The Corner House Restaurant in Commercial Road opposite the New Theatre Royal was opened in 1922 by Portsmouth councillor and philanthropist Charles Brown.
A natural businessman he owned several pubs, restaurants and properties and the opening of the Corner House was the highlight of his business life.
The epitome of fine dining, excellent service was provided by smart waiters and waitresses and the food was apparently second to none. It advertised itself ‘for people with particular palates’.
There was a top chef by the name of Cenraire who had worked at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and Prince’s Restaurant, Piccadilly. The manager was M de Tournay, formerly of the Trocadero, and together the pair set high standards. There was a Silver Grill with a staff of 70 and electric lifts to take guests to the dining rooms.
In its first year the restaurant served 277,046 meals. The Victory Room, which could seat 80, had been privately hired on 300 occasions with an aggregate of 15,000 guests. Apart from many actors and actresses who dined there, Admiral, The Earl Beatty and Sir Ernest Shackleton were also customers.
The menu read like something from Paris with Consommé Petite Marmite, Creme Lucullus to start; Filet de Turbot, Tornedos Corner House, Pommes Anna, Supreme de Poulet Jannette for mains and Peche Dame Blanch and Petits Fours Maison for sweet. Every Christmas Mr Brown put on a free Christmas dinner for the ‘old folks’. But after the war he went bankrupt. Some believe it was because of light-fingered staff, others because of his generosity.
In 1947 it was known as Kimbells Corner House Restaurant and remained well into the 1960s. It is now a Starbucks.