The owners of a cult-followed pie shop with locations on Holloway Road and in King’s Cross, north London, have announced that obstinate landlords, low footfall, and social distancing guidelines mean it cannot reopen. As first reported by Hot Dinners, Piebury Corner’s Paul and Nicky Campbell wrote on Facebook that they did not “have the financial resources to last that long trading at a loss,” fearing that its football-supporting regulars would not return soon enough in the numbers needed to make the business viable.
The original site, which offered handmade British pies named after famous Arsenal footballers, Scotch eggs, and craft beers, opened on Holloway Road, close to the Arsenal football stadium, in 2011. Three years ago, the Campbells added a second 42-seater restaurant in King’s Cross. “We are gutted as we had only just turned a corner after taking on the King’s Cross site three years ago and had planned to re-open the Holloway pie shop in March, Thursday to Sunday,” they wrote. It had previously only traded on Arsenal match days.
Piebury Corner’s message also detailed the reluctance of the site’s landlords to offer any kind of rent relief. “Covid19 has put us in an impossible situation financially with landlords at both sites still demanding rent in full plus all the other fixed overheads due on top so we will not be opening back up at our existing restaurants,” the owners wrote.
Footfall was a secondary problem for a restaurant and takeaway business which relied heavily on the thousands of football supporters who would crowd the streets around the Emirates stadium in Highbury on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. (Gone are the days of those same streets being trodden by fans on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.)
“The footfall at Kings Cross is currently 1 percent of normal and doesn’t look like it will ever be the same for at least two years. Full attendance at The Emirates looks like a full season away yet possibly longer until they find a vaccine,” they wrote.
But all was not lost. “The good news — We’re not dead yet,” the Facebook post said. “We may take a pitch site for a pie stall 100 yards from the stadium concourse so you can still get your pie fix on a match day but this is probably at least a year away...meanwhile please continue to support all the independent pubs and restaurants around the stadium, they need your support more than ever now.”
The tributes to Piebury Corner were led by 90s Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who wrote on Twitter: “Paul, Nicki I’m gutted to read this. So sorry. Paul message me if there is anything we can do to help. Sending my love and strength to you and all the staff.”
Paul, Nicki I'm gutted to read this. So sorry. Paul message me if there is anything we can do to help. Sending my love and strength to you and all the staff. ♥️— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) August 19, 2020
Contemporary football writers like The Athletic’s Amy Lawrence lent their support. “So sorry to hear of troubles for the legendary Piebury you have worked so hard for – and provided so many brilliant meals and vibes for so many visitors to Highbury for years,” she wrote.
To Paul and Nicky. So sorry to hear of troubles for the legendary Piebury you have worked so hard for - and provided so many brilliant meals and vibes for for so many visitors to Highbury for years.— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) August 19, 2020
When you are ready at your new pitch I will be in the queue. X
The popular Arsenal FC blog, arseblog added its own show of sadness. “If there’s anything we can do to help when you open up again, just shout,” it said.
Sorry to hear this, Paul.— arseblog (@arseblog) August 19, 2020
Best of luck to you and all your staff.
If there’s anything we can do to help when you open up again, just shout.
Chief football writer at The Times, Henry Winter said it was a sad loss for the area.
So sorry to hear this. Sad loss for the area too. I’ll be in the queue for your stall.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) August 19, 2020
TalkSport and BBC 5Live presenter Alison Bender said that she hoped the pie shop would “be thriving once again in the not too distant future.”
Oh this is such a shame. Love your pies and thank you for being so welcoming when we filmed inside. Will look out for the stall and I’m hoping you will be thriving once again in the not too distant future— Alison Bender (@alibendertv) August 20, 2020