The Picture House has cost $4 million to open, Enoteca Group Managing Director Kim Minards said. That includes buying out the four partners in Steamers, decoration, fit-out and upgrading of the kitchen.
Just a week old, the pub is looking good outside — turquoise barrels as tables, greenery and a brilliantly painted sign — but unfinished inside. Kim said the décor is still evolving. She has bought artifacts from the Old Town store, Vintage HK: cinema reels, ammo box and historic photos for the walls. Kim said she is having a debate with her husband and co-owner, Robert Cooper. “He says don’t go all thematic, but I am thinking why not.” Kim is engagingly frank.
Kim and Robert have done well to retain most of the Steamers staff, something Barry, Carl and other Steamers partners had wanted. Irene and Holly are there along with Kee, Michael and Steve. The same team is in the kitchen, Max, Daniel and Sing. Ricci, one of Sai Kung’s champion huggers, is taking a rest for health reasons. The General Manager is a new face in town, Ming Lee, who previously ran Enoteca’s Iberico at Yuen Long. Thirteen years old, Enoteca has eight restaurants now.
The prices at The Picture House are not cheap, but understandable given the rent. Kim said it is $110,000. Price examples: Cumberland sausage skillet $168, Wagyu burger $158 among mains. Baked Camembert $105, Haddock fishcakes $88 among starters. Drinks prices are upper range for Sai Kung: Carlsberg pint $58 regular hour, $48 happy hour; Tetley’s bitter $68 and 58. Wines: Pinot Grigio $58, Pinot Noir $62.
We asked Kim why she likes the Sai Kung market. Enoteca’s The Conservatory has been open less than a year and she has had time to observe that business is slow on week days and when the weather is poor. “In Central, particularly SoHo, you work for the landlord. In Sai Kung you work for the landlord but can make a bit for yourself.” Kim thinks the market is growing because of all the residential development and evolving. People work in the polluted urban areas and escape to Sai Kung to relax.
Many people will be pleased that the Picture House’s TV sets are hidden behind sliding blackboards, only to appear for special events. A long leather banquette lines the back wall. Some of the wallpaper looks like it’s out of the 1950s. Other walls are white brick. Now the seating is padded and comfortable, unlike Steamers which was renowned for having the least comfortable seating in Sai Kung. That seating has now been moved outside and we hope Kim and Robert keep it moving.