Soho Is Open: Andrew Leo Portraits

People who LIVE WORK PLAY in Soho shared with us their biggest takeaway from the past year, and what they were most looking forward to when lockdown lifted… and Soho would finally re-opened again!

Photography by Andrew Leo, written by Kai Lutterodt.


“At the beginning of lockdown #2 I decided I needed a positive new project to counterbalance a year of Brexit and Covid. On the first day I cycled through Soho and noticed a few interesting and diverse characters and knew this was the place to start. I approached people on their daily walk which had become the highlight of their day. I told them it was to give me a purpose and a reason to talk to strangers from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve loved it and met so many good people who I now see whenever I go there.”

Biggest takeaway?

“Exercise and being outdoors is king, even if it’s freezing. Just one conversation with someone can make your day better. You don’t need as much money as you thought you did. Don’t judge someone by how they look, you’ll be wrong every time… and sugar is a nightmare.”

Kai Lutterodt aka The Soho Girl

“A year and a half ago when lockdown was announced, I had two decisions to make; 1. cut my losses and exit My Soho Times quietly, or 2. go with my gut feeling – I knew I had something with My Soho Times, even if marketing budgets were first to be cut…

Thankfully I went with the latter – and what a whirlwind ride it’s been! Working on the Spring issue of My Soho Times has been therapeutic. We pay homage to those in Soho and the wider community open for takeaway, delivery, and pickup… Plus share the symbolic ‘takeaways’ from the past year.”


“Bar Italia is the famous coffee shop for Mods. Come down here on a Sunday and it’d be full of mods, full of scooters. For us London Mods this is our manor. We love it. And then obviously have a few drinks in Ronnie Scott’s, and probably down Carnaby Street. Go down to get a new suit. Fred Perry. Gotta be done!”


“For me it’s the friendly atmosphere. Everyone here gets along, whatever culture you’re from, whatever sexual orientation you are and it has really good friendly vibes.”


“We’re looking forward to sunshine and embracing without the virus… the community should have a big party!”


“I’m looking forward to visiting The French House which is one of the last bits of old Soho remaining,. seeing people again and being able to solve the problems of the world over a couple of halves, or a bottle of cider… or two!”


“What I love about Soho is how inclusive it is. My sister is gay, and I’m straight – it’s always the place we can go together and feel very accepted, have a good time with both mixes of our friendship groups…. Just to have a beer in the sun is actually all I want right now!”


“I’ve been in Soho for over 60 years, a very long time. Lockdown has affected me very badly. The St Moritz Club has been closed for one year, and the restaurant on and off. We can’t open until May. I want to see that they get the tables outside, alfresco dining. Last year when I applied the council said it’s not possible, but I’ll try again. Would be nice to get four or five tables outside.”


“I love all the restaurants! I love My Place around the corner – that’s a great hangout. My biggest takeaway? I think it was Chinese… oh symbolically! *laughs* I don’t know really. Basically safety, taking care of yourself more. It’s been a rough year. Until most of us get the jab, then I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.”


“The minute I can put my USB in them CDJs and rock a crowd.. it’s like religion, like prayer – I’ve missed it for a year and half. Biggest takeaway? The sentence we use is, ‘you’ve got to do your shadow work’. You’ve got to know yourself. Look at your traumas, look at your pain and be alright with the silence.”


“I don’t have any time to spare for things in the internet world – I need to have face-to-face connections and that’s what I’ve been missing.  I’m most looking forward to going to gigs again at my fave venue in the world – 100 Club. Live music is as important as breath is to me to keep me alive. Once it all opens up I shall be back to my normal stewed and tattooed – that’s me! If I’m in London I  get all my tattoos done at Diamond Jacks Soho. You’ll see everything in Summer – they’re all be on display!”

Biggest takeaway from the past year?

“That sometimes it’s ok to be on your own and not rely on others… and other times I just want to hug someone so badly! I’m just so grateful to be in Soho. I don’t know where else I could have been and felt so happy. We’re Soho Strong – that’s what I I say!… In fact that’s gonna be my next tattoo!”


“I think just meeting up with friends and you know, especially at this time of the year, summer time. Definitely Soho Square is my favourite place – the green space, getting to socialise in the open.”


“I’m looking forward to normality – but not the same normality we had before. I think that this lockdown taught us the ways we were living were probably not the best. It’s been a year of reflection for everybody… I’m looking forward to progress.”


“I’m looking forward to the buzz of it all being back to normality – the bars being open, seeing all my friends… And when Pride’s back! My biggest takeaway I would say is living in the present. Before the pandemic I definitely had a habit looking further into the future and planning my life, when actually it’s more important just to live in the moment.”


“After so many months of lockdown it would be so nice to be out and about meeting friends, enjoying the bars and restaurants… and hopefully the weather’s going to be super amazing! Soho Square is my favourite place, but my favourite bar would be The Yard. My biggest takeaway is realising how precious life is. My family live in Zimbabwe, and I’ve not been able to see them the whole time. So, you know, it’s just made me appreciate life more.”


“One thing that I do really miss culturally – and I do need artistic calories every day of the week – is going to the British Museum. My first trip of the day would be into the Member’s Room, cup of coffee, chat with a few members of staff and then go on my way to Soho. I really do miss that – and the National Gallery, and the V&A which is probably one of my spiritual homes…all three of them really. But they’ve been taken away.

I’ve done a few drawings for painting, but I can’t seem to get into it. I just can’t get into it creatively… It’s really weird. It’s not like me. That’s the only thing that’s been a bit of a downside really, is the fact that I couldn’t get back into my painting. I’m going to start tomorrow – I need that kick!”

Biggest takeaway from the past year?

“That human nature doesn’t change. People panic and get frightened… it’s a survival instinct.”

This article was originally published in the Spring ’21 issue of My Soho Times. CLICK HERE to view it online.

We’re Open for Takeaway

We pay homage to those keeping us fed and watered; restaurants open for takeaway, pickup and delivery!

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Made In Soho

We spotlight businesses and personalities #MadeInSoho

Takeaway Stories

We reflect on the ‘takeaways’ from the past year… like how fine dining Kanishka pivoted into an award-winning delivery service.


Calling all emerging – and established – artists! Fancy seeing your Soho-inspired design on our apparel collection? PLUS have a double spread page spotlight on you in our 2021 print editions? We’ll pick 4 lucky winners – so find the inspiration and get designing! Competition is ongoing CLICK HERE

Special thanks to our partners, and team:

Contributing Editor: Gillian Smith @gilliansmith_ Contributors: Iram Khawaja @iram727| Marilita Hatzivassiliou @gourmelita| Andrew Leo @leoandphoto| Ari Gurdon Lindey @ari55 | Willliam P. Hanley @wphanley | Kamil Nowak @kamilnovakartist | Clementine Pellew-Harvey @clementine.rose.nutrition | Ivo Belohoubek @dogoodfilmsworldwise | Tim Baros | Jessica Toale @jessica.toale Design: Fast

And of course, a big thank you to you the reader for your support… now, let’s get ready for Soho’s big re-open!

Kai aka The Soho (PR) Girl, editor-in-Chief, | @the.soho.girl

Get social – follow and tag us! @mysohotimes #MySohoTimes

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