Marco Pierre White’s abandoned restaurant overtaken by squatters

Once upon a time in the 1970’s, Time Out published a field guide for squatting in London containing the how-to’s, best spots, and general know-how for surviving with little to no income. Although no up-to-date guide exists, it doesn’t look like London’s occupier population needs any help finding trendy places to take up residence. The latest of which is Marco Pierre White’s vacant restaurant in Leicester Square.

White’s 300-seater restaurant, called ‘Mr. White’ (surprise, surprise) was opened in 2021, and served pizza, steak and gin. Although the building was recently refurbished for £1.5 million, it closed unexpectedly at the start of this year and never re-opened. Prices ranged from £8.50 for bowls of salad up to £20 for sizzling steaks. Today there are 400 occupiers taking over five floors of empty space.

The squatters were first noticed by the manager of the neighbouring fast-food restaurant, Jollibee’s, who saw rubbish piled at the back entrance to Mr. White’s. She then reported the situation to the Westminster City Council, who contacted the Met police. 

‘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,’ said Jollibee’s Ellen Leyco‘[The council] said they were occupying all the floors and they were illegal. Many are homeless and they are leaving a mess out the back.’ The occupiers have been removed, and the empty restaurant is now once again vacant, but with additional padlocks.

This news is the latest in a string of squatter news, following the occupation of Gordon Ramsey’s gastropub by Regent’s Park. Ramsey is White’s former apprentice, and it now seems that the student and master are learning the same lesson: if your restaurant is vacant, chances are it won’t stay that way once word gets out. 

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