As businesses braced themselves for ‘Mad Friday’, one of the busiest trading days of the year, a power cut left parts of London’s Soho without electricity for the majority of the day, forcing pubs, bars and restaurants to close.
The power went off at about 1pm, leaving most of Old Compton Street and several side streets without power until after 10pm. About 137 properties were affected by the Soho power cut, with some restaurants estimating losses at more than £10,000.
Sam Hart, who runs Barrafina and the nearby Quo Vadis with brother Eddie, told BigHospitality: “Barrafina lost nearly a whole days trading – but we were very lucky that Quo Vadis was 20 yards the right side of the street so was unaffected.”
Spanish tapas restaurant Barrafina remained open but only sold drinks and cold food. They estimate losses of 70 per cent of the day’s trade, or £6-7k.
Ducksoup, Med Kitchen and Cay Tre
Ducksoup restaurant, which recently opened on the old site of Zilli Green on Dean Street , also lost most of the day’s trading from the Soho power cut.
“The power went off at lunchtime and a cold lunch was served at Ducksoup,” a spokesperson from Ducksoup told BigHospitality. “There was no notification of when it would come back on.
“Come dusk, everyone was in the dark - literally.”
Westminster Council and UK Power Networks response
Councillor Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster Council, said: “We are extremely concerned about this latest power outage, as it inevitably has a negative impact on business.
“Westminster Council has consistently sought to improve the power supply to the heart of London and our scrutiny committee made recommendations on this issue last year, urging power companies to improve resilience of London’s power supply.
“We have arranged to meet UK power networks this week to seek what progress had been made on this issue. Westminster wants streets that are clean, safe and vibrant."
A UK Power Networks spokesperson added: “We are sorry for any business losses, but, in common with all other UK electricity distribution companies, this is usually a matter for the customer’s own business insurance.
"As much as we invest in our network we cannot provide a completely uninterruptible supply of electricity.
"We appreciate how frustrating it is to be without electricity, especially when the weather is cold and dark, and we apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused."
Last year, it was heavy snow that was the cause of chaos for many restaurants, pubs and bars over the Christmas period, with a City analyst forecasting that the on-trade market lost up to £750m in sales .