WELCOME TO SEARCYS
Part of London’s hospitality scene for over 175 years, Searcys is an award-winning restaurateur and events caterer in residence at unique and historical venues across the UK. With plenty of venues to choose from, guests can dine in the historical surrounds of The Pump Room, head to the sky at the Gherkin, discover the Barbican and sip away on fizz at Europe’s longest Champagne bar at St Pancras by Searcys. At the heart of every Searcys’ venue is a touch of indulgence and finesse, serving fresh, seasonal dishes that focus on sustainability alongside extensive Champagne and wine lists.
As the UK’s oldest British caterer, Searcys is the brainchild of John Searcy, who founded the company in 1847. A creative and culinary force of nature, John began his illustrious career as the confectioner for the Duke of Northumberland before taking his talents to London to establish the go-to events company in the capital. Catering for all celebrations from balls, and royal weddings to coronations.
Make it Special. Make it Searcys.
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.
30 Pavilion Road
Searcys opened our 30 Pavilion Road events venue in Knightsbridge, which was famed as THE party venue of the capital in the 1980s and 90s.
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.
Blenheim Palace appoints Searcys as its official caterer to provide services at its event spaces, cafes and restaurants, including launching a popular afternoon tea offering.
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 and Royal College of Surgeons
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.
Back to the Start
We are thrilled to announce that in 2022, Searcys celebrated its 175th anniversary and surpassed our charity pledge of £175,000 for hospitality charities close to our hearts. Searcys has a longstanding commitment to charity and community work, as demonstrated by the actions during the Second World War; one of Searcys directors wrote to the Ministry of Works and asked whether he should stop catering for events in view of the ‘luxury’ nature of the trade. 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. It is a little-known fact that Searcys also took part in a morale-boosting daily lunch concert held at the National Gallery throughout the war providing packed lunches.
Last year, our teams participated in a wide range of charity events, from baking, cycling, cooking, volunteering in a zoo and planting trees to support environmental causes. Our fundraising dinners, including the Searcys Ball for hospitality leaders and a stunning dinner for the Young Classical Artists Trust, raised significant sums of money. Our team even completed a gruelling 175-mile “Tour de Searcys” bike ride from London to Bath, raising over £18,000 in the process.
At Searcys, we remain committed to giving back to the community and supporting important causes. We are proud of our charity efforts and grateful for the support of our teams and guests in achieving our fundraising goals.
What We Do
Searcys is built on five fundamental pillars that guide everything we do: Proud Heritage, Continuous Quality, Human Touch, Indulgent Moments, and Trust.
With a proud heritage spanning 175 years, we have garnered an unparalleled amount of experience and expertise. Our dedicated teams bring extensive knowledge and skills across events, culinary, and management, ensuring that we consistently deliver the highest levels of excellence.
We believe that these five pillars form the foundation of our success, and we remain committed to upholding them in everything we do.
We take pride in our bold and innovative concepts and innovative ideas, such as the pioneering Champagne Bar within St. Pancras International and one of London's earliest high-rise dining and events destinations, The Gherkin. Each chapter of the Searcys story fills us with immense pride and is the inspiration and the backbone of our offerings at all our locations.
It’s what keeps people coming back. Over the years we’ve worked hard to make Searcys synonymous with the highest standards in dining, at some of the most spectacular venues. We know the expertise, meticulous planning and flawless execution that’s required to deliver quality experiences time and time again and we thrive on that challenge. It’s what puts a smile on our faces and our customers’ too.
Gentle, courteous and masterful, were the words used to describe our founder John Searcy’s character. And these traits are all still fundamental to the Searcys brand personality today. Our rich history and experience might have given us an assuredness in our levels of skill and ability to lay on the very best experiences but they’ve also taught us never to do so at the expense of a warm-hearted welcome.
Trust is earned and we know it’s at stake with every experience we create, every glass of Champagne we serve, and plate of food we take to a table. By quietly insisting on the highest standards we not only win our clients’ confidence but create an environment in which every little detail has been thought of, so that people can truly relax and indulge.
Indulgence shouldn’t just be saved for special occasions. We believe there’s a well-earned place for it every day. So we always aim to offer a taste of indulgence that feels sophisticated yet effortless wherever we can. Whether that’s a glass of Champagne before you board at St Pancras, or a breakfast that kicks the day off in style at The Pump Room.
SUSTAINABILITYSEARCYS SUSTAINABILITY PLEDGES
From the very beginning, sustainability has been the cornerstone of Searcys’ philosophy. We provide our customers with the freshest, highest-quality ingredients that our sourced responsibly from local suppliers. By doing so, we enhance our customers’ experience and contribute to the betterment of the community and the environment. Sustainability is at the heart of our business, and we have made several sustainability pledges across all our restaurants, bars, and event venues to ensure that we uphold this principle.
Our menus reflect our sustainability commitments, ranging from local suppliers, only using MSC-approved fish and partnering with Too Good To Go, which connects customers with our cafes to minimise food waste.