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Water-pistol protest threat over ‘corporate lunch takeover’ of square

Online restaurant booking firm calls off VIP picnic in Soho

25 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot

OpenTable offered a ‘usually unbookable experience’ of renting picnic patches in Soho Square

PROTESTERS against a “VIP area” being set up in a public square were preparing to load-up water pistols for the big launch tomorrow (Saturday).

The online restaurant booking firm OpenTable was offering an “usually unbookable experience” of renting picnic patches in Soho Square.

The PR stunt backfired dramatically with a social media frenzy against the “corporate lunch takeover” of a green space.

Once anti-homelessness spikes campaigners got involved and invited supporters to bring waterpistols to the launch, OpenTable politely accepted defeat and scrapped the entire scheme.

A statement from the organiser said: “If you’re opposed to booking your own patch of grass under this farcical effort of corporate promotion, and wish to use this public space as it was intended, and as we all do already, join us. Having organised the demonstration which led to the removal of anti-homeless spikes at Tesco Piccadilly Circus, which then inspired a national movement, I’m offended Westminster Council would approve such a thing here in Soho.

“Let’s disrupt this event and reclaim our public space. Bring Party Hats. Bring Your Lunch Box. Bring Music. Bring Water Pistols.”

The council had confirmed that OpenTable had paid a “nominal fee” to cover admin costs but that no one was due to make money out of the event.

OpenTable also clarified that this event would only use a small section of Soho Square.

On Twitter, Lee Mabey said: “There are two types of Londoners. Those that will lap up paying for a picnic patch in Soho Square. Those who will turn up to make the experience an utter misery.”

On Wednesday, the company said: “Following feedback over the past week we have taken the decision to cancel our upcoming picnic activation in Soho Square.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this causes those who have booked and will be in touch with you all directly shortly.”

OpenTable is a table booking service online with 40,000 restaurants.

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