Michael O’Hare is to spend £1m fitting out the new Man Behind the Curtain site as the chef seeks to refine the dining experience at his flagship restaurant.
He will move his Michelin-starred restaurant to the ground floor of its existing Leeds building in September, to a site that is double the size and allows for a direct street-level entrance.
Despite being double the size, the restaurant will be 42 covers, four fewer than the original. Meanwhile, O’Hare has dispensed with graffiti and instead turned to marble and chrome to provide a sense of grandeur and elegance.
He told The Caterer: “We needed a designed space with a different feel to it. So the idea was to spend a shitload of money compared to the original site. All in, the whole fit-out will be close to £1m, which is huge compared to where we’re from.
“We had no choice but make the original an edgy, punk loft restaurant. But it gets a bit tired. Life has changed for me.”
The original site, which was opened on a budget of £30,000, had to be accessed through a clothes shop. But now O’Hare has complete control over the whole experience, with direct access for diners into a marble-heavy room featuring a marble surf board suspended from the ceiling in a chrome box.
An illuminated doorway will separate the kitchen and dining room, through which serving staff will emerge as though entering a catwalk runway.
The menu will remain largely the same, though O’Hare does plan to introduce a new aperitif section on the menu, with drinks created at the Rabbit in the Moon in Manchester.
“I don’t want to change the food too much other than tweak it and make it better,” O’Hare added.
“Since we’ve grown the food has improved. We’ve got the Michelin star and AA rosettes, and people expect more and I want more. I’m not star chasing but I don’t want to settle where we’re at. But we can’t do it on top of a clothes shop.”
He is also changing the pricing structure, with a more dynamic approach that encourages guests to book midweek.
O’Hare explained: “Saturday night at 8pm is way more valuable than Tuesday at 6:30pm, so that’s now reflected in the price. It’s not to discourage people to take a weekend table, but it makes midweek more appealing.”
O’Hare is also creative director of GG Hospitality, founded by former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. He opened the Rabbit in the Moon at the National Football Museum in partnership with the pair earlier this year, and has plans for two further sites – the Man Who Fell To Earth and Are Friends Electric -in GG Hospitality’s second Manchester hotel at the Stock Exchange on Norfolk Street in the city.