Magpie, the second restaurant from James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy’s Birdman Group — which also owns Pidgin in Hackney — will close 20 months after opening on Heddon Street in Mayfair. Herlihy said it had been a “challenging 18 months.”
It marks a dramatically curtailed tenure on a street which struggles for footfall, but which has sustained the likes of Momo for over twenty years, somehow ensured a degree of longevity for both Icebar London and Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen. The small horseshoe thoroughfare, setback from Regent Street, has also apparently given Spanish chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s solo debut Sabor enough business — a Michelin star last autumn will certainly have helped.
In the same period, a damning two-star review from the Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler — delivered before the restaurant retired its trolley and tray service inspired by Statebird Provisions in San Francisco — delivered exactly the wrong sort of start for a restaurant whose decision to do things differently would increase its dependency on word-of-mouth.
A glowing review from the Financial Times’ Tim Hayward nearly a year later wasn’t enough to break the malaise, despite reading contrary to Maschler’s diagnosis of the flawed initial concept: “It’s a real find and I can give it no more glowing recommendation than to say that it totally lacks a “concept” and, in its place, has serious heart.”
“For the time being all we can say is we’re pretty devastated to have had to come to the reluctant decision to close Magpie,” Herlihy told Eater. “It’s been a challenging 18 months for various reasons and we felt this was the right thing to do. We’re hugely grateful for all the support we’ve had from our customers and above all to our staff who have all been nothing short of a joy to work with.”
What comes next for the group and the site remains unknown for now.