Up to 27 staff face job losses following the announcement that Simpson’s-in-the-Strand – one of London’s oldest restaurants – is to close for a six to 10 week refurbishment.
The decision to restore Simpson’s has been taken after the adjacent Savoy hotel, which owns and operates the restaurant, decided to retain ownership of the restaurant.
Two years ago, leisure property specialist Davis Coffer Lyons was appointed to explore the possibility of a sale. It is believed that the Aqua restaurant group came close to acquiring the site, but negotiation to do so broke down at the 11th hour.
Now the plan is that the five-red-AA-star, 267-bedroom Savoy hotel will restore the Simpson’s Grand Divan dining room, which was originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house. The Simpson’s name will be retained and the restaurant will continue to serve a British menu and feature it renowned antique silver-domed carving trolley serving joints of roast beef.
Original ceilings, chandeliers, and soft furnishings in the Grand Divan will be restored, while the refurbished tiled entrance way will feature “a selection of luxury signature products”, such as chutneys, cheese , coffee and seasonal hampers for guests to buy.
However, it is unsure how many, or if any, of the 27 permanent members of staff will be involved in the reopening of the new look Simpson’s in June, after closing on 17 April. A spokesperson for the Savoy confirmed that the human resources team are currently liaising with all the staff with regards the options of redundancy, unpaid leave during the refurbishment or the opportunity to apply for jobs within the hotel.
When the possibility of a sale of Simpson’s-in-the-Strand was announced in January 2015, the then general manager of the Savoy, Kiaran MacDonald, said that a refurbishment of the restaurant was long overdue.
“Simpson’s remained untouched during the recent closure of the Savoy [which reopened in 2010], so the time is now right to consider its future,” he explained. “It will always remain an integral part of the guest proposition for the Savoy, but we want to look at the possibility of whether or not to bring in a third-party operator.”
Macdonald left the Savoy in October 2016 to take the position of Fairmont’s regional vice-president of Bermuda and the Caribbean, and general manager of the Fairmont Southampton. He has since been replaced by Philip Barnes, whose job title is regional vice-president and managing director of the Savoy.
The Savoy is operated by Fairmont, which was bought in July 2016 by AccorHotels as part of the acquisition of FRHI Holdings (FRHI), the parent company of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel.
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