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A delivery driver waits outside Bleecker Burger at Old Spitalfields Market

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The Weekend the London Restaurant Industry Shut Down

On Friday, the government ordered restaurants to close. On Saturday, they were silent

After one of the strangest, confused, and most unsettling weeks in history for the London restaurant industry, Friday evening provided some sort of clarity: All restaurants — like all pubs, cafes, and other social spaces — were ordered to close by the government. The week’s last act in the bid to confront the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak came after the nation had been told to stay away from these businesses, when many feared for their livelihoods, and when so many restaurants were forced to find new and inventive ways of serving food to customers.

With restaurants now closed across the capital, the city’s streets are deserted; the institutions of culture, of social proximity, and shared enjoyment will cease temporarily to contribute to people’s lives in the way everyone is so used to.

What happens next no one knows.

Below is a collection of photographs of some of London’s most well-known restaurants from this weekend — either closed or serving takeaway; notices stating the obvious. Combined, it paints a surreal and eery portrait of a world so suddenly transformed.


The Michelin-Starred Clove Club in Shoreditch announced it would close on Wednesday. Its owners Isaac McHale, Daniel Willis, and Johnny Smith wrote on Instagram: “Now is the time for us all to be the change we want to see in our lives. Let’s look after each other and remember to be kind.”

The menu board outside Michelin-starred restaurant The Clove Club in Shoreditch

Dishoom, one of the busiest and most popular casual dining restaurant groups in the city, lays empty in Shoreditch on Saturday. Its owners announced on Friday that all its restaurants would cease to serve diners. “In the past few days and weeks, coronavirus has blown our world apart. Last week already feels like a year ago, the present is unrecognisable, and the future is extremely uncertain. And the decisions we are faced with are incredibly tough.” For the time being, Dishoom, for the first time in its 10-year-history will sell its food via delivery.

The exterior of Dishoom restaurant in Shoreditch, London

Lyle’s, the Michelin-Starred Shoreditch restaurant and coffee bar, announced its closure on Wednesday. “This is unchartered territory for us all and while we navigate our way through these difficult times, our staff and guests will remain at the heart of what we do. We look forward to seeing you on the other side and welcoming you back again,” owners James Lowe and John Ogier wrote.

A closure notice on the door of Lyle’s, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Shoreditch Michaël Protin/Eater London
Londoners wait at a bus stop outside Lyle’s restaurant in Shoreditch

Brat, chef Tomas Parry’s inimitable seafood grill restaurant in Shoreditch, closed on Wednesday, turning itself by the end of the week into a takeaway market and grill. “During this time it’s incredibly important to us to continue to support our network of small farmers, growers and fisherman and we will do so in anyway possible,” the restaurant said.

A man stands outside the entrance to Brat restaurant in Shoreditch, London

St. John Bread and Wine on Saturday afternoon, serving baked goods and wine from its entrance on Commercial Street in Spitalfields, east London. (St. John has since announced that it would close completely, as of tomorrow 24 March.)

Takeaway food at St. John Bread and Wine in Clerkenwell

Bleecker, one of the city’s most popular burger brands, lifts its hatch in Spitalfields market on Saturday afternoon to send food out via a delivery rider.

A delivery driver waits outside Bleecker Burger at Old Spitalfields Market Michaël Protin/Eater London

Mediterranean restaurant Brawn, on Columbia Road, in Hackney, closed for business on Wednesday last week. Owners Ed and Josie Wilson said: “We are no longer able to guarantee that the work we do in serving food and wine is not putting some of our guests and staff at undue risk... We hope everyone can find a way to support the vulnerable local businesses, friends and neighbours that will be hit hardest.”

Brawn restaurant on Columbia Road, locked with a menu in the window

The Marksman, one of the finest modern gastropubs in the city, closed on Friday and has started selling pies and buns and other dishes for customers to takeaway.

The exterior of the Marksman pub on Hackney Road, closed during coronavirus lockdown Michaël Protin/Eater London

The Wolseley is one of London’s most famous — and busiest — restaurants. On Sunday, with its grand doors closed shut, it was unrecognisable.

The Wolseley, often one of the most bustling restaurants in central London, closed for business this weekend because of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the capital Michaël Protin

Left: The recently reopened Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, Gymkhana, on Albemarle Street in Mayfair serves as many celebrities as anywhere in London. On Sunday, like every restaurant in the JKS group, it was closed. Right: Blacklock closed its steak restaurants on Thursday. Yesterday, the site of one of London’s finest Sunday lunches, was shut.

