Tom Kerridge checked his watch. He looked out of the window of his restaurant onto Northumberland Avenue. The street was busy with Saturday night revelers. But none of them appeared to be heading towards his restaurant, situated within the Corinthia Hotel, one of the most exclusive venues in London.
The Michelin-starred chef had taken bookings from 100 guests that evening, but 27 seats still sat empty. He was beginning to realise that more than a quarter of his expected diners were not going to show up. On a regular night, this absence rate would have been significant. In the new Covid-compliant world of social distancing, in which most restaurants have slashed capacity to obey regulations, these no-shows were a disaster.
So disastrous that the next morning Kerridge took to social media to lambast his absent customers. “Your behaviour is disgraceful, short-sighted and downright unhelpful,” he wrote on Instagram.