Thursday, 6 August 2015

West End 'so quiet you could hear a pin drop' as central London empties for Tube Strike

The usually bustling streets of the West End were ‘so quiet you could hear a pin drop’ last night as businesses reported trade had been cut in half.
Commuters made an early exodus early to escape the predicted chaos before tube services began winding down from 6.30pm leaving restaurants, bars and nightspots eerily quiet.
Restaurateurs and bar owners said that takings would be sharply down for the duration of the two-day walkout in protest at rotas for a 24-hour service.


Deserted: The empty street outside Langan's in Mayfair Picture: Nigel Howard
Jamie Robertson, assistant manager at the historic Langan’s Brasserie on Stratton Street in Mayfair, said the restaurant was expecting as few as 100 covers, compared with up to 350 on a normal night.
He said: “It’s impacted our business greatly. We’ve got about half the usual number of staff on. We look at the bookings on a given day and hire staff accordingly - so we’ve been phoning them and telling them they’re not needed.
'Noone around': Langhan's Jamie Robertson Picture: Nigel Howard 
“Usually is bustling outside and we’d expect a good few walk-ins. But not tonight, you only need to look out of the window to see how quiet it is, you could hear a pin drop. There’s no-one around.”
Kris Leszczynski, front of house manager at the Mayfair Hotel and Mayfair Brasserie, said that the restaurant was “dead” although the five-star hotel was “insulated” because a lot of customers were foreign visitors who relied on taxis.
But he added: “The strike cause a logistical nightmare for us as a 24/7 business. Lots of staff won’t be able to get into work tomorrow.
“You hear the tube drivers want to work a 32-hour week. That’s unheard of in the hospitality industry."
Quiet night: Cabbie Michael Christo PIcture: Nigel Howard 
Black cab driver Michael Christo, 53, queuing on Stratton Street, said: “I can see both sides to the dispute but it has affected the night-time economy round here.”
The cabbie from Potters Bar said that more than halfway through his seven-hour shift, he had only had five fares.
He added: “August is always quiet but tonight has been particularly so. I might pack it in early and see if I can pick up some of the extra commuting trade first thing tomorrow instead.”
Maxime Christo, bar manager at the London Cocktail Club in Oxford Circus, said: “It’s been very, very slow. It’s affected us a lot. Takings are down around 50-60per cent so far, and that’s during happy hour.”
Strike day: A man tries to figure out his route home 
Theatre-goers watching the Benedict Cumberbatch perform at the Barbican Theatre were also forced to find other means to get home.
Some took buses, cabs, or even walked home, while one member of Barbican staff used a push scooter.
Journalist Maria Coole, 40, ordered a cab to get back to Sydenham Hill in South East London following her solo trip to the theatre.
Crowds flock to board the final few trains at Oxford Circus last night 
She said: “It’s definitely an inconvenience but once I found out I had a ticket, I was never going to miss it really and was always going to find a way to get here.”