Overall ranking: 35 (ranked 10 in 2010)
Restaurateur ranking: 12 (ranked 3 in 2010)
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King – Snapshot
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have been the driving force behind some of London’s best-loved restaurants for more than 20 years. They propelled the historic Le Caprice, the Ivy and J Sheekey restaurants back into the limelight before taking on the Wolseley and opening their own restaurant, St Alban. Since then the pair have concentrated on developing new projects, including a City restaurant in Bishopsgate Tower, a second Wolseley site and a boutique hotel in Mayfair.
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King – Career guide
Chris Corbin first came to prominence as manager of the French-influenced Langan’s Brasserie in London, while Jeremy King was maître d’ at the US-style Joe Allen restaurant. They attained legendary status with Caprice Holdings, which bought Le Caprice in 1981, the Ivy in 1990 and seafood restaurant J Sheekey in 1997, before selling in 1998.
Corbin and King stayed on as directors of Caprice Holdings until 2002. The following September their new company, CLK Restaurants (now Rex Restaurant Associates), opened the Wolseley with Chris Galvin as executive chef. The restaurant currently serves about 1,000 diners a day.
In 2006 Corbin and King opened 130-seat restaurant St Alban on London’s Lower Regent Street, with Francesco Mazzei as head chef. The restaurant closed on Christmas Eve 2009 after the landlord sold the premises to new owners who wanted to use it for a different purpose. In 2009 Corbin and King joined forces with Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, to reopen the Monkey Bar in the Elysée hotel, New York .
In April 2010 the duo’s new division, Corbin & King Hotels, and Grosvenor West End Properties lodged a planning permission for a new 85-bedroom boutique hotel in London. The aim is to open early in 2013.
Corbin and King are also planning to launch a new restaurant in London in 2012 on top of the proposed Bishopsgate Tower development in the City of London.
But before that a sister restaurant to The Wolseley is slated to open in autumn 2011, on the Aldwych in the redeveloped No 1 Kingsway building, complete with takeaway facility.
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King – What we think
Despite their determinedly low profile, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King practically created the celebrity-haunt diner. With Caprice Holdings, they took three restaurants that had fallen on hard times since being set up between 1896 and 1945 and made them the epitome of discreet, sophisticated elegance.
Le Caprice inspired scores of London restaurants with its combination of French and American influences.
Yet it was their next buy, the Ivy, that was to become the pinnacle of the Caprice empire – voted favourite restaurant for nine consecutive years by Harden’s from 1997.
The dynamic duo were praised as “complete” and “hands-on” restaurateurs with an almost nit-picking attention to detail when they won the Catey for Independent Restaurateur of the Year in 1993.
With the Wolseley the grand European-style all-day café-brasserie has proved to be a runaway success, with annual sales topping £10m in 2007. The restaurant has also won many accolades, including Restaurant of the Year from Harpers & Moët, London Restaurant of the Year from Time Out, the AA and scooped Best London Restaurant for Business in the 2010 Harden’s guide.
Although St Alban did not hit the heights of previous efforts, few people in the industry are prepared to bet against the duo’s next projects.
They are set to fulfil a long-held ambition to open an 85-bedroom hotel in Mayfair in 2013 incorporating a 125-seat restaurant, 65-seat lobby bar, spa, gym and small rear garden terrace.
The latest restaurant project, meanwhile, will see Corbin and King taking over a 13,000sq ft site on levels 58-63 of the 288m-high Bishopsgate Tower development, also known as the Pinnacle. It is due to open in 2012.
Corbin provided an insight into the pair’s approach to creating restaurants when giving a rare interview to the Guardian in 2008.
“There’s a collective experience, isn’t there, going on in a restaurant, which is a unique moment. It’s a piece of art, in that respect. And it was getting people to understand that excitement.”
With a second Wolseley in the pipeline at Aldwych, plus development of a boutique hotel and a restaurant at the Pinnacle, it’s clear Corbin and King have not run out of steam. They are also understood to be actively searching for a site for the Wolseley in New York.
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King’s ranking in the 2010 TheCaterer.com 100 >>
Corbin and King to open Mayfair hotel >>
Viajante wins Hardens Award for Best New London Restaurant >>
Hoteliers dominate hospitality Rich List >>
The Wolseley website >>
Published by: The Caterer