London's Joe Allen restaurant looks set to relocate as it is forced to make way for Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro's new Covent Garden hotel.
Joe Allen, the venerable US-style diner in London's Theatreland, has been drawing in theatregoers and actors from the stage door for nearly 40 years.
However, owners Tim Healy and Lawrence Hartley (pictured) confirmed to The Caterer that they are now locked in negotiations with landlords Capco to sell the lease of the venue, while also looking for a new site.
The news comes after Westminster City Council granted planning permission in August for the development of an 83-bedroom boutique hotel by De Niro.
The Wellington hotel will be a joint venture between De Niro, Capital & Counties (Capco) and BD Hotels. The star already operates the Greenwich hotel in New York with partners Ira Drukier and Richard Born of BD Hotels.
The group submitted plans earlier this year for a hotel to be developed behind the historic façade of six adjacent buildings (three of which are Grade II-listed) bounded by Wellington, Tavistock, Burleigh and Exeter streets.
It will include two restaurants (a 150-cover ground floor restaurant with a 120-cover overflow dining room and a second 100-cover restaurant on the lower ground floor), a spa and a 64-cover private members' club.
The hotel has been described as "a homely yet arty brick-built hub for moneyed hipsters looking to stay in a grand but relaxed New York home".
Regulars of Joe Allen expressed their dismay to the http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/iconic-theatreland-restaurant-joe-allen-may-close-to-make-way-for-de-niro-hotel-a3397821.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">London Evening Standard that Joe Allen's presence in its original location was threatened by the hotel.
Dame Harriet Walter, who plays Clementine Churchill in the Netflix production The Crown, told the paper it would be "a big loss to London theatre life".
She added: "My first visit to Joe's was in December 1980, the last night of Trevor Nunn's RSC epic Nicholas Nickleby and I've been going there ever since. Joe's London was reassuringly similar in decor and atmosphere to Joe's in New York, which was a kind of familiar home from home when I was working on or off Broadway.
"I have so many great memories of evenings spent there with people I treasure, quite a few of whom have left us."
Russell Norman, founder of Polpo, who worked at Joe Allen as waiter, bar tender and maitre d' from 1989 to 1997, added: "It showed me that a restaurant can be far more than the sum of its individual parts, it made me realise that a restaurant is far more than its food, it's an experience."