Stop the presses! Richard Corrigan’s launching a rooftop restaurant.. The new opening, slated for next year, is coming to Camden’s Hawley’s Wharf and promises to be one of 2022’s biggest openings. So we caught up with the chef to find out what he’s up to and how life-after-lockdown is treating our favourite Irishman.
“It’s good to get the ship off the rocks again, do you know what I mean?” Corrigan opines in his distinctive Dublin accent. It’s difficult *not* to know what he means, the whole country is trying to do the same thing, albeit in the face of Omicron uncertainty, picking up the pieces of our lives as we hopefully move forward. But I’ll bet that your lockdown wasn’t as busy or productive as Richard Corrigan’s.
Along with the eponymous Corrigan’s Mayfair, the chef owns Bentley’s, plus bars Daffodil Mulligan and Dickie’s and Virginia Park Lodge, an 18th Century country estate overlooking Lough Ramor in Ireland.
And after a productive year or so in lockdown, he’s not only had the chance to renew, but he’s got big plans for the future.
I would’ve burned myself alive before I fucking saw any of them lose their jobs...
Hunkered down in Ireland for Covid, Corrigan kept his staff on the books, ‘I would’ve burned myself alive before I fucking saw any of them lose their jobs’ he says with characteristic passion, the result being that he was able to return at full capacity amid the wider hospitality hiring crisis that sees many top-end restaurant struggling with capacity issues.
Darkly he adds “And why would you work for a company that fucking fired you on day two of covid? There are restaurant companies who did that who are now saying how great they are, but I remember them and I know who the fuckers are and I won’t forgive them.
“And brilliant people are knocking on our door because it hasn’t gone unnoticed in our hospitality industry who behaved badly and who behaved the best they could”.
Why would you work for a company that fucking fired you on day two of covid?
Aside from shielding his staff from the financial ups-and-downs created by the crisis, Corrigan has had what can only be described as a good covid. Aside from helping to feed London’s homeless, he used the lull as a chance to revamp his business.
”We haven’t been sitting on our backsides”, he says with such energy that you’d never think him capable of sitting anywhere for more than 30 seconds “We’ve used the lockdown to renew Bentley’s, we’ve rewired, replumbed, repainted, done the whole facade. While at Virginia Lodge we’ve put in a terrace and put in lovely furniture from Oxleys, the best furniture, you know?
We’re renewing for the next generation of Corrigans...
“And Corrigan’s is being fitted out right now, the builders are in, the lighting engineers are in, we’ve ripped out the toilets, and we’ve been making it great, a great investment in the future”
Future plans are never far from Corrigan’s thoughts, it seems. “We’re renewing for the next generation of Corrigans” he stresses, but his immediate plans are even more exciting.
Casually, Corrigan drops news of a scheme that will surely be one of the most iconic openings of 2022 “Oh, and we’ve got a very exciting rooftop opening next year” he mentions.
No doubt to the dismay of his PR handlers, the ‘top secret’ plan remains under wraps for all of four seconds as he reveals all, and we’re already chomping at the bit to visit.
The rooftop, at Hawley’s wharf and overlooking Regent’s canal, will be on a 25 year lease (“I don’t do anything short term, we’re looking at the next generation”) and will see Corrigan launch an oyster shack and smokery, which he passionately describes it as “a deconstructed Bentley’s, do you know what I mean? Aimed at a much younger market”.
“This rooftop is not just iconic, it’s a cracking place, it really is. I’ve been up there twice now and it’s almost like a piazza, and it’s public as well, it’s not one of those ‘private’ roof terraces, you understand? You can come up and you can grab a beer and grab something nice”
Imagine a sparkling European feel and flare, slightly city inspired with oysters and stuff...
It’ll have a youthful air too, “Imagine a sparkling European feel and flare, slightly city inspired with oysters and stuff”
The ‘and stuff’ is the next exciting element to this brand new rooftop venue, a smokery which will no doubt be a great chance to experience freshly smoked flesh as part of the offering and really set it apart. Prepare to return home wow-ed. And smelling like a kipper.
The opening, which has still to be given a name, is planned for next year and proves that there’s certainly still an appetite for new and exciting restaurants in the capital.
Meanwhile, we’re fully staffed when there’s a crisis of staff in London and we’ve never been busier...
“You cannot fool a customer” Corrigan points out “this oversupplied middle market of hedgefund restaurants, that whole model where you need 10 restaurants to make one work, is done for” but quality speaks volumes.
“Meanwhile, we’re fully staffed when there’s a crisis of staff in London and we’ve never been busier”.
It sounds like things are about to get even busier, and that can only be a good thing. See you on the roof…