'Soho has a long, vibrant history': Q&A with Inception Group's Charlie Gilkes


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'Soho has a long, vibrant history': Q&A with Inception Group's Charlie Gilkes

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Inception Group director and co-founder Charlie Gilkes will be speaking at the next PMA500 event on the benefits of operating in Soho, creating memorable experiences for guests and how to stand out in a competitive market.

Recently crowned one of Britain’s 1,000 most inspiring companies, the Inception Group operates eight bar concepts across London, including Soho-based 1940s-themed cocktail bar Cahoots.

He chats to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ ahead of May’s event about some of the benefits of operating in Soho and how multiple-site operators can succeed in one of London’s most famous nightspots.

What is it about Soho that’s different from other parts of London?

Soho has a lovely village feel and eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and clubs. It has a long, vibrant history having housed some of the most iconic food and drink institutions in London. For example, the Soho House empire started its life on Greek Street back in 1995.

As much as possible, the area has resisted high-street chains favouring individual outlets. Shaftesbury is a brilliant landlord that has curated a really interesting mix of operators, often giving street-food vendors their first opportunity of a permanent premises. The regeneration of Kingly Court has been amazing to witness and we feel very lucky that Cahoots is located within it.

Why did the Inception Group pick Soho as the place to launch Cahoots?


Soho is a wonderfully central location, easily accessible to people from all over London and it also benefits from large numbers of overseas visitors. It’s a very diverse and cosmopolitan area that embraces creativity, making it the ideal location for us to have launched a venue like Cahoots.

Is there any advice you’d give to other operators looking to launch venues in the area?

Operators need to feel confident that original and quirky ideas executed well will work in Soho. However, they should also be prepared to pay higher rents than sleepier neighbourhoods given the real possibility of busy trade every day of the week as Soho is almost always buzzing with people.

Are there any particular trends you’re seeing in the area?

I’ve certainly seen a reduction in the amount of nightclubs and more of an emergence of late-night bars, which is a wave we’ve ridden with Cahoots. Formal-dining outlets have also diminished, paving the way for more informal spots where people can eat and drink in more relaxed surroundings often preferring to share plates among the table.

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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