London’s Boulestin Avoids Closure as Administrators Find Buyer
Boulestin, the highly regarded French restaurant located in the heart of Mayfair, has avoided administration and found a buyer. The up-market eatery that is frequented by wealthy residents and financiers called in the administrators on 8 February and was acquired shortly after by Ken Anderson, former owner of Italian restaurant chain L’Altro. The deal was struck by the company Boulestin St James.
In a statement, the administrators said: “After a brief, but very busy marketing exercise the administrators completed the sale to Boulestin St James Ltd yesterday, securing not only the future of the restaurant but also continued employment for its entire staff.”
The Prettiest Restaurant in London
The current Boulestin is based on the restaurant of the same name that was founded by French man Xavier Marcel Boulestin in Covent Garden in 1924. His restaurant came to be known as one of the most expensive and luxurious dining spots in London, featuring circus murals by French artists and fabrics by Raoul Dufy. The restaurant was described by Cecil Beaton as “the prettiest restaurant in London”.
Boulestin was one of the best restaurants of the pre-war dining era, serving up a wide range of food from classic French cuisines to other familiar dishes to London’s Literati and celebrities. Mr Boulestin forged a culinary reputation and went on to produce a number of cookery books and articles that made him a celebrity. He was also a pioneering TV presenter, with his own BBC cookery show between 1937 and 1939 and is credited to be the first celebrity chef.
Boulestin’s restaurant continued under various managements until 1994.
In 2013, Joel Kissin, a New Zealand-born restaurateur who was the co-founder, MD and shareholder of Conran Restaurants (now D&D London), relaunched Boulestin in the heart of Mayfair as a tribute to its founder. The restaurant describes its menu as “adventurous and imaginative dishes. Our Head Chef Elliot Spurdle has created a variety of delicious and healthy recipes, alongside some of the more classic specialities that we know you love.” Dishes include grilled octopus, with rhubarb, clementine gel, baby beetroot and watercress as well as assiette de Poussin with butternut squash purée and charred leeks.,
Food critic Jay Rayner praised the food, claiming that “Marcel Boulestin would have loved his namesake restaurant”.
However, Boulestin has buckled under its debt load. The last filed accounts for 2016, showed the company owed debts of £188,164, which was due within a year, according to City Am. In addition to the monies owed to the company’s creditors, sole director Joel Kissin had personally lent the business £2.4m in an unsecured loan.
Kissin, who together with Sir Terence Conran launched Bibendum in the Michelin building in London’s South Kensington, and later went on to open Le Pont de la Tour and Cantina del Ponte in Tower Bridge, Quaglino’s in St. James‘s, amongst others high profile eateries told the publication Eater that the London restaurant business was “a very difficult market at the moment.”