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Des Gunewardena to launch major F&B concept at revamped British 'institution'

Published:  01 July, 2024

Restaurant tycoon Des Gunewardena is set to launch a major new restaurant, bar and events space at the new £1.3bn redevelopment of Olympia in West London.

Opening from 2025, the 14-acre redevelopment of Olympia is spearheaded by Yoo Capital and Deutsche Finance International, and co-designed by Heatherwick Studio and SPPARC. The ambitious project will see the transformation of the landmark site which has a legacy stretching back 138 years, with the aim of establishing the site as a state-of-the-art hub for culture and entertainment.

The new launch at Olympia will be the third new restaurant from Gunewardena since he departed D&D and launched the hospitality company D3 Collective. He and his team will transform the 30,000 sq ft Pillar Hall into a destination venue featuring a main restaurant, less formal café/grill, central bar, outdoor dining and a basement speakeasy. There will also be a 370-seated capacity/600 total capacity new music and events space that will cater for a wide range of events.

“Olympia is a much-loved British institution, but many people might not have been there for a while,” Gunewardena, CEO of D3 Collective, said.

“With these plans, that’s going to change big time. The new Olympia is going to become a globally recognised entertainment and leisure destination bang in the middle of West London, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Lloyd Lee, managing partner at Yoo Capital, added: “We are delighted to welcome Des whose restaurants have thrilled Londoners and visitors for over a generation and a half. Partnering with an industry heavyweight such as Des further cements Yoo Capital’s commitment of creating a world class destination that showcases the best of major brands, innovation, culture and food.”

Olympia, in Hammersmith, is currently Europe’s largest regeneration project.

Years in the making, it has just unveiled its biggest engineering feat in the form of a glass canopy which spans nearly 1,000 sq metres. Alongside commercial office space, amenities include a new permanent theatre and over 30 new restaurants.

Gunewardena’s new concept will come to life in Pillar Hall – a historic Grade II listed building. Around 7% of listed buildings hold this Grade II status currently in the UK.

Gunewardena was previously the co-founder of restaurant group D&D London, and prior to that was CEO of Conran. He announced his acquisition of the site at Royal Exchange in December 2023, which was his first major restaurant venture since leaving D&D London in September 2022. His new hospitality company, D3 Collective, is due to launch its second project in Canary Wharf this November.