With Charles Boyd, Owner and Founder
Located merely a stone’s throw away from Trafalgar Square, 8 Northumberland Avenue is the home to Boyds Grill & Wine Bar. Previously home to The Grand Hotel between 1882 and 1887, it was then taken over by the government in WWII and used as an MOD building for storage and internal communications. Since taking over the space in 2006, Charles painstakingly restored and renovated the derelict building; paying close attention to restoring the original features such as walls and flooring.
Steeped in history, Charles has taken steps to ensure this rich heritage is nurtured in the styling of the restaurant. A classy and up-market venue, Boyds prides itself on being one of the ‘most central restaurants in London’, situated only 77 yards away from the geographical centre of London.
We caught up with Charles to talk about what challenges and obstacles he faced when taking over such a history-rich space.
Can you please tell us a bit about your restaurant and the type of food/dining experience you provide?
Boyds is about enjoying great British artisan produce in globally inspired dishes, all while being in a beautiful contemporary space set in a stunning marble clad and historic Victorian interior.
The Synergy Grill really celebrates the quality of the produce we offer, while the small plates and signature dishes ensures there is something for everybody. The new layout means diners can sit wherever they’re most comfortable and enjoy the full menu.
How important do you think it is for restaurants to provide diners with good food, good service and to combine this with a stylish setting?
Extremely important; dining is a multi-sensory experience, and with over 17,000 restaurants in London you really can’t afford to neglect any one of service, style or food. It’s difficult to attract dinners as a destination if you don’t deliver a satisfactory experience on all three fronts.
Talk us through some of the styles featured in your restaurant and any practical requirements you took into consideration?
Uncovering the marble floor from the previously carpeted area was one of the more difficult tasks, we didn’t know how damaged the marble was underneath.
The new copper bar has really lifted the room, the room previously lacked the warmth that the reflective surface brings to the room.
We introduced reds and in particular red chairs into the restaurant that contrast with the transparent Philipe Starck ghost chairs, I am a big fan of clashing design elements.
What challenges did you face when trying to decide on the look, feel, and atmosphere created through your design?
The biggest challenge which was actually the biggest opportunity was how to make the most of the opulent original marble interior and give it a modern feel. We were also in danger of making it look intimidating and very expensive. The mix of stone claddings, double volume spaces, the location within the entrance of the building and the need to divide the space without creating physical walls.
It’s people’s enjoyment of a space that creates the right atmosphere, we hoped the design encouraged people to use the space over 18 hours a day, which happily has happened
Do you think interior design can enhance a diner’s experience – if so, how?
Absolutely it affects us from the moment we arrive, how do we feel, are we hesitant as we approach or are we excited. When sat are we comfortable or unsettled, are guests immediately happy or are they looking around for somewhere else to sit, do we feel cool, do we feel proud to be here or do we thinking ‘get me out of here’.
There should never be a bad seat in the house. Staff must be able to serve easily, a functioning plan with good lines to the kitchen etc. are critical. Materials set an ambience and tell a story, but they can also affect acoustics, so selection is important.
What is your view on the use of table linens, what sort of impression do you feel it gives and is it at risk of becoming old fashioned?
We use table cloths as signage to quality, as you walk in you immediately see where the elegant seating is and if you’re with a client or on a nice date you will instinctively head for the clothed area with a confident smile.
When sat at a table the majority of clients will stroke the cloth, a dense crisp cloth is sensuous, a good restaurant pleases all senses, that will never be old-fashioned.
What, if any do you think will be key trends within restaurant design and interiors over the next 12 months?
What normally happens is, we reach one extreme and eventually the reverse becomes fashionable; heels got higher and higher and now its flats, as an example, however quality heels are still here. For most restaurants, though, costs are a challenge so it’s deciding what twist we can put on affordable cool restaurants; maybe eco/natural will feature more.
To find out more about the forthcoming trends across the hospitality industry, watch this space for the Hilden Style Guide 2017… coming soon.