Interiors work boosted by restaurant openings

Belgo, the mussels and beer restaurant in London’s Chalk Farm, opens its second outlet today (Thursday). The new Belgo, in Covent Garden, is just one of a clutch of new restaurants that are set to open in the capital, signalling a resurgence in the restaurant business.

Designed by Ron Arad and Alison Brooks, the new 1115m2 restaurant is called Belgo Centraal and features a new identity designed by John Codling. The original Belgo has been renamed Belgo Noord and also has a new Codling-designed identity.

More Belgo sites are planned for London, Edinburgh and Dublin.

An increase in spending in restaurants has triggered a revival in the business. According to a recent report by The Henley Centre for Forecasting, spending in restaurants is expected to grow by between 3.9 per cent and 5.9 per cent a year to 1999. This trend is underlined by figures from the Government’s Central Statistical Office, which state the average amount spent on eating out has doubled from just over ú5 a week to ú10.43 over the past ten years.

Fitch associate director Nick Butcher, who is currently working on L’Odeon, a new 200-seater restaurant opening in London’s Regent Street in the summer, agrees that there is greater public interest in restaurants. “There seems to be a resurgence. The massive restaurants are getting the limelight but there are also lots of smaller ones,” he says.

Restaurateurs have been quick to pick up on renewed confidence. Oliver Peyton, owner of the Atlantic Bar & Grill, will unveil another London restaurant called Coast at the end of June, with interiors created by Australian designer Mark Newson. And Sir Terence Conran’s newest venture Mezzo will open in September.

Trendy Japanese noodle bar Wagamama is opening another 176-seater restaurant in Soho designed by David Chipperfield, while Groupe Chez G&#233rard plans up to six more sites. Group chairman and chief executive Neville Abraham says that he is currently viewing sites: “We always use designers, and there are a few people with whom we have a close relationship, including Virgile & Stone, designer of our Charlotte Street branch.”

The first of a chain of Rajamama Bar & Grills opens this week in Hammersmith, designed by US group Morris Nathanson Design.

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