The Ever So Dry Land of No Milk & No Honey

Jonathan Downey, owner of London’s Milk & Honey bar, takes to social media to share news he won’t be reopening without a rent holiday; it is likely he is set to head a wave of similar announcements

Just as happened to venues like Keith McNally’s Lucky Strike in New York, a wave – perhaps, excuse the pun, even a flood – of closures of bars and restaurants is likely coming in London and across the rest of the UK. As a result of coronavirus most recently and due also to landlord’s charging extortionate rents and council’s levying excessive business rates in the years prior, we could soon sadly end up with far ‘drier’ high streets.

 

On Wednesday night on Facebook, in an impassioned plea, the owner of the Soho institution that is Milk & Honey – a “prohibition-style speakeasy cocktail bar” where ‘house rules’ include: “Gentlemen will remove their hats. Hooks are provided. Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you don’t know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him” – Jonathan Downey shared news that post the coronavirus lockdown ending, his venue might “never reopen.”

 

In his post, multiple venue owner-operator Mr Downey stated:

 

This is Milk & Honey in Soho. A very special place that was 18yrs old last week. It’s been the ‘World’s Best Bar’ (a few times) and the making of so many great bartenders, but we may never re-open. Our annual rent is £210,000 but, despite the current closure and no hope of re-opening for months, our landlord won’t allow any deferral or rent free. He expects payments to be made upfront. He’s got no chance.

 

One of three things will happen (in most likely first order):

 

– We give the keys back.

– We get a 9 month #NationalRentFree and re-open paying rent for another 18yrs.

– The landlord backs down/sees sense.

 

I’ve written back to our landlord. I don’t expect we’ll get anywhere and without a #NationalTimeOut, we won’t be able to re-open Milk & Honey. Including VAT, we’ve paid more than £3.9m rent in 18yrs.

 

Going further, Downey shared the letter he’d written to his landlord. It read:

 

We won’t be paying any rent on this site again this year. I’m sorry but you’re kidding yourselves if you think otherwise. We have no income.

 

We have been paying rent there for 18 years, totaling in excess of £3m. We have no idea when we may be allowed to re-open. Even when we are allowed to re-open, we won’t because fear of the virus and physical distancing will mean we will be loss-making. The best (and possibly only) time we can expect to re-open is once a vaccine becomes widely available. Until then, zero income = zero rent.

 

I have been campaigning for a #NationalTimeOut for tenants and landlords, which includes a 9 month #NationalRentFree. If we get this, then there may be a way through for all of us. Otherwise, we’ll be giving back the keys and surrendering the very valuable 03:00 licence.

 

I am happy to discuss if you want but that’s our position and we don’t have any other.

 

The Dry Land of No Milk & No Honey – Milk & Honey Soho likely to close – Jonathan Downey, owner of London’s Milk & Honey bar, takes to social media to announce he won’t be reopening without a rent holiday.
Jonathan Downey (right) shared his sentiments on the future of the bar he set up in 2002, Milk & Honey, 61 Poland Street, Soho, London, W1F 7NU in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The Dry Land of No Milk & No Honey – Milk & Honey Soho likely to close – Jonathan Downey, owner of London’s Milk & Honey bar, takes to social media to announce he won’t be reopening without a rent holiday.
Mr Downey also published the text of a letter he had sent to his plainly thus far unsympathetic landlord.

Previously, in an interview with The Caterer earlier this month, Downey commented:

 

The best thing for most people in our industry is a National Time Out – nine months rent-free, with a matching debt repayment holiday for our landlords. Understandably the pubcos don’t like it, but it is being supported by UKHospitality.

 

We can’t each negotiate 150,000 separate agreements with landlords. We need a national arrangement that everybody falls in line with, that the government decides and legislates on.

 

We should get the rest of this year rent-free – for most businesses it’s the biggest single cost apart from staff – and extend loan terms for landlords, because if they can’t get their rent for nine months, they can’t repay the debt for the premises. If they have borrowed, they should get a nine-month repayment break. It should be pushed back onto the banks – they can handle nine months of not having loans repaid.

 

Of the longer-term, he added:

 

I don’t see anybody doing well. Nobody will do well out of the crisis. I think there will be even more empty high street sites. My next business will probably have to be something outside the hospitality industry. Certainly, the business I’m in – large-capacity venues – I don’t see coming back until there’s a vaccine, which is a year or maybe 18 months away. Maybe I’ll take a year off and come back in the way that music festivals will have to. We needed a shake-up as an industry, but we didn’t need one so brutal.

 

That, to a large extent, the business model of a lot of hospitality businesses is hopelessly flawed. It’s ridiculously fragile, the margins are far too slim and it’s just not sustainable. We were fucked after 10 days to two weeks of no and low income.

 

I think there’s going to be a lot of reflection and soul-searching and realising that, despite these brilliant things we do as individuals and businesses, if the business model doesn’t stack up, you’ve got to find another way or find something else to do.

