The 2016 edition of the Harden’s London Restaurants guide launched on Thursday, bringing with it good news for budding restauranteurs.
179 new restaurants have opened in London over the last year, more than in any other year since the guide was first published in 1991.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Peter Harden — co-founder of the guide along with his brother Richard — put the boom down to London’s growing size and wealth, as well as the number of eager investors around the capital.
Harden said: “If you have a good idea, you can see a route all the way from pop-up to private-equity sellout. Previous generations didn’t really have that.”
He added: “You have a huge number of people who are willing to invest.”
The number of restaurants opening this year has surpassed the previous highest level of 158 in 2008, and was far more than the 148 new openings last year.
“Anyone who follows the restaurant scene is in a constant state of bewilderment at the number of new names one’s brain has to absorb on a weekly basis,” said Harden in an interview with Bloomberg. “The variety, and often the ambition, are beyond anything we’ve seen in the 25 years that we have published the guide. It’s dazzling.”
Openings may be on the rise, but restaurant closures also went up this year. 56 establishments have shut their doors in the past year, nine more than in 2014. Last year’s number of closures was the lowest since 2000.
According to the FT, among new restaurant openings, the most common are Japanese and Korean, with around one in ten new eateries serving food from the far-east. The capital’s most expensive new restaurant, the Araki, serves Japanese cuisine to just nine diners at a time and costs in excess of £300 per head.
Italian restaurants also opened in big numbers this year, and the craze for American style restaurants, diners, and barbecue places seems to be continuing.
Restaurants in the capital are opening in the biggest numbers in the centre of the city, although trendy up-and-coming areas in the east of the city like Haggerston, Hackney, and Shoreditch are catching up. South London is also seeing growth in the number of restaurants opening, according to Harden.
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