London attack: Heroic restaurant owner and staff led 130 people to safety as terrorists charged towards them

The three attackers 'were screaming … but they seemed to hesitate when they saw we were slightly organised'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A restaurant owner has told how he and other staff led 130 customers to safety as the London Bridge terror attackers stormed towards the premises on their deadly rampage.

Mark Stembridge told the Huffington Post that his staff at Café Brood, three of whom were former members of the Albanian military, helped pull customers inside to safety from the terrace where they were dining as they saw three men carrying huge knives heading for the building.

He said his staff remained calm under pressure as pandemonium broke out in the Borough Market area, which was bustling with people enjoying themselves on a balmy Saturday evening.

“The three guys were screaming … I can’t tell you what they were saying, but they seemed to hesitate when they saw we were slightly organised," Mr Stembridge said.

“They then veered off underneath the bridge towards another establishment called Borough Bistro.”

Mr Stembridge said police had passed on advice to him in the wake of the Westminster attack earlier this year, and called for more training to be given to restaurant and bar owners in anticipation of future attacks.

“Having had the police down recently because of a couple of bomb scares," he said.

“We’d been told by the police what to do and we secured most of the people within the premises but by that time the three guys brandishing the weapons had already gone off to somewhere else.”

He said the customers in the restaurant were also stoical in the face of the attack, which left seven people dead and at least 48 people injured, 21 of them critically.

“I think people are quite aware of what’s going on in London at the moment, so there wasn’t any panic as such," Mr Stembridge said.

He added that staff and customers had remained in the restaurant for around half an hour before they were evacuated by police, and then he and his staff went to a nearby hotel before they were released from the area at 6am.

Along with other business owners in the area, Mr Stembridge was waiting to see when he could re-open his restaurant.

He said he was confident his customers would not be put off.

“It is a worrying time because it’s a very family-night-out-type place – we rely on all the customers. I think people will come back, that’s the British thing. Sod them, we’re gonna come back and make the most of it," he said.

Although police have been praised for their swift response to the incident after they killed all three terrorists within eight minutes of the rampage beginning, Mr Stembridge warned: “There is a definite need for more money to be put into the [emergency] services in order for more presence to be on the street.”