We are one of the last independents in Mayfair and customers are very much supporters. Eighty per cent are regulars, several since day one, and they don’t stroll far from their office, homes or hotels to reach us. We have art dealers, lawyers, CEOs, financiers, property specialists, Hollywood actors, dowagers, the young and the toff-erati. The new bar is very popular: from 5pm Tomas, the 6ft 8in barman, mixes a variety of cocktails including his trademark mean Martini.
I like to encourage clubbish bonhomie with an occasional newsletter. Even in August, when tout le monde is in Tuscany or Martha’s Vineyard or stalking in Scotland, our innovatory week-long cabaret package – a bellini, three-course dinner, half bottle of wine and cabaret for £65 – ensured a full house with City Titans staging takeover bids for the piano stool as the mood took off.
This room makes me feel alive. It’s unusual to find le patron mange ici, but I am here all the time. At lunchtime people want their food to come pretty quickly and not to be bothered too much. I might say ‘hello’ if there’s eye contact and nod goodbye at the door; at dinner, people like me to approach and indulge in a chat. They appreciate the savvy, ‘anticipatory’ service led by Luigi, the manager, and his cohort Sergio – who both came from Annabel’s. Glasses are refilled invisibly, fallen napkins replaced within seconds, finger bowls brought without asking. If an arm goes up, we’ve failed.