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Canary Wharf: Shutters opens doors at two sites in One Canada Square’s marble lobby

Restaurant, cafe and bar aims to offer hotel-style service to workers and visitors to the estate

Taskin Muzaffer of The Happiness Cartel
Taskin Muzaffer of The Happiness Cartel – image Matt Grayson

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Organised crime syndicates are in my mind, having just binge-watched the latest series of Netflix drugsploitation epic Narcos: Mexico.

Fortunately The Happiness Cartel, which recently opened Shutters across two sites in the lobby of One Canada Square, bears little resemblance to the brutal mobs of Sinaloa, Juarez, Tijuana and Guadalajara.

But its creative director and founder, Taskin Muzaffer, does want Wharfers to keep coming back for more.

It’s one of the reasons why the group’s latest establishment is really three venues in one.

Firstly, Shutters itself has taken the shell of what was ETM’s One Canada Square, stripped out the walls, opened up the windows and painted everything white to form a welcoming, accessible restaurant and bar.

Secondly, head up its diagonal stairways and there’s Cartel – a separate bar space tucked away on the mezzanine, specialising in spirits and cocktails. 

Finally, look round the corner and there’s a cafe space called SuperNatural that shifts seamlessly from breakfast bar and lunch joint to wine bar after 5pm.

Shutters at One Canada Square
Shutters at One Canada Square – image Matt Grayson

That means there’s something available at all hours to keep Wharfers in a state of temptation, something that’s also down to the brand’s lineage.

“We started as a group in London, and, like most people, had a bit of a revelation in lockdown,” said Taskin, who previously worked for Drake And Morgan around the time it opened Shutters’ near neighbour, The Parlour, in 2009.

“Our first venue was Pedler in Peckham in 2014 (now reborn as Pedler Good Fortune) and we have always got a lot of our produce from Cornwall and Devon – in fact most of our fish came up from Cornish day boats on the back of a bike, so there was always that love affair with that area. 

“In 2017, we started looking for a site there, and finally opened the Unicorn On The Beach at Porthtowan in August of 2019.

“That ran really well until March 2020, when everything had to close. We decided we would keep the sites shut in London over last summer and the other members of the Cartel and myself moved to Cornwall, reopened the Unicorn and worked it as hard as possible last summer.

“Then the opportunity came up for us to purchase The Godolphin hotel in Marazion, which we renovated and briefly opened in December 2020, then properly in April 2021.

“We were very fortunate that both the Unicorn and The Godolphin had large outside areas so that was amazing when people could only be outdoors.

“Shutters was born in Cornwall as it’s the restaurant for our hotel there and we wanted to bring a slice of that back to London.

Looking down from Cartel
Looking down from Cartel – image Matt Grayson

“We’ve come to Canary Wharf with that service mindset. We essentially view anyone who passes by or who is working in the offices above at One Canada Square as a hotel guest. We want to be somewhere people can come back to multiple times a day.

“We’ve brought down the walls of the old restaurant and expanded out into the lobby, creating what we call a library area that is almost a co-working space.

“People can sit there with their laptops and have a breakfast or a lunch. It’s not bookable, it’s walk-ins only.

“On the other side of the lobby, SuperNatural serves our own Happiness coffee blend, hand-roasted in Cornwall, as well as fresh juice and smoothies. 

“In the morning you’ll see pastries and croissants – all those breakfast things – until 11am when salads with different proteins, like smoked chicken or smoked trout appear.

“Then at about 5pm it flips and becomes all about natural and low-intervention wines and build-your-own nibbles. Expect cured duck or venison done a bit like Parma ham, all made in Cornwall.”

Tuna tataki with pistachio at Shutters
Tuna tataki with pistachio at Shutters – image Matt Grayson

While the produce is Cornish, Shutters’ core menu has a pronounced American flavour to it, with dishes such as crab nachos and the Vegan Cali Sur burger.

“We wanted to give everything a kind of southern Californian twist,” said Taskin. “Cartel, for example will be doing nibbles and tacos. 

“Down in the restaurant we’ll be serving a lot of seafood dishes with those west coast flavours. 

“Personally I like the crab cakes – it’s the kind of thing you’d see on menus years ago but they’ve kind of disappeared. We’ve brought them back with a little twist – bois boudrin sauce, burnt leeks and anchovy mayo.

“I also really like the nachos, which come with a light cheese, scallions, pickles and a lime sour cream. They’re really, really good.

“As for drinks we have tank-fresh beer from Meantime, brewed about a mile away as the crow flies. 

“Otherwise we’re very much about cocktails at a reasonable price. Good value is something we’ve always tried to offer as a brand.

“We want people to come to us for breakfast, come back for a drink after work, meet their mate or a girlfriend or boyfriend for lunch and come back and have dinner.

“Maybe during the week you’ll have a glass of wine and only one course or a little nibble.

Shutters’ second site SuperNatural – image Matt Grayson

“Perhaps you’ll come back towards the end of the week and have three courses with a cocktail before or after. It’s all about creating different areas, different spaces, to make it exciting.

“You could be here having a chat with me now, then you might go and work over in the library this afternoon.

“Maybe then you’ll go over to SuperNatural tonight and meet friends and have a glass of low-intervention wine and a couple of nibbles on the board.

“Tomorrow you’ll maybe come in for breakfast or for lunch, or you might stick around for dinner.

“Then we have Cartel, which specialises in tequila and mescal with a range of 28 so far. There are some really special bottles to try. 

“We’ve tried to create something going on at all times, whether you want a quiet little corner just to get on with something, or you want to be a bit raucous.”

Shutters is set to reopen from January 9 followed by SuperNatural on January 17. Check opening hours and menus online.

Read more: How Hawksmoor constantly refines its offering

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East London: East End Community Foundation’s unveils Life Chances drive

Charity seeks to raise £5million to tackle issues in Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham and the City

East End Community Foundation chair Bronek Masojada – image Matt Grayson

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“When I was approached about joining the East End Community Foundation, I thought it answered a problem that I’d had as a CEO,” said Bronek Masojada, who has spent the last 28 years at the helm of insurance firm Hiscox.

“There is a lot of desire among staff at companies to get involved in charitable activities close to where they work and that’s great, but the question then is what, precisely?

“The answer to that question is a navigation service for organisations that identifies what those needs are, which are the most effective charities to support and how to make sure any donation is put to good use.

“I’m not going to pretend to understand what the needs of individuals are in deprived areas – nor do my colleagues.

“That navigation service also needs to show how staff can be involved to a limited extent because, from my experience people’s desire to play a part is much greater than the reality when dates are in the diary and free time and weekends have to be given up to do that. 

“The EECF provides a service that addresses all those issues, for anybody who would like to try to make a difference – a clear solution to a clear problem.

“The fact it also gives away a substantial amount of its own money every year means the team has every incentive to make sure it is done so effectively.”

Bronek joins EECF as chair, having taken over from Canary Wharf Group’s Howard Dawber towards the end of last year, his arrival coinciding with the launch of the charity’s Life Chances Campaign to raise and distribute £5million to help deprived communities in east London recover from the effects of the pandemic.

The money will be distributed to organisations in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and the City with the three aims of improving the wellbeing and employment prospects of young people, tackling digital exclusion and reducing poverty and isolation among older people. Pledges of £750,000 have already been made.

