Charlie Gilkes [Squirrel]
A maestro of contemporary London nightlife, Charlie Gilkes (and his business partner Duncan Stirling) run The Inception Group, the company that gave birth to the now-iconic Bart’s, Bunga Bunga, Mr Fogg’s and Just Opened’s Bar of 2015, Cahoots.
We spoke to Gilkes about Squirrel, his latest opening, and why it’s turning heads for entirely new reasons.
New York is ahead of the curve – we spotted speakeasies there ten years ago
What was the inspiration behind your latest opening, Squirrel?
We wanted to create somewhere that served healthy food – but not at the expense of fun and good taste. We have tried to create a truly unique offering which we hope really stands out from other competitors out there.
Which are your favourite recent openings?
I really like Hoppers in Soho which serves traditional Sri Lannkan curry. Also the new Barrafina on Drury Lane, near the site for our new Bunga Bunga is wonderful. I prefer less formal restaurants where there’s a focus on sharing in a buzzy environment.
What interesting trends do you seeing developing in London’s restaurant and bar scene?
I think the growth of delivery Apps is really interesting. Deliveroo are leading the field but Uber Eats have just launched and are sure to rival them for this space. I think it’s very interesting especially for a business like Squirrel as they may negate the need for so many stores – fewer people are able to service a larger area through deliveries.
Which other big cities provide you with ideas?
New York is always very ahead of the curve. It has provided Duncan and I with a lot of inspiration for our sister company, Inception Group, over the years. We first spotted the speakeasy concept there nearly ten years ago and brought it to London by opening Bart’s. We are always travelling for inspiration whether it’s a new cocktail serve or live entertainment idea.
If you could change one thing about the restaurant and bar scene in London, what would it be?
I’d ensure we follow Amsterdam and push through Sadiq Khan’s excellent proposal to have a Night Mayor to protect the late night economy.
Squirrel is open now | Here’s everything you need to know about the opening