The landlord of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, which lays claim to being Britain’s oldest pub, has revealed his pub may have opened its doors for the last time, after going into administration.
Christo Tofalli said that Ye Olde Fighting Cocks LTD had been struggling to turn a profit for several years due to tax hikes and rising costs, and that the “unprecedented” trading conditions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic had proved “devastating” to his business.
The pub is said to date all the back to 793, though gained its current name when it is thought to have hosted cock fighting in the late 19th century.
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce that today, after a sustained period of extremely challenging trading conditions, YOFC Ltd has gone into administration.” Mr Tofalli said in a statement.
“Along with my team, I have tried everything to keep the pub going.
“However, the past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry, and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future.
“Before the pandemic hit, the escalating business rates and taxations we were managing meant trading conditions were extremely tough, but we were able to survive and were following an exciting five-year plan and were hopeful for the future.
“However the Covid-19 pandemic was devastating and our already tight profit margins gave us no safety net.
“This resulted in us being unable to meet our financial obligations as they were due, creating periods of great uncertainty and stress for all who worked for, and with, the pub.
“It goes without saying I am heartbroken: this pub has been so much more than just a business to me, and I feel honoured to have played even a small part in its history.
“I am even more heartbroken for my incredible team and the wider Fighting Cocks family.
“I am currently working with the brewery, Mitchell and Butler, to lessen the impact of the closure of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks as we go into administration.
“I would like to thank them for their help and support throughout this process; they have been amazing. Every time I had an idea they supported me.
“I know it may seem strange but I have zero complaints. I am sorry to let them down too.”
Mitchell and Butler, the pub’s owners, are now talking to the administrators for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks LTD and a decision is set to made over whether the pub can reopen.