After London’s restaurants, cafes, and pubs reopened two weeks ago, they knew they did so under a cloud of uncertainty, ahead of what is normally the busiest time of the year. And so it followed — with London put in to tier three coronavirus restrictions this week, meaning restaurants had to close on Wednesday, except for takeaway and delivery.
- The previous week ended with the London Mayor sounding the alarm that London could move into tier three coronavirus restrictions — resulting in the closure of restaurants — next week. Many believed that that would come on Wednesday — when a tier review was scheduled — and be implemented from Friday. They ordered meat and produce and fish and wine. They staffed shifts. They took reservations. And on Monday, surprise: London’s restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes were ordered to close from 16 December.
- That announcement left the capital’s beleaguered restaurants looking to 2021, more in hope than expectation and deeply let down by the government’s approach to the announcement.
- As a reminder, here’s exactly what tier three coronavirus restrictions mean for dining out in London.
- Later in the week, yet more figures showed that hospitality jobs have been worst hit by this pandemic. Of an 897,000 decline in employment between February and November, 297,000 hospitality roles were wiped out; the extension of the furlough scheme in October was found to have supported 600,000 more that were at risk. Many of them remain precarious.
- This pandemic has led many restaurant workers and their employers to realise that restaurants and their peers are woefully lacking in political power. A petition to create a Minister for Hospitality will now see a debate in Parliament, after it passed the threshold of 100,000 signatures.
- The uncertainty of the situation now and into the new year has led more restaurants to close their doors permanently, or seek new backing. Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Roganic will not reopen in Marylebone, and American vegan burger slinger By Chloe filed for bankruptcy, leaving its London restaurants facing an uncertain future, but operating for now.
- Nevertheless, people are still opening restaurants. The waited-for Imad’s Syrian Kitchen in Soho had to pause its debut because of tier three; an udon mega-chain and a karē raisu shokunin both opened in King’s Cross; Borough Market stalwart Elliot’s doubled up in London Fields; and sushi master Endo Kazutoshi opened a second restaurant of his own in Notting Hill.
- The government continued its 2020 record of asking individuals to solve problems caused by the state, as UNICEF announced it would pump £700,000 into feeding hungry children in the U.K. for the first time in its history. Tory MP and politician Jacob-Rees Mogg accused it, a charity, of “playing politics.”
- And finally: Star Wars sequel director JJ Abrams recreated The River Cafe in 520 pieces of virtual lego. Whatever hyperdrives your Millennium Falcon, JJ.
- Don’t forget the Eater London 2020 gift guide.
Dining guides for staying in this weekend...
- The best restaurants for delivery and takeaway.
- And 15 great halal restaurants for the same.
- Meal kits, for now and for Christmas.
- Where to pick up all of London’s best mince pies of 2020.
- The best new cafes in London for a takeaway cup.
Until next week, eat well and be safe.