Squatters move into Marco Pierre White’s Leicester Square restaurant days after Gordon Ramsay pub

New occupation comes after squatters turned Gordon Ramsay’s gastropub into cafe welcoming ‘victims of gentrification’

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 17 April 2024 15:55 BST
Gordon Ramsay - Book Signing

Squatters occupied the site of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s former restaurant in the heart of Leicester Square – just days after Gordon Ramsay’s £13m London gastropub was commandeered by anarchists.

A group moved into the site of the now-closed Mr White’s Steak, Pizza and Gin House last week and “put big padlocks on the doors”, a delivery driver told the Evening Standard.

“It’s not ideal for the reputation and image of the Square,” he told the newspaper. “There were people queuing at the back alley into the building for what looked like a big party. The squatters have chosen a very nice building. They haven’t given us any trouble but it’s not ideal.”

The now-closed restaurant – in the heart of Leicester Square – was formerly a Chiquito’s (PA)

Another local business owner told the paper: “It’s one of the best buildings on the square, they are properly barricaded in. They put the sign on the door about their legal rights. They obviously know what they are doing.”

The Metropolitan Police have now secured the five-storey building and there were no sign of squatters on Tuesday, according to the Telegraph.

The manager of a nearby restaurant said she had been told by Westminster City Council that authorities had discovered around 400 people occupying the building. The Independent has approached police and the council for further information.

Black & White Hospitality, the company set up by White with entrepreneur Nick Taplin, has also been approached for comment. It previously ran the 600-cover restaurant – formerly a Chiquito’s – before it reportedly closed its doors in February.

Gordon Ramsay’ former Grade II-listed restaurant was taken over recently too (PA)

The temporary occupation follows the takeover of the Hell’s Kitchen star Ramsay’s former York & Albany gastropub near Regent’s Park, by a group who wanted to set up a community cafe and gallery.

They were served legal papers on Tuesday, kick-starting the process of having them evicted from the Grade II-listed building.

The occupation of a person’s non-residential property without their permission is not itself a crime in the UK, however, police can take action if crimes are subsequently committed, including damaging the property or stealing from it.

While the Metropolitan Police said last week that the occupation of Ramsay’s gastropub was “a civil matter”, the chef’s company Gordon Ramsay Holdings International Limited has now filed High Court proceedings against the squatters.

Squatters also recently took over Gordon Ramsay’s former Grade II-listed restaurant near Regent’s Park, London (PA)

The squatters had previously announced their intention to turn the space into a community cafe and art gallery, aiming to “open our doors regularly to anyone and everyone, particularly the people of Camden who have been victims of gentrification and parasitic projects like HS2”.

“We provide free food, drinks, and a space to display their art without the ridiculous red-tape galleries that require people to jump over. We believe all of us and our art deserves dignity,” they said in a statement on Instagram.

The Independent visited the pub on Monday for a “Paint N’ Chinwag” session open to everyone, with one squatter saying: “It is so peaceful at night and you can hear the lions roar from London Zoo.”

But the following day, the squatters announced that they had closed the cafe after they had been served.

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