Brigade bistro and bar is the social enterprise restaurant that was the brainchild of Simon Boyle and key partners, found inside a converted fire station in London Bridge.
Opening on Tooley Street in London Bridge in 2011, Brigade marks the culmination of Simon Boyle’s work to open a restaurant that serves the wider community as well as customers.
A partnership between PricewaterhouseCoopers, De Vere Venues and the Homes and Communities Agency, £800k was invested in this one-of-a-kind restaurant and training concept. Ever since the opening, all profits from Brigade have been shared with other charities and social enterprises.
The name 'Brigade' refers to the restaurant's collection of chefs as well as the building’s past as one of the first fire stations of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (1865). This was the first public fire fighting facility in Britain, established after the fire at Cotton's Wharf on Tooley Street.
Today, Brigade honours its history of social responsibility by providing a home for the not-for-profit organisation, Beyond Food. Also conceptualised by Simon Boyle, this charity helps adults experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, back into long-term and meaningful employment. Apprentice chefs trained by the charity prepare the food at Brigade, making it a social enterprise as well as a classic British restaurant.
Since it’s opening, Simon’s vision has seen 106 people through the United Kitchens Apprenticeships programme. His professional connections have allowed apprentices to go on to find employment in some of London's top restaurants, including The Savoy Hotel, Corbin & King Restaurants, Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store, De Vere Venues, Brassiere Blanc and many other famous establishments.
Simon firmly believes the old fire station building’s history of social responsibility should be echoed in all its uses. As a result, only organisations with a social mission are able to rent the office space above Brigade. This space has become the home of Social Enterprise UK and other similarly-minded organisations. When former London Mayor Boris Johnson opened the restaurant, he agreed:
The entire building challenges modern interpretations of business, proving that creating a profit does not have to come at the expense of a social conscience.
As Brigade’s success has become more evident, partners and visitors alike agree that Simon’s enterprise should become a model for other like-minded organisations. It offers a modern combination of profit and social awareness that Simon hopes to replicate across the country.