Restaurateur was friend of the stars

A LIVERPUDLIAN who was at school with Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison and went on to become a successful restaurateur has died.

Laurence Isaacson, 75, co-founded the Home House private members' club, in Marylebone, London, built up the Chez Gérard restaurant chain and was co-owner of Scott's restaurant, in Mayfair.

He was later co-chairman of L'Escargot, the exclusive French restaurant in Soho.

Born in Liverpool 1943, Mr Isaacson recalled in an interview: "In the years just after the war in Liverpool you were either Catholic or Protestant.

"'I'm Jewish,' I'd say. 'Yes, but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?'".

Mr Isaacson was friends with Mick Jagger at London School of Economics.

He recalled: "I'd copy his notes and he'd copy mine. He was very bright, very nice, very middle class."

Mr Isaacson auditioned successfully for a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. But his thespian ambitions were thwarted when RADA declined to offer him a scholarship and he learned that he was not eligible for another grant.

Mr Isaacson spent time travelling around America and worked for five years for Unilever, before working for an advertising agency for nearly a decade.

In 1983, he opened Le Café Des Amis Du Vin in Covent Garden with Neville Abraham and the pair went on to found the Groupe Chez Gerard, which eventually grew to 28 restaurants.

He later teamed up with Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire to invest in their Ambassador Theatre Group, which grew to more than 40 theatres.

Awarded a CBE for services to the restaurant industry and tourism, Mr Isaacson was also a council member of RADA, a board member of the Royal Shakespeare Company America, chairman of the World Cancer Research Fund and an ambassador for Kidney Research UK.

Having had a kidney transplant in 2010, his other charitable interest was the Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity UK.

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