishopsgate have attracted a “healthy level of interest” from insurance, finance, shipping, software and law firms – even a handful of hedge funds looking to relocate from the West End to the City.

Perhaps they have been tempted by the thought of being based above a top-end restaurant, as the mezzanine and ground floor of the building are being marketed to Michelin-starred potential tenants. “We have had 20 to 30 serious enquiries and the phone is still ringing,” said a source at agent Shelley Sandzer.

No word yet on who those international leisure moguls are, but the interest in 1 Bishopsgate – refurbished under the eye of Liverpool Victoria Asset Management with domed light wells and “open-plan floor places” – is part of a wider resurgence in the City’s restaurant scene, said the source, pointing to the likes of The Anthologist, Cinnamon Kitchen, Rhodes 24, La Chapelle, Pacific Oriental, L’Anima, The Folly, Sushi Samba in the Heron Tower and Jamie Oliver’s planned opening at 38 Threadneedle Street.

“Ever since Sushi Samba opened and Jamie’s deal, the City is becoming a really desirable place for restaurateurs to be,” he noted.

POSTS AND RAILS
SO WHAT exactly is happening with the much-hyped Jamie’s Italian launch, after the chef’s people signed a 25-year lease to open a new outlet of the “authentic and affordable” chain at 38 Threadneedle Street back in January?

The restaurant was due to open in the summer – as the TV personality’s website is still advertising – but no sign of contented diners yet.

One clue as to the reason why is displayed in the window of the premises: Oliver’s army is embroiled in a battle with the City of London to secure planning permission and listed building consent for the new door, handrails and railings it wants to install, which are considered to affect “a building of special architectural and historic interest”.

Nostalgia for the former Royal Bank of Scotland building – who would have thought it?

KITCHEN NIGHTMARE
TO ADD insult to injury, Oliver’s rival Gordon Ramsay – who last year described his TV nemesis as a “one-pot wonder” – has finally revealed an opening date for his new City restaurant Bread Street Kitchen, located directly opposite Oliver’s meat restaurant Barbecoa in One New Change.

Following repeated delays to the restaurant – originally intended to open in early 2011 before slipping to the spring… and then the summer – the “relaxed” venue will open for business on Monday 26 September for the masses following a soft launch for VIP guests, some of whom have eaten at “pretty much every Gordon Ramsay restaurant”.

Presumably Oliver, who admitted sadly that “Gordon Ramsay does not like me”, won’t be among them.

INCOME TAXED
EASY COME, easy go for the Slovakian nursery school teacher who won €1m in the trading competition organised by CFD and spreadbetting company XTB, as The Capitalist hears she had to pay 40 per cent tax on her windfall.

If only the trader known as “Rudinka” had been based in the UK, she would have kept the entire lot tax free – something to bear in mind for anyone entering next year’s contest run by the Poland-based firm. There could be a twist when the trading cup launches next spring, though – UK MD Alexander Orban is considering offering the winners a seat on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceships as an alternative to hard currency.

“I imagine people would leap at the chance to go to outer space,” the former Standard Chartered investment banker told The Capitalist. “The only problem is that some people might want to stay there. Particularly the ones that wrecked the country.”