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Here’s What Happened in the London Restaurant World Last Week

Empty dining rooms prepare to refill under government guidance, but some are biding their time

Chef Tomos Parry’s Michelin-starred Shoreditch grill restaurant Brat will take residence outside Climpson’s Arch, on the edge of London Fields in Hackney this summer
Michelin-starred grill restaurant Brat will take residence outside Climpson’s Arch in Hackney this summer
Ben McMahon/Brat

After fourteen weeks, London’s restaurants have an opening date for dine-in service. The flurry of activity following the government’s announcement early this week illustrated a few key ideas: what that reopening looks like is to be determined; risk assessment for and by staff and diners is key; and many many restaurants have, in fact just kept on doing what they’re doing.

Here’s a round-up of what happened last week in the London restaurant world.

  • The next day, prime minister Boris Johnson officially announced that pubs, cafes, restaurants, and bars could reopen for dine-in customers in England on 4 July. The announcement, which came before the publication of guidance on how that re-opening would happen, stuck with the overarching theme of the crisis. Guidance over legislation, which both presents apparent freedom and, of course, limits accountability in terms of enforcement.

  • That guidance duly arrived the next day, a raft of non-obligatory recommendations designed to give restaurateurs and publicans freedom to adapt the constraints to their particular businesses. Presented as equivalent to food safety guidance, some restaurateurs welcome the flexibility, but the onus of enforcement being internal leaves both staff and diners to handle public health by interpretation.

  • Meanwhile, food scene veterans Dominic Cools-Lartigue and Bejay Mulenga are launching new food delivery platform The Great Feast, which intends to provide a more equitable commission structure than the big players, like Deliveroo, currently offer.

Bon weekend.