The resounding success of an outstanding refurbishment project at the Eat17 restaurant and bar in Walthamstow Village, London, has become evident where it matters most – with record takings reported every week since the venue re-opened.
Eat17 is an independently owned small group of eateries and convenience stores with a culture built around creativity and product quality. Earning a reputation for its owner and chef, Chris O’Connor’s luxurious take on good, honest food. This is epitomised by his famous Bacon Jam, which has become a celebrity favourite since featuring on the Jonathan Ross TV Show.
The Walthamstow restaurant was recently refurbished in a challenging project carried out within a tight two week timeframe, to a design by London based design studio, Hawtrey-Woore. Main contractors for the scheme were Interstor Contracts who were commended for their work.
Natasha Hawtrey-Woore of Hawtrey-Woore design studio said: “I love to see people enjoying the spaces we create and I’m delighted that this is evident at Eat17 in both the atmosphere and the takings. It has been a privilege working with Eat17 who have put their trust in us to create this experience and with Interstor who have achieved such a high level of finish. ”
The venue is entered through the bar area, now floored in handmade cement tiles and incorporating a number of dining tables, with natural sheepskins draped over the chairs which add texture and luxury immediately. This leads through a floor to ceiling opening to the main dining area with its circular zinc topped tables and upholstered stools. At the far end of this area, the space is divided into more intimate sections, with tables for two made from reclaimed oak and leather upholstered banquette seating, using low walls featuring arrangements of fresh foliage to divide the space.
Natasha Hawtrey-Woore of Hawtrey-Woore design studio said: “Chris is very down to earth and laid back, yet he sets standards of excellence in the food he serves. This mix of fine quality with a relaxed vibe was at the very heart of the design brief and led us to create an unpretentious space with finely crafted details.
“The brief also called for a stronger relationship between the bar and the restaurant to create a consistent experience throughout the space.” There is a growing trend for diners who want to have a pre-dinner drink at the same establishment.
One of the key features of the refurbishment was to soften the division of the bar and restaurant to create more of a unified space. Hawtrey-Woore’s design solution was to open up a wall dividing the restaurant and bar areas and re-position the bar in a more central location. This entailed knocking through the dividing wall and installing a bespoke structural framework needed to support the floor above, where apartments are located.
This was a major element of the project – particularly due to the tight two week timeframe allocated to complete the refurbishment. The works involved constructing a hoarding around this section of the restaurant with works ongoing whilst the restaurant was operational, as this was the only way to achieve the completion deadline.
“This element of the scheme was so central to the success of the project that we were all determined to achieve the desired result,” said Natasha Hawtrey-Woore.
Another key element was to make the bar itself a centerpiece to be enjoyed from both the restaurant and the bar areas. “As a centerpiece, we wanted it to feel special while maintaining a natural, unpretentious feel. By adopting a simple, honest form and making it entirely in natural copper, we were able to create an exciting, natural focal point for the space,” said Natasha Hawtrey-Woore.
Another important aspect of the project was the re-location of the entrance to the side of the venue. The entrance was previously at the centre of the internal space, and created congestion with people entering and leaving in the same area where diners were queueing for the restaurant – coupled with staff and other customers trying to get through the crowded space.
The re-location of the entrance therefore resulted in alleviating congestion and also in making the space feel more unified and comfortable.
In addition, the queues of customers prompted by the popularity of the food had created the need to find a way of creating more dining space, while still giving diners a feeling of comfort and intimacy at their tables.
“We used low dividing walls, deep upholstered banquettes and soft, glowing pendant lights for each table to achieve this. We also created an area in the bar for people to enjoy a cocktail while they wait to be seated” said Natasha Hawtrey-Woore.
She added: “As Walthamstow Village is where East London meets Epping Forest, marrying these urban and natural influences became an inspiration for our design. We took an urban approach to natural elements so, for example, the light installation in the bar is an engineered take on tree branches by designer-maker, Alex Mulligan. Similarly, we took a natural approach to urban elements – so rather than have a polished copper bar, we let it take on a natural patina, as it would do if exposed to natural elements.
“The colour palette stems from the mix of natural and urban influences. We paired copper and aged olive green leather to create an earthy, yet sophisticated feel, combining urban and rustic influences.
“We used texture to add warmth and depth, while respecting the intended simplicity of the space. The subtle texture of the clay plaster on the walls, the richly marked reclaimed cider barrel oak used as an accent throughout the space, as well as the tonal sheep’s skins on the chairs in the dining area all play their part.
“Art and bespoke pieces are integral to our design approach, and we work with artists and makers to create unique pieces and installations that highlight the individuality of our clients’ spaces.
“A mural depicting branches stretching in from the garden came from the idea of bringing elements of the kitchen garden into the interior. The photography on the walls was collated by us from Paul Tucker’s study of the Lee Valley, which captures the relationship between nature and the city in a thought provoking way. This series of prints of the local area is based on a theme of ‘where the city meets nature’.
“All of the light fittings and much of the furniture are bespoke and made to our own designs.”
Cow horn style chairs were chosen to echo the design cues for the restaurant and a specialist clay plaster was used on the walls to add texture, warmth and a natural feel. One wall also features brick slips to blend with a garden wall outside.
Natasha Hawtrey-Woore concluded: “Overall we set out to create an experience that befits Eat17’s earthy yet sophisticated nature and its edge of East London provenance. We have re-worked the space and married natural with urban influences in our design, with a focus on imaginative use of craftsmanship. Our aim has been to create a relaxed, natural feel, with an air of quality and excitement.
“Eat17 was already a popular space, so we were eager to offer its clientele something new, exciting and rewarding. We are delighted with the positive feedback that the restaurant has received about the new design and that they have had record takings every week since the re-opening.”
