FOUR former staff of London restaurant Joe Allen this week teamed up with pub operator Grosvenor Inns to open the first in a series of bar-brasserie outlets planned for the capital.
Bar Central has opened next to the Old Vic theatre with the aim of serving "high-quality food at pub prices", according to Stuart Hollis, former maŒtre d' at Joe Allen.
"We decided it was time the pub concept was updated," said Mr Hollis. "We wanted to get away from Scotch egg and shepherd's pie, but offer food at a similar price."
Most main course dishes on the daily changing menu will cost £4-£5, with food being ordered at the bar but brought to the table. Mr Hollis said he and his partners would serve Continental café-style dishes, but there would be no limits to the type of food available.
Mr Hollis has been joined in the venture by ex-colleagues Sascha Pin and Adrian Doggate, who filled the roles of sous chef and executive chef at Joe Allen, and Nigel Richardson, until recently senior sous chef at Orso and former sous chef at Joe Allen.
Together the group are putting 20% into the venture, with an option to increase their stake by a further 20% over the next two years. The rest has been put in by Grosvenor Inns, operatorof Grosvenor Taverns, Slug& Lettuce and Belcher'sPubs.
They intend to open a second outlet along similar lines later this year, and a total of about half a dozen over the next six years, said Mr Hollis.
Bar Central, which cost £400,000 to buy and refurbish, will serve Belcher's Beer, the brand established by Grosvenor Inns development director David Bruce.