Bronek said: “About £2.5million will go on the first of these, about £1million on the last and the balance on digital connectivity.

These areas all slightly overlap – what drives elderly isolation is lack of digital connectivity in today’s age, not just access to things like iPads, but the competency to use them.

“It’s not just about giving people a bit of kit, but also providing support.

“My mother and my mother-in-law in South Africa are both big silver surfers, because they are driven to enjoy connectivity with their children and grandchildren, and that’s fantastic.

“My mother has been self-isolating, but probably speaks to my children more often than me, through digital means.

“It will be the same for people in east London – if you can’t get out because of Covid, you should still be able to connect with people.

“Zoom and other platforms are free, if you know how to use them. There is some reticence.

“I can remember when I put my grandmother in front of a Space Invaders game,  she just froze, but nowadays you don’t have that choice.

“Life Chances is trying to address real needs. The average salary in Tower Hamlets is £80,000 a year but the average household income is £25,000. That’s understandable, but pretty extraordinary when you think about it.

“What we’re trying to do is to appeal to the people and the firms that employ them in the area to help those who are resident locally.

“I recently read youth unemployment in London is four times the national average and Life Chances is about helping people into work.

“Not everyone’s going to be an investment banker – I get that – but firms like Hiscox and employers in Canary Wharf need a huge range of skills and capabilities.

“Clearly good educational achievements make things easier, but even for those who don’t have them we can make a real difference by helping them get entry-level jobs.

“I have friends in the insurance industry who grew up within earshot of Bow Bells, but who have done unbelievably well.

“These companies do offer people who are smart, even partly educated, the ability to rise through the ranks and that’s what they want.

“It was a surprise to learn about the disparity between income versus household income. It’s pretty apparent if you travel through the four boroughs and listen to what’s going on. 

“I was also surprised when the EECF’s CEO, Tracey Walsh, told me there were 5,000 charities and community groups active in those areas – that gives you a sense of the size of the challenge and the need for navigation.

“If there’s a corporate wanting to get involved, how do you find and pick an organisation to support? Which are effective and which make a difference?

“Often that choice is made because of individual connections, partners or friends, but to my mind that’s not the best way to choose a charity.

“The EECF applies rigour – groups have to apply for grants. They have to explain what their outcomes are going to be and then assess whether their aims were achieved or not. That’s a powerful process.

“The other thing about the EECF is that some of the grants are quite small in monetary terms – £2,000 or £5,000, for example – but they can make a real difference to a particular community group or charity.

“It’s hard for big companies, who might want to give say £50,000 – which is the top level we ask organisations to commit to – and to then break that down into grants themselves. Hiscox, for example, wouldn’t be able to do that.

“EECF is a well respected organisation. It’s seen as independent, fair and transparent and those are great things to build on. It has its own money to give away and full credit to Howard and Tracey for building that up. 

“My ambition is to continue the work they and the other trustees have been doing for many years and make the Life Chances Campaign a success.

“We don’t need a revolution – there’s a very clear plan of how we can make a difference and improve people’s lives.

“It’s a good programme and, if we can just deliver on that, then that’s a job well done.

“The more successful we are with Life Chances, the more we may have to increase staff numbers and so on, but that’s an outcome rather than a goal.

“I think that the other thing we’d like to move to with the campaign is to say to those getting grants that we’ll give them a certain amount each year for the next three years, so they can plan rather than having to put their energies into constant fundraising.

“An ambition has also got to be to augment the million or so we give away every year.

“If we can get to the £2million mark every year for the next five, that would be pretty awesome.”

For Bronek, the decision to become chair of EECF follows on from a long line of extramural activities undertaken while working at Hiscox, including the position of deputy chairman of Lloyds Of London for seven years.

“I’ve always thought that a business and a person succeeds if they are involved in more than one thing,” he said. 

“The beach is really very nice to relax on, but you have to have something to relax from – when you’re there all the time, it’s no longer relaxing.

“I feel the idea of stopping work and allowing the skills and knowledge that I’ve managed to accumulate to dissipate would be a waste. My hope is I can use them instead to make a beneficial and positive impact on the wider community.

“In terms of the difference I can make, clearly there’s the day-to-day governance of the organisation and I’ve had a fair experience of that.

“Hiscox was a lot smaller when I started there in 1992 and I’m used to us going into new countries, opening offices with no staff and then, slowly, over a decade building a physical presence and a good business.

“The fact that EECF has a dozen staff is really great, because it’s small, it’s informal – you don’t manage an organisation like that the way you manage a UK business like Hiscox, which employs well over 1,000 people.

“I also have a reasonable address book and I’m not scared to go and ask people for things, so I can help the team with the opening doors part of fundraising.

“They then have to close the deal, but I know that the hardest thing when you’re raising money is knowing who to talk to and then actually getting to speak to them.

“Even if they say no, that’s better than not talking to them, because you’re building awareness.

“Of course, there’s no certainty that we will succeed with the campaign, but it’s my view that it’s always better to try and to fail rather than not to try at all.”

Organisations that would like to support the Life Chances Campaign or charities and community groups interested in applying for EECF grants can find out more at the foundation’s website.

Read more: Discover Wapping Docklands Market

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Canary Wharf: How PT sessions at Third Space can help with fitness goals

Pilates and group exercise lead instructor Eve Powell on why she sought help with weightlifting

Eve Powell, Pilates and group exercise lead instructor
Eve Powell, Pilates and group exercise lead instructor – image Matt Grayson

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It’s January, the time when for reasons more traditional than functional, people take stock of their lives and pledge to make changes for the better.

But how to make those resolutions stick once the novelty value has worn off?

Wisdom is generally gained from experience, so a good starting point in any fresh venture should be to seek out the thoughts of those who are already pretty good at what you’re trying to achieve.  

With the festive bloat at maximum, increased exercise is generally bobbing around the top of people’s lists.

But motivation can wane rapidly, so I sat down with Eve Powell of Third Space in Canary Wharf to discover her tips for sticking with the programme and how she personally stays in shape and maintains her enthusiasm.

A certified Pilates coach and group exercise lead instructor, Eve has been described as “the superwoman” on Trustpilot by a gym member, who praised her “meticulous performance on the gym floor and in classes”.

Eve says personal training can help deliver motivation
Eve says personal training can help deliver motivation – image Matt Grayson

Having first qualified as a trainer while at university, Eve initially embarked on a career in the film industry before realising she got more out of her weekly combat class at the weekend than five days  spent on set.

“That’s when I made the transition to thinking I wanted to do it full-time,” she said.

“The main thing is the job satisfaction because we’re lucky to have endorphin-high, sweaty people telling us how great they feel at the end of a class.

“It’s a job where you help people and now, having got into Pilates, that’s even more the case.

“I’d never practised it before I joined Third Space – I’d done Yoga and thought it was basically the same – but my boss here asked if I wanted to go on a training course and I said yes because I thought it would be another skill to have.

“I’m so glad, because it changed my life and the way I train completely.

“Not knowing anything about it, I thought Pilates was good if you had a bad back, or if you were a bit older and your physio told you that you needed to do it.

“But I really fell in love with the history of it, the discipline and practice. It’s conditioning, building that strong, solid foundation for other exercises so you can run, lift weights and do Crossfit.”

