RED & BLUE RESTAURANT GROUP
My Planet Liverpool is always keen to highlight the openings of brand new food and drink venues, especially when they are of the calibre of those run by The Red & Blue Restaurant Group. Independently owned, the two driving forces behind some of the best known and respected restaurant brands in our region have just revealed they are about to launch their latest venture.
Jonathan Poole and Paddy Smith of the Red & Blue Restaurant Group are all set to open French bistro ‘Bouchon’ this summer, with a mid-July opening earmarked for the city centre site located on Castle Street, at its junction with Derby Square, and formerly known as Rocket & Ruby.
A well-known figure in the local hospitality trade, Joel Jelen recently spoke with Jonny and Paddy about their news: For Paddy it is a journey that has come full circle after the setting up of Chez Jules Chester in 1997, which he refers to as “the original Bouchon.” Here is what they have to tell readers.
JJ: “Your time in the hospitality industry goes way back Jonny, tell us when it all started?”
JP: “I guess I am best known in trade circles for the Ego brand, which was born out of Chez Jules. Twelve restaurants later and it’s back to my roots. I was also one of the consortium that bought out the Pierre Victoire chain back in the late 90s.”
JJ: “So the late nineties was a pivotal moment for you?”
JP: “That period of my business life was just a whirlwind. I learned a huge amount about the industry, having jointly established the Ego business in 1999 and which was eventually sold to the management team behind La Tasca. Critically, I met Paddy in the same year as establishing Ego and, genuinely, ever since we have been a very solid foundation together as business partners.”
JJ: “Tell us about this new venture.”
JP: “Bouchon is our latest creation and we are both very proud of the concept and quietly confident that our existing customers across Bacaro, Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social will become fans too.”
Joel asked Paddy to describe the late 1990s and early noughties for him - he called it “running with blind confidence” - working in the industry.
JJ: “What did your early career in the industry look like?”
PS: “My early career as a chef enabled me to experience roles over in the Caribbean and working with five star cuisine right through latterly to more amenable, inclusive and affordable cuisine.
“Bouchon is very much that - a French bistro in its truest form - serving comfort food, open continuously morning to night, offering moderate prices and housing an active bar where people will be able to gather for food, drink and lively conversation.”
JJ: “Can you share with us some menu highlights please Paddy.”
PS: “Menu highlights at Bouchon will include Oysters, Classic French Onion Soup, Charcuterie boards, Rotisserie Chicken, Sole Meunière to Tarte Tatin and Chocolate Fondant.”
JJ: “That sounds delightful and I look forward to visiting Bouchon very much.”
JJ: “On the business side of things, the Red & Blue Restaurant Group is highly regarded for their extraordinary levels of employee engagement and were listed in ‘The Sunday Times '100 Best Small Companies to Work For 2019', the only hospitality company to be included. That was a great honour for you and today Red & Blue Restaurants must have a sizeable team across the Group.”
PS: “The award meant so much to us. Making our restaurants a great place to work and investing in our staff has always been our top priority. Bouchon will create 30 new jobs, bringing the total number in the group to 140. Alongside this, a six-figure sum is also being invested in developing the site.
“It’s an exciting time for the company after a lousy 14 months of inactivity for us and all of our colleagues in the hospitality industry. We are so pleased to be back and for myself and Jonny, the opening of Bouchon is a culmination of all the good things that we have learned about hospitality over three decades, with our roots steeped in French cuisine.”
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