Diners and staff of London restaurant The Square were left reeling on Friday afternoon as bailiffs made a dramatic entrance mid lunch service to close down the popular and esteemed restaurant on Bruton Street.
Marlon Abela, the Lebanese restauranteur behind the enterprise whose portfolio also includes Umu, Morton’s and The Greenhouse has ironically described the restaurant industry in the past as “a survival of the fittest”. The tycoon is now being forced to swallow his words after it was reported that the private member’s club at Morton’s has also been closed down resulting in a total of 40-50 job losses across the two sites.
Speaking to Hot Dinners, head chef of The Square Clement Leroy said he was not entirely surprised about the incident after the company surrendered all of its artwork earlier in the month in a futile attempt to resolve its financial difficulties, but understandably he was angry that staff had been kept in the dark about the situation. “Shame on them. I am really disappointed by the way the company used [us] and hope the industry will support us and not accept Marlon Abela in their restaurants any more"
One of The Square's signature dishes
One diner at The Square, Sue Houghton, was enjoying an anniversary lunch when the administrators arrived in the restaurant. Shortly after the event she took to Instagram to document what happened. "Four suited men arrived mid-meal and disappeared into a side room. Cheese is then #mysteriously ‘off’ and then over coffee, a very tearful Maître D' comes round all the tables and says we must please leave now as the restaurant has gone bankrupt. Staff haven’t been paid and they are all in tears and so apologetic to us. Feel so bad for them. Really sad way to get a free meal. It’s been the most amazing top ten restaurant for over 20 years"
In response to the situation a spokesman for the Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation declared “It has been a challenging time for the hospitality sector as a whole over the last few years, with rents and rates rising dramatically. Mr Abela cares deeply about the businesses and staff but, despite investing tens of millions of pounds of his own money into the businesses, was unable to save them from going into administration.”
If you had plans to visit The Square why not try one of these other great restaurants in Mayfair instead.