Seven more days of lockdown have slipped away, with restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars still waiting for news of financial support extensions and, longer term, a plan for reopening. Here’s what’s been happening in the London restaurant world this week.
- With one month to Rishi Sunak’s Budget; two until business rates relief, the VAT cut, and rent protections expire; and three until furlough ends, it feels like crunch time for restaurants.
- It feels like crunch time because London’s restaurants are in a threefold lockdown waiting game. They don’t know when they’re going to reopen, because pandemics are fundamentally uncertain; and they don’t know whether they’ll get the chance to reopen, because they don’t know whether the government is going to extend the coronavirus financial support schemes that are keeping bills off the ledger and staff on the payroll.
- That uncertainty breeds fear, and the fear is piling up. Labour warned this week that 650,000 hospitality jobs are at risk without further financial support; a group of Soho business owners repeated what is becoming a mantra: the government has gotten restaurants this far, and to let them down on the home straight would be catastrophic. And, unions put further pressure on Sunak over furlough, saying that not extending it would risk “mass unemployment.”
- At least news that the AstraZeneca vaccine “substantially” reduces transmission — according to one, not yet peer-reviewed study — offers further hopeful validation that the inoculation programme will, eventually, bring back full trade.
- And, when reopening arrives for pubs, the unenforceable, philosophically baffling “substantial meal” rules are going to be off the menu.
- Did you forget about Brexit? After government blundering on an EU ban of live mollusc imports, the British shellfish industry is in an existential crisis. And famed New York City chain The Halal Guys is closing its Leicester Square restaurant, fearing that central London’s recovery time from the twin forces of pandemic and Brexit will be too slow.
- Valentine’s Day outside restaurants means a lot of romantic meal kit flogging on Instagram.
Dining guides for staying in this weekend...
- How to ship a taste of London’s restaurants nationwide, with new kits including suya, udon, and Parsi biryani.
- The best meal kits for Valentine’s Day at home.
- What Soho’s finest are doing in lockdown.
- The best restaurants for delivery and takeaway.
- The best meal kits from London restaurants.
- What London’s standout 38 restaurants are doing right now.
- Where to find fish and chips for the weekly ritual.
- Some top sushi for takeaway.
- The best bakeries in London for takeaway pastries and bread.
- 10 brilliant burgers for lockdown.
- And where to order takeaway and delivery in...
- central London.
- north London.
- west London.
- east London.
- south east London.
- south west London.
- Where to buy produce, meat, fish, pantry items, wine, and beer.
- Some gear to make great coffee at home.
- And some gear to wear: tees, totes, mugs. #Gear
Until next week, eat well and be safe.