London 2012: West End shop owner urges Boris to help boost trade during Games

 

A West End shop owner is calling on London Mayor Boris Johnson to visit her shop in an attempt to boost Soho's "disastrous" Olympic trade.   

Michele Wade, who runs the UK's oldest patisserie Maison Bertaux with her sister Tania, said business had been “devastatingly quiet” since the start of the Games.

“We are all in the mood for it,” she added. “I’m not anti. I’m mad for the Olympics, but we have taken much, much less than usual.

“We are ready and waiting - all dressed up for the party and nobody to serve.

“We need Boris Johnson to come and have a cup of tea and cake and give a boost to the area.

“We can’t carry on like this for the next three or four weeks. It’s quite nerve-wracking as we have to hold our own. It could be disastrous.”

The Greek Street café which was founded in 1871, and which Ms Wade says is the UK’s oldest, has already survived two Olympics.

Ms Wade bought it in 1988 when she was working there as a waitress.

She blamed the poor trade on the absence of non-Olympic tourists and her London customer base – which includes Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, painter Howard Hodgkin and film maker Sam Taylor-Wood – fleeing the city to escape the crowds.

She said: “When you have got a small business, every penny counts, especially as our regular customers have gone away because they thought it was going to be crammed.

“Of course it’s about money, but people are missing out too if they don’t come up.”

Andrew Ranum, who manages The Spice of Life pub, a short walk away in Moor Street, described last weekend as the quietest since the post-Christmas dip last year.

“It has really taken us by surprise,” he said. “We are all sitting on our hands as we had rostered generously.”

Pedro Jimenez, manager of the Camisa restaurant in Old Compton Street, added: “It’s very disappointing.

“All these millions of people are coming to London and it’s still empty.”

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