The future of Notting Hill’s two Michelin-starred The Ledbury looks uncertain after chef and owner Brett Graham said he couldn’t reopen the restaurant with social distancing in place.
The news first broke in a tweet from Bloomberg’s Richard Vines, posted yesterday.
Graham told Vines that he couldn’t reopen the restaurant with social distancing in place and didn’t know “what will happen after that”. He said that all suppliers had been paid in full and that staff at The Ledbury had been entered into a redundancy consultation period.
The restaurant, which opened in 2005, has been under the stewardship of New South Wales-born Graham, who is known for his seasonal approach to food and game cookery.
Speaking to The Caterer, Graham said reopening would not work as things stand. “This little restaurant with 50 covers can’t operate with even one-metre distancing,” he said. “You couldn’t get through reception, go to the toilet, work in the kitchen or make coffee. One metre is completely unworkable.”
He described the moment he told staff as being “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”.
“It was quite emotional,” he said. “We were the longest-standing two-Michelin-starred restaurant in London behind Le Gavroche. We celebrated our 15th anniversary recently while the restaurant was closed.”
He told Eater that the restaurant’s current business model was not viable, owing to the state of the economy and restrictions on travel. He revealed that was planning to maintain the lease on the restaurant, but that he “can’t think of any way to [reopen]”.
“We can’t keep customers and staff safe,” he said. “If there was an outbreak at the Ledbury, then it would be devastating. I’m gutted. It’s been 15 years. There’s no winners in any scenario. I just don’t want to put anyone at risk.”