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Interview with Honey & Co. Owners Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich

Sarit and Itamar opened their first restaurant in 2012, after working in kitchens in London and Israel. Honey & Co focuses on serving up the kind of delicious food found in the home, in an intimate and cosy space. In contrast, their second location Honey & Smoke is a big and busy grill house, serving their favourite Middle Eastern grills. They also own their grocery store, Honey & Spice, displaying a range of exciting produce. 

Honey & Co will be closed until June whilst the pair move to their exciting new location in Bloomsbury!

Photo credits to Patricia Niven

What is an important thing that you have learned over the last 10 years of running restaurants?

Honestly, the question is probably what we haven’t learnt. Looking back, we didn’t really know what we were doing when we opened Honey & Co. I had never worked Front of House before and suddenly I was taking orders, using tills, everything. Obviously a bad idea – I messed absolutely everything up. We were so lucky to find Rachael Gibbon, our Front of House Manager, who started with me on that first day as our only waitress, and has stuck with us for the last 10 years. She mastered the chaos completely. 

Really, I guess that the main thing that we’ve learnt over the past 10 years is to get good people. People who you love, who understand what you’re doing, and who want to learn and grow with you. We’re fortunate to have a great core team who’ve stuck with us most of the ride. 

What are you most excited about opening your new restaurant in Bloomsbury?

The space! Until now, we’ve been in a tiny kitchen at Honey & Co. So tiny you can’t even imagine. Really, we outgrew it in our first 6 months, so we can’t wait to finally give our chefs an amazing kitchen to work in. We’re also going to have around double the amount of covers we have now, so we’ll have the space for bigger groups to eat with us. 

We’re also so excited to get to know the new neighbourhood. Our new street, Lamb’s Conduit Street, is the most beautiful street – it’s like a dream. We’ve made such good friends with our neighbours here in Fitzrovia over the years that we feel like we’ve gained a whole new family, and we can’t wait to do it all again. 

What are some of the other places that you like to visit in that area?

We are so lucky that our favourite wine bar, Noble Rot, is going to be just opposite us. We have loved Noble Rot for years, and we’re so excited that the wine supplier from their founders, Keeling Andrew and Co., are going to be supplying our wines.

La Fromagerie, who are going to be our next-door neighbours, have always been my go-to for good cheese. I’ve already developed a La Fromagerie habit every time we visit the site to check on progress. 

There’s also all the gorgeous squares in the area, The British Museum, and I’ve just heard there are ceramic studios nearby as well, which is a bit of a hobby of ours, so I’m looking forward to checking those out. 

Honey & Co is described as ‘our tiny restaurant serving the kind of food you find in people’s home’ whilst Honey & Smoke is ‘a big, buzzy grill house with room enough for everyone’. How do you keep the personality of both sites alive? How do you ensure the same passion and care is spent on each restaurant /menu?

The sites are so different that making sure that we maintain their separate identities has never really been an issue for us. We set up Honey & Co to serve the foods that we missed from home. It feels homely and cosy, and that feeling threads through everything from the food to the paper tablecloths. We don’t ever want to lose that, and maintaining that homeliness has been key in our plans for the new place. 

Honey & Smoke is the type of place that you can really make a night of. Go for cocktails with friends, go as a party. Even the food is different – the grill really is the centre of the kitchen. 

We think of our restaurants as two sisters; they’re very different, but they come together in harmony.

Have you encountered any challenges opening a restaurant post-pandemic in London? Are there any permanent changes in the sector that you have had to adjust to?

The hardest thing is probably finding the staff! A bigger space means more people and more work, and we are going to need a lot more people to join our team – both in the kitchen and Front of House. 

Since covid and Brexit we’ve come up with new ways to recruit, like our Careers Party last month, as the market is very tough, and we’ve really worked on finding the benefits and perks for our staff that are actually useful to them. 

We want people who feel excited by Middle Eastern ingredients and techniques, who are keen to learn more and who want to come on this journey with us. 

Photo credits to Patricia Niven


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