Eve has a coach for her Olympic weightlifting
Eve has a coach for her Olympic weightlifting – image Matt Grayson

Another key element to Eve’s approach to fitness is seeking out one-on-one expertise, especially for those new to the gym or branching out into new areas.

“Using myself as an example, I’m a coach, but when I decided to take up Olympic weightlifting I went to a personal trainer because I was a total beginner,” she said.

“I had a bit of a head start because of the endurance, flexibility and mobility I’d built up with Pilates, but I needed someone with that experience.

“For people who are new to the gym, maybe they don’t even know what their goals are, so I’d recommend having a session with a trainer and trying lots of different things.

“That’s why Third Space is a great place to start because there’s so much to choose from here. Then we have so many great trainers it’s easy to work one-on-one with someone on general fitness or on something specific. 

“With weightlifting, it was a brand new skill to me and it’s so technical – I knew I would benefit from having the time and eyes of a coach. 

“It’s also easier to commit and to work on smaller short-term goals in pursuit of what you’re trying to achieve.

“The trainer I see is on me to hit those targets. If you’ve got a good coach, invested in you, and you’re investing in yourself, it’s amazing.

“I have that one hour where it’s me and her and I’ve got a goal – snatching a particular weight or focusing on my hip mobility in my overhead squat.

“Whatever it is, it’s my time with that person and I call it my therapy. In between sessions we stay in touch – I send her videos of my progress and I really miss it if I can’t make a session. It really helps with motivation.

“It also helps me from a professional standpoint because my trainer will use cues and commands while I’m exercising that I find I can use. 

“Even though the Pilates classes I coach aren’t the same, something that works for weightlifting might also work for me when I’m doing banded overhead squats with a group.”

From the other side Eve said one-on-one sessions gave trainers the chance to go into great detail with individuals.

She said: “You have more time to really look at a person’s body. You have time to ask the client questions and get their feedback, to find out where someone is feeling something and what it feels like for them.

“Initially, trainers use their first sessions to see how their client is moving, what their core strengths are and if they have any imbalances to address. 

“It starts with identifying a goal – what the client wants to get out of their time with a coach.

“That might be to lose some weight, to increase their fitness, to tackle an injury or some pain they’re getting or to improve their posture.

“Then the trainer will come up with an individual programme tailored to achieve that. In general that will be a 360-degree approach that delivers a full body workout as a way of delivering those goals.

“It’s also great for trainers because after I’ve had a session with someone I’ve always learnt something.

“Everyone has a different body. A cue that might work for one person might not work for another so you have to be very adaptive. 

“It’s a process of discovery, you have to make sure you’re using the right language. 

“You might have a client who spends all day working at a desk and has no knowledge of the fitness industry so you have to find a way to communicate that makes sense to them.”

Membership of Third Space Canary Wharf costs £180 on a rolling monthly contract.

Personal training rates at the club are available on request, with a discount for new members on their first two sessions.

Group-wide membership for all clubs including City and Tower Bridge costs £210 per month.

New members get two guest passes, a meal or shake at Natural Fitness Food, 25% off their first treatment at the Canary Wharf spa and an ongoing discount of 5% as standard.

Read more: Why exercise should be like brushing your teeth

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Leamouth: How Vicky Phillips is drawing the future aboard Lightship Print Shop

Based on Lightship95 at Trinity Buoy Wharf, her pattern designs are used on all kinds of products

Lightship Print Shop founder Vicky Phillips
Lightship Print Shop founder Vicky Phillips – image Matt Grayson

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Visit Trinity Buoy Wharf and it’s impossible to miss the bright red vessel, moored where the river Lea meets the Thames.

Crowned by a lighthouse, it now contains a recording studio in its belly.

But up front, tucked down a tight stairwell from its bows, lies something else – a space where Vicky Phillips draws the future.

Lightship Print Shop inhabits a cabin in stark contrast to the industrial scarlet gloss of its shell.

Illuminated through rows of port holes and by pendant lights that gently sway with the motion of the Lea as the ship bobs at her moorings, Vicky’s studio is brilliant white.

A central slab of table, complete with neatly plumbed-in, eggshell blue anglepoise, is served by steel and leather seating and supports a slim but serious iMac and Wacom pen tablet, all ready to go.

 The floor is pale grey wood and pot plants decorate this workspace, faithfully in motion with the rise and fall of the water outside.

For Vicky’s business, it’s the engine room.

“Lightship Print Shop is a surface pattern studio,” she said.

“I create designs for fashion, homeware, textiles and anything else that needs a repeated print on it. I started the business in 2019, about eight months before the first lockdown.”

In essence the core of Vicky’s operation sees her either draw or paint images and scan them or make digital pictures before bringing them all together in her computer to be arranged as a tile that can be replicated to create a pattern on almost anything.

“That’s what I sell to companies – they buy the copyright,” she said.

“It normally takes at least a year for my designs to come out on products, because all the businesses have their own lead times.

“You wait for ages, but then it’s really exciting when you see it reproduced on whatever they’ve created.

“I usually start my designs with a lot of trend research. I use companies such as WGSN and Trendbible, who predict future fashions.

“Their guides are a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy really, because all the brands that use them buy into the process and so it becomes true that they are the trend makers.

“From a business perspective, it makes sense to follow what they are predicting with my work.

WSGN, especially, has been very useful over the past 18 months around the lockdowns and other restrictions.

“They would normally go to trade shows to see what’s next from our side, but instead they’ve been setting briefs – we can respond to them and get included in its publications. That allowed me to reach new clients, who wouldn’t otherwise have seen my work.

“After I’ve done my research, the process starts with trend boards, looking at colours and how I should interpret a theme. 

“Should I use watercolours or gouache? Or should I start on an iPad? There’s a variety of approaches. Each one then has its own route until it all ends up on the computer.”

One of Vicky's vibrant patterns
One of Vicky’s vibrant patterns – image Matt Grayson

Drawing was a passion from a young age, leading Vicky to study to become an illustrator at university.

She said: “It was always my first choice at school. I just love drawing.

“The course I did was very good, but it was quite traditional – great if you’re going to be a natural history illustrator but other worlds were not really explored.

“Early on I decided I wanted to be a freelance illustrator where you have to be known for a certain style of work so clients know what they’re going to get. 

“That was my problem, I didn’t really have a style – I jumped around a lot, probably to my detriment.”

Having worked for clients such as Scholastic, Dolce & Gabbana and The Independent, Vicky took a job with homeware company Bombay Duck.

“I thought I needed some commercial experience,” she said. “But because I was the only designer I didn’t get to learn much from anyone else. 

“That’s when I applied for the job at Paperchase. Back then I had no idea surface pattern even existed as an industry.

“I thought everything was done in-house by different brands, but it makes sense for companies to have an external source so they can buy prints and have much more variety.

“They can keep on top of trends more easily. At Paperchase there was a lot of in-house design, but they couldn’t do everything themselves so they’d purchase the copyright to patterns and make use of them.

“At that point, I thought I’d like to be one of the people selling the prints, having the freedom to do what they wanted and hoping somebody bought their work.

“That’s when I founded Lightship Print Shop and, luckily, I was able to do a couple of trade shows in London and New York before the pandemic arrived.

“I managed to get some clients and keep that going over Zoom and that’s really helped me. In surface pattern it’s an advantage to have a variety of styles to present to a client, so that’s been a benefit too.”

