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This Is What Happened in the London Restaurant World Last Week

For the first time since the pandemic closed down restaurants in March 2020, it felt a little like the old days

Road closure sign seen displayed in Soho. Road closure sign... Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Week one of August 2021 may well be remembered as the one when the cadence of restaurant openings returned to a pre-COVID-19 level. The last 17 months of have been dominated by stories of closure, struggle, furlough, staff shortage, political ineptitude, and social injustice. This week, more than anything else, it was about restaurant openings.

Here’s what happened in the London restaurant industry this week.

  • While the impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry is far from done — recovery is slow and steady — the pandemic has exacerbated existing gender inequalities in the industry. As one chef put it to Eater London: “Every female chef I’ve spoken to has had some sort of abuse, had to endure something that’s not necessary, or been told they can’t be who they are as a woman.” The pandemic has only made that worse.

  • Japanese udon specialist Koya and popular grill restaurant and shawarma bar Berber & Q will both open their third restaurant in Hackney and Queen’s Park respectively, while Mayfair seafood institution Scott’s will open its second restaurant by the River Thames in Richmond, realising one of 2020’s pandemic hypotheses: The preference of residential neighbourhoods over the city centre.

  • The power of place matters in the survival of a restaurant or a bar: Whether it’s the comfort of reaching out to local haunts during a pandemic, fewer office workers going to restaurants in the city, or the lack of tourists, local neighbourhoods reign supreme. But while London restaurants are moving out, regional U.K. restaurants are moving in: Just as Liverpool and Manchester pizzeria Rudy’s, and Japanese group Takumi are making debuts in prime London locations, Indian street food restaurant Mowgli this week confirmed its London debut.

  • First-timers Bocca Bocca, a new Neopolitan pizzeria, opened in Leytonstone today, 6 August, with a slim selection of starters and desserts, with pizzas being split into red, green, and white bases.

  • Still, while a number of London restaurant operators are moving further away from the city centre, Balady is moving in the opposite direction. The Sabbo brothers’s Temple Fortune cafe that dishes out some of the finest pita, sabich, hand-cut chips, and falafel in the city will soon open a site on Clerkenwell’s Leather Lane.

Until next week, stay safe and eat well.