Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Des Gunewardena & David Loewi , our co-founders and the ‘D’s in D&D London…
Des: : I was a financial and property deal guy. I then met Terence Conran. We ran what was then mainly a small design and shop business, but we thought there was a big opportunity in restaurants as back in the early 1990s there were not many good places to go in London compared with Paris and New York. So we opened Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino’s. The rest, as they say, is history!
David: My introduction to the world of restaurants was as a boy travelling around Europe with my late father, enjoying amazing food and stunning hotels. I was also inspired by my mother, a Lausanne Hotel school trained chef. I started my career washing dishes and working in the kitchens in Switzerland spending my spare time on the slopes! After gaining a degree in Hotel Management, working at Savoy, Claridges running state banquets and Princess Diana Royal Wedding, later moving on to Hyatt working in the Far East, and Belgravia, I joined Terence Conran and opened Mezzo with the now Masterchef judge John Torode. I then became MD of Conran Restaurants, after a brief stint opening the Wolseley with Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, I joined Des to create D&D and here we are today!
Des: I worked out that my wife, Liz and I eat out over 200 times a year.A lot of that of course is in our own D&D venues and the rest tends mainly to be trying out new restaurants. Outside D&D, we don’t go back enough to restaurants for them to become favourites, and inside D&D…well that would be telling ! I can though tell you where we ate last week though… Orrery, Launceston Place and 20 Stories, and outside D&D we had dinner at Le Caprice with friends and at Simon Rogan’s amazing L’Enclume in the Lake District during the bank holiday weekend.
David: I of course frequent our own D&D restaurants in London, Leeds, Manchester, Paris and New York so that keeps me occupied. I enjoyed recently with family the old classic Waterside in Bray, and I have a local favourite Jin Kitchi Japanese restaurant in Hampstead.
Des: I’m inspired by people and organisations who change how we think and live. Tech companies like Apple, Google, Uber etc.. have massively changed our lives, mostly for the better. We need to think of how we need to evolve our restaurants in a world that is changing fast, both in terms of technology and the environment.
David: Sir Terence Conran was most certainly an inspiration… his passion for Food, Design, attention to detail, and never accepting second best will always stay with me.
Des: Founding D&D London following the buyout of the restaurants from Conran was a huge challenge. More recently opening and establishing Bluebird and Queensyard in New York has been a big step for us. Both launches were very successful. New Yorkers are different from Londoners, so we need to work hard to adapt our style to their market.
David: The restaurant business is an ever challenging day-by-day business, as we grow we want to keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive as we did in the early days. How we do that…our people. Attracting the best, striving to be the best, and developing the next generation. That’s always the challenge.
Des: Still being as successful and relevant today as we were when the original Conran business was founded in the 1990s.
David: D&D London today and D&D London tomorrow, watch this space!
Des: Two scallop dishes, the first on Simon Rogan’s tasting menu at L’Enclume, and the second the same dish on Ben Murphy’s tasting menu at Launceston Place.
David: Roast Langoustine from Gary Foulkes’s tasting menu at Angler.
Des: Lisbon is a city to watch. I’ve been there a couple of times in the last year and there is a very exciting food scene starting to develop there. I’d say the same about Athens. Everyone says the Greek economy is in the doldrums, but to me the cafe and restaurant scene seems to be thriving!
David: Tel a Viv is a city to watch, the Middle East meets Europe, a melting pot of cultures and its cuisines.
Des: Depending on our success in New York, we are likely to build more restaurants in the US. We are also looking at some fabulous projects in Barcelona and Madrid. But we aren’t forgetting London. Watch out for 14 Hills, our garden in the sky, due to open in November.
David: As above, that will keep us busy, with lots of exciting opportunities for passionate employees of all levels to join and grow with us!
Des: Bigger, better, bolder… with lots more restaurants overseas, and one or two more lovely hotels!
David: To continue the exciting path we are on, developing our existing restaurants, opening new restaurants, both in the UK and abroad and of course hotels!
Keep your eyes peeled, as you can often spot our chairman and deputy chairman dining out at our restaurants – do say hi!