Work in progress at Lightship Print Shop
Work in progress at Lightship Print Shop – image Matt Grayson

Vicky’s work has been bought and used by brands including La Vida Loca, Peter Alexander, Knightley’s Adventures By Samantha Faiers, American Eagle and Paperchase.

“I’m working on some designs for Paperchase at the moment, actually,” she said.

“I kept that connection after I left and I’m producing some bright and colourful things for them. When I’m done with that I’ve got to work on some tropical prints for Spring/Summer 2023.

“My work is typically conversationals – basically designs that aren’t floral. The majority of surface patterns are based on flowers, but that’s not something that interests me much.

“The designs I produce are more fun and whimsical – they don’t have to be hard-hitting, cutting-edge fashion.

“I like things that are fun to draw whether that’s tigers or toucans wearing glasses. I do try to gear what I do to a trend, though.

“At the moment that’s all about optimism – after the lockdowns people will want things that are brighter combined with hope for the future, so that means vibrant colours printed on recycled fabrics.”

Lightship95 at Trinity Buoy Wharf
Lightship95 at Trinity Buoy Wharf – image Matt Grayson

Lightship 95 was originally converted into a recording studio more than a decade ago by Vicky’s now husband Ben. 

“I love the ship,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful icon and a great thing to draw as well.

“It’s also the identity of my business – it wasn’t difficult to think of a name. I think being based there helps in my work – it’s certainly easier to get people to come and visit. 

“With surface pattern, you’d normally be asked to go into a company’s office and you’d have to bring a huge suitcase with all the designs – there’s lots of moving things around.

“But people are quite keen to visit me here, which is nice.

“My plan for the future is to do more of the same and continue to build my client base.

“Although I don’t have any control over what my prints are used for, it’s always an amazing feeling to see them out in the real world.

“That’s often on social media, where people post images of themselves wearing these products and talking about them. 

“It’s a real honour that anyone would choose to wear something I’ve designed.

“Because of the sorts of illustrations I do they get used for a lot of kidswear, and seeing the designs photographed in a playful way is really cool.”

Vicky also produces prints and a limited range of products that are available to buy direct from her website.

“During the early stages of lockdown, I thought my core business might stop completely, so I thought I’d produce some of my own stuff – pin badges, notebooks and things like that,” she said.

Her work will also form part of the decoration at rooftop venue Roof East in Stratford when Urban Space Management, which is also based at and operates Trinity Buoy Wharf, reopens the space in 2022. 

Read more: Floating restaurant Hawksmoor opens at Canary Wharf

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Canary Wharf: Why Bullards wants people to come and try gin at its Cabot Place shop

Founder Russell Evans talks brand history, putting a twist on recipes and the importance of tasting

Bullards' Canary Wharf gin shop and tasting room in Cabot Place
Bullards’ Canary Wharf gin shop and tasting room in Cabot Place

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Bullards offers something that no other shop in Canary Wharf does – a space dedicated to sampling and selling spirits from a single brand.

The company’s recently opened gin shop and tasting room on the lowest level of Cabot Place offers anyone who pops through its doors the opportunity to taste the products and a multitude of ways to take them home, should imbibing prove agreeable.

With successful branches already operating in Covent Garden, Norwich and Westfield White City it’s a model that’s already gaining traction on the estate. 

reaching out

“We’re bringing the brand to people,” said founder Russell Evans, having encouraged me to sample pretty much its whole range.

“We’d been selling gin locally to people in Norwich, online and through other people’s shops. 

“But our thought process was that while it was in those outlets and people loved it and bought it, there were others who would look at it on the shelf and worry they might be disappointed when they got it home because they’d never tried it.

“We wondered how to overcome that barrier and decided to open a pop-up shop in a shopping centre in Norwich and see how it worked.

“It was phenomenal. People came in, tried the gin and 50% of people who did walked out with a bottle.

“We thought we were on to something and so launched in a department store in Norwich just to check it worked in a different environment albeit locally.

“In August we opened at Westfield  and it was the same there. It was tough, there weren’t a lot of people shopping at that time, but we were still selling to half the people who came through the door.

“We have a store in Covent Garden where it’s 75% conversion because there are lots of tourists there who want something to experience as well as souvenirs.

“Here in Canary Wharf it’s starting to build momentum – you have people living locally as well as working here. People are trying it, liking it and bringing their friends back.”

Bullards Spirits founder Russell Evans
Bullards Spirits founder Russell Evans

a bit of history

Russell, who splits his time between London and the brand’s home in Norfolk, released his first gin in 2015.

He’s been joined in the business by his son, Joe, and both clearly delight in telling its story and visiting stores to talk to customers. 

“Bullards is a brand that’s been around since 1837,” said Russell. “It originally brewed beer. In the 1980s, I went to work for Grand Metropolitan, which is now Diageo, who sent me to Norwich Brewery and one of the brands they gave me to play around with was Bullards.

“I worked on it for a year or so, went off and did other things, worked in brand management for Budweiser, Fosters and other brands.

“Then I ran my own advertising agency, sold it, found out what happened to Bullards, did a bit of research and found out it was owned by Heineken but that they’d forgotten to re-register all the trademarks.

“So I registered them, approached Heineken and – long story short – acquired the brand in 2015.

“I began by making beer, which was good but the gin boom was starting and so we thought we’d try and make some of that.

“We discovered Bullards had actually made gin back in the 1920s as well, so there was some history there.

“We started distilling at the back of an old pub. Then, the London Dry that we produced with a tonka bean twist won World’s Best London Dry Gin in 2017, which catapulted us up a level.”

Botanicals on display at the Cabot Place shop
Botanicals on display at the Cabot Place shop

next level

“Having set that high bar it was a difficult shout to expand the range. We thought we’d do something really different,” said Russell.

“Having done a classic London Dry, we thought we’d go for a flavoured gin because that’s where the market was going.

“People suggested raspberry or rhubarb – but that’s what everybody else was doing and when we do something we like to put a twist on it.

“We decided to do strawberry and black pepper, influenced by eating those ingredients, possibly with balsamic vinegar, as a pudding.

“We launched it and it became our most popular product.”

Russell's son Joe also works for the brand
Russell’s son Joe also works for the brand

sweet stuff

“There was much debate about what to do next and there weren’t many Old Tom-style gins on the market,” said Russell.

“The thing with it is that not many people know what it is – it’s a sweet gin. Before we opened our shops it was our slowest seller but, now people can try it in-store, it’s our best seller.

“Most people wouldn’t think to buy a gin like that off the shelf but we’re educating people as to what it is.

“It’s sweet, but our twist was to make it with mango and honey rather than just dumping a load of sugar in it.

“It’s a drink you can have with tonic or in cocktails, but it’s also a lovely sipping spirit you can have with ice.

Bullards' branding honours the original firm's tipsy anchor
Bullards’ branding honours the original firm’s tipsy anchor

home county

“Then we had a good long think about what we were all about,” said Russell. “We had the London Dry, but it was made with tonka beans from South America. 

“We had the flavoured gin made with strawberries from Norfolk, but the pepper was from overseas and we had the Old Tom, which had honey from our home county in it, but we wanted a product that encapsulated us and our Norfolkness.

