The market reopened yesterday (Wednesday 14 June) having been closed for 11 days following the terrorist incident in and around its bars and restaurants that killed eight people.
James Hart, co-founder of Mexican restaurant El Pastor, which was part of the scene of the attack, says that there “has been an amazing feeling” around the market. Traders held a minute’s silence to remember the victims before the historic market bell was rung at 10:00am.
“Yesterday had a great vibe, it was more like a Saturday,” says Hart. “There was a party atmosphere, but in a respectful way. The general feeling in the market is one of togetherness.”
Hart says that it is difficult to tell whether there would be any short-term impact on the trade at El Pastor as a result of the incident but believes there will “definitely not be any long-term impact” on the market.
“We could even be busier in the next few weeks as people are saying that they are bringing their whole teams down to support the market. There may be an uptick [in sales] in the next few days.”
Borough market is operating extended opening times over the next two weeks to help traders recoup some of the lost revenue because of the closure. A fund set up to support traders who have suffered financially since the attack on 3 June has raised over £90,000.
Will Beckett, co-founder of steakhouse group Hawksmoor, which recently opened a restaurant in Borough Market, also praised yesterday’s mood in the market. “The vibe is good,” he says. “It has been very difficult for the past 12 days and lots of people have been worried, but the businesses and staff have been very helpful to each other.”
Beckett says that Hawksmoor was quieter than usual for a Wednesday but believes the hot weather was a factor. “It wasn’t slammed but a sunny day is not Hawksmoor’s sweet spot. We’re a 10 degrees and drizzle kind of restaurant. But the pubs [in the market] were jammed.”
James Walters, founder of Arabica Bar & Kitchen in the market, says that yesterday was “very busy” at the Middle Eastern restaurant and reports strong trade. “Everyone has come out in solidarity for Borough Market and everybody that has been affected,” he says. “It looks like we’re going to be very, very busy. We’ve had a number of people that were there on the night rebook, too.”
Operators have been reluctant to do too much to encourage people to return to their restaurants. Hawksmoor sent an email to its customers informing them that the restaurant had reopened and encouraged them to come to the market even if it wasn’t to visit them.
“We are very conscious that we can’t feel like there is a marketing opportunity here,” says Beckett. “We have to tread gently.”
The steakhouse group is raising money for the Red Cross UK Solidarity Appeal and is offering 50% off food for any emergency services personnel. El Pastor is offering a 25% discount for emergency services staff and the restaurant group has raised £500 for the Red Cross UK Solidarity fund through the Saturday Night Out initiative it ran last Saturday at its Quo Vadis and Barrafina restaurants.
Arabica has launched a special gin-based cocktail called London Courage, with £1 per sale going towards the Borough Market Relief Fund, which is supporting local people and businesses.
To donate to the fund visit the Crowdfunding page here