Three years ago if someone said let’s book a table at The Ivy you’d have known they meant a very specific site in the West End, known for its glamour, showbiz reputation and service as for its iconic coloured glass windows and green awnings. Serving London for nearly 100 years there wasn’t another place in town quite like it.
That Ivy is still there, but just shy of its century celebration, it’s spawned a whole host of new Ivys, from Chelsea all the way to the edges of the City. In two weeks from now (July 26th) the thirteenth Ivy Collection restaurant will launch, pushing the group’s territory past Tower Bridge.
But how did the Ivy Collection achieve such an impressive rollout while staying true to that original site? We sat down with Jeremy Evans, Groups Bar Manager, to find out how the Ivy went from one to fourteen in just three years.
Sat at the Ivy City Garden, with its verdant faux-al fresco patio and modern interiors, the venue is palpably designed in a different era to its original. But, and it’s a sizeable but, it’s still The Ivy. What makes it so isn’t difficult to identify – from the long bar emulating small details from the West End down to the smooth service, this may be all-day dining but the glamour isn’t lost.
“The Ivy promises a standard of service and taking as our benchmark that original West End restaurant, we have a sense of glamour and occasion to emulate,” says Jeremy.
Jeremy has seen each and every new site open, curated their drinks list and helped train up the bar team, meaning he knows full well the expectation that goes along with launching a site bearing the iconic Ivy name.
“The Ivy has always done the beautiful classic cocktail to perfection, be it a Clover Club, a Piña Colada or an Americano. Our guests trust in The Ivy for our ability to make these drinks, but the collection is about scaling it up while still bringing a feeling of that original site by taking inspiration from its classic menu and innovating, twisting and being just different enough to have an individual identity,” says Jeremy.
How have they done that? Often it’s with a youth and playfulness that might not sit so well inside a century-old institution but which these new sites do so well.
“We bring the theatre of the bar to the table, whether that’s with some fire, dry ice or even a well-placed summer slushie,” says Jeremy.
The Ivy Collection restaurants, many of them with gardens, terraces or patios, have also been a champion of light and quaffable drinks. From royales to spritzes and collins, the bartenders know exactly who they’re shaking this drinks for.
“We do different things in different restaurants and try to play on the local history of a place, so in our Covent Garden site we use a lot of orchard fruits because that’s what the area used to be. But every Ivy Collection has different demographics, of course the ones that have gardens sell a lot of sparkling wines and rose,” says Jeremy.
After the evident success of Covent Garden’s Market Grill it wasn’t long before the group started snatching sites up. Today there’s an entire team behind the expansions who come in and design each space to feel unique and yet part of something far greater than any one restaurant. Its not just a design team that can take all the credit of this rapid rollout and triumph however, with a training team quickly turning out staff who as slick as those holding up the original restaurant.
After 12 restaurants in just three years Tower Bridge will be lucky number 13. Located right on the river, with views over the bridge itself, the Thames and the Tower itself it’s set to be a visual feast. Launching mid-summer you can expect sorbet cocktails, fights over the window seats and that typical Ivy glamour and exceptional service. Which is exactly what it takes to take London, restaurant by restaurant, cocktail by cocktail.