“So if you had one gin you could take to a desert island that would sum up what Bullards is all about, it would be the Coastal.

“The reason is because all the botanicals apart from the juniper have been foraged from the Norfolk coast.”

Bold statement: Bullards wants Wharfers to try its gins

a bottle for life

Bullards’ gins cost £40 in the brand’s coloured glass bottles, but are also available in refill pouches for £5 less.

These can be recycled in-store, with postal subscriptions also available via Royal Mail, cutting down on delivery emissions. 

The brand produces cocktail recipes with ingredient hampers available for mixed drink enthusiasts as well as miniatures, scented candles inspired by the four core flavours and a range of other merchandise.

Russell said: “We want to spread the word and we get a great reaction. People like that the owners are in the shops talking to people about what they like.

“It’s the ultimate market research to find out what our customers think.

“So if anyone on the Wharf wants to come and try our gins, there’s always someone here who will be happy to talk them through the range and give them a free taste.

“Personally, my favourite is the Old Tom, but people should make their own minds up.”

Read More: Why Greenwich Gin is a journey around the world

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Greenwich: How a bottle of Greenwich Gin contains a journey all around the world

We talk to Gonzalo Ruiz about creating a spirit with consensus inspired by the prime meridian

Greenwich Gin’s Gonzalo Ruiz – image Matt Grayson

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Greenwich Gin is a coming together in many different senses.

Its creator, Gonzalo Ruiz, first began distilling botanicals at his home at Royal Arsenal Riverside as a lockdown project.    

“Since I was born I’ve always been moving around,” he said. “I’m originally from Colombia but I’ve lived in Canada, in the USA, in Switzerland, in Hong Kong, Germany and now here.

“The person that I am is a mix of all of the places where I’ve lived and, in many of them, I’ve picked up on specific flavours and cuisines. I’ve always been a gin lover, so I thought I would try to distil some of these botanicals and see what happened.

“I spent about a year and half playing with my two-litre copper still, trying dozens and dozens of ingredients. I found that while many work really well on their own, they don’t mix.

“So it’s trial and error – there’s no scientific explanation for why a combination of flavours work together. It was often a frustrating process, but eventually I narrowed it down to a selection of botanicals where I was happy with the result.” 

Having come up with the recipe, Gonzalo thought the resulting spirit would contribute something different to the ever growing gin market.

So he set about scaling up production and creating a brand that would do justice to the liquid in the bottle.

“The name of the gin has a lot to do with the prime meridian, which enabled navigation around the world,” he said.

“But there’s a subtlety about Greenwich, which is often overlooked – to me it’s a really nice detail. Unlike the equator, which is the physical middle of the Earth – something nobody can dispute – the prime meridian could really be anywhere.

“So the whole world has to agree where it is. All the countries had to come together and make a decision for the greater good – to decide that time would begin in Greenwich – the place where west and east separate.

“The concept of the world coming together for something is reflected in the gin. The gold line down the middle of the bottle symbolises the prime meridian.”

Greenwich Gin is inspired by consensus – image Matt Grayson

Inspired by the spirit of consensus reached at the International Meridian Conference in 1884, Gonzalo’s recipe is all about diverse ingredients working together to achieve something greater than themselves. 

“I describe the flavour as an ocean journey around the world,” he said. “There are always the marine botanicals in the background – Atlantic dulse and kombu kelp from the Celtic Sea and sea fennel from the British Isles. The first two grow in the ocean and provide that backdrop.

“There are traditional botanicals found in many gins too such as bitter orange, coriander, juniper and angelica.

“Then the world botanicals I’ve hand-picked from across the globe – some are dry, some are sweet – they help give the gin peaks of flavour as you drink it.

“As much as it is a local gin, created in Greenwich and produced in Kent, it is a global spirit that ties back to my personal story. It brings all those world flavours and cuisines together.

“I’ve sourced many of the botanicals directly from people around the world that I have a connection with.

“There’s a map on the bottle that shows where they come from. Balsam fir, for example, comes from the Canadian arboreal forest and there’s a family who actually live among the trees and ship the fir tips that they forage every spring, to us.

“There’s lime from Mexico and lulo, which is a tropical fruit from Colombia. It’s really acidic – you can’t really eat it on its own, but people use it to flavour desserts and juices and now I use it to flavour gin.

“That’s why you get a citrus flavour that’s a bit more on the tropical side.

“We also use sustainably sourced tonka beans and pink pepper from the Amazon in Brazil and sakura from Japan, which are the cherry blossoms. Their floral flavour is very subtle and brings a touch of spring into the gin.”

Greenwich Gin at Royal Arsenal Riverside – image Matt Grayson

Balancing the input of these diverse ingredients was tough enough during development and Gonzalo discovered that scaling up production threw up new challenges. 

“It was almost like starting over, but more expensive because the quantities are greater,” he said. “You’d think you’d just multiply the original recipe but there are so many variables.

“I haven’t started a distillery as that’s a big investment, but I found a family business in Kent that allows me to be very hands on.

“First we scaled up to 50 litres, which was difficult and then to 200, which was slightly easier. In the end we’ve got something that’s close enough to the original and it’s in time for the Christmas season.”

That final period of development provided yet another opportunity for the theme of consensus to emerge.

“When you treat something as a business, you treat it differently – it’s no longer a hobby,” said Gonzalo. “You’re trying to balance your prices with the quality of your product. 

“One of the things I struggled with when developing a recipe, was that you might create something that’s perfect for you, but it might not be what most people want.

“I had to make some compromises on that, more towards the end.

“While we were doing the final scaling, we had a lot of blind tastings with other people and I tweaked the recipe in a way that maybe I wouldn’t have if it had just been for me.

“But people found it pleasing – they enjoyed some of the botanicals we’ve included more, so we’ve brought them a little more into the foreground.

“It’s all about finding balance. If I were to describe the flavour in one word, it would be ‘fresh’. But the great thing about this gin is that the taste is not homogeneous, it’s a journey.

“You start on the citrus side and then get peaks of intriguing flavours. On the finish you get spice from the tonka beans and the pink pepper.

“Creating the branding has also been very hard – bringing together work by freelancers with my own additions to represent the spirit.”

Greenwich Gin is available online as well as at select retailers in the borough including the Old Royal Naval College and Royal Museums Greenwich.

Miniatures cost £6 while 50cl and 70cl bottles cost £32 and £39.50 respectively. 

Gonzalo is also often to be found selling the spirit at weekends at Greenwich Market.

Read more: Hawksmoor opens up in Canary Wharf

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Wapping: How Wapping Docklands Market provides a platform for small businesses

Zeroo Markets founder Will Cutteridge talks under-used land, sustainability and his plans for expansion

Will Cutteridge of Wapping Docklands Market
Will Cutteridge of Wapping Docklands Market – image Matt Grayson

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Will Cutteridge is a bit of a visionary. Where some see awkward, unused expanses of land left over from Docklands’ industrial past, he sees opportunity.

Take the patch of cobbles, wharf and compacted earth beside the Glamis Road bascule bridge, for example. 

Walk under the crossing’s red riveted metalwork, turn right through a gate off Wapping Wall at the entrance to Shadwell Basin you have the site of his first venture under the banner of Zeroo Markets.

“I worked in commercial property for five years on an apprenticeship scheme, changing teams every year,” said Will. “It was managing real estate in many different formats, but it wasn’t for me.

