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Searcys, Britain’s oldest catering and restaurant brand, was established in 1847. We are best known for our Champagne Bars, Restaurants, and stunning Events Venues in iconic destinations such as 116 Pall Mall, The Barbican, The HAC, The Gherkin, and St Pancras International.
Our commitment to delivering unparalleled service, quality, and innovation is reflected in every aspect of our brand. At Searcys, we recognise the value of individuality and actively embrace the diversity of our teams, as they are the cornerstone of our success.
If you share our passion for the hospitality industry and seek a dynamic work environment that celebrates your unique strengths, we would love for you to join our team!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEARCYS
Searcys began with humble beginnings. Founder, John Searcys, began his journey as an apprentice pastry chef where he honed his craftsmanship for which Searcys has become well known today. Let's take you back to the 19th century where our story begins...
John was born on January 13, 1813 in Middlesex St George’s, which is part of present-day London.
Employed as the Private Confectioner
At the age of 21, John became an apprentice as a baker and confectioner. His skill, artistry and exceptional talent became well known to the Duchess of Northumberland. She soon employed him as their private confectioner in 1837 at the Alnwick Castle where she and the third Duke of Northumberland lived.
Setting Up For London
Ten years later, the Duke of Northumberland passed away. Soon after, the Duke was succeeded by his brother, Lord Algernon Percy. During John’s service at Alnwick Castle, he realised how sought-after John really was for his flair for confections. John spoke with the new Duke and Duchess about starting his very own catering company. The Duke and Duchess both agreed, and even loaned him money to help start his venture. John packed up his mixing bowls and whisks and left for London in December 1847.
The Best in London
By the 1860s, John Searcy’s reputation had spread beyond London. Aristocrats and nobles would flock to the capital to host lavish balls and parties that were catered specifically by John. Searcy was particularly famed for his elaborately decorated wedding cakes that delighted brides and wedding guests alike with his exceptional artistry. Through these operations, John Searcy also became officially recognised as a ‘rout furnisher’ - the first term coined for an events caterer, meaning he supplied equipment as well as his confections.
Confectioner to HRH The Prince of Wales
John Searcy received a Royal Warrant and the title ‘John Searcy, confectioner to HRH the Prince of Wales and wine merchant’ making him the top caterer, or rout furnisher, in his industry.
A Royal Approval
When his sons became of age, John adopted a new name for his business and traded as John Searcy & Sons. As Royal Warrant holders to the Prince of Wales, John Searcy & Sons’ position as leading caterers to the elite was now undisputed. By the 1880s, John’s services were increasingly in high demand. John Searcy retired and entrusted the business to his General Manager and good friend Henry Hobbs who had worked alongside Searcy as a pastry chef for over 30 years.
Wines Like No Other
The first mention of Searcys own cuvée Champagne, something we’re proud to still offer today, dates back to 1893. That year’s catalogue called attention to the champagne specially prepared for and shipped by Searcys, the De Garnier et Cie 1893 vintage at 66s a dozen bottles.
Wedding of Princess Maud
John Searcys & Sons were commissioned to make Princess Maud’s (the youngest daughter of Edward VII) wedding cake on July 22, 1896. Not long before the royal wedding, the business’s Chief Confectioner fell ill. John’s sons had planned to send a sincere note of apology to the palace that they could not fulfil their duties. When this news reached John, he told his sons to ‘dismiss all idea of cancellation’ and came out of retirement to make the wedding cake himself. Within days, John had created a magnificent five-tiered cake ‘fit for a princess’.
A Legacy Continues
On June 12, 1898, John Searcy passed away at 85 years old, just within a few months of his business’s Golden Jubilee. John Searcy & Sons soon amalgamated with George Tansley, ‘Ball and Concert Furnishers’, to become Searcy, Tansley and Company. This merger made us the largest catering company of our kind in Britain.
