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The Merchant House is still available


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The Guardian considers the sad fact that no one wants to take over from Shaun Hill. It could be related to the fact that the ancient building's architecture dictates that it be run by a single chef serving a handful of diners. Unless, of course, Brake Brothers are called in. Rip out the stove and there's plenty of room in the kitchen for a big freezer and a couple of microwaves . . .

EDIT: It's going for £550,000. Across the street from us in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a nondescript International Style semi, similar to ours, is going for £100,000 more. Hmmm...

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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One of the reasons I returned to The Merchant House so often, apart fropm the fact that it was so good, was that it was obviously a one off that couldn't last forever. I hope that there is a chef with the talent, dedication and balls to keep the Ludlow phenomenon going. Maybe there's another Anthony Flynn out there somewhere.

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I hope that there is a chef with the talent, dedication and balls to keep the Ludlow phenomenon going.

You forgot to to mention money. Apart from a few "personalities" chefs are not generally rich people, so just a few back of envelope calculations, assuming that somebody can raise around 20% deposit to give a loan of say $400,000. On current lending criteria of up to 4 times income the purchaser would need to be earning something around £100,000/year. Do you think the Merchant House could generate that kind of income? Of course it couldn't. That would be a net profit of £2000/week, somehow don't think a small (24 covers?) restaurant with a tiny kitchen is going to achieve that.

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Say you did around 20 covers per service with an average spend of £50.00 a head and you did 7 services a week for 48 weeks of the year, your gross annual revenue would be £336,000. You should be able to make £100,000 out of that. Wage costs would be minimal and as you would be "living above the shop" you wouldn't have additional housing costs. Sounds like a goer to me!

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If food writers start cooking food there'll be anarchy. Before we know it chefs will want to be tv personalities and we'll have someone who knows almost nothing about food writing a weekly review in a major publication.

Oh...

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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If food writers start cooking food there'll be anarchy. Before we know it chefs will want to be tv personalities and we'll have someone who knows almost nothing about food writing a weekly review in a major publication.

Oh...

that's no way to talk about circe :laugh:

you don't win friends with salad

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Say you did around 20 covers per service with an average spend of £50.00 a head and you did 7 services a week for 48 weeks of the year, your gross annual revenue would be £336,000. You should be able to make £100,000 out of that. Wage costs would be minimal and as you would be "living above the shop" you wouldn't have additional housing costs. Sounds like a goer to me!

I think you might be a little optimistic there! If you could pull £100,000 net from £336,000 revenue then there'd be many more people clamouring for jobs in the restaurant business and far fewer failures. Always assuming you could get those occupancy figures and average spend high enough.

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As an accountant who acts for a fair number of people in the restaurant business I would say that there is as much variation in the profitability of restaurants as there is between firms of lawyers - and you can't always tell by looking either - some high-end places aren't very profitable, some middle of the road places absolutely coin it - it always amazes me how different the figures can be.

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As an accountant who acts for a fair number of people in the restaurant business I would say that there is as much variation in the profitability of restaurants as there is between firms of lawyers - and you can't always tell by looking either - some high-end places aren't very profitable, some middle of the road places absolutely coin it - it always amazes me how different the figures can be.

i would have thought that as a rough rule of thumb the lesser the quality offer the bigger the money.

at the high end you have to have more and higher trained staff, more investment in wine and food costs and subsequent wastage higher.

MPW used to say that the 3* oak room made no money despite being the flagship of his empire but it was worth it to work with the ingredients.

that's why pizza express was a brilliant business, simple product, huge margins (500p for cheese and tom pizza!), no trained chefs required, no expensive kitchen required, high table turnover, little wastage - how do you think dough balls came about :laugh:

unless i had money to burn and it was a vanity project i'd not want to run a restaurant with michelin ambitions, mid-market is where the money is.

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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If food writers start cooking food there'll be anarchy. Before we know it chefs will want to be tv personalities and we'll have someone who knows almost nothing about food writing a weekly review in a major publication.

Oh...

that's no way to talk about circe :laugh:

i'm twice weekly :wink::laugh:

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Say you did around 20 covers per service with an average spend of £50.00 a head and you did 7 services a week for 48 weeks of the year, your gross annual revenue would be £336,000. You should be able to make £100,000 out of that. Wage costs would be minimal and as you would be "living above the shop" you wouldn't have additional housing costs. Sounds like a goer to me!

What about the extortionate rents, taxes and utility bills that are integral to running a restaurant - to say nothing of the cost of good ingredients? £336K doesn't seem like much for the effort. As a customer, I feel you get what you pay for: if the staff are paid next to nothing and next to nothing is spent on the ingredients, with a few inexplicably successful exceptions, in general, a restaurant cannot charge enough to cover costs and still make a living wage.

But Andy - you've been in career-change mode, I'd be willing to be one of 1000 eGers to donate £55 to set you up at Merchant House - the rest would be up to you (lifetime discounts for all of coure) :laugh:

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There was an article in today's Independent which suggested that the lack of interest was forcing Mr Hill to apply for permission to turn the building back to a private dwelling to facilitate the sale .... can anyone confirm this?

Yin

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The Guardian story linked to in the first post of this thread quotes Shaun as saying just that, so yes, its true. It will be a real blow for Ludlow if that happens.

sorry - hadn't actually followed the link!!

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