“When I was very young and working in property – I was 17 when I joined the industry – I didn’t have much money so I was looking at ways of making some extra cash on the weekends. 

“I started working for a company called Bath Soft Cheese who have a farm just outside of Bath, funnily enough.

“The job was selling their products at various markets around London and I absolutely loved it.

“Before I became an apprentice I’d had an interest in starting my own business of some kind. I had experience of real estate and markets – I didn’t enjoy one of them so the other one seemed the obvious place to go.

Hannah Nicholson of Peaches
Hannah Nicholson of Peaches – image Matt Grayson

“I think people are increasingly conscious of sustainability, the environment and the future of the planet.

“That was also an interest of mine, so I wanted to see how I could work that into my ideas and actually make a difference. 

“I felt almost a moral duty to factor that into my business plan and markets provide a brilliant platform for primary producers to sell their products at a price that doesn’t need to compete with large commercial supermarkets. 

Chegworth Valley, for example, is our fruit and veg supplier based in Kent, so it’s only 50 miles away.

“Our butcher is in Leicester, so that’s about 100 miles. When you buy a steak in a supermarket for £3, it may well have come from Australia or Texas.

“It’s far better to shop local and we describe ourselves as a sustainable alternative.”

By we, Will means Wapping Docklands Market, the venture he launched in April after founding his company in October 2020.

“The most important thing to do is to find the site, get the right demographic and then apply to the landowner,” he said. “In this case it’s Tower Hamlets Council.

“This was just an abandoned car park – it’s not used by anyone for anything.”

Egle Kleivaite of Stomping Grounds
Egle Kleivaite of Stomping Groundsimage Matt Grayson

Visitors to the market, which normally operates on Saturdays, will find a range of traders.

“It’s lots of different things for many different kinds of customer,” said Will.

“For the residents of Wapping and further afield in east London, it provides an opportunity to support local businesses and to get their weekly shop in from us.

“A lot of people do that – one of our best performing pitches is the fruit and veg stall. People do support that mission.

“We also have a pub, in effect, operated by the Krafty Braumeister.

Visitors can come and have a beer and enjoy refreshments from a plethora of street food stalls as well.

“On average our products have travelled 900 miles less when compared with a like-for-like product in a supermarket, so what we’re doing is working, and we’re always looking to improve.

“That’s a very important part of the market and attracts a younger crowd.”

Ben Tyler-Wray of Celtic Bakers
Ben Tyler-Wray of Celtic Bakers image Matt Grayson

The market also features baked goods, gifts, clothing and homewear brands.

“It’s been going really well since we launched and the local community have taken to it really well and we’re immensely grateful to them for that.

“We’re still trading strongly despite the weather turning. We don’t see a dip in our footfall with cold – it’s wind and rain that can be the problem.

“We want to continue to operate here and to extend our normal operation to Sundays and then Fridays, which is what we’re doing for Christmas.

“Eventually I’d love to work with the council to redevelop the site with a temporary canopy in the style of Borough Market and have a high street in a market setting.

“That potential is what we’re looking for at all of our sites.

“That’s why we wouldn’t operate at schools, for example, because it’s not under utilised space and there would be no flexibility to expand there. 

“With our next ventures, I’m looking to keep it local – my dad lives in Wapping and, while I’m in Holloway at the moment, I’m looking to move to the area. 

“We’re in contact with a number of local authorities, private developers and private landlords on a number of sites around east London.”

Brendan Preece of Brnd And Co
Brendan Preece of Brnd And Co image Matt Grayson

Wapping Docklands Market is always interested to hear from potential traders.

Will said: “There’s an application form on our website, which goes straight through to us.

“There are lots of things we’d love to add to the market. I’d love to have a crèche. A lot of parents come here with their kids and say they’d love to stay longer but have to leave because of them.

“I think a lot of adults would like that freedom to go and see Uli Schiefelbein – the Krafty Braumeister for a beer.

“He’s completely eccentric and totally awesome in every way and is great to talk to.”

As for the future, Will intends to create a business model called Squid, designed to work with landlords to generate value from under utilised space.

In the meantime, Wapping Docklands Market will be open Fridays (3pm-10pm), Saturdays and Sundays (10am-5pm) throughout December, before taking a break until January 19.

Read more: Discover Jake’s shirts, handmade in Royal Docks

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Canary Wharf: Hamptons unveil new office space as vote of confidence in local market

Estate agent’s Canada Square branch allows teams to come together to serve clients face-to-face

Hamptons has opened a new branch in Canada Square
Hamptons has opened a new branch in Canada Square – image Matt Grayson

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You often read about online agencies, but that’s not what people like in this area,” said Adam Wolfryd, who was appointed senior head of sales at Hamptons’ Canary Wharf operation in May.

“People want to deal with you face-to-face when it comes to their biggest asset.”

The company recently opened the doors to its new office at 20 Canada Square following relocation from its previous home at 30 South Colonnade via a brief temporary home at nearby WeWork.

“We were essentially working as an online proposition and while we were able to do that, it was challenging,” said Adam.

“The feedback we were getting from clients was that they wanted to be able to walk in and talk to us not have to book an appointment or do the whole thing remotely.

“It proved that we’re in a business that requires a traditional model to operate effectively. Opening the new office shows how much confidence Hamptons has in the Canary Wharf market.”

The company, which has more than 90 branches across the UK, has made a statement with this opening, taking over an expansive space, formerly occupied by a bank.

Dressed in pale woods, potted greenery and crisp digital screens displaying properties in its windows, there are meeting rooms for consultations with clients and plenty of space to house a team covering every aspect of the property market.

Hamptons senior head of lettings Laura Stronghill
Hamptons senior head of lettings Laura Stronghill – image Matt Grayson

The Canary Wharf office’s senior head of lettings Laura Stronghill said: “The previous space we had didn’t really suit when we expanded the team – we felt we’d outgrown it and the building was set to be redeveloped in any case.

“Then this site came up and it was the right spot for us – it gives the business better exposure, we’re closer to the Tube and it means we can bring more people in and do more business.

“We’ve expanded the sales and lettings teams. We also have our residential development team, who handle new homes, and our property management team, who look after clients with multiple properties, based here, alongside some of our corporate team.

“It means we can get everybody under one roof and provide a better level of service for our clients. 

“That’s especially important in Canary Wharf as there’s a great deal of development going on locally and a lot of investors as well as professionals relocating to the area.

“With everyone here, people walking in can speak to members of our team with a wide range of expertise to help them with whatever they need.”

Adam and Laura said that with flexible digital infrastructure in place and the office now open, Hamptons stands ready to handle properties across a broad swathe of the market.

“It’s important that people know we will take care of everything from a studio apartment to a five-bedroom house,” said Laura. “We have the ability to be creative with our marketing to get the right result.

“I’ve been with the business for more than 15 years and its core is solid. The backbone of the company is its people, its structure and its ability to retain good members of staff so we can use our experience to do a great job for our clients.

“We’re all approachable, we want people to come and meet us and we like to do tiny, noticeable things to make our clients’ lives a little bit better.

“Whether that’s popping round to a property to turn the oven off, arranging to be there to make sure tenants get their keys out of hours or even helping them move in, it’s those little extras you can count on.

