Iconic London restaurant the Criterion has been taken over by Vasily Sopromadze, a Georgian entrepreneur, as the first of a number of planned investments in the capital.
The Marco Pierre White-branded restaurant at Piccadilly Circus, which was run by White's business partner Jimmy Lahoud, has been taken over by Sopromadze's company Vox Restaurant.
Marco Pierre White acquired the restaurant from Forte in 2001, when it was managed by My Kinda Town, and the sale follows that of White's London restaurants the Mirabelle, Drones and Quo Vadis to Conduit Street Restaurants at the end of 2007.
Vox Restaurant plans to carry out a "gentle and sympathetic" restoration of the the Criterion including the refurbishment of the premises and upgrading of the kitchens and equipment. The group will relaunch the restaurant in May and plans to acquire other restaurant opportunities in central London.
Originally opened in 1874 as the Long Bar or Marble Hall, the Criterion is a Grade II-listed building that forms part of the 120,000 sq ft Criterion Theatre block which is owned by the Crown Estate. Interiors include a golden mosaic ceiling, set with semi-precious stones, and marbled floors.
The Criterion deal was brokered by property agent The Leisure Partnership, with a premium of £1.25m paid for the 25-year sub-underlease, which has a yearly rental of £525,000.
Property agent Jarman & Co acted for Vox Restaurant.
By Kerstin Kühn
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