Omicron forces restaurants to shut up shop early for Christmas

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Omicron forces restaurants to shut up shop early for Christmas

Related tags Coronavirus Christmas London Kol Tom kerridge

Cancellations and staff absences caused by the surging Omicron variant are forcing many restaurants to close early for Christmas.

London restaurants have been particularly badly hit by the drop in consumer confidence caused by the Government’s introduction of Plan B measures and officials - including chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty - advising people to cut back on socialising during what is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for hospitality.

Santiago Lastra’s said that key team members needing to isolate has given him no option but to close his Kol restaurant in Marylebone a week earlier than planned (15 December). 

Bloomsbury’s Café Deco has also closed for dine-in early but will pivot to selling heat-at-home meals as it did last Christmas.

“Without realising it, last Saturday was our last service of 2021. It’s been a tricky few days, but like so many others, we’ve had to make the call to close the restaurant for the rest of this year,” chef patron Anna Tobias posted on Instagram. The restaurant is expected to re-open for dinner on 4 January.

Other London restaurants to announce early-than-expected Christmas closures include Evelyn’s Table, Max’s Sandwich Shop, 10 Cases, Snackbar and 40 Maltby Street.

Yesterday, chef and restaurateur Tom Kerridge revealed that 654 diners had cancelled their bookings​ over the past six days at just one of his restaurants amounting to more than 100 cancellations a day.

Kerridge, who runs venues including the two Michelin-starred restaurant The Hand & Flowers and The Coach in Marlow and Kerridge’s Bar & Grill in Westminster, is one of a number of operators to call on the Government for financial support to help businesses struggling with the sudden loss of business.

Trade bodies have also called on the Government to reintroduce financial support for hospitality, with Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, saying anything less than full business rates relief, grants, rent protection and extended VAT reductions "would prove catastrophic." 

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