It has been revealed that The Wolseley, one of London’s most famous restaurants, could face the threat of eviction due to £1 million pound worth of unpaid rent bills.
The rental dispute was revealed in an explosive report by The Financial Times, which states that The Wolseley refuses to pay rent for the periods in which the restaurant was forcibly closed due to the various national lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
The long-standing restaurant, found on Mayfair’s Piccadilly, is part of the Corbin & King group, overseen by restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. The group operates a number of restaurants across London, including Brasserie Zedel, Fischer’s and Bellanger. An out of London site, Cafe Wolseley, can also be found in shopping destination Bicester Village.
The Wolseley owes landlord STJ Investments almost £1 million in rent, which it was unable to meet due to being forcibly closed for periods of time during the pandemic. Speaking to the FT, Jeremy King said: “The landlord’s avowed intent was to get every single penny of rent...our argument was, we will pay what is due but we will not pay [the debts] for the pandemic period”.
The landlord has attempted to evict the restaurant through the courts, but the Corbin & King group maintains that a clause in the tenancy agreement means it is not obligated to pay rent for the period in which its dining room had to close: “if trading is not permitted at the site by government edict”.
The court battle looks set to continue though, as SJT Investments filed papers this week which claim that the Wolseley had “illegally sublet the premises because the lease was in the name of the Wolseley Prop Co, while the rent is paid by the Wolseley Op Co”.
Speaking through its lawyers to the Financial Times, SJT said the company had been forced to take action as “a last resort” and that The Wolseley “refused to pay any rent for the period when the restaurant was forced to close.”
It’s certainly a timely case, with many restaurants facing a raft of issues as a consequence of the ongoing pandemic, including rent troubles, recruitment issues and problems with staff wellbeing. The Wolseley is rightly a much-loved London institution and it would surely be a shame for many to see it be lost to a rental dispute of this kind.
In other news, a Michelin-star chef has ceased lunch service at his restaurant to prevent staff “exhaustion”.