D&D London


020 7716 0716


http://www.danddlondon.com (Opens in New Window)


The D&D London restaurant group was founded in the late 1980s by designer and retailer Sir Terence Conran. It was known as Conran Restaurants until late 2006, when a management buy-out team acquired a 49% stake from Conran Holdings. The name subsequently changed to D&D London.

It owns and operates a diverse collection of individual restaurants offering a range of cuisines including British, European, Italian, Spanish, Cuban and Japanese. Most are in London but the group has outposts in the US, Japan and Europe. One restaurant, the Orrery, has held a Michelin star since 2000.

D&D also owns a 25% stake in the Individual Restaurant Company, which operates more than 20 restaurants in the UK under the four brand names of Piccolinos, Restaurant Bar and Grill, Bank, and Zinc Bar and Grill (which Bank Restaurant Group acquired from Conran in 2005 before being bought itself in November 2006)

Other D&D partners include Japanese restaurant group Hiramatsu, Danish property company Centerplan, and Havana Holdings (D&D’s 25% shareholder in Floridita in Soho).

D&D and Havana (which also owns Floriditas in Dublin and Madrid) both part-own Esencia Hotels and Resorts, which is planning a luxury golf resort with D&D restaurants in Cuba.

D&D is also a backer of Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry restaurant, which opened in Clerkenwell in August/September 2008.



  • 1950s-1970s: Conran opens his first restaurant, the Soup Kitchen, in Chandos Place, London, in 1953. It is followed by the Orrery in King’s Road in 1954 and the Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden in 1971 (which is now owned by Conran’s brother-in-law Antonio Carluccio).
  • 1987: Bibendum opens in London's Fulham Road.
  • 1989: The Blueprint Cafe - the launchpad for the current collection - opens above London's Design Museum.
  • 1991-8: Conran opens Le Pont de la Tour near London Bridge in 1991, followed by the Cantina del Ponte in 1992 and the Butlers Wharf Chop House in  February 1993. These Gastrodome restaurants now serve more than 1,000 people a day. Subsequent London openings include Quaglino's in 1993; the Mezzo gastrodome in 1995; Bluebird, the Heddon Street Zinc Bar & Grill and Orrery in 1997; and Sartoria and Coq d'Argent in 1998.
  • November 1998:  Conran opens its first overseas restaurant, Alcazar in Paris, France.
  • November 1999: The group opens Berns in the Berns hotel in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • January 2000: Conran opens the Guastavino’s restaurants and bars in New York.
  • February 2000: London’s Great Eastern hotel opens, where Conran runs four restaurants (Aurora, Terminus, Fishmarket, and Miyabi) and three bars, including the George pub-restaurant.
  • August 2000: Conran opens its first UK restaurant outside London, the Manchester Zinc Bar & Grill.
  • 2001: Conran opens Zinc Bar & Grills in Birmingham and Edinburgh, the Ocean Kitchen & Ocean Bar in Edinburgh, and Almeida in Islington, London. 
  • 2002: A fifth Zinc Bar & Grill opens in Fulham, west London. Senso opens in Paris in November.
  • 2003: Conran opens Étain and the Zinc Bar & Grill in Edinburgh and two new London restaurants – the Grand Café and Bar in the Royal Exchange in June and Plateau in Canary Wharf in October. The parent company also buys a 25% stake in the Bank Restaurant Group.
  • September 2004: The Mezzo-Mezzonine gastrodome reopens as Cuban restaurant Floridita and cigar bar La Casa del Habana (in partnership with Havana Holdings) along with the Spanish Meza restaurant.  The Paternoster Chophouse opens near St Paul’s Cathedral.
  • November 2004: The Bluebird Club and Dining Room opens.
  • July 2005: Conran relinquishes its management contract for the Berns restaurant at the Berns hotel in Stockholm  following a change of ownership.
  • November 2005: Conran sells five Zinc Bar and Grill restaurants, along with Étain in Glasgow, to the three-strong Bank Restaurant Group for £1.5m, plus £2.5m of Zinc borrowing. It retains the Edinburgh Zinc but sells venues in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London (in Heddon Street and Fulham). Conran agrees to provide support services to Bank, in which it retains a 40% stake.
  • December 2005: Conran opens Restaurant Sauterelle at London's Royal Exchange.
  • February 2006: Conran and Blackstone Real Estate sell the Great Eastern hotel to Global Hyatt Corporation and Conran pulls out of the hotel's food and beverage operation in April.
  • September 2006: Des Gunewardena and David Loewi head a management buyout team that acquires a 49% stake in the group from Conran Holdings. The deal values the company at £50m and makes 40 directors and managers shareholders. It includes New York banqueting venue Guastavinos and Conran’s investment in the AIM-listed Bank Restaurant Group (which became part of the Individual Restaurant Company in November 2006). Backing is provided by HBOS, which commits £10m to fund new ventures, including restaurants in Copenhagen, Tokyo and London.
  • 2006:  The Bluebird Epicerie food shop opens
  • November 2006: Custom House, a waterfront development in Copenhagen in partnership with Danish property company Centerplan, opens with three D&D restaurants – the  Italian Bacino, the Custom House Bar and Grill, and the Japanese Ebisu along with a deli, private dining and banqueting space.
  • March 2007: The company changes its name to D&D London.
  • March and April 2007: D&D opens the first of a planned 10 restaurants in Japan in partnership with restaurant group Hiramatsu. The Tokyo venues include Botanica, Iconic and specialist deli Noodle Workshop.
  • April 2007: D&D announces plans to opens its first new UK site outside London in the Cube, the final phase of Birmingham’s Mailbox development that will be completed by 2010.
  • June 2007: The former People’s Palace restaurant (which D&D acquired in November 2006) reopens in London’s Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank as the 240-seat Skylon restaurant.
  • June 2007: D&D buys Image Restaurants, which owns three London venues - The Avenue, Kensington Place and Launceston Place.
  • March 2008:  Image's Launceston Place restaurant in Kensington is relaunched.
  • May 2008: Sir Terence Conran appoints Goldman Sachs to lead a sale of his 51% stake in D&D, along with HBOS's 18% share.
  • August/September 2008: Modern Pantry, the new venture from Providores founder Anna Hansen, opens in Clerkenwell, London. The restaurant, bar, café and shop is backed by D&D.

