AIR is still co-owned and managed by five of that original West London cappuccino clan and our mission remains the same … to join together and give all of our Members a better future by standing as one.
Erick has been General Manager of boutique hotel and restaurant, the Bingham, in Richmond since January 2013, having previously worked at a number of 5 star and award-winning hotels and Michelin star restaurants, including a year spent overseeing what at the time was the second-largest wine cellar in the USA, with over 125,000 bottles!
“AIR’s mission is to help build a thriving Independent hospitality sector in which players compete on a level playing field with the chains. My dream is for every high street to have a healthy mix of the two and for regional diversity to be protected and promoted, as in my native France.”
Lawrence was at the forefront of the rejuvenating London Restaurant scene of the nineties, training under the wings of Jeremy King and Chris Corbin before opening Brula in 1999. A self-confessed serial restaurateur, he is co-owner of a collection of proudly and fiercely independent restaurants: Covent Garden’s iconic Joe Allen and Orso, as well as The Cloister Coffee House and, most recently, Mustard.
“As Independent restaurateurs, for years we’d felt alone in the world of hospitality, without a voice. We started to wonder if others felt the same. True, there was support in a very corporate sense from large organisations who banged on about credit card savings and phone-based legal advice, but that was just about it. Yes, we’d welcome ways to save money but we realised we wanted something more … and that’s when AIR was born!”
Along with her husband – award-winning chef, Eric Guignard – Sarah has owned and run The French Table in Surbiton since 2001, where she works her magic front of house, as well as running its two sister cafés/patisseries, The French Tarte, including one right next door and the other in Teddington.
“There’s something very fulfilling about knowing you’re not alone in the madness of this industry! When I first met the other AIR Co-Founders, it was so refreshing to know that they, too, were experiencing the same problems, the same ups and downs … and I wasn’t alone. We feel united as Independents and hope to encourage and inspire others to join us in our quest.”
Tim is an ex-professional polo player who is a passionate convert to the restaurant & hospitality sector and staunch advocate of the Independent operator! With Lawrence, he is co-owner of two of London theatreland’s most iconic restaurants – the rejuvenated Joe Allen and Orso – as well as Mustard in Shepherd’s Bush.
“AIR is a great Members’ club, a chance to share and to show that the past 20 years in this often unpredictable business has actually amounted to something tangible, to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who have achieved what they set out to, all of which has now inspired us to help other Independent businesses, in essence to pass it on…