It all sounds outrageously glamorous but, when you’re employing around 300 people between two locations and you’ve got to deal with everything from stock management to staff issues, it is, well, not.
Especially given the environment in which they’re working. “People aren’t opening restaurants at all, never mind huge ones,” Kyriacou says sagely when I mention the economy.
But they have. Twice.
The partnership came by way of Higgs, then running 500 at The Saxon, selling his house, and meeting up via connections because of Kyriacou’s property business, Century 21 South Africa.
“Gary was immediately serious about the concept I had for a restaurant — he wasn’t going to just throw money at it. It impressed me,” Higgs says.
That was the easy bit. Marble’s construction was delayed by months. “We cancelled thousands of bookings, but eventually we just had to open. We simply couldn’t keep turning customers away,” both men explain.
It got worse. “I still think I have post-traumatic stress disorder from the opening night,” says an ordinarily robust Higgs. Everything that could go wrong did.
Opening Saint was a breeze, by comparison. Between the two projects they started a high-end butchery below Marble. It didn’t bring in the cash, so they closed it quickly and moved on. It’s still the space were the vast fortune of meat is kept for both restaurants.
With hindsight, the two laugh about it a lot. Kyriacou remembers Higgs lying on the floor the morning of Marble’s launch, screwing chairs together in a state of utter panic. In turn, Higgs recalls how, initially, patrons thought Kyriacou was the maître d’. Two years on, and he’s still inundated with hundreds of text messages and calls to his cellphone for reservations. “I pass them all on to the actual bookings team,” he says, laughing.
What’s next, I pry. “Just let us catch our breath and we’ll see,” they say, pretty much in unison.
Higgs’s new recipe book and memoire, Mile 8, will be out soon.