Howls of protest as part of cooking history dies: Boulestin, a classic restaurant in Covent Garden opened in the 1920s, closes tonight. A Pizza Hut will open on the site. Emily Green reports

KEVIN KENNEDY, chef-proprietor of Boulestin, a London restaurant where one might have reasonably expected to find a 1970 bottle of Chateau Petrus for a mere pounds 567, says he will sign on the dole tomorrow. The restaurant, opened in 1926 by the French Anglophile X Marcel Boulestin, will close tonight after prolonged death throes.

It has been many years, however, since the restaurant had anything to do with its eccentric and erudite founder. Writing for Wine and Food in 1965, Elizabeth David affectionately chronicled Mr Boulestin's flight from Paris in the early 1900s to England, where he worked variously as an art dealer, a novelist, and a translator. Money problems prompted his off-the-cuff suggestion to a director of Heinemann's that he write a cookery book in the 1920s. In the years that followed, he produced a series of classics: Simple French Cooking for English Homes (1923), A Second Helping and The Conduct of the Kitchen (1925), What Shall We Have Today (1931), and the 'Evening Standard' Book of Menus (1935). Mr Boulestin was also the first chef to appear on British television on a programme called Cook's Night Out, broadcast on 21 January 1937 from Alexandra Palace.

His first restaurant, which opened in Leicester Square in 1925, moved the following year to Covent Garden and became a landmark watering hole for politicians and regulars of the Royal Opera House.

Since Mr Boulestin died in 1943, the restaurant has had a succession of owners. Mr Kennedy came to the restaurant in 1978, when it was owned by a division of Grand Metropolitan. His hopes to take over the premises were dashed in 1990, when the chain sold it to Queens Moat Houses. According to Mr Kennedy, for the past two years uncertainty has loomed over the restaurant as Queens Moat, itself suffering financial difficulties, looked for a new owner. The insecurity was such that Mr Kennedy says he has held five closing-down banquets during the past two months. He says he hopes to open a new restaurant, possibly retaining the name of Boulestin. Remaining wine stocks from the Boulestin cellar will come up for auction at Sotheby's.

The new leaseholders of the historic Covent Garden site will be the Pizza Hut chain. Howls of protest at the indignity of it have been sounding since February in the columns of gentlemen journalists in the Evening Standard, Times and Financial Times. Their baying is too little, too late. Since the removal of the fruit and vegetable market in 1974 and particularly since the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986, Covent Garden has slipped into the grasp of large chains.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect