London Chefs’ Battle for Restaurants Pays for Carnaby Street Owner

The dynamism of London’s food scene in recent years hasn’t only been good for chefs and diners.

It’s proved a boon for property companies such as Shaftesbury Plc, which owns real estate across the West End. A successful restaurant can become a destination, creating a buzz and boosting demand at neighboring stores.

“Restaurants have become increasingly important,” Julia Wilkinson, who is responsible for restaurant strategy at Shaftesbury, says in an interview.

The company owns clusters of properties, or “villages,” in areas such as Soho and Covent Garden. These usually feature stores, offices, homes, and restaurants. Care is taken with each component, so spaces don’t fall prey to the dull homogeneity of globalization. At Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street, it’s all about the food with fashionable outlets such as Pizza Pilgrims.

“Our decision to devote Kingly Court to restaurants and food-and-beverage operators we think is going to be a huge success,” says Wilkinson. She presents its first tenant, Rum Kitchen, as a key example of that success, making specific note of its first floor location (that’s second floor, for you Americans). “It’s not something that’s done outside covered shopping centers so we weren’t sure whether customers would be prepared to go upstairs to eat.

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