Overall ranking: 76 (new entrant)
Hotelier ranking:19 (new entrant)
Nick Jones – Snapshot
Nick Jones is one of hospitality’s most well-known and successful entrepreneurs. He is the managing director of (and significant shareholder in) Soho House UK, which has built up a collection of multi-faceted businesses that variously combine luxury private members clubs, restaurants, cinemas, health spas and bedrooms, with some aspects open to the public.
Jones has been turning heads since he opened the Soho House club above his Café Boheme restaurant in 1995.
His current portfolio includes six London restaurants (Balham Kitchen & Bar, Barcelona, Boheme Kitchen and Bar, Café Boheme, Cecconi’s and Electric Brasserie).
The clubs include Soho House (London and New York), Babington House in Somerset, and the Electric House and High Road House & Brasserie in London.
The group has also developed the Cowshed spa and salon along with a line of Cowshed-branded hair and body products.
Nick Jones – Career guide
Nick Jones, who is in his early forties, left school to join the Trusthouse Forte training scheme some 25 years ago. He spent eight years with the group, rising to marketing manager at Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane.
In the 1980s, Jones created Over the Top a small group of restaurants offering a pick-and-mix menu of meats and sauces. Jones is the first to admit that the food was terrible and the venture was not a success.
Not so his next venture, Café Boheme in Soho. After seven successful years, Jones opened a sister restaurant in the former Forte Heritage hotel, the Eastgate, in Oxford. But before this, in 1995, he seized the opportunity to buy the building above Café Boheme – a Georgian townhouse – to create the foundation stone of his current empire.
Nick Jones – What we think
Nick Jones created the luxury Soho House private members’ club to cater for guests from the film and media world, providing eating and drinking facilities, a state-of-the-art cinema and private function rooms next door.
He developed the club with £1m-worth of backing from Soho landlord Paul Raymond. The venture has since grown into a diverse business which, in 2005, made a profit of nearly £3m on a £36.3m turnover, has 10,000 club members and a perpetual 1,000-strong waiting list for the Soho club alone.
His early success with Café Boheme, Barcelona and Soho House won Jones an Acorn award in 1990.
In 1998 Soho House gained a luxurious but informal rural sister in Somerset hotel Babington House, which offered a private members’ club and cinema but, unlike Soho House, opened its restaurant to the public.
It also pioneered the Cowshed spa, health club and salon concept which has since been joined by standalone cousins in London’s Holland Park (2005) and Virgin’s upper class lounge at Heathrow Airport (2006).
So popular were the Cowshed’s organic skin, hair care and aromatherapy products that they were launched into the retail sector through London’s Liberty store in 2001 and now sell through 50 UK and 20 US stores.
These first openings set the blueprint for the sort of multi-pronged venture that Jones intends to focus on. “The perfect scenario – and where we’d like to expand – is where we have five strands to a business: an all-day brasserie, a cinema, a private members’ room, and a Cowshed spa,” he told Caterer in 2006. .
Jones has added five new businesses to the group in the past four years. In 2002, he transformed Portobello Road’s Electric Cinema into a private members club (Electric House) alongside a public cinema and public restaurant (Electric Brasserie).
In 2003, he opened Soho House New York (with 24 bedrooms, a cinema, bar, restaurant, Cowshed spa and private members’ club), along with the Balham Kitchen & Bar and in early 2004 took over the daily operation of Mayfair restaurant Cecconi’s which was reopened in late 2005 after a complete makeover.
This year (2006) brought High Road House in Chiswick, a mix of 14 small bedrooms, a private members’ club, a public brasserie and a Cowshed shop – and there is much more to come.
A new venture that opens in Shoreditch next year will be Jones’s biggest venue to date. The 30,000sq ft venue will include a rooftop pool, a bowling alley, a gym and a Cowshed spa.
Jones will follow-up in 2008 with his second overseas venture – Soho Beach House in Miami – and he has also set his sights on Los Angeles, Paris and Istanbul.
Soho House UK recently gained a new chairman in the form of Robin Hutson, the founder of the Hotel du Vin boutique chain.
Nick Jones – Further information