Chef and restaurateur Michael Riemenschneider has acquired two new restaurants, as it emerged that he has closed his existing Canvas site and has plans to relocate it elsewhere in London.
Riemenschneider opened the 20-seat Canvas in London's Marylebone in January this year and although the restaurant currently states on Facebook that it is closed for a "summer holiday" and plans to be back in four weeks, the chef has now secured a new, bigger and as-yet-unidentified home for the restaurant in Chelsea/Kensington.
The new Canvas, which the chef will open alongside a new business partner, will have between 60 and 80 seats, a 12-seater chef's table, its own wine cellar, a 20-seat private dining room and a dessert bar where diners will be offered the chance to plate their own dishes. It is expected to open within the next four to five weeks.
Meanwhile, Riemenschneider has also acquired the lease of the Black Boys Inn in Hurley in Berkshire. The site, which has a 50-cover restaurant and eight en-suite guest rooms, is already open under a soft launch, and Riemenschneider's team from Canvas are in the process of training staff there. His sous chef from Canvas, Matthew Osgood, is running the kitchen. The deal for the site was negotiated by property agency Restaurant Property, which is the exclusive agent for Riemenschneider.
Riemenschneider said the Black Boys Inn would offer casual, pub-style food at a two-AA-rosette standard. Meat will be sourced locally from a nearby estate. The venue is a AA four-star restaurant with rooms, but the chef said he planned to refurbish the site gradually in a bid to upgrade it to five stars, as well as adding some spa treatment rooms.
Meanwhile, he plans to spend most of his time cooking in the kitchens of Canvas, which will also adopt a less slightly formal approach than it did at its original site, although the cooking is still expected to remain very much in Riemenschneider's fine-dining style.
While the restaurant started off by offering diners the chance to build their own tasting menu, Riemenschneider said he had now relaxed the format and allows diners to choose whatever number of courses they wanted to have.
"We adapted to demand. Some people at lunchtime came and just wanted a chicken or beef dish for £32 or £35 for a main course. That's fine and that is exactly what we are going to do in Chelsea/Knightsbridge. It will be very casual. At Canvas we didn't have tablecloths, but the service there was still too formal. The new restaurant will still be called Canvas and will be exactly the same but it will be less formal, bigger, less fussy and with its own wine cellar," Riemenschneider told The Caterer.
Speaking about the Black Boys Inn, he said: "It is all about keeping things simple - we offer good food, made from high-quality ingredients from local suppliers, served by our friendly team."
The Swiss chef and restaurateur has worked for several top chefs throughout his career, including Philippe Rochat, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Ducasse, Michel Bras, Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay. In 2009, he was forced to close the two restaurants he had opened with business partner Bill Treloar - the Abbey in Cornwall and Juniper in Greater Manchester. He also opened the Highwayman in Rainow near Macclesfield, in 2010, which has since closed, and also briefly took over the Barcaldine House Hotel in Oban in 2011.
But Riemenschneider said he had learned from past mistakes. "I am 31 now. Yes, I can cook. Did I have the business acumen? Probably not," he said. "I was young, naive and you make mistakes. But you learn out of these mistakes and what I am doing now is not silly business. It is my livelihood, not anyone else's. I have a family to look after and I am very serious about this. Canvas is a success and we are not closing it, we are expanding it and making it bigger."