Overall ranking: 56 (ranked 46 in 2010)
Restaurant ranking: 18 (ranked 14 in 2010)
Oliver Peyton – Snapshot
Oliver Peyton is founder and chairman of Peyton and Byrne, a restaurant group that has carved a niche opening sites in famous London landmarks. Currently in the group’s portfolio are Inn the Park, located in St James’s Park; the National Dining Rooms and National Café at the National Gallery; and the Wallace restaurant at the Wallace Collection and it ended 2010 on a high with multi-million pound restaurant deals at the Royal Academy and Kew Gardens. In addition, the group runs four cafés and bakeries at the British Library, St Pancras station, the iconic home furnishings store Heal’s, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the Wellcome Collection.
Since 2006 Peyton’s public profile has risen considerably after his regular appearances as a judge on the BBC’s Great British Menu..
Oliver Peyton – Career guide
Oliver Peyton was born in 1962 in County Mayo. After attending Summerhill College in Sligo he spent a year in New York, working partly as a waiter. He returned to the UK to study textiles at Leicester Polytechnic, but left after two years.
In the 1980s he opened two nightclubs – the Can in Brighton and Raw in London – but moved into restaurants in the early 1990s. His first two major sites, the trendy Atlantic Bar & Grill, which opened in 1994, and Coast in Mayfair, which opened a year later, took London by storm.
Mash & Air opened in Manchester in 1996, followed by a London Mash in 1998 and Isola in Knightsbridge in 1999. In 2002, Peyton took over the catering at London’s Somerset House museum and art gallery.
Since then, Peyton has concentrated on London. In April 2004, Inn the Park, an eco-friendly restaurant in St James’s Park, opened its doors. In 2006, Peyton and Byrne was born with the opening of the National Dining Rooms and National Café at the National Gallery; and contemporary café Meals at the Heal’s flagship store on Tottenham Court Road, along with a Peyton and Byrne bakery.
In 2007, a Peyton and Byrne café launched at the new Wellcome Collection, followed by the Wallace restaurant in the Wallace Collection, and a second Peyton and Byrne bakery at St Pancras station.
In 2008, the ICA Café & Bar opened at the ICA and, in April 2009, Peyton and Byrne took over the catering at the British Library, including a café, first-floor restaurant and espresso bar.
By the end of 2010, Peyton had signed multi-million pound restaurant deals at the Royal Academy of Arts and Kew Gardens.
Oliver Peyton – What we think
Peyton’s participation in the Great British Menu has made him something of a television personality and has given him further platform to endorse British cooking and ingredients – an interest that inspired his first cookbook, The National Cookbook, published with the National Gallery in 2009.
He is described by his fellow Great British Menu judge Matthew Fort as having “a penchant for the spectacular and the idiosyncratic”.
Peyton has had his ups and downs, with his high street restaurants going from boom to bust in the 1990s. His reinvention from opening out-and-out restaurants, such as Atlantic Bar & Grill, to launching cleverly pitched cafés and eateries within museums and landmarks shows the rewards that can be achieved by the clever restaurateur who spots a hole in the market and creates a product to fill it. Peyton and Byrne is pursuing a slow colonisation of public spaces and this will undoubtedly continue, particularly as cash-strapped galleries and museums are seeing the benefit of developing commercial revenue streams.
Peyton told Caterer and Hotelkeeper in February 2011: “We help to bring visitors to places such as museums, institutions and galleries … When we started, people visiting museums would go out to eat. In a short space of time that has changed. Our job is to commercialise things. Galleries are free in the UK and if people leave to eat elsewhere then the gallery is losing money.”
Peyton is confident there is still plenty of opportunity for companies such as his. In May 2011, he acted as a consultant on a committee looking at the possibility of outsourcing the prestigious House of Commons catering, which loses £5.7m a year. Peyton told the committee he has “yet to see a case where [outsourced catering] isn’t substantially better than what happens in-house”.
Oliver Peyton’s ranking in the 2010 TheCaterer.com 100 >>
Catering for culture >>
The Caterer Interview: Oliver Peyton >>
Peyton and Byrne to relaunch restaurant at the Royal Academy >>
Peyton and Byrne wins £38m Kew Gardens deal >>
Peyton and Byrne website >>
Overall ranking: 56 (ranked 46 in 2010)