5 March 1998
The restaurant was opened in collaboration with Matthew Freud, Liam Carson of the Groucho Club and Momo’s, and Jonathan Kennedy, one of the founders of Quo Vadis.
The interior was designed in its entirety by the artist and included a number of major Hirst artworks such as ‘Molecular Structure’ (1997–1998). Its convincing pharmaceutical appearance led to threats of legal action by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for misleading the public. Hirst recalls, “A woman once asked me for an aspirin and I had to say, ‘I’m sorry, we have a strictly no drugs policy here!’” After the initial use of anagrams such as ‘Army Chap’, the premises was eventually renamed Pharmacy Restaurant & Bar.
The restaurant opened whilst Hirst’s installation ‘Pharmacy’ (1992) was on display at Tate Britain. Of the difference between the two, Hirst states that “Art’s dead. Life is alive. Pharmacy’s alive. It’s like: Eat your dinner, complain about the food, wash the plates … It lives. Whereas ‘Pharmacy’s dead.”
Pharmacy was awarded the prize for best-designed restaurant from the Carlton London Restaurant Award in 1998.
On the closure of the restaurant in 2003, Sotheby’s conducted a largescale sale of its contents, including artworks, fixtures, furniture and tableware.