Piper has taken a significant minority stake in Be At One, the highly successful cocktail bar operator.
Be At One was founded by Steve Locke, Rhys Oldfield and Leigh Miller, three former bartenders who worked together at TGI Fridays in the 1990s. The trio spotted a gap in the market to produce the finest range of cocktails in London served by the best quality staff. There are currently 190 exotic drinks on the menu and the company invests £5,000 on training each bartender.
Be At One opened its first bar in Battersea in 1998. Today the chain runs 12 bars across London, sells more vodka than Hilton hotels and uses half a tonne of fresh mint a month for its popular Mojitos. Be At One’s most recent site has just opened in Monument and the company was awarded ’Best Classic Bar’ at the prestigious Class Awards 2011.
Piper has invested £8m in Be At One, providing funding for a roll out to further sites. Now in its 25thyear, Piper founded Pitcher & Piano and helped to turn Las Iguanas into a nationwide restaurant chain. It recently closed its fifth fund at £107m.
Be At One has appointed Andrew Stones as Operations Director (previously at Whitbread, Wetherspoons and Pizza Hut) and leisure veteran Mark Derry (Loch Fyne and Brasserie Blanc) will join as Chairman.
“We had an opportunity to work with a number of different investors but selected Piper on the basis of the team’s deep understanding of our brand and customers, their experience and reputation for success in the bar and restaurant space and for the value we believe they can add to our business during the lifetime of the investment,” commented Be At One co-founder Steve Locke.
Peter Kemp-Welch, of Piper, stated: “We are delighted to have invested in Be At One. We are backing a strong, driven management team who are passionate about their business, resulting in exceptional ROI and business models and outstanding trading results, even in the current climate. We have an aggressive roll out programme and believe the Be At One proposition has enormous potential in a wide range of locations.”