The two-Michelin-starred Ledbury restaurant in London's Notting Hill will remain closed indefinitely, with owner Brett Graham saying it would be impossible to keep staff and customers safe with even one-metre distancing restrictions in place.
"This little restaurant with 50 covers can't operate with even one-metre distancing," Graham told The Caterer. "You couldn't get through reception, go to the toilet, work in the kitchen or make coffee. One metre is completely unworkable.
"The business model of a high average spend in a small dining room can't be done properly without going against government guidelines. The economy is a mess, people won't be able to travel and a lot of people who dine at the Ledbury are tourists."
Graham notified staff all roles were being made redundant yesterday, with a 30-day consultation period beginning today.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, seeing all their faces," he said. "It was quite emotional. We were the longest-standing two-Michelin-starred restaurant in London behind Le Gavroche. We celebrated our 15th anniversary recently while the restaurant was closed."
Asked whether he would ever reopen the Ledbury, Graham said: "I never wanted to see the site sit empty as we worked so hard to get it here, but it's just not viable to reopen. The site is rented. I just don't know what will happen with it or when it might reopen."
Graham said his number one priority was the safety of both staff and diners: "I would be unable to keep my staff or customers safe. If test and trace identified an outbreak of coronavirus from the restaurant it would be devastating.
"I've paid all suppliers in full, no deals, with no outstanding debt. It was important to remember them and see them right for products received."
With the restaurant remaining closed, Graham said he would now be researching farming practices and new methods of food production.
You need to create an account to read this article. It's free and only requires a few basic details.
Already subscribed? Log In