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Selin Kiazim calls for support for London hospitality as she announces closure of Oklava Bakery + Wine

03 August 2020 by

Selin Kiazim has highlighted the need for further support for the central London restaurant sector, where she said footfall has been so low she has been forced to close Oklava Bakery + Wine in Fitzrovia.

Kiazim, who is also chef-patron of Oklava restaurant in Shoreditch, warned that without further government support she expects a "vast amount of restaurant closures".

Speaking to The Caterer, she said that enthusiasm for the restaurant's reopening "didn't translate into bookings", with one night seeing just seven covers.

A wariness among the public about using public transport, a reduction in office workers and the recent increase and extension of the congestion charge have all taken their toll on the area.

She also has not seen the surge in bookings that some have reported due to the launch of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and said she and many of her fellow operators have still been unable to find solutions with landlords regarding rent.

She said: "At this point I think everyone is pretty much hanging on by a thread and everyone will have vast amounts of debt, and what we can't afford to do is get into any more debt…

"I know they [the government] throw out their big numbers of the help they've put out there but it's a drop in the ocean and a lot of people haven't been able to access these loans. Also, why would we try and take on even more debt? This industry is on its knees and there will be a vast amount of restaurant closures if people aren't going out."

The former Kyseri site, which relaunched as Oklava Bakery + Wine earlier this year, will remain closed and some team members have been made redundant.

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