Polpo at the Ape & Bird, on Cambridge Circus, in central London has ceased trading. Eater London understands that the lease has been purchased from the current owners — Russell Norman and Richard Beatty.
A pre-recorded answering machine message on the Ape & Bird’s telephone line says:
“Thank you for calling the Ape & Bird. Unfortunately we are closed due to unforeseen circumstances. We would love you to visit one of our neighbouring restaurants. Please visit our website for details.”
Update 4pm, 9/01/17: A notice on the window of the pub reads: “It is with regret that we have decided to permanently close POLPO at Ape & Bird. We have accepted an offer for the lease from a very exciting operator, allowing us to concentrate on our core estate.” They also announced that every member of staff employed at the site has taken up a position elsewhere in the company.
Big Hospitality first reported the story, while also announcing that the group has closed its site in Bristol on Whitleladies Road at the weekend, having opened just 18 months ago.
The site on Cambridge Circus has been one of Polpo’s more high maintenance restaurants — initially opening as a gastropub, called just the Ape & Bird in 2013, focused on classic British cooking as well as beers and a downstairs cocktail bar. It changed the following year to bring the brand under the umbrella of the Polpo group, focusing on pizzette and the Venetian-style small plates that had made the group such a citywide success.
Polpo is left with five London sites, plus restaurants in Exeter and Brighton. Norman and Beatty also own Spuntino and Polpetto, both in Soho.
Cambridge Circus, one of the highest footfall areas in central London, has had mixed results for restaurant operators. Bocca Di Lupo and Plaquemine Lock owner Jacob Kenedy opened a casual Italian concept on the site of what was a Pizza Hut, before closing last year and making way for Shake Shack’s seventh London site. The ill-fated Belgian moules-frites chain Leon de Bruxelles lasted less than 12 months on the site of what is now a McDonald’s. On the other side of the road, a HSBC bank and The Palace Theatre are going strong.