How to make it in Covent Garden: Charlie Gilkes of Inception Group
31 January 2017
This month IN Covent Garden magazine talks to Charlie Gilkes of Inception Group. What was it like to Mr Fogg’s bar on St Martin’s Lane?
Tell us about you/your business and its history?
The Inception Group was established in February 2009 by myself and Duncan Stirling with our first bar ‘Barts’ hidden within a Chelsea apartment block! Since then the business has gone from strength to strength with nine venues across London and several more to open their doors soon. No matter what venue you visit, our mission remains the same “To bring people together and entertain them with unique and memorable experiences”. We build a collection of venues instead of chains meaning no venue or experience is quite like the next.
What does Covent Garden mean to you and your business?
From the early stages of our growth, the vibrancy and cosmopolitan nature of Covent Garden was a major draw for us. We always wanted to make an impression here and we are well on our way to achieving this with venues like Bunga Bunga on Drury lane offering a place to eat, drink and be entertained into the early hours. Our first venue in Covent Garden is set over two floors with Mr Fogg’s on St Martin’s Lane (the heart of theatreland) offering a traditional Victorian tavern on the ground floor and undeniably the most exciting Gin Parlour in town upstairs.
What does the future hold for you and how will that have an impact on Covent Garden?
2018 has and continues to be a very exciting year for our group with three new venues opening across London. A major landmark in the ‘Mr Fogg’s’ collection will soon arrive on Bedford Street, Charing Cross – Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration. The venue has real history and is based near the location Mr Fogg initially set off from on his journey around the world in 80 days. The Society of Exploration will be exactly that – a venue dedicated to exploring. It will focus on travel, housing a Map Room where guests can plan both short and long trips. It will also be taking guests on an exploration of the senses, with an exciting and unique drinks menu. And, hints of the impending industrial revolution will be largely prominent in the venue, with automated contraptions and an incredible cocktail creating machine. No visit to Covent Garden would be complete without paying us a visit.
Favourite memory of the area?
At the age of four my parents took me to the London Transport Museum, I still vividly remember the scale of the exhibitions. It’s a great place to visit for all ages. Securing the St Martin’s Lane venue for Mr Fogg’s was a very special moment. We faced fierce competition from over 50 bidders so when we found out our bid had won, we rushed back down to the venue just to help it sink in that we had the keys to a very exciting venue that we just knew would make an impact on the Covent Garden nightlife scene.
Top tip for people spending the day/ night/week in the area?
You are spoilt for choice but a good start would be to check out www. inception-group.com for a list of our bars, restaurants and shows. Beyond our group some of my favourite things to do are to take in a Saturday matinee show at one of the many theatres. If you want a very authentic Tapas experience, I highly recommend Barra Fina on Drury Lane or if you arrive in town early a unique Indian twist on the full English breakfast can be found at Dishoom on Upper St Martin’s Lane.