Matthew Steeples suggests that the closure of the Knightsbridge restaurant Racine brings with it another nail in the coffin of dining out in The Royal Borough
London is awash with restaurant openings but for every Chiltern Firehouse and Coya that opens with a flourish, another local dining spot seems to fade into history. With yesterday’s announcement that the Brompton Road stalwart Racine had closed its doors came another reminder of how hard it is to keep a restaurant open in areas such as Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea.
Last February, in comments to The Steeple Times, former restaurant owners such as Peter Burrell of Sette and Rex Leyland of Foxtrot Oscar lamented the issues faced by those opening establishments in the area and in the time since such people as François O’Neill, the owner of the popular Brompton Bar and Grill, have also put up the shutters.
Further indication of the trend toward closure is shown by looking at the small area on and around the strip of Fulham Road between Pelham Street and Sumner Place where, ten years ago, there were a total of eleven restaurants. Today, just six – including PJ’s and Bibendum – remain open whilst the rest having been converted to create offices for estate agents or absorbed into the premises of such stores as Stella McCartney.
In the vicinity, as the former premises of Tom Aikens remains empty a year after closing, illustration is provided that high rents and rates are a major issue that hinders the success of restaurateurs in this area. It is time that landlords and officials at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea did more to support restaurateurs in what was once a vibrant culinary destination. Dining out should not just be the preserve of oligarchs and billionaires and equally it is high time that we, as locals, do more to support local restaurants.
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