Simpson’s Tavern closes: Campaign launched to save City institution after landlord changes the locks
Simpson’s Tavern has stood two hundred yards from the Royal Exchange since 1757 – but rent arrears as a result of the pandemic look set to see the historic Square Mile institution closed for good.
The doors were locked last month by the landlord, a Bermudan operation called Tavor Holdings, who was demanding back payment for rent that went unpaid during the pandemic.
Simpson’s crafted an enviable reputation as a preferred spot for no-nonsense City dinners – often washed down with a bottle of the restaurant’s affordable wine list – but there are now fears the restaurant will not open its doors again.
Benjamin Duggan, the manager of Simpson’s, told City A.M. the business was solvent and had seen higher volume and revenues in October 2022 than it did in October 2019, before the pandemic.
On Friday of last week the business was served with a winding-up petition by the landlord for rent arrears.
“They are utterly unwilling to engage,” said Duggan.
“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.
“We’re all a little shellshocked this side of things, to be honest with you,” he added.
Many landlords chose to either forgive rents built up during the pandemic or renegotiated how arrears could be paid once hospitality businesses, in particular, were able to reopen. Other landlords have struggled to fill vacant sites.
Duggan said the landlord had rejected a “sensible” offer to make the rent whole over the period of the existing lease negotiated in 2018 and had instead “demanded the cash straight away.”
City A.M. was not able to find a contact address for the landlord, Tavor Holdings. Simpson’s Tavern’s dealings with the landlord have been conducted through an agent.
“It would be a shame for this historical carcass to sit empty for what we imagine would be a considerable length of time,” Duggan said.
“I have so many regulars whose first lunch in the City was at Simpson’s. To have that rubbed away would be a real loss to the City.”
The Save Our Simpson’s crowdfunding page can be found here