“On the lettings side, there are no straightforward tenancies – that’s where the team and I come in to assist landlords as much as we can. That’s where our corporate reach really helps – we have a lot of tenants employed by blue chip companies.

“Right now, demand is through the roof – in some instances rental prices are already exceeding 2019 levels.

“Tenants are looking to secure longer deals because they don’t know where the market’s going.

“We’re starting to see landlords getting a better return, which is great. We don’t want tenants or landlords to feel they’re getting the raw end of the stick.

“The happier the tenant, the better the property is kept and the longer they will stay. The past few years have been tough for small landlords so it’s been fantastic to give them some good news. 

“We will always look after their biggest asset for them and we get very good rental returns. It’s about working the market to the best of our ability, that personal touch and having the marketing tools available to do the best job possible for our clients.”

Hamptons senior head of sales Adam Wolfryd
Hamptons senior head of sales Adam Wolfryd – image Matt Grayson

Adam is similarly optimistic about the sales market and said Hamptons was ideally placed to help vendors get what they want.

“Experience is one of the first things sellers look for from an agent,” he said. 

“In the current market, finding a buyer takes a lot of hard work and having an experienced person deal with the offer and negotiation process as well as ensuring the buyer is a viable prospect is essential.

“I’ve been working in estate agency in this area for more than 20 years and I have a team here with more than half a century of experience.

“In a fast-paced, high turnover industry, Hamptons is a recognised, respected brand and sellers will find an established team at the Canary Wharf office that can really give clients the benefit of that experience.

“We won’t rush to force a seller to accept too low an offer if we think that in a couple of weeks we can achieve a higher price, for example.

“We won’t put a sale together, unless we’re confident that we’ve done the work we needed to do to ensure that the buyer is fit to proceed.

“As rental yields in this area have hit 5% again, buyer registrations are starting to rise as we’re seeing tenants looking to purchase a property and buy-to-let investors coming back to the market.

“That suggests prices will only go in one direction and I’m quite bullish about 2022.

“Over the next 12 months, especially with Crossrail set to open and the Wharf becoming even easier to travel in and out of, people will see what a great place to live it is.

“This new office is a central hub for us – we cover properties of all kinds all the way out to Essex from here. It’s always a good time to come and talk to us, if nothing else, just to understand the value of your property – we can advise on whether it’s better to keep it and rent it out or to put it on the market. It’s the benefit of offering that all-round service.

“Whatever your property requirements are, we cover everything.

“We’re connected right across the UK and can also help with financial services, new homes, removals, cleaning and refurbishment as well as sales and lettings.”

Read More: Canary Wharf opens 8 Harbord Square show home

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Canary Wharf: How Hawksmoor’s team work tirelessly to refine its offering

Wood Wharf opening along with The Lowback bar is first hospitality venue in estate’s emerging area

Hawksmoor group executive chef Matt Brown
Hawksmoor group executive chef Matt Brown – image Matt Grayson

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Not many restaurant group flagship venues are actually floating.

But Hawksmoor’s Wood Wharf establishment, permanently moored off Water Street, sits on a specially-built pontoon above the cold, dark fathoms of what’s left of the eastern end of West India Middle Dock. 

It’s the first in a clutch of new venues – something of a beachhead that will see Wharfers drawn in ever greater numbers over Montgomery Bridge.

And they’ll be in for a panoply of riches if Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, The London Project and MMy Wood Wharf turn out to be of similar quality.

Hawksmoor may have leapfrogged them all, becoming the first hospitality venue to open its doors in the emerging community, but the speed of its arrival hasn’t been to its detriment.

Its 160-seat restaurant on the top deck is all deep leather banquette seating, gold, glass and warm lighting. It’s filled with different, comforting textures offset by polished wood – all the glamour of an Art Deco ocean liner.

Head downstairs and 120-seat bar The Lowback continues the theme, its bottle display recalling the slick glamour of an illuminated 1940s jukebox.

It’s not just about the sleek interior, though. Like cutting into an exquisite steak and seeing the glowing red of perfectly cooked meat, the quality goes all the way through.

The restaurant at Hawksmoor's Wood Wharf establishment
The restaurant at Hawksmoor’s Wood Wharf establishment

Cookery

Matt Brown is group executive chef for Hawksmoor and boasts a CV that includes some of London’s best restaurants, including extensive periods working with Marco Pierre White.

He said: “I always wanted to cook. I’m from Chesterfield and I moved to London when I was 16, got an apprenticeship at The Ritz and did that for about four years.  After that I was reading about this guy – Marco – in the newspaper, so I went to work for him for about 20 years. Then I was head chef at Le Tante Claire for Pierre Koffmann for two years.

“But I’ve always wanted to challenge myself. Some of my cheffy friends saw taking the job at Hawksmoor in 2015 as a step down – cooking in a steakhouse – but not at all.

“What we try to do at Hawksmoor is no different from what one, two, or three Michelin-starred restaurants are trying to do. The amount of effort we put into sourcing ingredients and cooking them in the correct way is unbelievable.

“The lengths we go to to get the ultimate chip, for example, are incredible and we do that in all our restaurants – that’s a different ballgame to doing it in one kitchen.

Steaks served at Hawksmoor
Steaks served at Hawksmoor

“Firstly we take great care   selecting the potatoes – if you start with rubbish you’re never going to get a good chip – and then we have a three-day process. We blanch them first in boiling salt water, then chop them up and they go on trays to let the steam out.

“Then they go in the fridge overnight. You have to get as much water out as possible. Then we fry them at 140ºC on the second day and put them back in the fridge.  Then we serve them on the third day, frying them in beef dripping at 180ºC.

“While 80-90% of the menu is set in stone, we’re always trying to do things better, to create more interesting side dishes.

“We work with about 500 farms in the UK – all small producers – where you can select all grass-fed cuts. The menu is cool starters and steakhouse classics, but we want to be about more than just steak, we want to be a great restaurant as well.

“That means having a drinks list, a wine list and food that are all amazing. For me, it ticks all the boxes. You can come here and have what I think is the best steak and chips anywhere. My favourite is probably the rib-eye. It’s flavoursome and has just the right amount of unctuousness – tender, but not too tender.”

Matt’s connection to Canary Wharf dates back two decades to when he met local resident Lisa, who he subsequently married, but the local dining scene was pretty limited then.

“It’s not like it used to be – when I came here a few weeks ago, it was for the first time in 18 or 19 years,” he said. “Initially we were a bit dubious when we first thought about Hawksmoor on a boat – it’s not really what we do.

“But then I saw the restaurant and it’s amazing – what a great venue for anyone to come to.”

The Lowback Bar at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf
The Lowback Bar at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf

Bartending

That spirit of inclusion (pun intended) continues downstairs in The Lowback. Conceived as a venue in its own right, manager Joe Worthington is in command and wants Wharfers to see it as a favoured hangout whether they’re living or working locally.

“Hawksmoor is The Lowback’s big brother so you’re going to get that guaranteed quality, really great food. But the focus down here is on drinks.

“The atmosphere and the service will be just like any Hawksmoor but the lights will be lower and the music a little louder.

“We want it to be a hub for the Wharf. Whether you live or work here we want it to be your local, whether it’s for a cocktail or a pint of Guinness.

“We’ve got a great Martini list and one good thing is that a lot of prep for our drinks is done early – they’re designed so they can be put together in 30 seconds.

