Long lunches are becoming a thing of the past as Michelin-starred restaurants close their doors to midday service because more people are working from home.
A lack of footfall in city centres has led to cutbacks in opening hours as employees continue to stay away from the office and replace business lunches with virtual conferences.
Of London’s 66 Michelin-starred restaurants, 16 currently have days where they serve dinner but do not have any food options earlier on in the day.
Ed Thaw, owner of Leroy wine bar and restaurant in London, said the exodus of finance and marketing staff from the capital had led to a “very challenging time” for his business.
“We did lunch from Tuesday to Saturday, but at the moment it’s Thursday and Friday,” he told The Telegraph.
“We had a really strong lunch trade before pre-pandemic but with the Government guidance to work from home the passing trade just isn’t there.”
Lyle’s in Shoreditch, co-owned by the chef James Lowe, is only operating a lunch service once a week despite opening five nights out of seven.
“In normal times you do five or six days for lunch and dinner but we’re just not in that position post-lockdown,” Mr Lowe said.
“The reason why we’re not doing lunch more is because the team’s small. We know we can fill dinners but we know we can’t fill lunches. We’re in an office building and the workers that are back are only in for three days a week.”
Lara Harris, of Billionaire Life, which operates Sumosan Twiga in Knightsbridge, said the private hire events usually held over lunchtime at the Japanese restaurant were off the table for the foreseeable future.
Despite “great demand”, Ms Harris said corporate days and full diner buyouts would not be possible for the foreseeable future because of ongoing restrictions around indoor dining.
David Moore, the founder of Pied à Terre in London, has seen his workforce more than halve during the pandemic, and wants to “preserve” his remaining staff by no longer opening at lunchtimes.
“If I slog them to death, in two weeks’ time, I won’t have a restaurant,” he told the BBC.