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Monday, October 26, 2020

The Loss of La Bras

The closure of La Brasserie in Chelsea should send a signal to greedy landlords; their avarice is killing London

 

There are restaurants that come and go and there are ones that become institutions. La Brasserie fell into the second category but sadly, yesterday, after 45 years in business, this popular dining spot closed its doors for the very last time.

 

A great loss to the neighbourhood and a firm favourite of everyone from Mary Quant to Mickey Rourke, this Brompton Road restaurant and bar was considered a home-from-home by its loyal staff and rambunctious regulars. Never did one pass through its doors without encountering a plethora of familiar faces and never did one leave without having been part of something akin to an episode of Cheers.

 

Opened originally in 1972 and run by its charming and able proprietor Peter Godwin since 1972, the sad demise of ‘La Bras’ (as it was endearingly known) came about after a six figure rent increase resulted in continued trading being utterly unsustainable. Joining many other restaurants in the area to have departed – including Elistano on Elystan Street, Itsu on Draycott Avenue, Poissonnerie on Sloane Avenue and Toto’s on Walton Street – soaring business rates did not help either but one can certainly attribute far more blame to the not-so-charitable landlords grasping to achieve an extra buck.

 

In a statement, issued via Facebook on Wednesday morning, a representative for La Brasserie remarked:

 

Peter Godwin the proprietor of La Brasserie, announces with deep regret the closure of the restaurant after 45 years, due to insurmountable increases in overheads and operating costs.

 

Peter would like to thank all the wonderful hard working staff, many of whom have worked here for over 20 years and have become a real family. He would especially like to thank his right hand man for 42 years Majid Barka, he says he could not have done it without him. He would also like to thank the fabulous management team, Suzie Cooke, Ross Armitage, Cesar Salinas, Carlos Marques, Elodie Bourges, Juan Lousada and Anna Milescu . Also the fantastic team Jose Dantes, Angelo Saavedra, Teodosio Candeias, Manuel Nascimento, Juan Carlos Moreno, Maria Hernandez, Anca Stroia, Edyta Grzesik, Ferran Rodriques, Alessandro Mazziotto, Alhaji Kanu, Anastasios Andreadis, Carlos Teotonio, Hasmik Gevorgyan, Iveta Sudova, Karla Pestana de Barros, Manon Fouquet, Marion Vialle and Monica Cassiano. Last but definitely not least our amazing kitchen team, Head Chef Jamie Smith, Christian Cheregi, Antonio Filipe, Jose Marquez (Pepe), Alexandro Fratini, Desmond Cowan, Jason Whiskey, Jonathan Lincango, Kwacu Owusu, Leopaldo Alvarado, Nanis Dimitrakis, Salar Samyani, Silviu Manole and Stephan Mendes.

 

It’s a huge disappointment that we had to close, but we have exhausted all possible options to remain in operation. Thank you for all your support, we have enjoyed 45 years of trading and serving you, our customers. As you well know, you have become our friends and extended family. We hope you and your family have enjoyed it as much as we have and we wish you all the best for your future.

 

Please forgive us and remember the good times!

 

Peter and all the team at La Brasserie.

 

Of this sad development, Matthew Steeples, editor of The Steeple Times, commented:

 

“Chelsea’s character is being torn from its soul by greedy commercial property owners wanting to replace long established businesses with chain stores and luxury goods brands as they believe they’ll pay higher rents”.

 

“Given the number of empty shops and restaurants peppering the locality, however, the strategy of landlords is plainly not working. These charlatans are killing the area and all that will soon be left is a near empty money park”.

 

49 COMMENTS

  1. Such a loss. Many good times were had there by so many. What will be left soon? Starbucks, estate agencies and Stella Bloody McCartney!

  2. This is a disgrace. A six figure rent increase. Where did the landlord think the owner would find the extra revenue in these strange times?

  3. I never went there but the same thing has happened all across London. There will soon be nothing left for us that actually live here.

  4. Such a shock and so sad, I’ve had such fabulous times there over many years, both with friends and the lovely staff.
    As I no longer live in Chelsea, I think I noticed more than some of my pals who do, the change that has been going on is actually making Chelsea become a boring place to live,

  5. very sad & rather shortsighted of the Landlord ……

    1 ) Happy to contribute £10 for a Blue plaque

    2 ) Could there be an auction of the contents ?? The Ivy did well out of it ….

  6. I’m so very sad. I adore La Brasserie although poor health has prevented me from visiting recently. Peter and his crew have always been top class and I adore them all. I wish them the very best for the future and send them love and gratitude for always being warm, welcoming and wonderful.

  7. Tragic end to an institution which was loved as much as every member of staff who were all friends . Thanks for making it so great for so long.

  8. Tragic news indeed! I remember at the end of the 70’s working with the hen owners, Peter Eden & Sven Hoffelner to launch & promote several of their La Brasserie chain, including Edens, in Mayfair, now La Gavroche, when guests arrived for the opening night as ‘Adam & Eve’! I’ve also have many memorable occasions with Peter Godwin … so sad yet another memorable era gone for good!

