Manzi’s, the upcoming Soho seafood emporium from master of low-key luxury Corbin and King, is on ice. Writing in his newsletter to customers, co-founder Jeremy King said: “Manzi’s still on hold – it requires a considerable amount of investment to finish so we are awaiting to see what happens in the next few months before we commit.” The proposed “Wolseley 2.0” in the City and a new Notting Hill site are also on pause.
The 200-cover deepwater revival of Bateman’s Buildings in the heart of Soho emerged in spring 2019, with planning documents detailing a multi-level restaurant with considerable outdoor space. At the time King said that “Manzi’s is very much about ‘nautical’ themes against the background of being a Seafood/Pescatarian restaurant,” he added. “In the same spirit of Brasserie Zédel we want it to be fun and affordable. What is extraordinary about this site it is that it set over two floors, in the heart of Soho, and yet has windows on both sides of the dining-rooms.”
Soho’s rejection of road traffic in favour of outdoor dining has been one of the most-documented success of dining in the city this summer, with tables constantly full in clement weather. With the arrival of the 10p.m. hospitality curfew and autumn almost in sync, that optimism has been rudely tempered, despite Westminster City Council’s announcement that it will extend the plan through October.
King described the curfew as leaving him “beside myself with frustration. For restaurateurs it really does feel as if a Think Tank has been assembled to find ways of bringing London’s restaurants to their knees – Congestion Charge, curfews, road barriers, indecision, ‘Don’t go to Work’ et cetera couldn’t be more effective at dissuading people from going to restaurants.” He also echoed fellow restaurateurs in emphasising that the curfew would be easier to swallow if the government could explain the epidemiological rationale behind it.
He also announced that the Delaunay would reopen, from 20 October. The Covent Garden restaurant joins grandee The Wolseley and fine neighbourhood restaurant Soutine in reopening, alongside the sprawling Brasserie Zedel. He and partner Chris Corbin’s hedging of bets is a testament to the uncertainty that restaurants feel right now, with the curfew and new job support measures from the government working against, rather than with each other.