Charlie Gardiner is one of London’s coolest entrepreneurs, after 10 years working in various events and exhibition sectors he branched out and launched the Incipio Group in 2015. He found an unused railway arch and transformed it into a fashionable bar, then he put kitchens in the garden and opened them up to traders and Londoners loved the open airresult.
Today the Incipio recipe has evolved, the cognoscenti called it Pergola, large temporary or permanent exciting social venues in unexpected places where Londoners gather for fun, food and drink. Pergola Paddington is a two-story canteen with seating for 850 diners, it is self-service from a collection of delicious international kitchens (Bao buns, crab rolls, pizza, Mexican/Vietnamese/ French street food), a fully-fledged cocktail bar and a myriad of beers/wines are ready to quench the thirst of the diverse clientele; the environment is creatively decorated with ferns, foliage and cacti bringing the outside into a mostly covered urban space.
Charlie says, “When we launched our first rooftop project back in 2016, my biggest inspiration came from spending time in France and Italy as a child-eating alfresco in beautiful settings. I felt that the UK didn’t do outside dining well; there was a definite gap in the market. There’s nothing nicer than eating the best food in a beautiful setting with friends and family—and crucially, it not costing the earth. This is what we try and deliver in each of our projects: informal drinking and dining done differently—this has been our modus operandi from the very beginning.”
Certainly, Pergola Paddington has been a runaway success, with Pergola Olympia opening at the end of this month, billed as a Botanical Bolthole, with glass walls and views over the London skykine, plus heating for the winter months it is destined to appeal. Asked why Charlie started the first Pergola on the Roof, he said “For a long time, I had thoughtthere weren’t enough outdoor pub gardens/spaces where people could drink in the summer—or at least the ones that did exist weren’t great. I started looking for sites that had short term use and we came across Shepherd’s Bush Market—where it all started. The reason we started Pergola on the Roof is we had this small corner seating area at our Little Feast canteen, and whilst I was in the builder’s merchant I got talking to a guy about what you can build to cover spaces. He kept saying gazebos and then I googled it and came across a Pergola (the wooden structure that people eat under). We built it and called it a Pergola! At the time, I met a set dresser from Game of Thrones and said, “can you dress this like Kings Landing in the red sparrow episode”, she nailed it and it looked epic! Everyone kept calling and booking tables and asking to sit under the Pergola. So, when I found the site at Television Centre, in the pitch meeting I said I would build a giant version of this and call it ‘Pergola on the Roof’.” What Charlie creates are stylish, characterful dining experiences, on a mass scale for folks to enjoy massively.