Recent London restaurant casualties

A number of high profile London restaurants, including HKK in Shoreditch and Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green, have been forced to close as profit margins become increasingly squeezed.

Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green has been forced to close

The dip in value of the pound in the wake of Brexit, along with the resulting rise in price of imported ingredients and fewer Europeans seeking employment in the British catering sector, has created the perfect storm for the industry.

Accountancy firm Moore Stephens predicted that as many as one in five restaurants in the UK are threatened with closure with the number of restaurants declaring insolvency having risen by 13% in the year ending March 2017.

Cantonese fine dining site HKK has also closed

Recent casualties in London include Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant HKK in Shoreditch. Part of the Hakkasan group, the fine dining site focused on tasting menus.

Meanwhile, Michelin-starred Marylebone restaurant L’Autre Pied closed in September after a decade in the business.

“I have never known a more difficult time and I have been in this business for more than 30 years,” owner David Moore told Bloomberg.

“Young people are not coming over from Europe in the same numbers and that is having a serious impact. There is not a restaurant in London that is fully staffed,” he added.

Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green has also closed its doors after ongoing building work nearby drove diners away. Serving seasonal modern British cuisine, the restaurant was a sister site to Robin Gill’s The Dairy, The Manor and Counter Culture in Clapham.

Having just won its first Michelin star, high-end Indian restaurant Vineet Bhatia in Chelsea closed a week later without explanation, serving its last orders on 8 October.

Venetian restaurant Veneta has been put up for sale

The Salt Yard Group’s Venetian-inspired small plates venue Veneta in the new St James’s Market development has been put up for sale a year after it opened.

Sharing a space with Michelin-starred Scandinavian site Aquavit, Eater reports that the owners found the location didn’t work for the Venetia concept.

Even powerhouse Jason Atherton isn’t immune. His Japanese fusion venue Sosharu in Farringdon was put up for sale in August. Atherton is reportedly looking to move the site to a better location with stronger lunch trade potential.

But it’s not all bad news. The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale is due to reopen next March as the Hero of Maida after it fended off plans to be turned into luxury flats.

The pub closed this year after a 333% rent hike made sustaining the business impossible.

Head chef Henry Harris will be steering the ship with his signature style fusing the best of classic French and British cuisine. Among the dishes will be a seven-hour slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with rosemary.

The Hero of Maida name derives from the Count of Maida, Sir John Stuart, who led a small force of British troops to  victory in 1806 in a battle against a larger French army in the Italian town of Maida in Calabria.

Bloomberg reports that independent restaurants are in jeopardy in London, with the number of new indie restaurant openings falling while spinoffs are on the rise.

Emerging as the queen of the spinoff, The Ivy has successfully rolled out a dozen casual siblings over the last few years in cosy London districts like Marylebone, Wimbledon, St John’s Wood and Richmond. It recently extended the brand outside of the capital with a restaurant in Edinburgh.

5 Responses to “Recent London restaurant casualties”

  1. Keith Grainger says:

    ‘The dip in value of the pound in the wake of Brexit, along with the resulting rise in price of imported ingredients and fewer Europeans seeking employment in the British catering sector, has created the perfect storm for the industry.’

    What a load of tosh.

    Let us have a look at the real world. From the Visit Britain website: ‘Our latest forecast for 2017 is for 39.7 million visits, up 6% on 2016 and £25.7 billion in visitor spending, an increase of 14% on 2016. https://www.visitbritain.org/forecast . ‘Tourism bosses said the fall in the value of the pounds after the Brexit referendum in June had helped make the capital an even more attractive destination for visitors’. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/record-year-as-19m-tourists-visit-london-a3542271.html. So the fall in the pound goes both ways.
    I, and many of my colleagues eat out in London much less now, for several reasons. I will detail just 3:

    1. Absurd mark-ups on wine. When will restaurateurs learn that you cannot bank a percentage? If you bring you own bottle, bearing in mind that it might be a far better match for the cuisine than whatever is on the oft ill-chosen wine list, they try to demand ridiculous corkage.

    2. Poorly trained and often rude staff. Staff who haven’t taken the trouble to learn the menu, who know little about cooking methods and nothing about wine. Staff who turn their nose up should you order one of the expensive wine offerings. A few months ago, in a 1 star Michelin restaurant I ordered a bottle of Fleurie, to accompany duck. It arrived at the table, and must have been 27 or 28 degrees. I politely asked for a bucket with some ice. As he went behind the bar I heard the somm/waiter inform a colleague, “there’s a w….r over there who wants his red wine chilled”.

    3. Lack of comfort and space. Take a look at the photo of Paradise Garage above. Would I have wanted to spend 3 hours in there?

    So, yesterday, a friend and I ate at mine. We shared a rather delicious Haut-Batailley 2009. Still developing, but a steal at £40. Much less than the corkage I was quoted at his once-favorite restaurant. The good, attractive and well-run restaurants who respect their clientele have nothing to fear. As for the others? Goodbye.

    • Minumum wage waiter says:

      Dear Mr Grainger,

      If you are so not satisfied with the current restaurant, why don’t you open one on your own with zero mark-ups, 60 hrs per week, lousy suppliers and virtually no staff? I am very happy to be your first customer.

      Oh! Tips would not be required, I presume? Have a nice day.

  2. Michael Palij says:

    Good to know Brexit isn’t causing any problems for anyone, anywhere. All down to the recent on-trade phenomena of i) unreasonable mark-ups, ii) surly staff and iii) poor design. Should be easy to fix and then we’ll get the London on-trade firing on all cylinders again.

  3. Peter Mc Daid says:

    Mr. Grainger’s comments do not address: devaluation of the pound, lack of staff, inflation, and skyrocketing commercial rents…no, instead he wants to scream ‘get off my lawn’ while extolling his fine tastes, faulting interior design and sneaking in a recommendation on a duck pairing(?). Please, by all means – stay at home and cook for you and your buddies, but also try to stay off the internet, please.

  4. OnceASomm says:

    I notice that Mr Keith Grainger in his self-indulgent rant misses the point completely, in this article the discussion was over fine-dining and casual high end dining. I used to work in high end restaurants and I can assure him that the vast majority of those tourist who chose to visit the UK because of the more favourable exchange rate are not those who are likely to visit the kind or restaurants mentioned in the article. Those tourist who can afford to drink 2009 Haut Batailley (and better) will always visit the UK, regardless of forex.
    And for his well detailed points:
    1. There are plenty of restaurants where the mark up is reasonable if he chose to find them.
    2. He will find the odd rude person in any trade however the lack of trained staff due to less people moving to the UK is forcing business to employ staff who a couple of years ago would have not been given the position.
    3. Because rents are extortionately high business are forced to find space in less expensive areas.
    Mr. Grainger also fails to understand that once the UK-held-stock of his favourite 2009 HB runs out he will have to pay 20% more for the very same wine imported in the UK.
    Cheers!
    OnceASomm

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