'Soul destroying': Brixton restaurant owner devastated as windows are smashed for third time in six months

The owner of an independent restaurant and bar in Brixton has said her whole team has been affected after the shop windows were smashed in for the third time in six months. Around a dozen bottles of wine were also stolen in the smash-and-grab.

The owner and founder of The Laundry, on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, which was opened in late 2019 in a former laundry, told MyLondon it was “soul destroying” to see the damage. Melanie Brown said: “We’ve spent the last two to three years trying to keep the doors open and someone comes in and smashes them.” While she doesn’t believe the trendy bar was “targeted”, she described it as “disappointing and sad”.

“We work our b*****ks off to do everything for the hospitality industry. You’re faced with utility charges, no customers during Covid, trying to pivot in a million ways. It’s just the relentlessness of this hospitality beast,” Ms Brown said.

food, 'soul destroying': brixton restaurant owner devastated as windows are smashed for third time in six months

An Instagram post from the owner on Monday expressed her frustration at the vandalism and theft

It comes as The Laundry and other hospitality venues fight a wave of challenges after the pandemic – including sky-rocketing inflation. “Inflation is such a killer. And then you notch your prices up five per cent and customers start having a freak out. Guys, you have to see the bigger picture here of what we’re being faced with,” she added.

“We’re being squeezed at every turn. Energy prices have increased considerably for the past couple of years. We’re yet to sign a new contract for an agreement. Hopefully they’ll stabilise a little bit but we’re aiming for the worst,” she said. The restaurant has had to largely turn off its outdoor heaters due to the surging cost of energy.

The New Zealander and entrepreneur added: “It’s the whole team affected. We’re an independent restaurant not funded with loads of money. We don’t have lots of money in the bank. It might be a £500 door or £1,000 new glass window, but for us it hits us where it hurts. We’re still trying to pay back all the debt we racked up during Covid. Little things like this really set us back.”

She called for customers to rally behind the firm, saying: “We’re a small independent business. We need customers and businesses to keep supporting us, have a Sunday roast, and enjoy our experience. Without them we wouldn’t be able to continue.”

Head chef Sami Harvey told MyLondon the police were called around 5am on Monday morning (October 3). On the string of window-smashing incidents, she said: “The last time was vandalism, and the time before that was theft…I don’t think it was targeted, we are just a very nice establishment with a glass front.” She added: “It’s a constant battle to keep going. It’s tough so it’s really sad, annoying and frustrating to have things like this happen…It’s the annoyance of it all. Everyone is really upset and angry.”

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