The hospitality industry has welcomed the introduction of London's Night Tube service tonight (19 August).
Trains will now operate through the night on the Victoria line and parts of the Central line every Friday and Saturday, with the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines following in the autumn.
It is expected to give an immediate boost to bars, pubs, hotels and restaurants, which could potentially lengthen opening hours or stagger closing times, and it is also anticipated to help hospitality workers on late night shifts. According to TfL, around one in eight London jobs involves night work.
Chef-patron of Murano, Angela Hartnett, writing in the http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/angela-hartnett-how-i-played-a-small-part-in-bringing-the-night-tube-to-london-a3323906.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">London Evening Standard, said an average chef or waiter will finish work after midnight at least twice a week, adding that expensive London housing forces many hospitality workers to live outside zones 1-3.
She said it would make a "huge difference" to the lives of young hospitality workers and should boost the industry, adding: "With a huge shortage of waiters and chefs I hope making it easier to travel home from work will help recruitment. The Night Tube will make London more accessible and affordable for the key workers who keep our city going."
The service was initially planned to launch last September, but a dispute with the rail unions delayed the project. Figures by London First showed that the night tube could boost London's economy by £77m per year.
London hospitality recruitment company the Change Group conducted a survey which found 87% of hospitality business owners feel the Night Tube would have a positive impact on their staff.
Hospitality staff themselves also believe it will have a positive impact on their working lives. 52% claimed to use night buses to return home after a late shift, but 66% would prefer to take the Night Tube over any other form of transport to save time and money.
71% of hospitality staff think the most positive impacts would be an increase in job flexibility and making commuting easier. 40% also thought it would create more jobs. However, 83% were concerned that the Night Tube would lead to increased working hours.
London already has several late night restaurants and bars, including VQ, Balans Soho Society and Duck & Waffle.
Duck & Waffle group executive chef Dan Doherty, in discussion with Radio 1Xtra's Nick Bright, said: "It's going to be really interesting because we've obviously been open for four years now and it's taken a fair amount of time for us to build up an overnight business. What we're hoping is that it will change the dynamics of London."
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed the service, and has said it will provide greater access to London's late-night economy and a boost to bars and nightclubs.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "We are confident it will be an asset to the licensed hospitality sector and the capital. We want to see late-night pubs and bars thriving and full of customers. Bar and nightclub staff have arguably been overlooked during the discussions regarding the introduction of the service, but an all-night service will travel much easier for those industrious members of staff who work throughout the night."
Chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association Brigid Simmonds added: "It's been a long wait, but it's great news. Pubs are vital to London's economy, and it is great news for the thousands of staff working in the hospitality trade, who are often travelling home very late at night."
Latest video from The Caterer