Gymkhana in Mayfair Michaël Protin
Blacklock steakhouse in Soho with a closure notice in its front door

Kiln, Ben Chapman’s innovative Thai grill in the heart of Soho joined its sister restaurant, Smoking Goat in Shoreditch, in closing on Wednesday. Chapman is working on developing options for grilled takeaway as well as prepared food for guests to cook at home.

Kiln restaurant’s exterior in Soho

Left: One of London’s most cult-followed brands, BAO, closed its four sites on Thursday last week. The group will launch a delivery service called Rice Error in the coming days. Right: Soho’s iconic Italian cafe, Bar Italia, so central to the hustle and bustle of one of the centres of London life, remains so incongruously closed.

Outside Bao restaurant in Fitzrovia
The front of Bar Italia in Soho

Eater London’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year, Wei Guirong’s Master Wei in Bloomsbury is serving its liang pi and biang biang noodles through Deliveroo. Small and significant comforts in a time of crisis.

Master Wei restaurant in Bloomsbury

One of London’s outstanding modern wine bars, Noble Rot, resisted closure until the last minute. Few restaurants in the city serve to restore in the way Noble Rot’s dimly lit, romantic dining room manages. For the time that it sits silent, and its wine cellar remains undisturbed, options to support remain outlined here. “It won’t be like this forever,” the owners say.

Noble Rot, wine bar and restaurant, on Lamb’s Conduit Street in Holborn, Bloomsbury, central London — closed because of the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak

One of the city’s finest fish and chip shops, The Fryer’s Delight in Holborn, will open between midday and 10 p.m. for takeaway only.

The Fryer’s Delight, one of London’s best fish and chip shops

Moro, the peerless restaurant on Clerkenwell’s Exmouth Market, shuttered, yesterday. Sam and Samantha Clark wrote on Thursday: “The next few months are going to be incredibly difficult for many people, and many businesses, and our thoughts are with everyone. Please keep safe and we look forward to happier times ahead.”

Moro, on Exmouth Market. Central London restaurant closed because of the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak Michaël Protin/Eater London

The majestic Quality Chop House and next-door neighbour Quality Wines, closed. The restaurant’s shop will remain open seven days a week, selling meat, bread, wine, and other provisions.

Quality Chop House in Clerkenwell is closed in central London due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the capital Michael Prötin

Sushi Tetsu — an extraordinary seven-seater sushi bar in Clerkenwell almost impossible to get into, closed yesterday afternoon.

Sushi Tetsu, one of the city’s finest Japanese sushi restaurants, is closed due to the cornavirus COVID-19 outbreak in London Michael Prötin/Eater London

St John., perhaps London’s most well-known restaurant brand, was open for takeaway provisions this weekend. From tomorrow, all its restaurants, including this — the original in Farringdon — will remain completely closed.

U.K. coronavirus lockdown will reopen restaurants and pubs like London restaurant St. John last, says Michael Gove Michaël Protin/Eater London

Quality Chop House

94 Farringdon Rd, London, Greater London EC1R 3EA +44 20 3490 6228 Visit Website

St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY 020 7251 0848 Visit Website

BRAT

4 Redchurch Street, , England E1 6JL Visit Website

Gymkhana

42 Albemarle Street, , England W1S 4JH 020 3011 5900 Visit Website

Blacklock

24 Great Windmill St, London, Greater London W1D 7LG +44 7841 754858 Visit Website

Bleecker

205 Victoria Street, , England SW1E 5NE 020 7828 8016 Visit Website

Kiln

58 Brewer Street, , England W1F 9TL Visit Website

BAO

590 Valencia Street, , CA 94110 (415) 658-7453 Visit Website

Master Wei

13 Cosmo Pl, Holborn, Greater London WC1N 3AP +44 20 7209 6888 Visit Website

Brawn

49 Columbia Road, , England E2 7RG 020 7729 5692 Visit Website

Sushi Tetsu

12 Jerusalem Passage, , England EC1V 4JP 020 3217 0090

Moro

34-36 Exmouth Market, , England EC1R 4QE 020 7833 8336 Visit Website

Marksman

254 Hackney Rd, London, Greater London E2 7SJ +44 20 7739 7393 Visit Website

Noble Rot

51 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, Greater London WC1N 3NB +44 20 7242 8963 Visit Website

Smoking Goat

64 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

Dishoom

12 Upper St Martin's Lane, , England WC2H 9FB 020 7420 9320 Visit Website

Bar Italia

22 Frith Street, , England W1D 4RF 020 7437 4520 Visit Website

Spitalfields Market

56 Brushfield Street, , England E1 6AA 020 7377 1496 Visit Website

The Wolseley

160 Piccadilly, , England W1J 9EB 020 7499 6996 Visit Website

Quality Wines

88 Farringdon Road, , England EC1R 3EA 020 3602 8115 Visit Website

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