“That means we’ll be aiming to deliver drinks to the table in under five minutes for parties of two or three – a little longer if there are more guests.

“In spring the terraces will be open – there’s a further 30 seats on tables out there, bathed in sunlight.

“I imagine that, when people look out of their residential towers or their office blocks, they’re going to see that terrace outside and fancy having a Martini by the water.

“Inside we’ve got this beautiful 10-metre bar with a plethora of drinks on offer.

Manager of The Lowback Joe Worthington
Manager of The Lowback Joe Worthington – image Matt Grayson

“If you want a whisky on the rocks, a pint, a cocktail, we’re at your beck and call. The best place to sit will be at the bar where you can watch your drink being made. You’ll get your own designated bartender and they’ll be happy to talk you through the menu.

“What’s at the forefront of our minds is ensuring we deliver drinks and food with great service.

“We hope that when people come down here we’ll create regulars. The theatre of making drinks will still be there but we want to serve people quickly.

“Nobody comes to a place to stand at the bar for seven minutes. The prices we charge are the industry standard, but what sets Hawksmoor apart isn’t how cheap or expensive we are, it’s the people we employ – the atmosphere and the culture those staff create.

“Before I joined the team, I’d been coming to Hawksmoor for about 10 years and the thing I loved about it was that the bars felt independent while still being encased in the restaurant.

“The Lowback is a stand-alone brand and it’s somewhere that enables us to say yes to people whether that’s accommodating large bookings or two people who just want a quiet drink.”

Read more: Gallio opens Mediterranean restaurant at Canary Wharf

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Canary Wharf: Gallio to offer Mediterranean pizzas and salads at Cabot Place restaurant

Managing director James Porter outlines what the new brand will bring to the fast, casual dining scene

Gallio managing director James Porter
Gallio managing director James Porter – image Matt Grayson

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James Porter is smiling. Canary Wharf’s Cabot Place is about to become home to the first branch of a new restaurant chain and its managing director can’t wait for the doors to open on December 6.

“We’re very excited to bring our new concept here,” said James. “Gallio is where casual dining meets the modern world.

“Guests can order at the till or at their table digitally, which has become much more common now.

“The concept was thought out before Covid, but the pandemic has helped the world’s IT accelerate as it has become a necessity and that’s great for us because it helps our staff focus more on the hospitality side of things.

“Gallio is an independent brand, but we’re part of a wider group of luxury restaurants.

“When guests walk through the door, they should feel that connection to quality, that we’re slightly different from other casual fast dining establishments.

“Hopefully their first perception of the business will be: ‘Wow. I can’t believe I’m getting this product in this place at this price.

“People should feel they’re getting as much value from the restaurant environment as from the food itself – we don’t want anyone to feel they’re less comfortable because we’re serving food to them quickly or that they have to leave immediately.”

Gallio offers salads and pizzas with flavours drawn from all around the Med
Gallio offers salads and pizzas with flavours drawn from all around the Med

Having started working in a restaurant to pay the bills while studying business and marketing at university, James stayed in the industry after graduation.

Having spent most of his career in management for high street casual dining chains, Gallio represents an opportunity to start at the beginning.

“I’ve been in charge of a brand before but in slightly different circumstances,” he said. “That was to do with the acquisition of a brand and maintaining and sustaining it in a different way.

“I’ve brought a lot of that experience here as well as those with the bigger brands I’ve worked for over 14 years including one company that went from a handful of sites to more than 50.

“For me this is going back to the future – back to the process in a different role and taking all that learning with me.”

Gallio has been three years in development and promises to bring something new to the Canary Wharf table.

“It’s a Mediterranean restaurant and that’s a broad term,” said James. “When people think of the Mediterranean, they tend to think of Spain, Italy and Greece, but there are 21 countries which border that sea and our menu represents all of them.

“Pizzas are at the heart of our concept, but even those are different because we bring in influences from other countries, such as Greece, Turkey and Lebanon as well as North Africa.

“Obviously, when you have to have a Margherita, but the other pizzas will have toppings like spiced lamb, grilled aubergine and various other middle eastern ingredients, which you wouldn’t find in an Italian restaurant.

“We’re trying to bring those diverse flavours into our pizzas. Our bases aren’t traditional either.

“We’ve come up with our own unique recipe using grains – it’s more nutritious and high in fibre and protein – so customers can feel a little less guilty when ordering.”

The restaurant will feature a bronze pizza oven
The restaurant will feature a bronze pizza oven

With a tagline of “pizzas and salads” the latter is another major component of Gallio’s menu.

“Like a lot of restaurants, there needs to be something that hauls people in,” said James.

“The majority of people like pizza, they know what it is, and we’ve got a bronze oven, which is a real show-stopper. We’ll also be baking our middle eastern flatbreads in there.

“The other part of our concept is salads, made fresh everyday, and built as you’re ordering, so, whether you’re Vegan, vegetarian or a carnivore, you can select how you want the dish to arrive.

“They’re all made in front of our guests too, so people can see the actual product instead of it coming from a kitchen in the back.

“That means they’ll see how good the salad is, how fresh ingredients are and they can have it their own way.

“Our menu is seasonal so when developing the concept it’s all been about playing with different ingredients and supplies – working out what ingredients we can get and when.

“Then it’s practise and repeat, asking whether we can make the pizzas healthier and more nutritious and work with the vegetables we’re getting.

“As the pandemic approached we were getting ready to launch the brand and open our first restaurant, but we ended up temporarily operating out of central London units and delivering food to people.

“We were refining our menu in the public domain, taking feedback and understanding what guests wanted as well as what they expect in terms of delivery and how our products stood up to travel.

“Most brands wouldn’t have had that amount of time to trial what they want to do but we’ve used this time to really get to know how best to make the products we’re selling.

“Now that we’re going into our first bricks and mortar site, we’ve been able to take that feedback and add to it, expanding what we were doing by offering more dishes than we were selling during the trial period.”

Following the unexpected period of extra development,  there’s a certain amount of pent up excitement to finally be opening in east London.

James said: “Canary Wharf will be a flagship venue for us – to be able to say that we’re here is fantastic.

“It’s a place that everyone knows so it’s an important area for us as a business to have a footprint in, and it’s always been the area that the economy revolves around so opening up here will be good.

“We plan on growing, certainly throughout London and the UK and we also have plans to develop internationally. 

“But the first thing to do is to ensure Canary Wharf is a success and that’s not just from a business point of view.

“If our guests don’t like it then in the end we won’t go anywhere so our focus is that everybody here enjoys themselves. We want any feedback about the brand so we can take it on board and that will show us where we want to go in future.”

Hungry Wharfers (let’s face it, that’s basically all of us at some point) should get their diaries out now and ensure they don’t miss out. Gallio is set to officially open at 11am on December 6.

Customers can expect 100 free pizzas given out via the brand’s social media feeds from 11am on December 8 and 9. Find out more on Facebook and Instagram. 

In the New Year, there will also be a Hot Dinner Offer, with 50% off pizzas for diners visiting the restaurant from January 10-16.

Opening hours from launch until January 3 will initially be 11am-10.30pm.

Personally, I can’t wait to immerse myself in the flavours of Moroccan-spiced chicken, lamb kofte and rose harissa.

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