Thursday, February 22, 2024

Locking up the local

Matthew Steeples suggests that the closure of the Knightsbridge restaurant Racine brings with it another nail in the coffin of dining out in The Royal Borough

 

London is awash with restaurant openings but for every Chiltern Firehouse and Coya that opens with a flourish, another local dining spot seems to fade into history. With yesterday’s announcement that the Brompton Road stalwart Racine had closed its doors came another reminder of how hard it is to keep a restaurant open in areas such as Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea.

 

cooking
After 12 years in business, Brompton Road restaurant Racine joins an ever growing list of stalwarts of the Royal Borough that has closed its doors

 

Last February, in comments to The Steeple Times, former restaurant owners such as Peter Burrell of Sette and Rex Leyland of Foxtrot Oscar lamented the issues faced by those opening establishments in the area and in the time since such people as François O’Neill, the owner of the popular Brompton Bar and Grill, have also put up the shutters.

 

Further indication of the trend toward closure is shown by looking at the small area on and around the strip of Fulham Road between Pelham Street and Sumner Place where, ten years ago, there were a total of eleven restaurants. Today, just six – including PJ’s and Bibendum – remain open whilst the rest having been converted to create offices for estate agents or absorbed into the premises of such stores as Stella McCartney.

 

In the vicinity, as the former premises of Tom Aikens remains empty a year after closing, illustration is provided that high rents and rates are a major issue that hinders the success of restaurateurs in this area. It is time that landlords and officials at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea did more to support restaurateurs in what was once a vibrant culinary destination. Dining out should not just be the preserve of oligarchs and billionaires and equally it is high time that we, as locals, do more to support local restaurants.

 

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    18 COMMENTS

      • The eleven restaurants I refer to are:

        OPEN STILL:
        PJ’s
        Bibendum
        Bibendum Oyster Bar
        Brasserie Gustave (formerly Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, formerly Sette, formerly Cavallino, formerly Carpaccio)
        Patara

        CLOSED:
        Paparazzi Cafe
        San Frediano
        The Thai, Pelham Street
        Bowler Bar & Grill, Pond Place
        Indian restaurant on Fulham Road (opposite Pelham Crescent, cannot recall name)
        Restaurant that is now part of Stella McCartney store (cannot recall name)

    1. I liked Racine and I loved the Brompton Bar and Grill. Sad to see that the BB&G is now a boring cafe but that’s what the Arabs and Russians want. Mind you, having said that, Mr Novikov even failed with his Brompton Brasserie just along the road. Amazing.

    2. Shame BB&G closed – that was excellent. Perhaps though we need to stop lamenting the demise of restaurants we like and actually go to them as Mr Steeples suggests,

      • On this I cannot agree. The food at Oriel was vile and overpriced and their kitchens filthy….just what one expects from a business owned by private equity.
        The Colbert, as would expect from Corbin and King is a tremendous improvement. Maybe those failing business’s should look to C&K. On the list of restaurant profits Corbin and King come at the bottom of the list at c 10% probably because they have such high standards

    3. I’m certainly doing my best in that area.
      The Indian, called, I think,Tandoori, complete with the immaculately turned out Turban-topped gentlemen at the door, was always excellent. I was led to believe that it was London’s oldest Indian.
      The cost of rental is too high in all that row towards Stella McCartney. Revolving doors. I’m amazed we still have a paper shop. No thanks to Stella, I gather.
      Ronnie

    4. I am very disappointed to hear of Racine closing, one of my favourite restaurants for some time, when it opened it really stuck out as a jewel in that row of tourist trap outlets. Over the past few years, that whole area now seems to have been swamped with Arab tourists. L’Opera next door to Racine seems their main attraction.

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