Chief Executive:

Des Gunewardena

Key People:

Chairman: Des Gunewardena
Managing director: David Loewi
Finance director: Adam Bellamy
Human resources director: Ian Horrox
Food development director: Max Renzland


Conran’s restaurant openings in the late 1980s and early 1990s helped put London on the world’s gastronomic map. His stylish, mid-market restaurants (all designed by his design and architectural practice Conran & Partners) made eating out cheaper and more accessible without compromising quality and the restaurants thrived during the depths of recession.

The vast size of some of these early openings paved the way for the rise of the gastropubs.  Quaglino’s (which had nearly 300 restaurant seats and 113 bar seats) was Europe’s largest restaurant when it opened while the Mezzo/Mezzonine gastrodome could seat 750 people at a time. On top of three restaurants, the Butlers Wharf gastrodome additionally threw in a food store, a wine merchant, an oil and spice shop and a bakery. It also housed a chef school and training restaurant (the Apprentice) from 1995 which trained more than 1,000 students before spiralling rents forced its closure in 2001.

Following the sale of the Great Eastern Hotel in 2006, D&D London is actively seeking to develop new hotel opportunities.


“We are seeking partners to take the business t the next stage of expansion. There are big opportunities to expand the group in London, New York, Asia and the Middle East."

The group is also keen to move back into the hotel sector.

Source: Des Gunewardena, May 2008, on the planned sale of Sir Terence Conran's 51% stake

Operating Data:

Number of employees: approximately 1,500

Total number of restaurants: 28

London restaurants: 20
Almeida, The Avenue, Bluebird,  Blueprint Cafe, Butlers Wharf Chop House and Bar, Cantina del Ponte, Coq d'Argent, Floridita, Kensington Place, Launceston Place, La Casa del Habano, Launceston Place, Le Pont de la Tour, Orrery, Paternoster Chophouse, Plateau, Meza, Quaglino's, Restaurant Sauterelle, Sartoria, Skylon

Overseas restaurants: 8
Paris: Alcazar
Denmark: Custom House (Bacino, Custom House Bar and Grill, Ebisu)
New York: Guastavino’s
Japan: Botanica, Iconic, Noodle Workship

Financial Snapshot:

Full Year
£71.7m (+18%)
Operating profit: £4.6m (+10%)

Financial year end: 31 March 2008


16 Kirby Street