Squatters take over Marco Pierre White's Leicester Square restaurant and padlock doors months after it was shut down

17 April 2024, 09:42 | Updated: 17 April 2024, 09:57

Squatters have taken over Marco Pierre White's Leicester Square restaurant
Squatters have taken over Marco Pierre White's Leicester Square restaurant. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Asher McShane

Squatters have taken over one of the West End’s biggest restaurant sites after it was permanently shut down by Marco Pierre White’s hospitality business.

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The group padlocked the doors and put up a sign warning they cannot be evicted without a court order as the building was vacant. 

It comes after TV chef Gordon Ramsay's Grade-II listed York & Albany hotel and Gastropub in Regent's Park was also taken over by a group of squatters.

Mr White’s “steak, pizza and gin house” on Leicester Square was shut after a period of tough trading as many restaurants struggled to survive after the pandemic.

It s opened in late 2021and was billed as the TV chef’s first return to the West End in a decade.

Neighbouring businesses said the squatters had been 'causing us some trouble'
Neighbouring businesses said the squatters had been 'causing us some trouble'. Picture: LBC

Marco was not directly involved in the 600 cover venue. It was run by Black & White Hospitality, the company he set up with entrepreneur Nick Taplin.

The manager of Filipino fast food restaurant Jollibee next door told the Telegraph that ‘up to 400 people’ had taken over the whole building.

She told the newspaper: “The council regularly visits us. When they were here last week I told them they need to look into Mr White's because it is causing us some trouble.

The doors of the restaurant have been papered over
The doors of the restaurant have been papered over. Picture: LBC

“The council came back today and told me I was correct as they found 400 people there.”

Yesterday, a group of squatters who moved into Gordon Ramsay's £13 million London pub said they had been been served papers, forcing them to cancel their soup kitchen that they were running from the establishment.

The Camden Art Cafe took over the York & Albany pub in Camden, north London, earlier this week, plastering a notice on the front of the boozer to claim it was a legal occupation of the building.

The group of so-called "autonomous" activists say they are "committed to providing free food and creating a space for the community".

But the radical group say they have now been served legal papers and have been forced to cancel the opening of their community cafe on the premises today.

"Apologies to everyone who was going to come along today. Papers served, cafe cancelled!," the group wrote in a statement on their Instagram story.

Exterior view of the York And Albany gastropub near Regent's Park, owned by Gordon Ramsay
Exterior view of the York And Albany gastropub near Regent's Park, owned by Gordon Ramsay. Picture: Alamy

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It comes after reporters attempted to question the activists over the weekend, who in turn ran away.

Ramsay was reportedly in the process of handing over the lease of the building to new tennants when the squatter group moved in.

The group explaoined in a previous Instagram post that they were occupying the building to make it available for "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 that galleries require people to jump over. We believe all of us and our art deserve dignity," they said in a statement Sunday.

"Camden is a borough with one of the biggest wealth disparities in London, so it seems only fitting that £13 million properties that most locals would never be able to afford to visit should be opened up to all."

The gang are said to be "professional squatters" and had targeted the venue after it closed.

Ramsay, 57, was due to agree a multi-million pound lease with new partners at the luxury eatery and hotel when the raiders broke in.

The TV chef has had a troubled history with the venue - after he was embroiled in a legal battle back in 2015 over the 19th century building.

Gordon Ramsay in Los Angeles, December 13, 2023
Gordon Ramsay in Los Angeles, December 13, 2023. Picture: Alamy
A legal notice attached by squatters at the York And Albany, which has been occupied by squatters
A legal notice attached by squatters at the York And Albany, which has been occupied by squatters. Picture: Alamy

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A source previously told The Sun: “They’ve glued tight all the locks and are cooking up a storm in the kitchen, which is especially galling for Gordon.

"Some are crashing on sofas, but others have taken over the beautiful bedrooms. God knows the damage and filth.

“Gordon called the police on Wednesday and is trying to secure an eviction notice, but it’s proving an absolute nightmare.

“It’s increasingly hard to forcibly remove these people. Gordon is at the end of his tether. Not surprisingly, a few choice words have been said.”

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