My landlord the priest Peter Van Breda and Christian community has always had a plan ever since I had been a Tennent in hammersmith to refurbishment temple lodge & rebuild their church, I had never really paid much attention to that story. But every year or so I would be shown some plans of the new scheme and I would say yes it’s very nice but never really believed that anything would happen as I had been hearing this story for years and we carried on running the Gate as it was with an old winding staircase and as we had done for ten years or so. Another 10 to 12 years later and Peter my third priest invites me in to a meeting with architects surveyor etc, it’s now November 2011 and I am told that they plan to build a new church and the refurbishment of temple lodge and the Gate is happening in May 2012! We were told the gate would have to close for about six weeks and I would then get the restaurant back ready for my own fit Out which I had never intended and be open by the end of the summer, Peter had offered me a temporary space in their garden, but decisions had to be made of what to do. Do I close hammersmith completely for 3to 4 months or go for a temporary restaurant in the garden which had all sorts of difficulties and logistics associated with it. My levels of nervousness were getting very high, my wife alice was expecting our second child, the gate was closing. I went home that Friday afternoon and thought to myself what the f..k am I going to do, The idea of not having a restaurant running was too scary for me if the refurbishment took too long or was delayed I was going to loose all those years of good will from customers and probably loose all my staff. I was left with the prospect of starting from scratch again, this was just to much!
By the Monday morning I came after a weekend of lots of thinking I came back re motivated and made the decision inside myself that the only way forward was to open a new Gate to keep everything moving forward.
I had looked at a few restaurants in islington the year before, although these hadn’t worked out I still felt islington for me was the place it was far enough away from hammersmith to create a new clientele, and a great area for going shopping close to the city. The search began, I started calling all restaurant agents and scoring the web for whatever was available by the end of January I had viewed about 10 restaurants for sale but non of these restaurants felt right this was starting to drive me crazy, I was looking for it all, a great space, nice kitchen, outside space for the summer, and of course a low rent. After searching all these restaurants I realized this wanting of everything was not possible, there were a few sites on upper street, one in Exmouth market, a few on some back streets, after having run a restaurant on one of the most secluded back streets in hammersmith it was hard for me to find clarity. All the restaurants I viewed had some problem or the other, too much investment, structural problems, damp problems, leases were too short. I was starting to think this is not going to happen, something has to flow and it wasn’t flowing, I was getting tired because I knew it had to be right and time was running out.
I then received a circular email from a restaurant agent advertising the then café med in St. John street opposite saddlers wells, BOOM there it was I called the agent straight away as I had that feeling and as soon as I viewed the restaurant, it was obvious to me there was no better space or location right now for a vegetarian restaurant than opposite saddlers wells it was a marriage.
Then came the hard part the seller had said a deal was already on the table and was about to be agreed in the next day or two. I had a choice to go for it now or lose the site! He offered me The restaurant at an increase price and I would need to exchange in 48hours I’ll give it to you, so I go outside call my Lawyer and ask the question can you do this in 48 hours, he ask me if I was sure as this was all very unorthodox way to purchase a restaurant seeing that you only saw it an hour ago, then he said sure he could do this in 48 hours but it will cost you double, so I sit there and think about what is going on around me everyone wants a more money, I say to my self this is the MOMENT I searched my inner feeling and I agreed to pay the increase everyone wanted took that leap of faith that I needed to move forward, and so within 48 hours I had exchanged contacts and within 30 days we had completed contracts and the restaurant was mine. It was now the beginning of March and I had a dead line to leave hammersmith by the 21 May, so I knew a builder we met at the restaurant told him the outline plan and then asked the question when can you start? He replied “when do you want to start “ I answered “tomorrow?” with a smile 🙂
Alice, my wife, my architect who was also 8 months pregnant put a plan together to refurbish the restaurant . Danny agreed on the Friday afternoon he could start on Monday which is what I wanted to hear, and so the madness began. We were now in one hell of a rush to get restaurant ready to open in time for the hammersmith closure. I project managed the job from early in the morning to late at night, and then we agreed the date for opened as planned on the 1st June 2012.
the lesson in the story sometimes we need to jump and take that leap of faith to move forward