Overall ranking: 10
Restaurateur ranking: 3
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King - Snapshot
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have been the driving force behind some of London’s best-loved restaurants for more than 20 years. They propelled the historic Le Caprice, the Ivy and J Sheekey restaurants back into the limelight before taking on the Wolseley and opening their own restaurant, St Alban. Since St Alban’s landlord sold the property in 2009, the pair has been concentrating on new projects, including a restaurant on top of the proposed Bishopsgate Tower development in the City of London and an 85-bedroom boutique hotel in Mayfair.
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King - Career guide
Chris Corbin first came to prominence as manager of the French-influenced Langan’s Brasserie in London, while Jeremy King was maître d’ at the US-style Joe Allen restaurant.
They attained legendary status with Caprice Holdings, which bought Le Caprice in 1981, the Ivy in 1990 and seafood restaurant J Sheekey in 1997, before selling in 1998.
Corbin and King stayed on as directors of Caprice Holdings until 2002. The following September their new company, CLK Restaurants (now Rex Restaurant Associates), opened the Wolseley with Chris Galvin as executive chef.
In 2006 Corbin and King opened 130-seat restaurant St Alban on London's Lower Regent Street, with Francesco Mazzei as head chef. The restaurant closed on Christmas Eve 2009 after the landlord decided to sell the premises to new owners who wanted to use it for a different purpose.
In 2009 Corbin and King joined forces with Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, to reopen the Monkey Bar in the Elysée hotel, New York.
In April 2010 the duo’s new division, Corbin & King Hotels, and Grosvenor West End Properties lodged a planning permission for a new 85-bedroom hotel in London.
Corbin and King are also planning to launch a new restaurant in London in 2012 on top of the proposed Bishopsgate Tower development in the City of London.
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King - What we think
Despite their determinedly low profile, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King practically created the celebrity-haunt diner. With Caprice Holdings, they took three restaurants that had fallen on hard times since being set up between 1896 and 1945 and made them the epitome of discreet, sophisticated elegance.
Le Caprice inspired scores of London restaurants with its combination of French and American influences.
Yet it was their next buy, the Ivy, that was to become the pinnacle of the Caprice empire. Readers of Harden’s London Restaurants voted it their favourite restaurant for nine consecutive years starting in 1997, when it toppled Le Caprice from the top slot.
The dynamic duo were praised as “complete” and “hands-on” restaurateurs with an almost nit-picking attention to detail when they won the Catey for Independent Restaurateur of the Year in 1993.
With the Wolseley the pair aimed to create an all-day café-brasserie in the grand European style, serving snacks as well as three-course meals. It has proved to be a runaway success, with annual sales topping £10m in 2007. The restaurant has also won a number of accolades, including Restaurant of the Year from Harpers & Moët and London Restaurant of the Year from Time Out and the AA. It regularly makes the favourite lists in the Harden's guide, most recently picking up Best London Restaurant for Business in the 2010 guide.
While St Alban did not hit the heights of their previous efforts and ended up closing after three years due to issues out of Corbin and King’s control – a change of property owner – you will find few people in the industry prepared to bet that the duo’s next two projects will not be a success.
They are set to fulfil a long-held ambition to open a hotel in Mayfair, after lodging a planning application with the City of Westminster Council for a new 85-bedroom hotel incorporating a 125-seat restaurant, 65-seat lobby bar, spa, gym and small rear garden terrace.
The latest restaurant project, meanwhile, will see Corbin and King taking over a 13,000sq ft site on levels 58-63 of the 288m Bishopsgate Tower development, also known as the Pinnacle.
Corbin provided an insight into the pair’s approach to creating restaurants when giving a rare interview to the Guardian in 2008.
"There's a collective experience, isn't there, going on in a restaurant, which is a unique moment. It will never happen again - you will never have that food again, you will never be sitting next to the same people again,” he said.
“The same staff won't be serving you again - it's an absolutely one-off moment. Almost, pretentiously, it's a piece of art, in that respect. And it was getting people to understand that excitement - how you sit people at a table, the way the angle of a chair works so that people can have a view of certain parts of the room - the sort of science behind positioning people, building a menu."
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King - Further information