|'I'm Proud To Have Made It In A Man's World'|
Lorraine Angliss celebrates ten years of Annie's in Chiswick
It may be ten years since Lorraine Angliss first threw open the doors at Annie’s, but she remembers the first night like it was yesterday.
And as she celebrated with a party for over 100 friends and clients last week she recalled the excitement of that opening night where she had overseen every little detail and stayed up until the small hours to make sure everything was perfect in the Strand -on -the- Green eatery.
“It looked beautiful, I’d designed the whole interior myself and I’d been up late making sure everything was just right and training the staff. We were fully booked, and I was on Cloud Nine the whole night”
It’s her hands-on-approach that has made Lorraine a favourite with diners whether they be celebrities such as Clare Balding, or Ant and Dec (Bruce Forsyth has eaten there) or local families who come for breakfast at weekends.
“One of the things I am most proud of is having made it in the male-dominated restaurant world. There are very few women in London who own restaurants. It’s a tough, tough business. Most restaurants are designed by men and the essence of what I’ve tried to create here is to add the feminine ‘magic touch.
Women come up and tell her how they love her funky, feminine decor, which includes lots of pink and purple colours, mirrors, chandeliers and comfy cushions. Her vision had been to create a home-from-home, she says, because customers and comfort are her priority.
“It’s really important to me that people who come to my restaurant feel well-treated. We have a lovely staff, they are all very kind people. I know that element of kindness and customer service is what I look for when I’m spending my money, whether it’s at the dry cleaners, or in a restaurant if I go out for the night .”
LorrainOctober 3, 2012 before she went on to open a branch in Barnes. And since 2008 there was a new arrival with Rock & Rose in Richmond, which has a different atmosphere.
“It’s more edgy and sassy and grown-up, like Annie’s naughty big sister really. I like to create a personality for all my restaurants and I say to people that I have four homes, three are my restaurants and the other is where I live and I look after them all just like anyone looks after their home.”
The idea to open her own restaurant on that corner site in Grove Park had been growing for a long time.
“I'd watched this site for years and there were restaurants opening and closing. I knew what I’d like to see there, a local place which would be open all day for coffee in the mornings, for casual lunches, but then glamorous enough for people to come for a meal at night.
“You know, restaurants come and go in Chiswick, and to me the fact that our little restaurant, on the corner of a small street in Chiswick has survived two recessions and is still doing so well, is a great feeling, though it’s really hard work”.
Her own favourite restaurant is Zuma, in Knightsbridge.
Michelle and Spencer Levman at the party
Born in Hampshire, Lorrraine grew up helping out in the family restaurant which was near a beach. The restaurant business was in her blood, she says.
“ I played at having my own cafe when other girls were playing ballerina. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to serve the tables and a waitress and that’s what I did as soon as I was old enough to carry a tray of fish and chips.”
Lorraine made her way to London and worked as a waitress ( later manager) at the Coconut Grove club in Regent Street. Her mentor was Karen Jones, later founder of the Cafe Rouge chain with partner Roger Myers- they are still friends.
Then there was a ten-year stint as Director of the London, Manchester, and Cambridge chain of ‘ Sticky Fingers’ restaurants founded by Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. Annie's in Chiswick was opened in summer 2002.
David Cripps, Nick Lee and Christine Fricker at Annie's party
Like fashion, food tastes have changed in the past ten years, and the menu at Annie’s has changed to suit the demand for Asian and fusion foods.
“But the top sellers on the menu here will always be comfort food. Burgers, shepherds pie, fish and chips, they’re always in demand. Another thing is that ten years ago breakfast wasn't such a big thing, but now we do a lot of breakfasts. The England rugby team have been coming here for breakfast for ten years."
Lorraine admits that the growth of chain restaurants who can offer cutprice deals has placed extra pressures on independently-owned restaurants in Chiswick.
“It’s so difficult for people like to me to compete- the chains have a head office dealing with everything from buying in bulk to health and safety. We don’t have that back-up. I have to oversee every corner of the business - and also I have to say the rents for restaurants are enormous.”
She is blessed with a supportive and reliable staff. Head chef Timmy Tapper (above) was with her from the first day and a restaurant managers Jonathan Ward and Nick Lee are stalwarts.
Soon Annie’s will welcome an addition to the staff, as her son Joe, currently in sixth form at Chiswick School is going to come to work there.
“ I want him to learn from the bottom up, just as I did, and to let him feel the satisfaction of getting the rewards from hard work, just as I have ”.
September 21, 2012