London restaurants came under attack from rioters last night, who ransacked venues and assaulted staff and diners.
Brett Graham's Ledbury, Bumpkin and the Walmer Castle pub in west London were among those worst affected, with looters barging into the restaurants and robbing diners, while other venues including Ottolenghi and Pizza Express' Clapham Junction branch had their windows smashed. Nando's in Brixton was also looted while elsewhere, Jamie's Italian in Birmingham was closed for the day after it its windows were smashed.
In Notting Hill a group of up to 50 thugs barged into the two-Michelin-starred Ledbury in the middle of service.
According to food blogger, Naked Sushi, who was dining at the restaurant, there were loud bangs before the restaurant was overrun. "The restaurant staff was yelling at us to get away from the windows. Before I knew it, the front door, a solid piece of glass shattered and people came crashing in with hoodies, masks, and random weapons," the blogger said.
"The looters were yelling at us to get down and throwing stuff all over the place. I got down and started taking off my wedding and engagement ring to hide somewhere, but unfortunately wasn't fast enough. One looter told me to take off my rings and grabbed my hand, trying to yank them off."
However, Ledbury staff came to the rescue of diners rushing up from the kitchen with rolling pins, pans and other kitchen utensils chasing away the thugs.
"When word came that the looters were coming back a second time, they ushered us into the bathrooms and told us to lock the doors," added Naked Sushi. "A few minutes later, they led us into the wine cellar and told us to lock ourselves in there."
Graham, who had taken the night off to be with his father who is visiting from Australia, said the attack had come as a complete surprise but praised his staff who went beyond the call of duty. "The team were absolutely amazing," he said.
Meanwhile the nearby Walmer Castle pub was also affected by the rioting. A spokeswoman confirmed the pub had been targeted but declined to comment further.
The Ignite Group's Bumpkin came under attack when a group of looters used the restaurant's outdoor furniture to smash its front door and windows.
However, staff barricaded diners on the upstairs floors of the townhouse restaurant ensuring no customers came into direct contact with the attackers.
"Everyone pulled together. No one panicked," said a spokeswoman for Bumpkin. "The looters trashed the downstairs of the restaurant and stole alcohol. But none of the diners were attacked."
Both the Ledbury and Bumpkin insisted that they will open for dinner tonight.
"We will open for service today," said Graham. "This was an incident and we're not going to let it affect us."
By Kerstin Kühn
E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs
Blogs on Caterersearch.com
Catch up with more news and gossip on all Caterer's blogs
For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our E-newsletters