Adam Jones: “Fenix is the most complicated and expensive thing we have ever done”

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Tattu's Adam Jones on his new Fenix Greek restaurant in Manchester

Related tags Adam Jones Tattu Drew Jones FENIX Greek cuisine Casual dining Manchester Dubai

The brothers behind upmarket Chinese restaurant Tattu will launch Fenix, a Greek restaurant in Manchester’s St. John’s development later this year. And they’re not stopping there.

How is Fenix coming along?

We've been on site for about 14 weeks and we have roughly the same amount left to go. My brother (Drew) and I are hoping to launch in November. Fenix is the most complicated and expensive thing we have ever done. It’s also our largest site to date: the space is 8,500sq ft, which will equate to 150 covers in the restaurant and another 80 in the bar. Fenix is located within Manchester's new St. John’s development. You can see the site from our original Tattu (in Spinningfields). Our neighbours will include Soho House, Mollie's and Factory International.

How do you pronounce the name? 

Like the firebird. It's the Greek spelling. But a lot of people are pronouncing it the other way, including all our contractors. I came up with the concept in April 2020 when all of our restaurants were closed. We named it Fenix because it’s a beautiful thing that has come out of a horrible time. There are also synergies with Tattu’s body art theme. The site has been designed by Fabled Studio and will be based on the phoenix myth. The downstairs bar has been inspired by the phoenix’s nest. It will be quite rustic with references to the volcanic elements of Greece. Upstairs, meanwhile, will tell the story of the phoenix rising. It will be much brighter and cleaner. Light will play a big role. Throughout the day there will be transitions from sunset, through to sunrise and finally moonlight.

Why Greek cuisine? 

We like to pick niches that haven't been explored in order to avoid high levels of competition. What we did with Chinese and Tattu was adopt a more modern approach to its delivery whilst remaining respectful to the heritage behind the traditional cuisine we all know and love. Greek food is an underrepresented cuisine in the market, particularly at the high-end. It's also a cuisine we really like. We have found two incredible Greek chefs to deliver a similar approach to Greek–Mediterranean cuisine which we feel is uncommon in the current market. When we launched Tattu in 2015 modern explorations of Chinese cuisine were a rare thing, although a lot of people have now copied our approach. Tattu is one of the most imitated restaurant brands in the world. There’s a restaurant in Peru that’s trying to be an exact replica of our original Manchester site.

Will Fenix be pitched at a similar level to Tattu?

Yes. We have found our segment of the market. We are a premium operator that sits one tier below what you might call luxury. We’re an aspirational group. Our average spend per head at Tattu is around £70.

You have rebranded your restaurant group from Tattu to Permanently Unique. Why?

It sends the message that we want to create new concepts. We are planning to launch another Manchester restaurant in summer next year that will have a live music element. But we don't want to say anything more than that at this point as we don't want to detract from Fenix. When we came up with the concept and brand for the company in around 2014 (the first Tattu launched in 2015) Permanently Unique was an internal mantra. It was a reminder to us to keep innovating. Replication is common in this industry, but at Tattu every location is different and tells its own story.

How are you funding this latest wave of expansion?

We are one of the fastest growing hospitality businesses in the UK despite having only opened around one restaurant per year. We have been able to get to five Tattu restaurants (in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Edinburgh and London) organically. Given their scale, these latest two projects have required us to raise some debt, but we will remain a debt averse group growing as quickly or slowly as the business allows. We won’t be opening any more Tattu sites in the UK for the foreseeable future. We want to keep the brand boutique. 

But you are looking to launch in Dubai... 

Yes. We're in legals on a site at the moment. Our intention is to do it on our own, it won't be a franchise or a joint venture. We want to retain full control because we see Dubai as a key market. A lot of our customers at Tattu go to Dubai regularly. We hope to open three restaurants there over the next five years. 

How is your Tattu site in London doing? 

Tattu London was a scary launch for us. It opened as we were coming out of Covid and was at the time the biggest project we had done in terms of investment and risk. It was also intimidating taking a northern brand to a hyper-competitive restaurant market like London. But we are happy with how it is going and proud of what we have delivered.

Lots of London brands opening in Manchester. Are you concerned about all this new competition?

Some London operators have been a bit naive. There is a perception that Manchester is an easy market and that if you have made something work somewhere as competitive in London it will automatically be a success up north. That's not the case. Operators here have worked incredibly hard to establish themselves over the years. But that said, new openings are good for us and Manchester as a whole because it keeps everybody on their toes. Tattu remains one of the busiest restaurants in Manchester; we have grown every year since we have opened. It's an institution now.

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