Jason Atherton has bought the lease of 5 Pollen Street, the former Italian restaurant situated across the road from Pollen Street Social, his Michelin-starred restaurant in London's Mayfair, Caterer can reveal.
He will be reopening the site as a bistro, called Little Social, in the next four-to-five weeks.
The 2012 Catey Chef Award winner said he had acquired the keys to the site, formerly run by ex-Halkin and Michelin-starred-chef Stefano Cavallini, two weeks ago, and will be installing chef Cary Docherty as head chef. Docherty's previous roles include senior chef de partie at Maze at the Marriott Grosvenor Square, London (under Atherton), and junior sous chef at Gordon Ramsay's flagship restaurant in Royal Hospital Road. Most recently, he was head chef of Foxtrot Oscar.
The 65-seat restaurant will be offering menus costing approximately £22-30 for lunch and dinner (excluding wine), while the interior will be based on the classic bistros of France.
"We're really not having to do much to the site," explained Atherton. "The banquettes are going to be replaced by those lovely ox blood-coloured banquettes you get in Paris, we've got proper bistro hardwood chairs coming in, beautiful tables. We won't be using tablecloths. We're adding vintage French picture frames to the existing mirrors."
Docherty's brigade will be supported by the prep kitchen at Pollen Street Social, while the kitchen itself is being reconfigured. "We can do all the stocks, sauces and prep across the road and transfer them across. It makes commercial sense for us," added Atherton.
"The cost of refurbishment has been just £200,000, and I'm opening a restaurant in central Mayfair, it's incredible. It will work really well for us. People can have a drink at Pollen Street Social, then go across the road and have a prix-fixe menu. It makes sense."
Little Social is one of two new restaurants to be opened by Atherton this spring. The first few months of this year also sees the opening of Social Eating House in Poland Street with previous Pollen Street Social head chef Paul Hood at the helm. Hood has been replaced by Ross Bryans, formerly senior sous chef at restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Social Eating House, on the former site of sushi restaurant Ukai Soho, will feature a ground-floor restaurant for 70 diners serving competitively-priced bistro-style food, a basement area with a chef's table and a 15-seat bar, to be called Employees, as well as a first floor bar called the Blind Pig, which will have a separate entrance, and will be headed up by executive barman Gareth Evans.
It will open on 18 April, two years to the day since the opening of Pollen Street Social.