Future of Soho pub the French House "guaranteed until February" thanks to rent relief

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Future of Soho pub the French House secure following rent relief National Restaurant Awards Coronavirus

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The future of iconic Soho establishment the French House, which is home to one of the UK's best restaurants, is "guaranteed until February" following a rent reprieve and successful fundraiser.

Earlier this month a campaign to raise £80,000 and secure the pub's future​ ​was launched, and has so far raised nearly £75,000. 

However, last night a post on the campaign's GoFundMe page​ revealed that the pub's landlords had stepped in "at the 11th hour" to help ensure the pub's survival.

The post said: "Wonderful news has come today; my landlords have come back at the 11th hour saying they won’t charge rent from June until September 2020.
They have also agreed to reduce the rent until February 2021 after September.
"So between their gesture, and your amazing support, the French House’s survival is now guaranteed until February whatever the coming months might bring."

The post, signed by French House landlord Lesley Lewis and the rest of the fundraising team, also thanked people for their donations to the fundraiser. 

The French House is described on its GoFundMe page as ‘the beating heart of Soho for over a hundred years’.

Opened in the 1891, it was originally called York Minster but its name was changed to The French House after the fire at York Minster in 1984.

Following World War II, General Charles de Gaulle escaped to London and is said to have written À tous les Français, his rallying call to his fellow countrymen, in the upstairs bar. The pub has also been popular among artists and writers, including Francis Bacon, Tom Baker and Lucian Freud, and Dylan Thomas once left the manuscript for Under Milk Wood under his chair.

The restaurant above The French house also has a special place in London’s gastronomic history. This tiny upstairs dining room was once home to Margot and Fergus Henderson before the latter left to open St John, with Margot staying on with Melanie Arnold before also moving on to open Rochelle Canteen. It has also been home to Russell Norman and Richard Beatty’s Polpetto, with chef Florence Knight at the helm.

It is now run by chef Neil Borthwick, serving hearty, fuss-free French food that is a hit among critics and customers, with it currently ranked at Number 23 in the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants List​.

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