Restaurant and bar group D&D London is to open a series of cafés, restaurants and bars at the Grade II-listed building the German Gymnasium in London's King's Cross.
Set to open in November, the development will comprise a 447-cover complex with a ground floor grand café, an outdoor terrace, a restaurant, bars and private dining spaces, inspired by the cafés and brasseries of Central Europe, often known as the Mittel-European style.
The general manager will be Sam Bernard, who is currently at D&D London site Skylon.
Bjoern Wassmuth, the German-born former kitchen director at Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, is to be executive chef, and will create café and brasserie menus featuring classic dishes directly influenced by the Mittel-European, German heritage. Head sommelier will be Virgile Degrez, whose wine list will include German, Austrian and Hungarian labels alongside other varieties from Eastern Europe, while the cocktail bar will be overseen by Fred Tartas, who has designed a vaporiser carafe that turns cocktails into low-calorie clouds.
The interior is to be designed by Conran & Partners, who will mix central European touches with the building's own history and heritage as an original gym, including gold mesh screens inspired by Victorian fencing masks, alongside original fixtures such as climbing hooks in the ceiling above the 57-foot-high, triple-storey space.
The main kitchen will be entirely designed in black, and open to view from the street and inside the building, while the double-height upper dining area will also feature a mirrored glass façade.
The 19th-century building was designed by Edward Gruning in 1865, and became the first purpose-built gym in England. It would go on to host indoor events at the 1866 National Olympian Games (a precursor to the international Olympic Games) and become influential in the development of athletics in Britain.
Commenting on the new project, David Loewi, managing director of D&D London, said: "While developing the food and drink concepts, we have respected the history of the site. Germany is well established for its wine, yet its cuisine is often underrepresented in London. We aim to help change this and Bjoern's menus will feature some delicious dishes from Germany and its surrounding countries."
Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D London, added: "We've watched and admired King's Cross coming to life in recent years and are so excited to finally becoming part of it. We love this building and its history. It deserves an exciting life in the 21st century and we are going to do our best to give it that."
First founded at Conran Restaurants in the late 1980s by designer Sir Terence Conran, D&D London changed its name following a management buy-out in 2006, and now owns and operates a host of restaurants across London, including Coq D'Argent, Bluebird and Pont de la Tour.
Including its sites in Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo, it operates 30 properties overall, alongside the South Place hotel in London.
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