Restaurateur Jeremy King says waiting staff in PPE spoils experience06/01/2020
The Wolseley co-founder Jeremy King who beat coronavirus claims staff in PPE will spoil the ‘magical experience’ for diners – and predicts London will lose 30% of its restaurants
- London restaurateur, 66, hopes to reopen venue loved by celebrities on July 4
- Jeremy King told how he caught Covid-19 early but fought off deadly infection
- Doesn’t believe it’s sensible to fill The Wolseley restaurant with ‘Perspex dividers’
- Said ‘you don’t want to propose’ while waiter in mask and gloves is pouring wine
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
London restaurateur Jeremy King has predicted London will lose 30 per cent of its restaurants due to coronavirus – and claimed waiting staff in PPE will spoil the ‘magical experience’ for diners.
The 66-year-old, who co-founded popular celebrity haunt The Wolseley in Piccadilly with his business partner Chris Corbin, said he anticipates to reopen on July 4, depending on government advice.
Jeremy, who himself contracted Covid-19 early but fought off the infection, told how he and his team are currently having Zoom meetings to discuss the implementation of social distancing measures.
Speaking to The Times from his home in South Kensington, West London, which he shares with his second wife Lauren Gurvich, he said he doesn’t believe it’s sensible to ‘fill the restaurant with Perspex dividers’ or ‘to have the person serving you all but hazmat-suited’.
London restaurateur Jeremy King (pictured with his wife Lauren Gurvich in October 2010) has predicted London will lose 30 per cent of its restaurants due to coronavirus – and claimed waiting staff in PPE will spoil the ‘magical experience’ for diners
Jeremy, who co-founded popular celebrity haunt The Wolseley with his business partner Chris Corbin, said he anticipates to reopen on July 4, depending on government advice
‘It is not a magical experience,’ he reasoned. ‘You don’t want to propose while somebody in a mask and gloves is pouring the wine.’
While he is happy to increase the space between tables in the restaurant, he branded it ‘window dressing’ due to the other areas of potential contamination, such as the toilets.
While he believes London could lose up to 30 per cent of its eateries, he predicted a more dire outcome for New York, claiming that number could be ’50 per cent’.
As well as The Wolseley – loved by the likes of Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue and Katy Perry – and Colbert, a high-end French cafe, Jeremy and Chris have Fischer’s, Soutine, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel.
As well as The Wolseley – loved by the likes of Kylie Minogue (left) and Vanessa Kirby (right) – and Colbert, a high-end French cafe, Jeremy and Chris have Fischer’s, Soutine, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel
Due to the Treasury’s furlough scheme, which usually covers 80 per cent of wages, excluding staff ‘tips’ – roughly 20 per cent of pay taxed under PAYE – Jeremy said some staff are receiving just 40 per cent of their usual salary, and some landlords are threatening to kick them out if they don’t ‘pay up’ their rent.
As a result, the business partners are covering the shortfall – £400,000 a month – but cannot afford to continue doing so.
They have introduced a gift voucher scheme in advance of reopening, with Jeremy giving the money to his staff.
Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, pictured attending the launch of Michael Winner’s book ‘Unbelievable!’ at Belvedere Restaurant in October 2010 in London, used to own The Ivy
Jeremy and Chris previously owned The Ivy – whose regulars include Hollywood stars and was a favourite of the late Princess Diana and Princess Margaret – as well as Le Caprice and J Sheekey’s, but sold them in 1998.
According to Jeremy, the Queen’s sister was ‘always funny’.
He told The Times she would look at the menu but ‘thought she was in Harrods Food Hall, and order, “I’ll have the smoked sturgeon, followed by the brill in champagne sauce.” And we’d think, “But we haven’t got any of that”.’
The Wolseley, located at 160 Piccadilly in London – next door to the Ritz Hotel – was designed by architect William Curtis Green.
The Grade II listed building was erected by Wolseley Motors in 1921, originally as its regional offices, with a showroom on the ground floor.
The ground floor was occupied by a branch of Barclays Bank between 1927 and 1999. After several years as a Chinese restaurant, it was renovated by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King and reopened in 2003 as The Wolseley, an upmarket European-style eatery.
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