Saturday, November 28, 2020

Burnt out

Chelsea is an area where restaurateurs will increasingly struggle


Daphne’s restaurant in Brompton Cross’ Draycott Avenue suffered substantial fire damage on Tuesday this week. Given Richard Caring being its owner, we doubt it’ll be closed for long but if you look around Chelsea, you’ll find many premises that are either shut or for sale.


Red House on Chelsea Green barely lasted six months
Red House on Chelsea Green barely lasted six months

Of this trend, Peter Burrell, one of the owners of Sydney Street’s now closed Sette restaurant, told The Steeple Times:


“We did all we could to attract business but it was such a struggle. Nobody lives in Chelsea anymore and the few that do go away for every holiday. The area has just become a money park for rich Euros and Chinese folk and when they are here, they go out to dine only at overpriced, big name, glamour joints in Mayfair. These people don’t support local restaurants”.


“I placed my restaurant on the market and then realised that selling the operation as a going concern would be an even bigger struggle given that there are over a dozen similarly well equipped premises on the market currently. It was more sensible to just shut up shop rather than carry on”.


Veteran restaurateur turned Restaurant Doctor, Rex Leyland, a former co-owner of Foxtrot Oscar, added:


“I think I was lucky to have operated my restaurant in Chelsea from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. People did not travel as much and they hung around Chelsea especially at the weekends and Bank Holidays. It helped also that there was les competition as most pubs served the most atrocious food”.


“As the old and the aristocratic die out in Chelsea, the newcomers are the sort that want to eat in smart West End restaurants or head to the trendy joints in the East of London and consequently it’s all change in the locality”.


Restaurants come and go and though some become institutions, this is an increasingly rare trend. A venue named Entourage on Draycott Avenue lasted barely three weeks and has now been converted into a shoe shop; the Red House on Chelsea Green closed without having even been open for six months despite vast sums being spent on a refurbishment. Here is an area where many restaurateurs are in the doldrums and here is a place where too many restaurant businesses fail.


To paraphrase the Evening Standard’s comments on the Kensington and Chelsea housing market last week, “if you walk around Chelsea at night, the ovens aren’t on and no one’s cooking”.



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    1. Some others: Tom Aikens, Elystan Street; Choys, Kings Road; Poisonnerie, Sloane Avenue; Sushi de Artistes, Sloane Avenue; 86, Fulham Road… Need we go on? What a sad state of affairs.

    2. Agreed! Peter, did a super job and his restaurant was excellent and it ticked all the boxes. His comments were spot on the local market and neighborhood offered no support.

    3. The biggest losses were places like Monkey’s and Dan’s. Not sorry to see the back of Tartine though. Very disappointing in recent times. It was good when it opened.


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