Mark Hix – the media-friendly chef/restaurateur who used to be in charge of food at the Caprice group – is to take over the site of the Gary Yau’s short-lived Soho Japanese, Aaya, reports Bloomberg.
Seating about 80, the new restaurant – to be called Hix – will have a basement bar “with the ambience of a private club”, which will no doubt provide a useful rendezvous for Mr Hix’s many media-friendly associates (including Tracey Emin, Alex James, Tom Parker Bowles and “many of the city’s chefs and restaurateurs”, Bloomberg tells us). (This very media-friendliness, incidentally, means that almost all press commentary on Hix’s establishments should be read with the salt cellar close to hand: many journalists are just too close to ‘Hixxy’ for it not to colour their judgement.)
It seems, sadly, that the beautiful Aaya interior is to be trashed: what a waste. The new design, in “rugged Georgian” style (in the English sense), will be by the achingly fashionable Martin Brudnizki, whose involvement in any restaurant confirms its aspirations to become a bit of a social/media hub.
Mr Brudnizki, a Swede who has long worked in London, has provided interiors for many of London’s most fashionable restaurateurs, most obviously Richard Caring (often in conjunction with Nick Jones) – Scotts, the Club at the Ivy, the new Caprice in New York, Côte, Cecconi’s West Hollywood, the forthcoming Soho House outpost in Miami – but also Richard Corrigan (in Mayfair) and Jamie Oliver (and his ‘Italian’ chain).
Coincidentally, Bloomberg also reports that Alan Yau – the bettter-known brother of Gary – has now finally ceased any involvement with Hakkasan and Yauatcha, which he sold to Tasameem (a company often associated in the media with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) for $60 million in 2007. He “will now concentrate on other ventures, including opening more Cha Cha Moon eateries, creating an international fast-food chain and adding satellite branches of his Princi bakery, in Soho”. In January, he’s also remodeling Sake No Hana, his Japanese restaurant in St James’s, which, as Harden’s has consistently pointed out, has never really ‘worked’.