Lorne in London’s Victoria is likely to be closed until August after a flash flood hit the restaurant mid-service.
The restaurant’s lower ground floor kitchen began flooding at 3.30pm on 29 May following heavy rain, and within 90 minutes was flooded with water 2-3ft deep.
“It happened incredibly quickly,” co-owner Katie Exton told The Caterer. “Because it was coming in at such a fast rate, even with us bailing water out we weren’t able to do anything.”
Sommelier Exton and chef Peter Hall opened the 48-cover restaurant, their first venture, only last spring, and it has since been awarded two AA rosettes.
Other restaurants on Wilton Street nearby, including A Wong, are not believed to have been affected, although residential properties and the Prince of Wales pub opposite are understood to have suffered some damage.
“For whatever reason we seem to have been one of the worst hit,” said Exton. “We’re going to need to effectively replace all of the equipment in the kitchen, the flooring has to come up, the walls have to be checked, so we’re looking at a complete refurbishment to our lower ground floor.
“We’re going through the insurance claims process right now and we’re very optimistic that the majority of it should be covered so at least we’ll be able to get ourselves relatively quickly back to being open – but relatively quickly means at the moment not taking any reservations for June and July due to the timescale involved with the insurance and getting the kitchen fitted.”
Exton said she is sure the closure will have a financial impact on the business: “Any business being closed for any period of time, you notice how it impacts cash flow… Although we’ve kept a note of everybody we’ve had to cancel it’s difficult to know how this is will impact our growth long-term.”
However, she added how touched she was by the support of guests and the industry. Although the owners plan to keep staff on and are continuing to pay their salaries, other restaurants have opened their doors for Lorne’s staff to do stages or pick up shifts.
She said: “People have really rallied around, there has been so much support, which has really helped in a time which hasn’t been the most fun… Pete and I have worked really hard for the last 15 months to make Lorne a place for customers to enjoy and we’ve built a really nice base of customers and we’re determined not to lose that. As fast as we can we’ll be back open doing what we do best.”