Spearheaded by Nicholson, group Operations director of Marcus Wareing Restaurants, on her @chef_chantelle Twitter account, the restaurants are using their sites as a base to collect food, clothes and other supplies such as children’s toys.
The plan is to drop collected items at St Clement Church in West London tomorrow morning (Thursday 15 June) and Friday (16 June) afternoon, after the church asked for donations for local residents.
Nicholson said she was opening the restaurants as collection sites as they are spread across London and may be easier for people to get to than North Kensington. Tredwells is in Covent Garden, The Gilbert Scott is in King’s Cross, and Marcus is between Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge.
Since the tweet at 9.30am, the restaurants have already had many donations, Nicholson said, speaking to BigHospitality today (Wednesday 14 June).
"I was so saddened this morning to read of the Grenfell Tower fire, and to think of all the hundreds of people and families who were being affected," she says. "On my way to work I saw Reverend Richard Coles' tweet, whose church sits within the Grenfell Tower parish, and that the church was accepting donations. I knew I really wanted to get something over there to help, but knew it would be difficult to find the time to do so. I also thought our teams probably had things at home they could donate, so initially communicated the message internally for staff to bring anything in over the next few days they wanted to donate, and we'd organise to get it to the church.
"Thinking wider, I then realised that there would be many people out there with the same challenge I had. I therefore decided to open up the restaurants to accept donations, as collection points. We would then make deliveries tomorrow and Friday, from each of our three sites (King's Cross, Covent Garden and Knightsbridge). The response has been tremendous. The bags are piling in: toiletries, pillows, duvets, blankets. Due to the number of donations we're actually now going to have to fast-track the first load across later this afternoon."
Other churches, mosques, sports centres and community centres have also been involved in the help effort, including the Notting Hill Methodist Church, which called for masks and respirators for people affected by the smoky air, and other clothing and essentials for those who have lost their homes.
The Grenfell Tower fire is still going, according to reports, with firefighters first called to the incident in North Kensington at nearly 1am this morning. Flames have engulfed the entire building.
Over 50 fire engines, around 250 firefighters, 100 police officers, and 100 medics have been on site, with over 70 people treated at five London hospitals.
Twelve people have been confirmed dead, with that number expected to rise, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police today. There are still people missing.
UPDATE, 14/06/17: Chef Jamie Oliver has also confirmed he is offering free food and drink to families affected, from his nearby restaurant in the Westfield shopping centre in White City.
UPDATE, 15/06/17 - the donation collecting has paused for now due to overwhelming response!