Voluntary closure of many London restaurants
The government has not forced restaurants to close, but many are taking social distancing into their own hands.
Coronavirus continues to cause compromises and cancellations worldwide, and governments are scrabbling together enormous financial packages to keep vital industries afloat. With everyone under strict instructions to stay indoors and keep to themselves, the service industries are struggling. Restaurants, cafes and bars are perfect places for the virus to spread, but the government has not demanded that they close.
This presents two issues; firstly, some recalcitrant people are still out and about, dining in public (I'm writing this from a coffee shop – sorry) and potentially spreading germs. Secondly, trade has dropped so dramatically that these restaurants, bars and cafes aren't earning anywhere near enough to pay staff, rent and bills.
In response to these challenges, many London restaurants have taken the initiative and closed their doors voluntarily. Mangal 2, a Turkish restaurant on Dalston’s Kingsland Road, announced its closure “for the foreseeable future” on Twitter yesterday evening. General manager Ferhat Dirik said: “You can thank Boris.” Spitalfields noodle bar Noodle and Beer only opened recently, and has quickly gained an excellent reputation. However, it too will close. Furthermore, the Silk Road in Camberwell announced temporary closures over the weekend, and dim sum specialist Royal China Bayswater announced that it will close until May.
Chinatown restaurants Joy King Lau, Jin Li, Long Ji, and Young Cheng have all closed too, giving “maintenance” as the reason. Similarly, Hunanese specialist Rice Coming has shut down for “renovation” on Coptic Street. Kaffeine, a specialty coffee shop, will close both its locations from 4p.m. today also.
In addition, the entire Woodhead Restaurant group, owned by restaurateurs Daniel Morgenthau and Will Lander, has announced that all five of its restaurants will close until further notice. Quality Chop House, Quality Wines, Portland, Clipstone, and Emilia will not be serving.
In an email shared by Eater, the company commented the following: “We feel the health and safety of our team and guests has to be our primary focus at this time and in these different circumstances. We have colleagues from all across the world who have made huge sacrifices to work and live in London. With travel becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn’t feel right to have them working in a restaurant when they should be making a plan to be around their friends and families.
“This decision will allow us to make the best possible provision for them and also guarantee we are not contributing to the spread of this virus to our guests from today onwards - we have always been totally committed to the most hygienic practices possible but sadly there is no greater guarantee of this than ceasing to operate as a restaurant.”
Woodhead said it would be working on providing a delivery/take away option across our sites “so that our teams might provide a form of hospitality to suit these unique times and bring a bit of what we do into your home.”
The decision made by all these restaurants is being heralded as an example of initiative in the face of the evolving emergency, done in spite of a poor governmental response.
Today, the prayers of many business owners were answered as the government annouced a £25,000 cash injection for each small business. Hopefully this will ensure the security of both business owners and their employees.