New restaurants, including Galoupet in Knightsbridge and Assemblage in Spitalfields – two areas thought of as London hotspots – have closed within months of opening, despite strong financial backing and favourable reviews from the national press.
Galoupet ceased trading last month in spite of being given glowing reviews by The Daily Telegraph’s Zoe Williams and the Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler. Assemblage, which was set up by former The Restaurant contestant James Knight-Pacheco and Alicia Whitby in October, shut up shop just three months later after experiencing tough trading conditions from the start.
“The restaurant did well with Groupon deals, but in the end the numbers didn’t add up,” said Whitby. “It’s a tough climate and quite a few restaurants launched in the past few months have suffered.”
It is widely thought that the UK is experiencing a two-speed recovery following the recession, with restaurants outside of London struggling to survive while those in the capital continue to thrive. However, although central London still has a vibrant eating-out scene, with numerous openings every month, there is evidence to suggest that parts of the capital are struggling as much as already-hit cities further north.
Chiswick is one area that has been particularly affected, with four high-profile closures already this year. Last month The Devonshire Arms pub, which was bought from Gordon Ramsay Holdings in July by the team behind the Drapers Arms in Islington, closed citing insufficient custom through its doors.
The French Kitchen on Chiswick High Road and well-established concepts Balans and Brasserie Gerard have also shut up shop in recent months, with several sites, including the former Frankie’s Italian Bar and Grill, remaining empty.
The capital remains the area with the highest spend in restaurants in the country, however. Londoners spend £889 a year in restaurants on average
– £200 more than people in any other UK region – while people in the East Midlands spend just £332 a year, according to recent research from
advisory firm Zolfo Cooper.
This article appears in the March issue of Restaurant magazine, out today. For a feature about the rise of a more relaxed style of service, a look at the new Corbin and King project and more, pick up a copy from WH Smith or subscribe here.