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Oliver Peyton

12 May 2005

Overall ranking: 95

Restaurateurs rating: 31

Snapshot

Oliver Peyton is the founder and chairman of Gruppo Limited, whose restaurants have been as applauded for their architectural achievements as their gastronomic standards.

Peyton's current London-based portfolio includes the seminal Atlantic Bar & Grill below the Regent Palace hotel, Mash in Great Portland Street, and the eco-friendly Inn the Park in St James's Park.

Career guide

Peyton, who is in his mid-forties, studied textiles at Leicester Polytechnic. He spent much of his youth opening and running nightclubs and spent some time as a drinks importer.

He took the restaurant scene by storm in 1994 when he opened the trendy Atlantic Bar & Grill in London in 1994 and the designer Coast in Mayfair in 1995.

Mash and Air opened in Manchester in 1996, followed by a London Mash in 1998 and Isola in Knightsbridge in 1999. In 2002, Peyton took over the catering at London's Somerset House museum and art gallery.

His latest venture, Inn the Park, opened its doors in April 2004.

What we think

Peyton, a restaurateur over-brimming with ideas, has been responsible for a series of strikingly diverse and multi-faceted venues.

His vibrant 170-seat Atlantic Bar & Grill was an overnight success with its art deco makeover, downstairs ballroom and modern British menu. Peyton began an enduring partnership with Australian designer Marc Newson for his next venture, Coast, which adopted a more feminine, maritime style.

Peyton's penchant for combining upmarket and mid-market dining under one roof was underscored in 1999 when he opened the fine-dining Italian Isola teamed with the less formal Osteria d'Isola and bar in the basement.

In May 2000, Peyton took on the catering at the newly-opened Somerset House museum in London. As well as running award-winning French restaurant The Admiralty, his events catering company Gruppo Events handled the takeaway deli, the summer café and corporate hospitality. Peyton sold the business for £3.6m in 2002 to Compass but retained an input as creative director.

But Peyton's star seemed to be fading in 2000 as changing neighbourhood demographics in Liverpool and stiffer local competition in London prompted him to close Manchester's Air in January and Mash in August, followed by Coast in September. In 2001, flagging sales at Isola prompted Peyton to merge Osteria with Isola and replace it with the Iso-bar. He sold the restaurant at the end of 2004.

Undeterred, he bounced back in 2004 in partnership with the Royal Parks Agency to launch Inn the Park, a 200-seat British-style restaurant and café in St James's Park. The £3m new-build was designed by architect Sir Michael Hopkins and interior designer Tom Dixon beneath a sloping grassy mound with a rooftop boardwalk. Its green credentials extended to the use of natural ventilation and organic and sustainably-harvested ingredients.

Petyon is currently juggling with 11 projects, of which some are restaurant-or food-related.

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