Inspired by the golden age of 1950s International travel, Pilots Bar & Kitchen has opened at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
The restaurant – overseen by restaurant operator “rhubarb” – includes 145 covers and provides guests with a range of dining options to suit all time considerations, from early morning breakfast through to late night diner. A destination in its own right, the airside restaurant offers passengers passing through the terminal an accessible, international menu in classic, contemporary surroundings and is ideal for those wanting to eat before boarding their plane.
Created by “rhubarb’’s culinary director Stephen Templeton, the all-day menu at Pilots Bar & Kitchen has been designed to appeal to all. Dishes are made from the finest, locally sourced ingredients, are speedily delivered and offer true quality and value for money.
Breakfast options at Pilots Bar & Kitchen include a range of tasty treats from American pancakes, breakfast pizza and a traditional cooked English breakfast to freshly prepared pastries and muffins. Meanwhile, the all-day dining options available include soups, sandwiches and salads, alongside main courses such as tuna niçoise, pizzas and classic club sandwiches.
Retail Director for “rhubarb”, Helen Bowey, said:
“We wanted to create a chic and visually entertaining environment that complemented an inspiring food offer with plenty of points of interest that referenced the golden, post-war aviation era when international air travel was portrayed as stylish and glamorous. Reinforcing the qualities of the terminal, Pilots Bar & Kitchen represents affordable luxury with the customer experience at its core, reminding passengers that it’s not just about the destination, but the journey.”
Pilots Bar & Kitchen covers an area of approximately 4,000 sq ft and opened its doors for the first time in December 2014, just before Christmas. Since opening, the restaurant has been very popular with guests and the feedback has been extremely positive.
Designed by Soho based o1creative, the interiors of Pilots Bar & Kitchen are sleek with a vintage palette interspersed by aeronautical design features. Design highlights include an oversized jet engine air intake on the ceiling, glass hangar-style doors, antique searchlight fittings and rivetted stainless steel executive club armchairs upholstered in baseball glove leather.
o1creative Design Director Sue Heaps commented:
“This has been a fabulous project to work on and as the restaurant is nestled amongst so many International luxury brands – Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Fortnum & Mason, Rolex, etc. we knew we would have to produce something visually very engaging to achieve stand-out in the terminal.”
o1creative looked for inspiration to a vintage era which evokes a sense of style and took much inspiration from the iconic Douglas Dakota passenger aircraft so inextricably associated with the glamorous portrayal of commercial air travel of the period.
Sue Heaps said:
“We used a lot of photographic visual reference and re-produced advertising illustration of the period. We even borrowed fabrication details for the interior styling – riveted stainless steel fins and columns were influenced by the Dakota which was such a beautiful iconic aircraft.”
The project has been an outstanding collaborative success and required a huge team effort to overcome the complexities of working ‘airside’ in the world’s busiest airport.
Sue Heaps’ co-director Derrick Pover, explained:
“rhubarb” confirmed their involvement at Terminal 5 quite late so we were always going to be up against a tight programme. We certainly didn’t have time to tender the project so we needed a fit-out contractor we felt we could trust to deliver to programme and budget.
“We hadn’t actually completed a project with Portview before but they had been involved in the contractor selection process for the Sky Garden project and although unsuccessful on that occasion, really impressed everyone with their ‘can do’ approach and pro-activity towards value engineering. It wasn’t a difficult decision to give Portview a shot at Pilots Bar and Kitchen and they really stepped up to the task when we invited them to negotiate the contract with us. From then on there was a very strong team effort throughout the whole project.
“Understandably there’s always a tendency to focus on the nice visual stuff after a job like this, but be in no doubt, this was an extremely complex project with some extremely challenging technical difficulties surrounding an ‘open kitchen’ in an airport environment.”
Portview Fit-Out Ltd were involved from the very early stages of the project and used their expertise and knowledge from previous airport-based projects to help take the project through all required processes associated with a project at Heathrow.
Portview Fit-Out Ltd’s Contracts Director, Sean McEvoy, said:
“We have experience working on projects in airports and this was something that o1creative were aware of, so invited us to meet with their clients, “rhubarb” and due to the complexity of working within Heathrow, as well as the challenging timescales involved, o1creative negotiated the project with us on board.”
Sean also commented:
“The venue looks aeronautical, with many references to commercial air travel. As guests walk around the perimeter of the venue there’s a large amount of graphics and vintage photography depicting scenes from the period. Some of these images are very large, taking up a whole wall space but really help to capture the spirit.”
In addition to the numerous aviation design touches featured in the restaurant, the rear wall of Pilots Bar & Kitchen also includes a full size Dakota photographic mural and stainless steel clad open pass so guests have great views into the kitchen to add to the sense of theatre.
Discussing the importance of the project for Portview Fit-Out, Sean said:
“Being given the opportunity to work with o1creative and establish ourselves further within the food and beverage sector has been great. Working at Heathrow and successfully delivering a full kitchen and restaurant fit-out demonstrates to clients that we have the capabilities required for working in an environment such as this.
“Throughout the project we’ve met all the stringent requirements associated with working in Heathrow whilst at the same time we were able to showcase our skills within the market. Having a large operator like “rhubarb” behind us has also been great.”
Derrick Pover of o1creative commented- “it’s a testimony to the strong working relationship the whole team forged that the project achieved an extremely smooth handover on time to enable “rhubarb” to get the restaurant open before Christmas.”
Dawnvale is one of the largest commercial bar, kitchen and furniture specialists in the UK. They have been providing their services to many high profile clients in the hospitality industry for over 19 years and work alongside TGI Fridays, Living Ventures, Novus Leisure and many independent operators. The company has recently completed the fourth turnkey project for Red’s True BBQ in Nottingham, following the phenomenal success of Leeds, Manchester and Headingly.
Recent projects for Dawnvale have included Sky Gardens, Steak of Art in Bristol, Crazy Pedros in Manchester, Edwards Bar in Worcester, Cliff Hotel in Cardigan, Wrenbury Hall in Nantwich and The Alchemist in London. Dawnvale has also worked on The Botanist in Manchester, Chester, Birmingham and Newcastle, Reds True BBQ in Headingley and Berts in Driffield, as well as Muriel’s Kitchen and Las Iguanas.
Working on rhubarb’s Pilots Bar & Kitchen at Heathrow T5, Dawnvale were responsible for the delivery of the venue’s bespoke dining tables. The tables were expertly crafted utilising distressed stainless steel and were hand finished to provide a zinc-style appearance which perfectly fits in with the surroundings.
Commenting on the project, Neil Guest, Managing Director of Dawnvale, said:
“This is our second project working with rhubarb which has been an absolute delight to be involved with. It is important to maintain our relationship and we look forward to working with rhubarb again soon.”
“We offer as much or as little as customers require for their project. Whether its design and interior refurbishment, or one of our specialist divisions providing bars and counters, furniture and fittings, right through to commercial kitchens and ventilation; we have the skill sets and experience to provide a professional and cost effective solution.”