With the declining teashop era after the Second World War, Lyons experimented with a number of catering changes. One of the more successful of these was the introduction of the London Steak Houses. These developed from the Grill & Cheese restaurants which had been introduced into the Corner Houses a few years earlier. Conceived by the Catering Division management, the Steak House initiative did not initially have the full financial support of the Lyons board. Consequently the first restaurant was prepared using in-house resources and standard catering equipment. Because of the strict licensing laws in the UK at that time, a Lovibond Off Licence was acquired in Baker Street, in preference to one of the teashops, because the premises had already a liquor licence and the authorities were unlikely to refuse one for a licensed restaurant. The new restaurant opened in 1961 and was an immediate success.

The Baker Street restaurant traded at such a high levels that by the time the Annual Report and Statement of Accounts were issued the board had certainly embraced the idea of Steak Houses. Brian Salmon's statement said: 'We have already announced our plans to extend to other areas the form of catering which has been successful in the West End of London, and a beginning has been made during the year under review with the opening of the London Steak House in Baker Street, and a modified Corner House in Notting Hill Gate. As a result of our experience, we plan to open twenty-five or more Steak Houses in locations within a fifty mile radius of London. .........It is our intention that the Steak Houses should be fully licensed but unfortunately it is still difficult to obtain a licence, even one restricted to serving liquor with meals.' A year later (1962) a new company, London Steak Houses Ltd, was created to operate these restaurants and Harold Young and Peter Byford became directors.

The original Baker Street Steak House had seating for 100 people and the conversion costs had worked out at £190 per person. By now, however, the inevitable 'Lyons Committee' came into play and with each new restaurant opened the cost of decoration and fitting soared. Some of the central restaurants, particularly those in the West-End shopping centres, failed to attract a sufficient level of evening customers and in one case turned itself into a 'bistrotheque' with music, dancing and dim lights to attach a younger clientele.

Parking in central London at this time started to become more difficult and so restaurants opened in the outer residential areas and in the leafy suburbs of Wimbledon, Kingston, Tunbridge Wells and Dulwich. At their peak Lyons were operating 43 Steak Houses in London and the Home Counties. Unlike the teashops, Steak Houses were all designed on an individual basis with particular treatment to the outside appearance. Some were created in old or listed buildings and had bags of character. It was a pleasurable experience to visit any of the Steak Houses. The food remained pretty much standard with steaks being the preferred dish.

Other than they made money, the profitability of the Steak Houses is not known. Like all of the subsidiary companies of Lyons they did not disclose their profit/loss information.

Several London Steak House restaurants had previously been Lyons teashops. After having being run as Steak Houses some were later turned into more fashionable fish restaurants under the names of Fisherman's Wharf and Hook Line & Sinker. Some also became Lyons Grills'. The Steak House at Northwood, Hillingdon, opened as an Italian restaurant in April 1977 named, Il Mondo Cane (it's a Dog's World).

 © Peter Bird 2002

London Steak House menus. Unusual since the text is in Arabic.


.Courtesy Tom Mullins

A Steak House also opened in Brussels, Belgium. The first and only one to open outside Britain