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Binder launches Café Med

01 January 2000
Binder launches Café Med

Simon Binder, who with Robert Earl developed such restaurant concepts as Pasta Mania, Mamma Amalfi and Rock Island Diner, will next week unveil a new bar and grill concept called Café Med.

The first Café Med is scheduled to open on Tuesday in London's Kensington Park Road, on the site of what was previously Gumbo Ya-Ya. The total cost of setting up the 85-seat restaurant comes to about £200,000.

The menu, which will offer a selection of freshly prepared meat and fish dishes, is unashamedly based on the food served by "my good friend" Julio Turano at Camden Brasserie, London.

"I had always liked the restaurant and decided to base the concept around his menu," said Mr Binder.

Café Med's head chef, Darrin Jacobs, who was previously sous chef at Frederick's in Islington, has spent the eight months prior to the opening as a guest chef at Mr Turano's establishment.

Mr Binder expects average spend to be about £15-£20, and hopes to boost spend in the main restaurant with an all-day bar on the mezzanine level, for which he has secured a full on-licence.

If the concept proves successful, he hopes to open a second outlet by the end of the year. Target locations for further openings will be areas of London with their own "village" atmosphere, such as Islington, Hampstead, Highgate, Chelsea and Fulham.

Mr Binder is funding the first restaurant from his own resources, which mainly consist of his share of the £6m sale of Worldwide Leisure Holdings to the Pelican Group in April 1993.

His partners, Robert Earl and Cedric Metliss, joined Pelican as part of the deal, but Mr Binder decided to go it alone. "I wanted to develop my own concept," he explained. "There wasn't really an opening for me in their structure, so I decided to leave."

His goal is to establish a small, profitable company of 4-6 restaurants, though the pace of growth will be more sedate than the period at President Entertainments in 1987-88 when he opened 10 Pasta Mania outlets in as many months.

Mr Binder's aim is to build up the business to the point where it might become of interest to bigger companies such as Pelican. He said his former partners had not dismissed the idea of linking up again in the future.

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