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

Restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars received a roadmap out of lockdown — but uncertainty remains

Though the dining room has been closed since March, Singburi has served takeaway customers via collection throughout the pandemic
The dining room at Singburi, during reopening in 2020
Michaël Protin/Eater London

Boris Johnson announced his coronavirus lockdown reopening roadmap on Monday 22 February. For London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars, it was a timeline — subject to change — against which they could build some plans. But now another date looms large in the calendar: 3 March, when chancellor Rishi Sunak announces which financial support will, hopefully, get those businesses and their workers to spring.

  • To reopen on those dates, restaurants need continued financial support. It’s still crunch time, with Rishi Sunak’s Budget on 3 March key to their survival. With the tax relief on business rates; cut on VAT from 20 percent to 5 percent; and job-retaining furlough scheme all up for expiry in the next two months, their renewal is vital for restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars. Without them, many will close before they have the chance to reopen.

  • With dates come expectations; with expectations come clamour; and with clamour comes memory of the scheme Sunak touted to get restaurants back on their feet in summer 2020: Eat Out to Help Out. While it brought in revenue and reluctant diners, the reopening of 2020 is very different to this one.

  • Part of the case against a knee-jerk discount boom is the evolution of other markets, including meal kits. What started as a thrown-together lifeline is now a maturing, interesting new frontier for what constitutes a restaurant — but will dining in survive the return of dining in?

  • Another hot new thing that will be returning for 2021 is dining on the streets of central London, with Westminster Council reprising its on-street plans which transformed Soho, Chinatown, Fitzrovia, and more central neighbourhoods.

Dining guides for staying in this weekend...

And where to order takeaway and delivery in...

And finally...

Until next week, eat well and be safe.