Milk & Honey to close after 18 years

Robyn Black

Robyn Black

17 July 2020

The legendary cocktail bar is re-opening for 10 weeks before shutting its doors for the last time in October

Owner Jonathan Downey said the move was down to the landlords refusing to negotiate on any reduction in rent or rent-free period following lockdown, despite paying nearly £4m in rent since the lease was first signed.

Members were contacted earlier this week with the news. The email said:

‘We have some good and some very bad news for you. We were forced to close our doors on Tuesday 17 March but we plan to re-open this Friday, 17 July, and we’d love to see you again soon. That’s the good news.

‘The very bad news is that, after more than 18 years in Soho, this will be our final 10 weeks before we are forced to close for good. Despite paying almost £4m in rent since we first signed the lease on Poland St, our landlords are refusing to allow us any rent-free or other reduced deal for the period we’ve been closed by Government order, and their position has not changed in months. It looks like it never will.

At the end of September (when the current lease forfeiture moratorium expires – the legislation passed by the government to protect businesses from being evicted from premises during the pandemic) nine months of rent etc will be due and we cannot pay this. As a result, our landlord will change the locks and repossess the premises. They have already issued court proceedings.’

Downey has been campaigning for the government to provide a national rent deal for hospitality tenants via the #NationalTimeOut initiative. So far the government has not acted and Downey says he now has to ‘accept and expect the worst’.

Milk & Honey will be open for members tonight from 6pm and tomorrow (18 July) at the same time, and then three nights a week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) thereafter until October.

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