 

We can’t pay people what we need to pay them, we can’t pay the rent, we can’t deal with business rates at this level and with VAT at 20%. It’s just insane. Everybody wants something for nothing. In hospitality we always try to deliver, but this has made us realise we can’t deliver the impossible or the unsustainable.

 

Since its inception, The Steeple Times has advocated the premise of ‘use it or lose it’ for bars and restaurants and today we join Jonathan Downey in calling for #NationalRentFree and #NationalTimeOut. Now, we must all unite in coming together to support our favourite establishments as otherwise, just like many of us found with the closure of the very much missed La Brasserie in South Kensington in March 2017, we’ll again be left crying into our caipirinhas with nowhere to go.

 

Facebook: @TheSteepleTimes

Instagram: @TheSteepleTimes

Twitter: @SteepleTimes

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. What a con!!!!!!!!!!!! Man cannot pay his rent so tries to get the landlord to give him premises for free!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why should the landlord not demand rent given he owns the building??????? This Downey man lives in a land of wysteria, hysteria and where milk and money flows into his no doubt wealth filled pockets!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do not send him Down Under!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’ve got enough leeches already in our quarters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lock him up!!!!!!!!!! Greedy f***!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

A Security Lobotomy at The Botanist

‘The Steeple Times’ reports on anything but a ‘Super Saturday’ at The Botanist on Sloane Square; we share here imagery and a video of a thieving woman whom must be caught.

What’s Dershowitz Got To Hide?

Matthew Steeples questions why Alan Dershowitz is getting so enthusiastic in his defence of the vile paedo procurer Ghislaine Maxwell.

Runners & Riders – The Coral-Eclipse 2020

‘The Steeple Times’ takes a look at the seven horse Group 1 Coral-Eclipse 2020 at Sandown and opts for a tasty outsider for an each way bet.

Will Ghislaine Maxwell Motor On?

As a poll reveals the public believe Ghislaine Maxwell will ‘suicide herself’ in a similar manner to her former master Jeffrey Epstein, the Cash & Rocket ‘charity’ unbelievably announce they are going ahead with another rally in 2021.

Runners & Riders – The Oaks and The Derby 2020

‘The Steeple Times’ analyses the selections for a somewhat damp double at Epsom on ‘Super Saturday’; we suggest enjoying The Oaks and The Derby 2020 at home.

Hooping A Half Price Mansion

Vast Edwardian mansion with basketball court in the roof in Watseka, Illinois for sale at half price it listed for in 2016; it’s on for just £20 per square foot.

Wally of the Week – Disgraceful Dimwit Darren Grimes

As manipulated millennial Darren Grimes gets himself into yet another racism storm with the help of his beloved bigot Dr David Starkey, one has to ask: “Who is this cretin’s puppet master?”

Bow Wine Vaults Back

Acclaimed restaurateur Philip Lawless to reopen Square Mile institution and haunt of city financiers the Bow Wine Vaults on Monday.

Remembering Jeffrey Epstein Albuquerque Style

Statue of late billionaire sex beast Jeffrey Epstein mysteriously appears outside City Hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and is promptly removed by officials).

E-Scooter-ing a Shameless Minister For Rent

E-Scooter-ing Out a Minister For Rent – As the government disgracefully announces they’ll be allowing rentable e-scooters on Britain’s roads, Matthew Steeples asks: “Who gave ‘a Robert Jenrick’?” to get this multi-million market going.

The Pargetter Triptych

Matthew Steeples urges fans of ‘The Archers’ to forget the BBC’s revised coronavirus version; until normality returns, give ‘The Pargetter Triptych’ a...

A Demon Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce owned by “maverick” Demon Internet dot-com millionaire Cliff Stanford to be auctioned; his au pair was tragically murdered in Spain; he was convicted of “email spying” in a scandal featuring gerrymanderer Dame Shirley Porter.

Hero of the Hour – Lenin Gutierrez

After standing up to a woman named Amber Lynn Gilles who berated him whilst doing his job, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez is going to use the unexpected donation ‘tips’ he received to help others.

Elton John Needs an Olive Branch

As Sir Elton John is slammed for his treatment of his ex-wife, we suggest he ought to offer an olive branch as appeasement to get her off her ‘Crocodile Rock.’

Buckle Up! Barking Baker Harber Has Bitten Back

Victoria Baker Harber has sent Kenny Schachter a “cease and desist” letter in the wake of her on-off conman lover Inigo Philbrick being snared by the FBI.

BLM Doesn’t Matter to Bernie Ecclestone

As “cranky gargoyle” Bernie Ecclestone disgracefully tells CNN that “black people are often more racist than white people,” we join those demanding he apologise for such reprehensible and utterly senseless remarks.

Weather Now

London
broken clouds
19.1 ° C
20 °
18.3 °
37 %
11.8kmh
53 %
Sun
18 °
Mon
20 °
Tue
22 °
Wed
21 °
Thu
25 °