The owners of a chophouse which opened in the heart of the City of London in 1757 say it is being forced to close because of the actions of a “cynical” and “callous” landlord.
Simpson’s Tavern in Ball’s Court, Cornhill posted a statement to Instagram yesterday, 1 November, saying it was “heartbroken to announce” the venue had been “forced to close through the cynical actions” of its landlord and their agents: Tavor Holdings Limited, (incorporated in Bermuda), represented by Hartnell Taylor Cook Limited.
“We remain shocked and dumbfounded by the callous and unnecessary actions they have chosen. Rent has been paid for this quarter to December 2022, bookings taken, and crackers delivered,” the owners of Simpsons wrote on Instagram. In a statement accompanying its crowdfunder, it said that the locks had been changed, the lights turned out, and the team displaced. Stock was “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.”
Hartnell Taylor Cook did not respond to Eater’s questions regarding to the actions of its client.
According to City A.M., Benjamin Duggan, Simpson’s manager, said the restaurant business was “solvent” and had seen higher revenues in October 2022 than it did in October 2019, but that last week it received a “winding-up petition by the landlord for rent arrears.” During and since COVID-19 lockdowns, when many restaurants were closed, without revenue, and unable to pay rent, deferrals or waivers were negotiated between tenant and landlord. In some cases, obstinate parties demanded what was owed to them, sometimes on unrealistic terms.
“They are utterly unwilling to engage,” Duggan said. “We are a solvent business, so we can pay down our debt with a reasonable horizon, which is what most landlords have responded to this issue.” He said that a “sensible offer” to cover all owed rent over the existing lease period was rejected, with the landlord demanding owed monies “straight away.”
“Their actions are displacing a professional workforce who have been dedicated to the values and traditions of a historic icon [...] removed without care or forethought,” the Instagram post goes on. “We have survived Fires, World Wars, an industrial revolution, a plague (or pandemic as you may call it) and a mini budget for 265 years.”
“I find it hard to express eloquently the pain this is causing and the significance of the damage they are doing,” Duggan said, before saying that all was not lost just yet. “Whilst these actions are unconscionable, they are not yet irreversible.”
At the time of publication, the crowdfunder has raised a little over £20,000, 5 percent of the £385,000 target.