Neleen Strauss, owner of High Timber restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral, said she holds the mayor ‘wholly responsible’ for the massive downturn in business.
“The dire prophecies of congestion and encouragements to work from home have left City businesses empty,” said Strauss. “The head of a large City accountancy firm told me that the number of employees actually working in his office had dropped to 15 per cent. There is no-one here.
“The mayor may speak of ‘jam tomorrow’ but it’s the here and now that pays wages. It’s been a travesty of miscalculation and scare-mongering.”
Strauss, who opened High Timber three years ago, went on to insist that the apparent influx of tourists and increased trade heralded by the arrival of the Games to London haven’t materialised.
“The mayor’s posse of advisors have obviously not done their homework,” she said. “They went into overdrive to discourage City workers from coming into the office to leave room on the roads and tubes for the droves of visitors going east. But their warnings have been taken to heart by so many, the City is dead and many businesses are suffering terribly.
“I hold the mayor personally responsible and expect him to make up the deficit in my loss in takings. After all, he’s the one who encouraged Londoners to leave London free for the millions of extra people.”
Strauss said she had also included the ‘ludicrous’ 20 per cent VAT imposed on her diners in the total bill presented to the mayor. And she assured Johnson she would continue to promptly pay the £106,000 business rates collected every year, but wondered whether there would also be a reduction in that amount, given the City had ‘virtually closed for business’ for two weeks.
The 'ghost town' effect
The news is the latest in a long line of stories about the negative financial impact the London 2012 Olympics is having on many hospitality businesses.
- Despite the Games being billed as a major driver of footfall and business in London and the rest of the UK, it took only a few days before reports of restaurants being affected by people avoiding the capital due to the Olympic crowds.
- Last week the British Hospitality Association attended an emergency meeting with members of the leisure sector at the London Mayor's office, to find out what could be done to improve the situation for the capital's restaurants after trade dropped 40 per cent on average across its membership during the first weekend.
- Fears of the Olympics ‘Ghost Town’ then appeared to have been quashed at the beginning of this week as footfall was up in London’s West End over the weekend
- But our latest podcast discovered that the event is not proving to be successful for London’s restaurants and that business for many has ground to a halt.
Do you have a restaurant in central London? How have the London 2012 Olympics been affecting trade for your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below.