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London leisure property: The Soho revolution

  • Soho restaurant scene

Our London leisure property agents have been engaged in discussion in recent months about the future of Soho. Historically, Soho has always been the home of the creative industries, with 20% of London’s new creative jobs based in the area. Alongside those creative spaces, the Soho restaurant scene is famed for its vibrancy. But are things changing?

Some, such as actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, are claiming that Soho is under attack and that new housing developments are pushing the creativity out of Soho. Is this having a knock-on effect on the area’s restaurant scene? We examine the facts.

Squeezing the creativity out

London is under an extreme amount of pressure to develop more housing. In central areas like Soho, this means turning what was creative space into new housing developments.

According to a BBC article, it is claimed that ‘since 2011, the area has lost about 30,000 square metres of office and creative space, but gained twice that amount in residential property’. It is argued that this may be negatively-impacting Soho’s social, cultural and creative scenes. But is the long-held Soho restaurant scene feeling the impact?

The rise of the new garde

It seems the opposite may be true. Potential restaurant property has become more and more sought after in recent months with independents. First, independent restaurants like Bao have become London favourites.

This small Taiwanese bun café serves its deliciously simple food to people queuing around the block all day long. There is no booking, and to ensure you get a table for peak evening times you will need to arrive well in advanced.

The same story goes for restaurants and cafes all around the area that serve food from every conceivable cuisine from every corner of the planet. Whether it’s the quaint Japanese restaurant Koyo Bar, homemade burger chain Byron Hamburgers, or Thai newcomer Smoking Goat which serves food until midnight Monday to Saturday, there’s something for everyone.

Street food revolution

Alongside the large quantities of restaurants and bars vying to make Soho their home, the streets are full of street food vendors ready to take advantage of the influx of new food lovers who might be tempted into trying something slightly less formal.

Berwick Street is home to a cutting edge collection of street food and market vendors who serve up independent, artisanal and locally sourced produce at reasonable prices. Establishments like Savage Salads draw a fresh crowd each day, giving people on their lunch breaks a brief moment some salvation.

Similarly, the Soho Street Fest, which has just taken place on the 13th/14th June, saw producers like Rare Breed Meats and Wild Harvest stand alongside restaurant operators like Brasserie Zedel to support charitable causes for the fifth year running.

Successful expansion

Our leisure property consultants are seeing so much success that they are now looking to expand to other London areas. Soho House has just announced two new expansions, the first of which is Egg Break. This will launch in Notting Hill later this month, and each dish will be cantered around egg.

The next is Chicken & Egg Shop, and will open in Balham, and is rumoured to be a spin-off of their Chicken Shop concept, featuring an egg-heavy menu.

Ultimately, while there might be some discussion as to the state of the creative industries in Soho, it appears as though its restaurant scene is thriving. If you are a restaurateur looking to find space in this bustling scene, speak to one of our experienced London restaurant property agents. We will provide you with the help and support you need to make your next investment.

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