Restaurants in London's Soho lost thousands of pounds worth of business last weekend, after a major fire forced them to evacuate and temporarily close.
The blaze at an office block on Dean Street, used by finance firm Future Capital, broke out at lunch time on Friday (10 July). It required up to 100 firefighters to bring under control and sent plumes of black smoke across the West End.
Nearby restaurants were forced to evacuate, with the Dean Street area remaining blocked off until late on Friday night. A second fire scare at private members' club Blacks on Saturday evening then saw the area cordoned off for a second time.
Eddie Hart, proprietor of Quo Vadis, located opposite the burnt down building on Dean Street, told Caterer the team at the restaurant had been forced to evacuate around 3pm on Friday.
"Lunch guests had to be taken out and it was a matter of leaving everything very quickly - there were half eaten meals left on the tables as well as full glasses of wine," he said.
Hart added that the team was not able to return to Quo Vadis for the rest of the weekend resulting in the loss of not only Friday dinner but all of Saturday's service as well as Monday lunch.
Chef-restaurateur Aldo Zilli, owner of nearby Signor Zilli, said his restaurant and bar also had to be evacuated so quickly that many diners left without paying their bills.
"We lost around £20,000 worth of business over the weekend as Dean Street remained shut until 11.30pm on Friday and a second fire scare on Saturday forced us to close for dinner again," he said.
Zilli added that while he agreed that certain safety measures need to be in place, he felt authorities overreacted on this occasion.
"They created a sense of panic that affected all of Soho and we had many cancellations at our restaurant on Brewer Street," he warned. "During this recession the last thing we need is to be forced to shut our business.
By Kerstin Kühn
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