EAT (2)

My informant in the food industry has filled me in on the history of EAT: THE REAL FOOD COMPANY, which I probably should have looked up myself before posting about it. The truth is that EAT only opened in London in 1996, next to Charing Cross (that was why I knew about it when looking for a franchise for the NPG) although a version of it (E*A*T) had existed in New York since 1973, founded by Eli Zabar. So, it wasn’t a pioneer, but more an opportunistic rip-off of Prêt-à-Manger, which was maybe the originator of the idea of the quick, pick-up, reliable lunchtime sandwich in London, founded in Hampstead in 1983 and bought by Julian Metcalfe, just out of college, in 1986. I think it’s a tale of city-based entrepreneurs spotting a gap in the market. Anyway, I’ve discovered why I liked EAT. It was designed by David Collins, the clever, visually inventive Irish architect-designer, who died in 2013 and was responsible, amongst many other projects, for the Wolseley, the Connaught Bar and the National Gallery Dining Rooms. So, EAT brought elements of his aesthetic of modernist haute luxe (he was a friend of Madonna) to the high street.

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