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Restaurateur claims London Games cost her business, seeks $140,000 from mayor

Jim Seida / NBC News

Pedestrians walk past an Austin Reed store on Regent Street in Central London on August 2. Stores in this upscale shopping district increased staff and expanded hours in anticipation of additional business brought on by visitors to the Olympic Games.

LONDON -- London’s mayor has boasted that the city hosted the "best record-breaking Olympics Games ever," but his words seem unlikely to assuage an angry restaurateur who seeks $140,000 to make up for revenue lost during the two-week sporting festival.

In an op-ed in the City A.M. newspaper, Neleen Straus said that Mayor Boris Johnson's warning to residents of the British capital that the Olympics would cause the city to be overrun with tourists during the two-week-long Games had caused her to lose "80 percent" of her trade.


Straus owns the High Timber restaurant near the Millennium Bridge on the north side of the River Thames, in the financial district of London, known as the City.

She said she had "hand-delivered" a bill to Johnson for $140,000.

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"I squarely blame Johnson for my lack of customers because, time and again, he warned Londoners to leave room for the millions of visitors he said would come to the capital. This inspired City bosses to suggest that their employees either take their holidays during the Olympics, or work from home," Straus wrote.

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As a result, she said, her normal customer base of bankers, accountants and lawyers did not come into her restaurant because they did not travel to work in London.

"It's been a travesty of miscalculation and scaremongering," she wrote

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A public relations representative for High Timber told NBC News that as of Tuesday morning, Straus had not received any official response from London’s city hall.

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A spokesperson for the mayor’s office could not immediately comment on whether Johnson had actually received Strauss' bill.

Mayor gloats over 'best' Games ever
On Monday, Johnson gloated to reporters, saying London had defied the skeptics. Some 300,000 foreigners and 5.5 million day-trippers flocked to the city for the games. Hotel occupancy was at 84 percent -- double what Beijing and Sydney saw during their Olympics.

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Johnson said the city's public transport had coped just fine. Use of London's subway -- the Tube -- was up 30 percent but saw few major problems, according to a statement by the mayor's office. London's overground commuter train saw double the normal crowds, and the city's bike hire scheme broke a record with 46,000 bikes rented on a single day.

The mayor’s office also said that the retail sector in the touristy West End could expect to see 250 million pounds "pour in on the back of the Games over the next 100 days."

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It also quoted card issuer Visa as reporting that transactions are up almost 20 percent in London’s restaurants, nearly 25 percent in its nightclubs, and some 114 percent in theater and other ticket sales.

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"London has just put on the best record breaking Olympics Games ever. ... The doom mongers are on the back foot and we are going to prove them wrong further as we deliver an equally successful Paralympic Games and build on the legacy we are already seeing emerge from our efforts," Johnson said in a statement on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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