West End boost as star chef Salt Bae leads wave of food launches

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Salt Bae  (Getty Images)
Salt Bae (Getty Images)

Confidence in the West End’s bounce-back from the pandemic has been given a huge boost by two long-delayed high-profile launches this week.

Turkish chef, butcher and Instagram sensation Salt Bae opened an outpost in Knightsbridge while in Soho, coffee brand Lavazza officially inaugurated its first flagship store outside Italy.

The two debuts are expected to open the floodgates to a slew of other major openings —many backed by foreign investors — throughout autumn as life returns to London’s battered hospitality sector.

Salt Bae — real name Nusret Gökçe — finally opened the first UK branch of his 15-strong Nusr-Et Steakhouse chain at the Park Tower, Knightsbridge hotel, four years after it was first mooted.

The chef, who is famed for his flamboyant trademark sprinkling of rock salt on meat, also has outposts in New York and Los Angeles.

Pietro Mazzà, general manager of Lavazza UK, said he had never had any doubt that London would recover, despite the year’s delay in the launch of the 500 sq m showcase.

He said: “I have confidence in London, this city has a lot of energy and a lot of potential.

The Lavazza flagship store’s Caffetteria (Lavazza)
The Lavazza flagship store’s Caffetteria (Lavazza)

“For the coffee scene London is the most dynamic and exciting place in the world, even more than the US.

“The threat comes from the impact of Brexit as all hospitality is struggling to lure people. Covid is reducing its impact, we are still missing footfall but it will come back.”

Restaurant commentator Ben McCormack said: “Despite all the lockdown talk of the rise of neighbourhood dining, central London remains the location where most diners want to eat.

“Nowhere else in the capital can compete for the same sense of buzz — or attract the biggest names on the global food scene.”

Other launches scheduled over the coming weeks include the Galvin brothers Bar and Grill at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel on Russell Square and Gordon Ramsay’s takeover of the River Restaurant at the Savoy.

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