Restaurant Magazine - The Director's Perspective
Fernando Peire breezes into the room at The Ivy Club wearing a smart bespoke suit, a shirt that looks like it was pressed just seconds before we meet and a smile that greets me like an old friend, even though we've never previously me. In a matter of seconds we are seated in the club's comfortable leather chairs with drinks in front of us (still water for me, tea with milk and honey for my host) and my tape recorder running - he makes me double check to ensure it's on. In these first few moments, and without even thinking about it, Peire has demonstrated why The Ivy is regularly named by Londoners as their favourite restaurant - it topped the Harden's guide for nine consecutive years between 1997 and 2005
(it is now seventh). If you can infiltrate its walls you'll be met with a smile, slick service and the feeling that you are being looked after like royalty.
Peire doesn't work at The Ivy, he is The Ivy. And, having worked there almost since the day Corbin and King brought it back from the dead in 1990, The Ivy Is also very much Peire. Corbin and King are best known as the front-of-house alchemists behind its rebirth, but it was Peire's project as well. "I visited The Ivy as a customer twice and didn't enjoy it," he says'." I asked them (Chris and Jeremy) to give me a job because I thought they needed to change their ways and be a bit more friendly and less formal. People come to a place like this feeling quite nervous on their first visit; they are quite intimidating places, You need to give people a friendly face."
Everything that people like about The Ivy - the customer service, the prestige. the feeling of being in the 'inner circle' - and everything they dislike - the inability to get a table, the elitism, the secrecy - is Peire's doing, But while all these aspects seem to be part of the restaurant's DNA from day one, it took meticulous planning and time to achieve.