Over the coming decades, Searcys fame as cake-makers continued. In 1920, the Queen magazine wrote that ‘the company of Messrs Searcy, Tansley and Co is a godsend to the housekeeper. Should she be desirous of giving a party… all that is necessary is to ring up Victoria 2186 and discuss the matter with these experienced caterers. The cakes of Messrs Searcy have won a great reputation. A speciality of the firm is a biscuit called “Regina,” made with 24 egg whites, 2 lb sugar and 2 lb ground sweet almonds.
A Cuvée of Success
Throughout the 20s and 30s, more champagne was consumed than regular wine at the kind of special events Searcys ran. Dozens and dozens of cases of Mumm, Cordon Rouge and Bollinger passed through Searcys hands every night during the season. One of the company directors, John Searcy Physick, approached each occasion with ‘the enthusiasm of a producer and the shrewdness of a psychologist.” Following this long legacy, our own Searcys brut and rosé cuvées are enjoying phenomenal success and are very popular with guests across all our venues.
The Second World War
On the eve of the Second World War, one of Searcys wrote to the Ministry of Works and asked whether he should stop catering for events, but he was told to do nothing of the sort, there was a place for outdoor catering on the home front even in a war. Searcys was also asked to open a restaurant for war workers on the first floor of 19 Sloane Street. As the war got underway, weddings were celebrated in the most modest ways, brides spent their rations on currants and brought them to Searcys to decorate their wedding cake.
Coronations were something Searcys were accustomed to, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 was one of the busiest periods in our history. For three nights and two days leading up, Searcys lorries were making the rounds of houses on the procession route delivering lunches, teas and cocktails for the numerous parties held to watch the great event. One of the biggest and most elaborate of the parties was a special dinner for 100 and dance for 500 at Londonderry House in Mayfair.
It wasn’t until 1990 that Searcys really transitioned into the venuefocussed business it is today. Our first catering contract was at The Barbican, then fairly newly built, which continues to be one of our key venues today.
Searcys became the caterer at Vintners’ Hall. The Vintners’ Company, with its first Charter in 1363, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London. With a history in the trade of wool and wine throughout the Middle Ages, it is the home of wine trade in England and boasts one of the oldest private dining rooms in London.
Searcys Afternoon Tea
Searcys opens The Pump Room Restaurant in Bath and Searcys Afternoon Tea is born. Built in the 1790s with its glittering chandeliers and a spa fountain, The Pump Room was famed as the destination for high society to meet and ‘take the waters’ from the hot springs and today is a mustvisit location in Bath.
The Gherkin and St Pancras Champagne Bar
Searcys became a restaurant and bar operator, launching the longest Champagne Bar in Europe and an all-day brasserie along the Eurostar concourse at St Pancras. This was a homecoming for Searcys long history in champagne, and a venue to celebrate our own cuvée. Searcys also launches the first skyscraper restaurant and events space at 30 Mary Axe, better known as the Gherkin.
30 Euston Square
Searcys becomes an official caterer at the Royal College of General Practitioners its headquarters, 30 Euston Square is launched.
The Kings Fund and The Royal Institution
Searcys is appointed caterer at both King’s Fund (No. 11 Cavendish Square) and The Royal Institution – elegant venues in the heart of London that offer a mix of period and contemporary spaces.
116 Pall Mall
Searcys becomes the official caterer at The Royal College of Surgeons of England and launches the brand new central London events spaces for the College, The View at Lincoln Inn’s Field. We also sign a partnership with 116 Pall Mall, and commercial launch our catering services for IoD members, events, a new Searcys Champagne Bar and afternoon tea at this magnificent venue.
Celebrating 175 Years
Searcys celebrates its 175th anniversary, with the launch of new premium Searcys Blanc de Blancs champagne and our first-ever English sparking wine. The Stationers’ Hall in the City appoints Searcys as its in-house caterer, in time for the venue’s relaunch in summer 2022. Searcys long-standing partner, The Inner Temple, launches its historic venue after a significant revamp.
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