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London Olympics ‘absolutely disastrous’ for restaurants

Trade during the London Olympics has been 'absolutely disastrous' for restaurants in the capital, with trade down 40% on normal levels, they say.

And they fear business will not improve until mid-September, after the Paralympics are over, blaming the government for warning the public against travelling around London, and especially for advising office workers to stay home or take a holiday.  

‘What is totally missing is our regular trade,’ said Richard Bradford, owner of Porters English restaurant in Covent Garden and chairman of the Restaurant Association.

He said revenue was down 70% (year-on-year) on the Friday of the opening ceremony; 60% the following day; and that it has not picked up significantly since.

‘This is usually a good time for us, but if you ask anyone, trade has been absolutely disastrous and now we have this strange period of 16 days between the Olympics and Paralympics. None of the normal business will be back until after that.’

A survey of 100 London restaurants, conducted by the British Hospitality Association, indicated an average decline of 40% in year-on-year revenue.

Neleen Strauss, owner of High Timber restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral, called attention to the situation by hand-delivering an invoice for £90,000 in lost earnings to London Mayor Boris Johnson.  

‘I loved the Olympics, and thought it was brilliantly run and hosted,’ she said, ‘but the scaremongering to keep people out of the city was overkill.’

Clare Lattin, co-owner of Ducksoup in Soho, was slightly more upbeat, saying tourists had compensated for some of the loss of local custom – though hardly the promised boom.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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