Yianni Papoutsis (MEATliquor empire)
You've expanded from selling burgers in the back of the MEATwagon van in a Peckham industrial site to now owning four restaurants in the MEATliquor group in just three years. Obviously conquering planet earth is your master plan, but what are your next moves?
We're opening a restaurant in Leeds first, which opens in six weeks at the start of September, then we're doing a Bristol opening at the beginning of next year. Then next summer, we're opening in Upper Street in an old garage, and it's the first place we've ever got where we've got access to an outdoor space.
Will that also be called MEATliquor?
Most likely, but at the moment it's something that we need to think about.
You seemed to be the godfather of the burger revival and heralded the rise of gourmet fast food – did that surprise you?
It does surprise me how many similar places are springing up, but then anything that has a bit of zeitgeist about it, you always have a lot of places coming up after it. Some will be short term, some will be long term, but the public decides what works in the end.
What would you say is the signature dish on your menu?
The Dead Hippie is the most popular burger on our menu, but burgers are only about 25% of our menu, really. It's why we're called MEATliquor, not BURGERliquor, but burgers get the most press as they're really popular at the moment.
And you've got the excellent Soulshakers responsible for getting everyone drunk in your restaurants. What's the best cocktail on the list, in your opinion?
The Donkey Punch [vodka, lime, ginger beer and absinthe]. That was invented back in the #MEATeasy.
The #MEATeasy in New Cross still goes down in our books as one of the best party pop-up restaurants ever. Would you ever think about repeating it?
The #MEATeasy was of a certain time and place. I don't think any of us are physically capable of replicating that! To try and do it again would feel like we were going backwards and we've always tried to evolve. We still have that spirit in everything we're doing, and that attitude of the managed playground philosophy is still very much there. That's our ethos.
On that infamous closing night party there, you got a tattoo artist in and people who got the logo tattooed on them got free food for life. Do you still see a lot of people around with the tattoos?
Actually, most of the people who got tattooed that night still work for us!
And the others – do you still get them dropping by to cash in on the burgers?
Absolutely. There's only about three or four of them, but they're regulars, you'd be surprised how many people have the tattoos don't use them, they're quite happy to pay. That last night we had there was a night to not remember...
Sort of like that saying about the 1960s – if you can remember it, you weren't really there?
Yeah – the first rule of the #MEATeasy is: don't talk about the #MEATeasy.
You guys are bringing out a book now, how did that come about?
We'd been asked to do a book right from the beginning, but it was only after a couple of years that we had something worthwhile to put into it. It's taken us about two years to put together, it's called The MEATliquor Chronicles and it comes out on September 18, published by Faber and co-written with DBC Pierre.
Where are your favourite places to dine out?
What would your last meal on earth be?
Las Vegas buffet, which is basically everything, washed down with wine, beer and cocktails. Finishing off with brandy and a cigar.
Props to Giles Looker from @Soulshakersltd for the pic