Today — eleven days after the fatal terror attacks that killed eight and injured dozens on London Bridge and Borough Market — London’s most iconic food market and surrounding local businesses reopen their doors.
In a message posted on Borough Market’s website on Monday, it was said that “the bell will ring, the stalls will open, customers will start to arrive, and the healing process will begin.”
This morning at 10 a.m., with London mayor Sadiq Khan in attendance, the market bell rang, the stalls and restaurants opened, and by lunchtime it was business as usual — the market was thronging. It followed a minute’s silence held just before 9:50am.
Sean Cannon, owner of Cannon and Cannon, the British charcuterie business based in the heart of market, told Eater:
“Today is one of those days that makes you proud to be a Londoner, proud to work at this incredible time of British food innovation and proud to live in a progressive world where we are allowed to live our lives as we choose and without fear. At Borough Market this morning as the market bell rung and cheers erupted throughout the vast crowds gathered for the reopening of this 1000-year-old iconic food market there was no feeling of fear. Instead, a feeling of community, of love for what we do, what we are and what we eat and drink. I was deeply proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow traders, my fellow grafters and my customers to say to the world that London is open and, once again, Borough Market is open. Now we ask that London comes out to support us and we show a message of solidarity to those who wish to try and divide us.”
Tacos El Pastor, one of the restaurants into which the attackers gained access (stabbing one customer), is among the many restaurants in the immediate vicinity that until today have had to remain closed. Crispin Somerville, the owner, said at lunchtime, “It's 12:50 and after a morning of commemoration and reflection it's amazing to see the market as vibrant and busy as ever — all our friends trading well and business as usual. We're buoyed by the community spirit of our neighbours and all those who have come determined to visit on the day we reopen.”
After a reflective and sombre morning, the mood at the market this afternoon is buoyant, as business owners are encouraged by the support they’ve received both from the industry and the overwhelming enthusiasm among market-goers to return. Ed Smith, the author and food writer (who also is a non-exec with Cannon and Cannon) knows Borough better than most. After visiting early today, he said, “It felt buoyant, with a real sense bullish community spirit. People were out in force and oh customers and traders very positive. Matched the weather, really.”
Food writer Felicity Spector earlier shared this image of a packed market on Twitter:
What joy to see these happy crowds packing @boroughmarket today - so much love. pic.twitter.com/YwgUqIiOQq— Felicity Spector (@FelicitySpector) June 14, 2017
And @KS_Ate_Here tweeted:
Amped @boroughmarket has reopened. Celebrating w/ @KatyMarketFresh, @FelicitySpector & @Prowler_666 w/ @Gourmet_Goat @BreadAhead in the sun. pic.twitter.com/lDB4XtJX5j— KS T (@KS_Ate_Here) June 14, 2017
On Instagram @clerkenwellboyec1, depicting a heart made from Bread Ahead doughnuts, encouraged his followers to “share the love” for the market:
Share the ❤ guys! @BoroughMarket re-opens TODAY! Come and get your doughnut fix from @justingellatly ✖ @breadaheadboroughmarket and make sure you visit all the lovely restaurants and traders to show the world that #LondonIsOpen || BTW: #BoroughMarket will be OPEN this coming Sunday and next Sunday too! #LoveBorough #ThisIsLondon @London #
Elsewhere, chefs are lending their support to Borough and helping to ensure that the spotlight remains on an area at the beginning of the road to recovery. Freddie Janssen and Sebastian Myers will bring their Snackbar pop-up to 1 Cathedral Street at Borough Market with Eighty Six List. In the market itself, restaurant Arabica have added, the “London Courage” to the cocktail menu — a Levantine take on a traditional Tom Collins.
A spirit of collaboration and support seems to have kept spirits alive, if not high during the hiatus. The sense remains, too, that such an event will take time to forget. Jordan Frieda who co-owns and fronts Padella said this: “It's obviously been a really horrible [time]. As a community we've all been coming together and helping each other out in small ways — making staff food for one another as we reopened — but the nervousness and sense of violation will take a long time to disappear. Seeing the market so full today, there was finally a sense of something beautiful going on again, after all the horrible stuff, and we're really grateful for people who've been coming to see us and show their support.”
The message, though, is unequivocal: Borough Market is open for business.