Counter Vauxhall Arches, situated in the heart of Vauxhall’s transport hub in London’s buzzing South Lambeth Place, has opened following an extensive renovation project.
Philip Reicherstorfer, the German owner of the venue, grew up in East Germany operating his parent’s pubs and nightclubs and has recently realised a long held ambition by opening his own restaurant.
Philip was keen for his first step onto the hospitality ladder to be a New York inspired French Brassiere providing guests with an all day dining and entertainment venue. The 200 foot long has two entrances, one on South Lambeth Place, an area of London known for attracting large numbers of visitors, and another on South Lambeth Road.
Visitors entering Counter via the South Lambeth Place entrance will walk directly into the venues 100 cover brassiere to be greeted by the receptionist, located behind the 1970’s lacquered home bar. On the right hand side of the brassiere a podium-stage has been installed which holds a number of tables but can also be utilised as a performance space.
The brassiere walls have been decorated in with a mixture of grey wood panels, teak effect mirrors and brass strips. The brassiere also boasts a 13 metre main bar with a grey leather front, a brass top and a floating light ring feature above the main structure. The bar also provides room for 24 diners alongside the plethora of booths and tables.
A corridor, decorated with 1970’s prints and local art pieces, leads to the venues kitchen, toilets and the 75 cover Back Counter. The Back Counter, accessible from the quieter South Lambeth Road, has been marketed at the Vauxhall gay scene and comprises a back bar, private dining room, VIP areas and comfortable bench and table seating.
A large exposed window offers views onto the street and makes the space feel larger. Grey wall panels decorate the room and reclaimed teak parquet flooring adds a warm glow to the space.
Premier Hospitality Magazine caught up with Counter owner Philip Reicherstorfer to find out more about the venue, which opened its doors on the 5th February.
“When we first got on site in October 2014 Network Rail had only put in a steel skeleton so we had to start from scratch. It was just an empty railway arch when we began works with metal grills on both sides and a concrete floor. Working with main contractor Welan Contractors and Moore Design works began to paint the ceiling, which took us two and a half weeks as it is such a large space.
“Then the team installed new drainage and sewage systems, erected internal partition walls and constructed the kitchen and toilets. We also had a lot of panels built off site which are now hung on many of the walls as decorative pieces.”
The venue was also laid with a reclaimed parquet floor in parts as well as polished concrete floors. Philip said the project has mainly consisted of joinery works, including the construction of the bar, building walls and the installation of systems.
The venue has a focus on weekend brunches and live, late night entertainment to provide diners with a place to relax and unwind after their meals. Owner and founder Philip Reicherstorfer is keen to create a family of related restaurants where each has their own ethos and branding, as well as being related to the neighbourhood they’re in.
The project has posed a few challenges due to the venue being a long, thin tunnel. The onsite team had to ensure there was enough room for seating and walkways within the narrow space. The drainage connection at the entrance of the venue was not very deep and so work was delayed slightly whilst the team connected the systems to the main drains service.
There was also a slight issue a week before opening as the venue did not have any water services and had to utilise five water tanks during the works. Despite the difficulties Philip said the project has been extremely rewarding; he commented:
“Opening my own restaurant has always been an ambition of mine and it is a long held dream coming true to open my own place. During the last week of works I was I was confused by the daily setbacks and because of this I didn’t see the grand things coming together. It was only when I sat down and reminded myself that the venue was looking fantastic that I realised what I had achieved.”
The venue is the first evidence, dining-wise, of the regeneration of the Vauxhall area of London.
Greg Welan Joinery Ltd & Welan Contractors Ltd
Operating in the UK market from 2014, but with years of experience in the industry, Greg Welan Joinery Ltd, works alongside business partner Welan Contractors Ltd, which has more than ten years of experience on British market. Greg Welan Joinery Ltd started as a small operation, however over time as projects have become larger and clients have become more demanding, the company has been shaped to deliver a very high set of standards.
Whilst Greg Welan Joinery Ltd specialise in individualized projects and bespoke pieces of work, the company is happy to deliver standard timber windows and doors, wardrobes, tables and kitchen units. Whether clients require a handmade door, built-in wardrobe, staircase or any other individual piece of furniture, the company is able to meet the highest expectations.
Greg Welan Joinery Ltd has recently been involved with the Counter Vauxhall Arches project, where together with Welan Contractors Ltd, the company equipped the restaurant with bespoke hand painted panels with antique mirrors and brass straps, all made from the scratch.
Pawel Anielski of Greg Welan Joinery Ltd and Welan Contractors Ltd, said:
“These kinds of projects are particularly important to us, because we can proceed with the work from the very beginning and help to create special places on the map of modern London. We are extremely proud of our professional team of craftsmen and builders who help us to carry out our projects and make sure that every client is happy. We are also proud, that our clients’ trusts us as they often come back to us with other projects.”
AA-Team Ltd specialise in electrical and gas installations in domestic, commercial and industrial premises, as well as offer a complete refurbishment service to private clients. Arkadiusz Chudzinski, owner of the company, has been in the field for over 13 years and most recently have undertaken works at Counter Vauxhall Arches in London.
AA-Team Ltd did the whole electrical installation for the project including the main power supply, emergency lights, Wi-fi wiring, surround systems and data cabling. Arkadiusz Chudzinski commented:
“It is exciting to be involved in large-scale projects because they create opportunities to prove yourself professionally. Also, it is great to work with friendly and well-organised people like Philip, Pawel and Glenn.”
O.K.E Ltd is a family run business with more than 40 years’ experience in the industry. The company specialises in the design and installation of Oriental style kitchens, as well as the manufacture of a range of woks.
Over the past four decades, O.K.E Ltd has worked with a range of clients on many notable projects, including Randall & Aubin – Soho, Deliverance, Buenos Aires steak houses, Imperial China Restaurants, High Flying Foods (Luton Airport), and Kt Indian Cuisine, amongst others.
Working on the Counter Vauxhall Arches project, O.K.E Ltd designed and fabricated all kitchen equipment, ventilation systems and bar areas. In addition, the company was responsible for the cladding of all the hygiene areas.
Glen Taylor of O.K.E Ltd, said:
“I was recommended by Kowser Houqe of KT, who I have worked with on many projects. Kowser is a good friend of Philip Riecherstorfer, who I then had a meeting with to discuss the project.
“Philip’s enthusiasm to design and build the restaurant got me interested and when visiting the site I felt it was a great opportunity to be a part of the design and installation of such a great venue.”
“We pride ourselves on quality, value, and most of all our good relationships with our clients.”