The legendary Criterion Restaurant on Piccadilly Circus ceased trading yesterday after a two-month search by administrators to find a new buyer proved fruitless.
The restaurant, one of the most recognised in the capital, entered administration in June after a rent hike left it with a bill of £517,000.
Administrators UHY Hacker Young continued to trade the business as they searched for a buyer, but having failed to find anybody that would take it on under the new rent terms have taken the decision to close it down.
In a statement via social media, the Criterion management thanked staff and customers for their support and custom throughout the years, and hit out at the rent hike imposed by the landlord.
They stated: “Unfortunately, the restaurant had to be placed under administration on 18th June as a result of a rent review outcome declaring a staggering increase of 60% per square ft. This came at a point when the previous payable rent was already higher than numerous other restaurants in Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street.
“Criterion Capital, the current landlord, and Vox Restaurant Ltd t/a Criterion Restaurant, could not agree on mutual rent during rent review, and as a result RICS appointed an independent expert for the award, Angela Warr-King of Grant Mills Wood, part of Riley Consulting.
“It’s a real pity that independent expert Angela Warr-King has awarded such a harsh, and in our opinion completely unjust, rental uplift on a 140-year-old institutional restaurant, famed for its history and heritage, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned the first meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the books, or where the Suffragettes used to hold their meeting over tea in 1920s.”
The statement added: “Administrators Hacker Young were unable to find interested operators under the new rent and have taken the decision of closing down.”
The Criterion originally opened in 1874 and was famed for serving a modern European menu.