  9. I remember visiting this place when I was last in London!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It will be missed and for once you’re right – GREED is taking over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The landlord should be put in the stocks!!!!!!!!!!!!! And pelted with tomatoes!!!!!!! Rotten ones please!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. That s a pity , sad to lose the Brasserie, I have been going there for 20 years, always enjoyable and jolly. Landlords have become so greedy , hope they will eventually pay a hefty price for their grabby attitude

  11. As a frequent visitor to London I have long enjoyed the welcoming oasis at the Brasserie, an integral part of the community and a convivial place for meeting new and old friends. I understand that the property is owned by a charitable trust, two words that seem oddly out of place in the context of this development. It seems to me that the Smith trustees could do with a refresher in the English language and an education in the broader mandate of charitable behavior in their community . My condolences to London.

  12. Had lunch there on Tuesday, no hint of the coming apocalypse. Such a shame, nowhere in the vicinity with the same atmosphere.

  13. Thank you, La Bras, for some of my happiest memories and for your ‘Haddock Monte Carlo’…….!
    This is so bloody sad and shameful.

  14. TRAGIC – I’ve been going there since it opened and for me LONDON will never be the same without it. And what about the staff, all those people losing their jobs … it’s a sad day, where will the old regulars now go ?

  15. What a shame, I shall miss La Bras and all down to money grabbing landlords. Too bad there wasn’t an opportunity for a farewell party night…….which would no doubt have been well attended!

  16. Yes, I’m afraid greed is the word now.
    What does the landlord have in mind for the property once the doors close?
    Perhaps people should just boycott the place whatever it is that opens.

  17. It is not just greedy landlords: the blame is also at the feet of government. Business rates are killing small business.
    Theresa May needs to appoint a Cabinet Member with 100% responsibility for nurturing small business.
    International online business is crucifying physically based business without the need to pay tax at the effective rate. It’s not a level playing field.
    As for Osborne…his hiking of stamp duty has not even lifted tax revenue. All he’s done is kill off the C. London property market. Dimwits might think that good whilst forgetting the employment generated by a buoyant market.

  18. This makes me angry. La Brasserie was a lovely soulful place and Peter an excellent host. It is not only in Chelsea the landlords have become excessively greedy. In Richmond they have also more than doubled rents. Why are they doing this? Why the need for greed?

  19. Will they be having a sale of contents like the Four Seasons did in New York? I’d definitely buy a couple of their plates.

  20. This is so sad – the heart of our neighbourhood. Peter and his team were all central to the community. The character of our lovely Chelsea is rapidly diminishing through the ill-considered increases in rents that are only affordable to super brands. This was a thriving successful restaurant killed by greed.

  21. My thoughts are with the loyal staff who have always looked after us in their unique and sometimes dotty way
    I assume the replacement will be a restaurant accommodating patrons sitting outside puffing on their blowpipes

  22. One of the originals…I own similar establishments in the Channel Islands but have always loved visiting La Bras, would admit to a little plagerism! Maybe I should take it on and re employ some of the old staff and stuff the landlords !

  23. So sad! We had booked last night and arrived in front of a closed door… have known La Bras for 30 years but Chez Patrick in Stratford Road was our local. That is gone too. Will always remember your lobster Thermidor. Was delicious. Were do we go now…?

  24. This is sad sad news indeed. An institution has been killed!
    Let start a crowd funding exercise to buy the building (F*** the landlords) and reinstate the restaurant???

  25. I am appalled. Is there any appetite in a save La Brasserie petition? Would Peter Godwin re-open if the rent were dropped?

  26. so so sad – this was such a favourite for the last 36 years, birthdays, special occasions and every day … unfussy classic fare and always a special atmosphere – saucisson de Toulouse aux lentilles, steak frites, … oh dear world – and the Bangkok gone from Bute Street …

  27. I am in shock.Only just picked this up
    Live in Hampstead. We don’t have restaurants.
    La Bras was a treat looking forward too.

    The guilty must be named and shamed

  28. We are so sad about this. Live in Notting Hill and always came down for a treat – ate at the bar, questionable 80’s music, always lovely banter with the team.

    The Starbucks on Westbourne Grove just closed due to rent and rates.

    What will be left? And who will be able to afford it? And will it be enjoyable in the slightest?

    All our love to the great team of La Brasserie. You have us so much love and laughs.

  29. Sad to hear of this. I used to live nearby in Milner St. & ate there from when it first opened. Moved to HKG in 1975 but came back regularly to London . Used it as my base, from morning coffee through lunch & often as not, dinner; right through the 1980s & early 90s. Had a girlfriend in the apartments above, which made the memories all the more pleasant. Don’t suppose much of the other drinking & eating establishments of that era in the area remain either.

    • It’s replacement, Caramel, was recently victim of an arson attack. The management suggested it would reopen but it remains boarded up.

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