Monday 10 August 2020 4:40 pm

Top City restaurateur explores outdoor seating in post-lockdown Square Mile

A top London restaurateur is preparing to launch an outdoor seating area at his venue Bank in a bid to encourage consumers to visit the Square Mile restaurant following the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

The outdoor seating plans at 1 Lombard Street, which restaurant boss Soren Jessen is preparing to submit to the City of London Corporation, could use the space created by a sharp drop in commuter and tourist numbers, he said.

Read more: London restaurants urge Sadiq Khan to drop congestion charge

City of London hospitality businesses have been struggling as Londoners and domestic tourists have remained reluctant to visit the city centre despite the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

1 Lombard Street is currently trading at 10 per cent of normal August levels. 

“We are really depending on a little bit of outdoor space,” Jessen told City A.M.  

The outdoor seating would have a “massive” benefit for the business, he said.

“Just one table would give us an immense boost.”

Streets have been pedestrianised in the city’s West End, with outdoor seating taking over road space in key Soho streets including Greek Street, Old Compton Street and Dean Street. 

Jessen said he hopes a similar situation can be negotiated in the Square Mile.

The City of London Corporation has said it will explore reallocating some street space to al fresco dining on a case-by-case basis.

Read more: Reopened restaurants in London: The latest news about your favourite places to eat

Meanwhile, mayor of London Sadiq Khan has faced increasing pressure to lift the congestion charge and encourage public transport use to get visitors back to the capital. 

In a letter signed by top chefs and restaurateurs, including St John’s co-founder Trevor Gulliver, Angela Hartnett and D&D London’s David Loewi, the industry has urged Khan to “rise to the challenge” to welcome visitors back to the capital.