The Jamie Oliver empire plans to launch a new HQ in that King’s Cross oasis Granary Square in 2016. He is taking over the old Fish & Coal Buildings to create a ‘dining complex’ with not only a pub and restaurant, but offices and and test kitchens for his restaurant group too.
Granary Square, a redeveloped space at the back of the railway station, earned some serious street cred when The Rib Man began selling his meaty wares from a stall there, and food festivals like KERB adopted the area. Then, trendy brunch spot Caravan choose it for its second site, as did Bruno Loubet, launching Grain Store there, and cool Indian café chain Dishoom will soon follow suit. The arrival of the Oliver empire presumably signals Granary Square’s crossover into the mainstream.
It’s certainly difficult to regard the continuing spread of the Oliver empire as anything other than a depressing commentary on the importance of celebrity in marketing in general, and food marketing in particular. Ever since Jamie left the River Café (where he had a very junior position) to become a TV guru, he has never been involved with a single restaurant of any real note, and many of them have been deplorable.
We keep asking ourselves: if, as so many people like to believe, Jamie is a saint, how come so many people who take part in our surveys feel they’ve been thoroughly ripped off when they visit his restaurants? Perhaps, like all cults, you have to be a true follower of Jamie to understand how wonderful are his works?