Tommy Banks said it’s the right time to expand as he and his family revealed plans to open a second restaurant called Roots in York this autumn.
The family’s Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, the Black Swan at Oldstead, North Yorkshire, won Trip Advisor’s ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ in 2017, the first time a UK venue has won the accolade.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, it’s just been about the right time and place,” said Banks, co-owner and chef-proprietor of the Black Swan, speaking to The Caterer. “The second restaurant is a long time in the planning, so we’ve got people in place who are stepping up at the Black Swan, some people are going across to Roots, everything’s very well planned. I don’t feel I’ve bitten off more than I can chew… It’s the right time to expand.”
Roots will offer an a la carte menu of sharing dishes similar to those on the Black Swan’s tasting menu, however Banks is adamant it will not be a copy of the Black Swan: “It’s keeping the same ethos, of using everything we’ve grown on the farm, and the same chilled out, unpretentious atmosphere. But Roots needs to have its own identity as well and I want it to be special in its own right.”
The new restaurant will not have rooms like the first restaurant, but will serve lunch, and Banks sees himself splitting his time between Roots during the day and Oldstead, where he lives, in the evening, once Roots has been established.
Roots is also the name of Banks’s new book published last week. He said he likes the name because it has so many interpretations: the team are expanding from their roots in Oldstead, how the Black Swan has organically grown from a struggling pub 12 years ago into a Michelin-starred restaurant, and the tables in the Oldstead restaurant, which have been made to look like they are growing from roots.
In 2012 Banks become the youngest head chef of a one-Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK. Last year he was awarded The Caterer’s Acorn award, as well as making it to the banquet stage of BBC Two’s Great British Menu.
But the expansion doesn’t mean his focus is no longer on the first site, he added: “The progression of the Black Swan is really important. We have a couple of long-term plans for the Black Swan which are going to make it really quite special.”