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

The city’s dining rooms enter 2021 in lockdown

Cafe Boheme in Soho boarded up at the beginning of 2021
Cafe Boheme in Soho boarded up at the beginning of 2021
Michaël Protin/Eater London

London’s restaurants, cafes, and pubs entered 2021 uncertain over tougher coronavirus restrictions, and they end the first week of January in their third lockdown in 10 months. Here’s how that first week played out across the city.

  • It also began with the roll out of the Oxford / AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, heralded as the route out of the pandemic alongside the Pfizer vaccine. While vaccines are a reason for hope, there thus far has been no indication of how their mitigation of risk will translate into any kind of reopening for restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars.

  • And then what was inevitable happened: England entered lockdown again. Logistically speaking, what lockdown means for restaurants in London is more of the same: they are closed, except for takeaway, collection, and delivery. But if the aim of a lockdown is to alter consumer behaviour — by staying at home more than under tier four or three — then trading patterns, supply needs, and staff rotas will necessarily change.

  • The biggest questions following the announcement were two. How long for? And with what support? Rishi Sunak answered the latter with lockdown grants of between £4,000 and £9,000, purportedly designed to see businesses through until spring. It’s money, and money is better than no money, but lockdown’s similarity to the two previous tiers left restaurants asking why it took so long. It also left them saying that, with months of accumulated rent debt, it likely would not be enough.

Dining guides for staying in this weekend...

Until next week, eat well and be safe.

Quality Wines

88 Farringdon Road, , England EC1R 3EA Visit Website

Le Gavroche

43 Upper Brook Street, , England W1K 7QR 020 7408 0881 Visit Website

Mangal 2

4 Stoke Newington Rd, London, Greater London N16 7XN +44 20 7254 7888 Visit Website