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Tributes paid to restaurateur and designer Sir Terence Conran

14 September 2020 by

Tributes have been paid to restaurant "visionary", and "real legend " Sir Terence Conran, who died this weekend aged 88.

On Saturday Conran's family confirmed his death, paying tribute to "an extraordinary life and career that revolutionised the way we live in Britain".

Leading figures from the hospitality industry have added their tributes through the weekend. Conran had opened his first restaurant in 1953, the Soup Kitchen in London's Chandos Place, with the Orrery in 1954 and the Neal Street restaurants among his early successes. However, it was the launch of Bibendum in the iconic Michelin building in 1987 that set him on the path to becoming a giant within the world of hospitality.

In 2017, Conran oversaw the relaunch of Bibendum, and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cateys for the exceptional mark he made on the restaurant and wider hospitality sector. It was just one of a host of accolades to have come Conran's way during a long and illustrious career.

The two-Michelin-starred Bibendum restaurant in west London is headed by Claude Bosi, who this weekend said: "Sir Terence Conran was a visionary and a real legend. I really wish I met him earlier. This restaurant was so important to him; we will do our best to continue to make him proud. Tonight I will have a cigar in his honour. All my thoughts with his family – RIP Sir Terence."

Conran Restaurants was founded with business partner Joel Kissin in 1991 and became home to some of London's most celebrated restaurants, among them Quaglino's, the Butlers Wharf gastrodome (combining Le Pont de la Tour, Cantina del Ponte, Butlers Wharf Chop House, a food store, wine merchant and bakery), Bluebird and Coq d'Argent.

In 2006, Des Gunewardena and David Loewi had led a buyout of Conran Restaurants and rebranded the business as D&D Restaurants. Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D, said: "He was a great man and made a massive contribution to Britain. I first came across him when I bought a table as a student from Habitat.

"He was a great man, a revolutionary – we built a great business together and had some great times. We had a very close relationship. At D&D today a number people who are in the business now actually worked with Terence in the restaurants – we owe a huge debt to him as he was the founder.

"He led a pretty good life – I can't remember a lunch or a dinner that we had together when he didn't have a nice Burgundy or Bordeaux and a nice cigar – he was real bon viveur. We had our moments of disagreement but I remember him for the great times we had together – he was a man of great charm and humour and lived life to the full. Tonight I'm going to fish out of my cellar the best bottle of Burgundy I can and drink to him. That's what he would have wanted. He was a great and positive individual."

The Michelin Guide tweeted its tribute to the restaurateur: "Sir Terence Conran was a visionary who transformed the London restaurant scene. He made eating out glamorous, exciting and stylish. Bibendum restaurant, which he created in Michelin House, our former HQ, stands as a fitting tribute to his extraordinary talents."

Chef Raymond Blanc also paid tribute, describing Conran as an "icon", "bon vivant", and "genius".

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