'London's oldest chophouse' forced to close by 'cynical landlord'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

'London's oldest chophouse' Simpsons Tavern in City of London forced to close by 'cynical landlord'

Related tags Simpson's Tavern City of london Landlord Rent arrears

Historic chophouse Simpson's Tavern in the City of London has launched a crowdfund as it battles to survive after being 'forced to close through the cynical actions of its landlord'

The restaurant, which has sat on the same site since 1757 and claims to be 'London's oldest chophouse', said its landlord, the Bermuda-based Tavor Holdings, had changed the locks and placed the freehold up for sale, despite rent being paid to December 2022.

City A.M. ​reports​ that the restaurant was served with a winding-up petition by the landlord last week for rent arrears accumulated over the course of the pandemic. However, Benjamin Duggan, the manager of Simpson’s Tavern, insists the business is solvent and able to pay rent going forward as well as contribute to the debt formed through Covid closure.

In a statement released yesterday (1 November), Duggan said: "If you have been recently, I challenge you to state that the business is failing or insolvent. Indeed, my heart has swelled with pride to see and feel the life of the city return.

"The booths have been alive again and queues forming in the bars. It is a fallacy to present that Simpsons is unable to go forward, a lie told by the agents to extort unfair rent and service charges for periods we, through no fault of our own, had to close during lockdown.

"Most landlords have practically allowed for relief and a reasonable horizon for repayment. We too have presented what we believe to be fair to the Landlord, fully expecting them to respond with either reasonable counter or acceptance. They have not responded except with a demand for the service charge whilst the business was closed and then full repayment of all arears.

"We had believed that we were in the middle of meaningful negotiations in good faith. We now believe (and had previously feared on learning their plan to sell the freehold) this action shows that the landlord had been using this period of negotiation to deceive and run the clock out on the Government arbitration process and then cynically seize the property."

In response, Simpson's has launched a Crowdfunder campaign​ to raise £385,000 to generate revenue to ensure the survival of the restaurant, as well as support the team that has been displaced by the closure.

"Our locks have been changed; our lights turned out," continued Duggan.

"The team displaced with stock spoiling in the fridges as the landlord refuses to engage, seemingly determined to deliberately close the business and remove from the City of London a landmark. A centuries old venue who has placed host to generations of the market, the timing of this could not be worse, this period is critical to our revenues.

"We have already lost £10,000’s in the weeks waiting for engagement, but also material damage to our reputation and our customers faith in bookings. We are seeing people cancel significant events at Christmas, understandably, but these cancellations will be difficult to replace and further starve revenue from the business."

Duggan added that without support, he fears there is 'no road back' for Simpson's.

"The venue and stories soaked into its walls will be lost. Once we leave, we take it all and the shell that held us, may come to market, but it will never be the same again. Another part of heritage and shared history snuffed out."

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