Demolition of 5 Amhurst Road in Hackney is currently underway, following the emergency evacuation of all residents last Friday.
Council contractors have erected a safety scaffold at the front and back of the terraced houses, with the controlled demolition of wine bar and restaurant Raw Duck, and a further three residential properties, to be carried out by hand.
Clare Lattin, co-owner of the Raw Duck, said: “I remember getting the call on Friday night saying the building was collapsing and by 3am the decision had been made to pull it down.”
“It was just so final. The assistant manager had gone downstairs to discover the back wall had caved in and the shelving had gone with it. It is like the Mary Celeste in there now, with half eaten plates of food and half empty glasses of wine as the customers had to leave immediately. The building was secured very quickly as you could feel it moving.”
An investigation into the cause of the structural damage is underway. The contractors and authorities have declined to comment until it is complete.
Excavations have been taking place in the adjacent car park for an 80 bedroom Travelodge which is set to open Summer 2014.
Lattin said: “The excavation work has been going on since we moved in this July, but it can all move and change with the weather, and it all depends on the earth that you sit on.”
“We are insured so we looking into the case at the moment and the council have been supportive. We have given them a list of items we would like to recover from the building and we are waiting to hear on that.”
When the demolition of 5 Amhurst Road is complete, structural engineers will assess whether the remainder of the building, which houses Turkish restaurant Cirrik as well as four residents, can be saved.
Contractors are also attempting to preserve the historic Victorian facade of the building but it is not yet clear as to whether this will be possible.
Commenting on the sudden demolition of the Raw Duck, Lattin said: “We are trying to keep positive; the support we have received has been amazing. With any business, the first four months are so hard and it was just coming together. We had a lovely following and it was working financially too.”
“To begin with, we thought that was it, it was the end… but after the weekend we are now thinking we can do it again. We want to get up and running and keep our staff. We are looking to stay in Hackney, we all live locally so we want to keep in the area.”
Amhurst Road re-opened to pedestrians on Tuesday, but the road between Mare Street and Pembury Junction remains closed to vehicles.
Bus routes are running on diversion and motorists are advised to avoid the area due to heavy congestion. Hackney Central Overground is continuing to run as normal but can only be accessed through the station car park.
A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “Our priorities are with the safety of the general public and the welfare of the occupants of 1-5 Amhurst Road. We are working with affected businesses to find them alternative premises.”