Overall ranking: 9
Restaurateur ranking: 2
Nick Jones - Snapshot
Nick Jones is chief executive and 20% shareholder in the Soho House Group, which runs six private members’ clubs in the UK and abroad as well as London restaurants including the Dean Street Townhouse Dining Room, Cecconi's, Electric Brasserie, High Road Brasserie, Café Boheme and Pizza East.
Nick Jones - Career Guide
After leaving school, Jones joined the Trusthouse Forte training scheme in 1980. He spent eight years with the group, rising to marketing manager at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane, London, before leaving to launch an ultimately unsuccessful restaurant group called Over the Top.
In 1992 he launched Café Boheme in London’s Soho before, three years later, opening the Soho House Club above the restaurant. The club quickly became the trendiest haunt in town for media and creative types.
In 1998 Jones acquired Babington House in Somerset, which offered hotel rooms, a private members’ club and cinema but, unlike Soho House, opened its restaurant to the public.
In 2003 he opened Soho House New York - with 24 bedrooms, a cinema, bar, restaurant, Cowshed spa and private members’ club - along with the Balham Kitchen & Bar, later sold to Sam Harrison. In early 2004 Jones took over the daily operation of Mayfair restaurant Cecconi’s, which was reopened in late 2005 after a complete makeover.
Jones has launched two new venues a year for the past three years, including a Soho House each in Chiswick and Shoreditch, the Dean Street Townhouse in early 2010 and a Hollywood branch of Cecconi’s in 2008.
In 2010 he opened Soho House clubs in Berlin and West Hollywood, with the latest – in Miami – set to launch in the autumn.
Nick Jones - What we think
Nick Jones has come a long way since his first foray into running hospitality businesses, the Over the Top group of restaurants in the 1980s. He cheerfully admits today that they were “rubbish”, but it’s clear that he learnt from the mistakes made then, as virtually everything else he has touched has been hospitality gold.
Soho House in London set the standard for private members’ clubs in the 1990s, and Babington House in Somerset confounded the expectations of critics who claimed a private members’ club could not work outside London. Opening the restaurant to the general public proved to be a master stroke at Babington.
The Soho House brand can now be found in New York, West Hollywood and, since April, Berlin; and the expansion – backed by majority shareholder Richard Caring – will see perhaps the most ambitious project yet, in Miami, opening this autumn. Soho Beach House Miami will incorporate a private members’ club, 49 bedrooms, two pools, cabanas, a beach, a screening room, spa and restaurant.
Back in the UK, and the newest additions to the portfolio – Dean Street Townhouse, a boutique hotel and restaurant, and Pizza East – both launched to critical acclaim. The Times food critic Giles Coren summed it up nicely in his review of the latter. “All you really need to know is that Pizza East is, like almost everything Nick Jones opens (not everything, but almost everything), absolutely bang on the money,” he wrote.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph earlier this year, Jones provided an insight into why he has been so successful. “I don’t ever try to be hot, because hot goes cold, so I’d rather stay warm,” he said. “I hate overcomplicated food and pretentiousness. Nobody ever needs to walk into a hotel room and turn on a blue light.”
Nick Jones - Further information