Chef and restaurateur Adam Handling is set to open a flagship The Frog restaurant in London’s Covent Garden later this year.
Scheduled for an early summer opening, the new restaurant comes after Handling launched The Frog in Shoreditch in June last year.
The 68-cover restaurant, easily recognisable thanks to its graffiti-style logo by Fat Punk Studios, marked a departure for the former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, Acorn winner, and BCF Chef of the Year 2014, who previously headed up Adam Handling at Caxton in London’s St Ermin’s hotel.
Mixing a more casual approach with a wide selection of beers and Handling’s playful and technically accomplished food, the first The Frog was a proof of concept restaurant.
Handling said it was now well on the way to beating its financial projections, taking £1m in the seven months since it opened, against a target for the year of £1.2m.
That has paved the way for Handling to secure a larger site in Covent Garden, with the backing of Toucan Ventures, which provides Handling with financial support and business mentoring.
The new site, the precise location of which has not yet been revealed, will be 90 covers, set across two floors, with a large open-plan kitchen. There will be a table on the pass capable of sitting 12-15 people. “The pass will be gigantic – it’s very much a show kitchen,” Handling told The Caterer. “There will be chefs working there, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, all year round.”
In the basement meanwhile, Handling plans to open a “speakeasy” style bar with a secret side entrance and a focus on 10 or so quality cocktails and a completely separate identity to The Frog.
“Instead of making a 180-cover restaurant where you cannot possibly do the same calibre of food in the same style and the same ethos, we are going to be splitting it up,” Handling explained. “We are going to have a private dining room downstairs in the bar and you will have to push a wall to open it and that will have its own kitchen.” The downstairs bar will also feature its own DJ stage and artwork by a “very influential” artist, whose name has not yet been revealed.
“I have a passion for alcohol – that’s not to say that I am an alcoholic – but I really like cool cocktails. Upstairs food is the priority, downstairs alcohol is the priority. The Frog and the bar are definitely going to attract two different clienteles. The bar will be so controversial and exciting. There won’t be a sign on the door and we’re not the pioneers of this sort of thing whatsoever but I love the concept and we are not going to copy anybody – it is not going to be like any other one,” Handling promised.
Heads of terms on the site have already been signed and Handling has already put down a deposit, with its precise location expected to be revealed soon.
Last week, it was announced that Handling would become chef patron for the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE), joining patrons Chris Sheppardson (Chess Partnership), Marc Verstringhe (MESV Consultancy Int), Tim West (Elior), Wendy Bartlett (Bartlett Mitchell), Jane Sunley (Purple Cubed), Rosemary Osbourne MBE, Alastair Storey (BaxterStorey) and Chris Bray (Sodexo Prestige). Next month he will also start as a consultant chef to Sodexo’s corporate services division.