St. John, London’s inimitable London restaurant group, will reopen its south London bakery this Friday 5 June, serving its famous custard, jam, and chocolate doughnuts, as well as breads and other pastries, sourdough loaves, and wine, after nearly 10 weeks of closure.
The group closed all operations, after a brief period of takeaway and collection, on 24 March, at the time citing a duty of care to its staff.
This week marks the beginning of the U.K. government’s second phase of lifting the lockdown and reopening the economy. While takeaway food has been permitted for the duration of lockdown, since the last week of March, many London restaurant and food businesses closed down completely, aided by the government’s furlough programme for staff and legislation on commercial property which effectively gave them a rent break until 30 June. Beyond that date, there is not yet any clarity on the rental situation for restaurants; many are waiting for the first week of July, the very earliest some hospitality venues can open. Until then, and with continued uncertainty, operators are faced with little option but to press ahead and reopen in any ways they can.
The bakery arch on Druid Street will open seven days a week, for the first time. About the return, Henderson said: “Bread spells potential...It is important to us to bring back the fundamental service of potential-giving loaves to our fellow Londoners.
“And doughnuts? Doughnuts mean joy! We are providers of potential and joy. That’s a good start, especially just now.”
The bakery will take pre-orders for collection, with 48 hours’ notice must required. A weekly “click and collect” Wednesday wine service will launch on 10 June. The bakery says it will operate with health and safety procedures in place: strict social distancing measures will be implemented and only credit card payments will be accepted.
Co-founder Trevor Gulliver acknowledged that the group had taken the time to make a considered decision on reopening: “It’s taken a little time, but we are indeed very happy to have the smells of the bakehouse rising once more, we have truly been impatient but, so be it, we are delighted to be back in our neighbourhood.”
St. John’s restaurants, in Clerkenwell and Spitalfields, as well as its bakery in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden will remain closed for now.