You’d imagine opening a bar no-one could find would be the stuff of nightmares for a new business.
And that’s generally true—bar the opulent exceptions of London’s Cache Cache.
Nestled in a secret location under Covent Garden’s Piazza, the restaurant-cum-cocktail club is one of the city’s best-kept secrets.
In fact, as Özgür Karakaş (COO at Grizzly Hospitality—Cache Cache’s management group) tells me, the secret was once so well-kept it even came as a surprise to him.
“We discovered this strange underground space in one of our restaurants and it was just too nice to be a storage area. We knew we had to do something with it,” says Karakaş.
“We were also talking about the movie Casablanca at the time, and thought ‘why don’t we just do that?!’”
Completely clandestine and unrecognizable from the outside, they planned to change nothing on the exterior but revamp the brick-lined interiors to host 60 discerning invitees for dinner, drinks and dancing. A gin joint-inspired speakeasy with thoroughly modern touches.
“It took us another year, because Westminster is very tight with licenses, but we eventually got there!”
Initially invite-only, Cache Cache was off to a flying start in February 2020, hosting everyone from footballers to Formula One drivers. Until Covid-19 forced its closure six weeks in.
When restrictions were eventually lifted, however, the business was back at it in no time.
Cache Cache’s experiential atmosphere proved to be the perfect remedy to the monotony and restlessness of the pandemic: a glamorous setting, delicious food, indulgent cocktails, exceptional entertainment (rather than Sam on the piano, ‘Cache-ablanca’ hosts accomplished DJs, saxophonists, and bongo players), and luxurious spaces to enjoy any or all of it as you wish.
“There are always people enjoying cocktails and food in the early evening, but the place finds itself around 10.30/11,” says Karakaş. “At that time, the DJ and bongo players are out and everyone stands up to dance. It’s a great atmosphere.”
Not forgetting the food, of course. Though the menu is limited, a number of small plates and nibbles are available throughout the evening, including everything from caviar to pork belly anticucho (a personal favorite, served with bourbon sauce and Peruvian corn).
And, thankfully, it’s a little easier to grab a table than it has been thus far. Moving from an invite-only model, you can now book your evenings via WhatsApp or online reservations.
“We like secrecy but we also want people to enjoy it,” says Karakaş. “We will always be secret and selective—we would never say ‘the more the merrier’—but we are happy to accommodate when we can.”
And if Cache Cache can’t, it’s certainly not the only Grizzly Hospitality option in the vicinity.
The group, which was founded by Alex Zibi in 2011, also runs Covent Garden’s Buns & Buns (specializing in steamed buns and brioche rolls) and NáNá Cafe (a Mediterranean-inspired kitchen and bar), with another brand expected to launch in the next three to four months.
“It is a tough market, but there is always potential for great food,” Karakaş continues, believing Grizzly’s concept-driven approach to restauranting—albeit only in prime locations—is the recipe for success.
“Even though they are big investments, they pay off. We’re not going to spend like the Hakkasan Group or Yauatcha, but we will continue to make significant investments in our businesses. And make it back. You can’t make money without spending money.”
Originally, the group was founded as a consultancy and investment vehicle to help emerging concepts and large-scale projects; the first project of which led Zibi to raise funds for Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle, two of Europe’s highest-grossing restaurants for the past eight years.
So yes, while opening a bar no-one can find may not instil confidence in the average investor, it’s fair to say Grizzly is off to a knowing start.
Here’s looking at you, Cache Cache.