After 265 years of business, Simpson’s Tavern has been forced to shut its dark wood doors over a rent dispute, but plans are being made to rescue the historic chophouse.
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The Cornhill chophouse was founded by Thomas Simpson in 1757 as a place for gentlemen to enjoy chops, sausages and beer. Women were first permitted to dine there in 1916. But, while some things moved on, the menu stayed firmly rooted in tradition, with dishes such as bubble & squeak, devilled kidneys, and stewed cheese.
While the site stood fast through everything from the Blitz to the Great Recession of 2007-9, rent arrears from the Covid-19 pandemic, amounting to the sum of £385,000, are to blame for the closure.
A statement shared to the Simpson’s Tavern Instagram last week blamed the “cynical actions” of the landlord , Tavor Holdings (based in Bermuda), “and their agents”, Hartnell Taylor Cook: “We remain shocked and dumbfounded by the callus and unnecessary actions they have chosen. Rent has been paid for this quarter to December 2022, bookings taken, and crackers delivered.”
“Their actions are displacing a professional workforce who have been dedicated to the values and traditions of a historic icon at the Heart of the City of London for decades and removed without care or forethought a standard in City life that has stood for centuries.”
WLC has contacted Hartnell Taylor Cook for comment on the claims.
In response to news of the closure, a campaign has been launched called S.O.S, “Save Our Simpsons”. At the time of writing, the crowdfunder has raised just over £67,000 of the £385,000 target with 40 days to go.
The Times restaurant critic Giles Coren wrote of the loss of Simpson’s Tavern: “It is a last vestige of a vanishing world…265 years of history destroyed at a stroke from a sunbed 700 miles north of the Bahamas. And it’s not like this warren of wooden corridors and tiny rooms with no window on the road will be of use for much else. It’s no good for a Pret. Or a gym. Or a Franco flipping Manca.”
Many of London’s historic pubs and restaurants are now under threat from a perfect storm of energy bills, inflation, and adverse trading conditions over the last three years. The Tipperary, allegedly London’s oldest Irish pub, recently closed down.
This article was originally published by the drinks business and has been shared with permission.