The owners of a clutch of central London’s most celebrated restaurants have told Eater that Emilia, their newest restaurant and a smart Italian dining room inside Bonham’s Auction House in Mayfair, will not reopen.
Dan Morgenthau and Will Lander, the duo behind Quality Chop House, Quality Wines, Portland, and Clipstone, opened Emilia — an Italian fine dining restaurant — in April 2019, but felt its location and the practicalities of running it were unsuited to the realities of social distancing in a “post-Covid world.” Morgenthau told Eater: “We had been asked by Bonhams to run a restaurant for a fixed period of time and although we were very proud of what we were able to achieve in a short space of time we felt that Emilia was not well placed to trade well in the post-Covid world and our energy needed to be focused on trying to restart our other restaurants after lockdown.”
That energy is being focused on restaurants in Fitzrovia — Michelin-starred Portland reopened at the end of last month, while Clipstone, a more casual spot, operated as a deli throughout lockdown. In Farringdon, the owners’ retail space, Quality Chop Shop remained active while restaurants were closed during April, May, and June; Quality Wines, under head chef, Nick Bramham pivoted to an “at home” offering in April after helping to launch a restaurant delivery service for NHS staff, while the group’s flagship, Quality Chop House reopened with Covid-secure safety measures in place in July.
“The past months have made clear the importance of local neighbourhood restaurants and particularly retail (which we have adjacent to QCH) and those are the areas that we felt we needed to rebuild the restaurants around,” Morgenthau said. “Thankfully we have an amazing set of loyal regulars who we have built up relationship with over the past years and who were able to (through a mix of retail and deliveries) maintain contact with during lockdown.”
While agreements on rent have been met at the four restaurants which have reopened, the arrangement at Bonhams was more complicated. More, while the auction house remained closed during lockdown, no access to the restaurant was allowed, which denied Morgenthau and Lander the ability to move into retail or delivery from the site.
The group’s relative size meant that Woodhead was able to offer the majority of the Emilia team roles elsewhere at our restaurants and shop. “But sadly there were three individuals for which this couldn’t be the case but our understanding is that they have thankfully since found roles,” Morgenthau said.