Eat17 is owned by brothers Chris and Daniel O’Connor, and Chris’s partner Siobhan O’Donnell and step brother James Brundle.
The restaurant has been committed to producing honest British food, sourced ethically, skilfully prepared and reasonably priced, in a relaxed and unpretentious setting, since 2007. At the Walthamstow venue, bread is made on the premises, in the EAT17 bakery at their multi award-winning SPAR convenience store.
All of the restaurant’s meat is sourced from the East London Sausage Company (across the road).
The chicken and eggs are free range, fish is caught using sustainable methods and the restaurant serves Gelupo’s award winning ice creams. Fruit and vegetables are sourced locally wherever possible. Many of the excellent wines on offer are organic and local beer is on tap.
Interstor Contracts Limited (ICL)
Established in 1999, Interstor Contracts Limited specialise in high quality shop-fitting and building work.
Past projects for prestigious ICL include a nationwide contract for Blink Brow Bar, Zadig & Voltaire as well as shop-fits for football clubs such as Coventry FC and Hibernian FC. The company have also completed the fit-out of several concessions in Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis and House of Fraser also building works in quality London homes.
Working on Eat 17, ICL manufactured and installed a complete bespoke restaurant inside and out.
Speaking to Premier Hospitality, Tony Haywood of ICL said:
“We were thrilled to work on this project, East London is an up and coming, vibrant place to live and we pride ourselves in having carried out numerous projects in this area.”
“At ICL we pride ourselves in being a highly skilled company with many years of experience. We construct high quality bespoke pieces and are enthusiastic about bringing new concepts to our clients.”
Metal Sheets Ltd
Having been in operation for seven years, Metal Sheets Ltd specialises in bespoke bar tops, table tops and interior design features in a range of materials such as copper, brass, zinc, pewter and bronze.
The establishment has previously worked on a variety of projects with a series of clients, including producing a pewter bar at the O2 Arena, crafting copper bars at Wetherspoons, a pewter counter at Eltham Palace and a MCFC Joe Mercer Bar. Other clients include Selfridges, Superdry, Newlook, Gormet Burger Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, Raymond Blanc, Nandos, Hotel Chocolate and Flight Club.
Premier Hospitality caught up with John Rutter, of Metal Sheets Ltd, to discover a few details on the company and its involvements with the developments at Eat 17. According to John:
“Working on the project with Eat 17, we supplied aged zinc table tops and copper panels for the site. It was important for us to work on this scheme as all projects we do are important to us, large or small.”
When asked what the company prides itself on, John responded with:
“Our skilled craftsmen manufacturing high quality products; and our technical team that works with designers and architects to achieve their vision.”
Taking inspiration from both artistic and architectural practices, Alexander Mulligan’s sculptural approach to design questions the implied connotations of furniture, object and interior, whilst creating beautiful and original outcomes for all types of environment.
Alexander Mulligan has been involved with both production and bespoke projects with names such as Innermost Lighting, Mint, Wallpaper magazine, Will Alsop, Urban Outfitters; and exhibited at 100% Design, Design Junction, MADE Sao Paulo and Milan Design Week. Design works include interiors, furniture, lighting and product.
Premier Hospitality spoke to Alex himself, Managing Director of Alexander Mulligan, who told us:
“After graduating from a Masters degree in Furniture Design and Technology in 2011, I have since gone on to work on commission based furniture and interior designs for both residential and commercial projects over the past five years.
“My love for design is led by my passion for creative outcomes and the collaborative process. It is important to work with other creative minds and clients with a vision.
“Working with Eat 17 I designed the main lighting installation after working closely with Natasha and discussing the objectives, the mood and the overall theme of the space. We decided to use the nearby forest as an inspiration. I focused on the tree forms and the process of stem bending ash, working together with gifted fabricators HAVELOCK 11. The lighting design is an original, bespoke, bold design that works in synergy with the overall interior.”
Clayworks specialises in creating distinct, bespoke, unique feature walls for hospitality interiors using its own 100% natural, unfired clay plasters. Naturally pigmented, with stunning tonal variations and ranging from highly polished to deeply textured, the infinite aesthetic possibilities produce a transformative experience.
Clare Whitney, Marketing Manager at Clayworks, spoke to Premier Hospitality to reveal some information on the company and its contributions to the developments at Eat 17. Clare said:
“With all of our design and manufacture in Cornwall we can work with designers to create truly unique interiors with an infinite array of textures and colours possible.
“In operation since 2002, we were originally a sustainable building company and wrote two books on Building with Cob and Using Natural Finishes. We researched and developed our own ready-made, entirely natural clay plaster, which we launched in 2011 to international acclaim and were awarded an FX International Design Award in 2012 for its breath-taking design and sustainability credentials.
“Working with Eat 17, we manufactured and supplied the clay plaster wall finishes and arranged the application by one of our accredited plasterers. Eat 17 is a stunning restaurant that is a beautiful and comfortable place to be. Clay Plasters are not only aesthetically beautiful but appeal to all of the senses creating a transformative and emotional experience.
“There is a revolution taking place in hospitality where design and interior branding goes beyond paint, furniture and curtains and reaches into the very fabric of the building, with unique and memorable multi-sensory experiences being sought by designers. Clay Plasters can meet all of the requirements of hospitality designers.”
Clayworks has completed projects for HRH Prince of Wales, Nandos Restaurants, Wahaca, Wagamama, The Lakes by Yoo, Foster and Partners, Alexander McQueen and many more.
Bert & May
Bert & May Materials is dedicated to the reclamation and production of the finest quality tiles, wood, paint and furniture. Distinctive design and quality craftsmanship are the backbone of the business.
Bert & May Materials’ flagship studio and shop is situated in the heart of East London and houses all of Bert & May’s latest designs and colour ways.