The ancient Simpsons Tavern in the City of London, which was suddenly evicted from its restaurant has won a battle in a war with its landlord in its fight to reopen.
Simpsons Tavern has been a fixture in its narrow alley location since 1757 and is famous for its unfussy food and much more, its determined retention of 19th-century dining, with communal tables shared by diners. Forced to close during the pandemic, they were in negotiations with the landlord over the rent arrears, but then, without any explanation, last October, the landlord changed the locks and evicted Simpsons from the building.
Last year, a hearing attempted to wind up the company as a going concern, without notifying Simpsons that they were planning to do so. That judgement was rescinded and the case was reheard last week.
Simpsons Tavern won, and the winding up order requested by the landlord’s lawyers, Hartnell Taylor Cook was refused.
That’s significant as their “within the Act” lease allows them to force the landlord to unlock the doors, if they can raise the money to pay the outstanding rent arrears, but crucially, while doing that also avoid being wound-up as a company by a court. If the company had been closed it would lose its right to representation and action.
They’ve now returned fire, and are suing for “the unlawful forfeiture of Simpson’s and associated costs and damages, which are far greater than the arrears.”
On the failure by the lawyers to force the company into closure, they said that they are “absolutely reinvigorated by this result and more determined than ever to fight this injustice and reinstate Simpsons Tavern as was and should be”
The City of London is also supporting the campaign to reopen Simpsons Tavern, swiftly passing an Asset of Community Value protection order, which will require the landlord to negotiate with the local community before it can sell off the site to another owner.
Simpsons Tavern is one of those eternal secrets of old London town that young people starting in the city are introduced to by their bosses, and in turn, they pass on the knowledge to the next cohort of regulars, and generation after generation, are able to keep one of the city’s foodie traditions alive.
The legal victory last week stops the landlord from closing the restaurant as a going concern, but there’s still a fight to force them to unlock the doors and let the restaurant’s famous breakfast sausages sizzle on the plate once again.