Squatters removed from Marco Pierre White’s abandoned restaurant

Mr White's
Mr White's restaurant never reopened after being closed for repairs - Paul Grover/The Telegraph

Marco Pierre White’s former Leicester Square restaurant has been secured by police after hundreds of squatters moved in, The Telegraph understands.

As many as 400 squatters are said to have taken over the former site of Mr White’s in London’s West End some time last week.

The Metropolitan Police has now secured the five-floor building and there was no sign of squatters on Tuesday.

Fellow chef Gordon Ramsay’s £13 million pub near Regents Park has also been taken over by squatters.

Mr White’s, a steak and pizza restaurant opened by Marco Pierre White in 2021, closed at the start of 2024.

Ellen Leyco, manager of Jollibee, a Filipino fast-food restaurant next door, said that up to 400 people had been living on all floors of the building.

She reported the issue to Westminster City Council after rubbish and waste started appearing at the back entrance of the building.

Marco Pierre White
Marco Pierre White's company runs nearly 30 restaurants in the UK - Julian Simmonds

She said: “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.

“The council came back today and told me I was correct as they found 400 people there.

“They said they were occupying all the floors and they were illegal. Many are homeless and they are leaving a mess out the back.”

A council spokesman confirmed that the issue had been flagged to the Met.

Heavy metal locks have appeared on the front doors of the building and the windows have been covered with curtains and sheets of paper.

The force has not commented.

Mr White’s representatives were also approached.

Room for 300 customers

Before it closed Mr White’s appeared to be thriving in the heart of London.

The menu featured £20 cuts of steak, £15 plates of pasta and £8.50 bowls of Caesar salads and there was room for 300 customers across two floors.

Framed photographs of Mr White, 62, who was Britain’s first three Michelin-starred chef, hung on the walls.

His company Black & White Hospitality, which runs nearly 30 restaurants in the UK, had refurbished the building for £1.5 million.

At the start of 2024, customers were told by email that the restaurant would be shut for two weeks to undergo maintenance work but it never reopened.

Black & White Hospitality gave no reason for the closure and customers with bookings were said to have arrived to find the restaurant closed. Within three months squatters had arrived.

Gordon Ramsay, a former protégé of Mr White, has been blighted with similar issues.

At least five men and one woman are understood to be squatting in the Grade II-listed York & Albany pub and hotel he owns in Camden, north London.

Squatters held press conference

The squatters held a press conference on Saturday to say they planned to use the building to run a soup kitchen for the homeless. But they posted on Instagram on Tuesday that the soup kitchen was cancelled because they had been served with legal papers.

Mr Ramsay’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

Another London pub owner said squatting in pubs was “on the rise” and blamed soft policing under Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor.

Howard Thacker saw squatters take over his pub, the Rugby Tavern near Clerkenwell, for eight weeks from April 2023.

He was finally able to regain control after starting legal proceedings but incurred costs of £100,000 in damages and lost revenue.

He told The Telegraph: “It seems to be on the rise. The police say if they can’t prove they’ve broken in then it’s a civil matter and they can’t do anything.

“They [squatters] have traditionally chosen empty warehouses and buildings but clearly they have realised now that pubs and hotels are a lot more comfortable.

“It feels a bit like it’s part of lawless London. Anything less than a major crime doesn’t seem to matter to the police.”