Pubs saved and a reopening in Clapton — cheers!

Pub that never was — but one day may be
Dalston pub that never was — but one day may be

DALSTON’S HOPES of a pub restaurant near the junction have vanished in a miasma of debt as the company behind the venture has collapsed.

Antic, founded in 2000, at one stage owned 20 pubs and bars in London. It told Loving Dalston last May that it would open Farr’s School of Dancing at E8 3DF, a few doors east of the mural, in the summer.

The self-styled “pub company with a difference” certainly turned out to have a difference. But it was with its books, which it failed to balance: debts totalled £2.7 million, most of it to HMRC.

Antic’s owner, Anthony Thomas, tried to save his company with outside backing, but in vain, and on 14 January 2013 his company went into administration. The administrator soon found himself reviewing  20 offers for the pubs.

One, however, beat the others: a company called Gregarious, which was set up by Max J. Alderman a month after Antic went into administration.

Backed by Downing LLP, a fund management company, Alderman, who happens to be a former high-placed employee of Antic, bought the pubco for £1.2 million, to the relief of its 200 or so staff.

Gregarious now owns all but two of of the 14 former Antic pubs. One closed after a fire last December, 2012; another, possibly the Dalston Lane project, has yet to open because the refurbishment money ran out. So there may yet be hope for the eventual opening of the Farr’s pub restaurant.

Windsor Castle: welcome in Clapton?
Windsor Castle: working on reopening

One pub lucky to reopen while Antic still had some funds for acquisition (or thought it had) was the Clapton Hart, top, at E5 8EG, which had been derelict until the pubco bought it back to life last spring. Hackneyites revelled in the rare joy of a pub’s reopening, making it one of the borough’s busiest.

Now another is reopening near by. The Windsor Castle will turn on its beer taps this Friday 3 May 2013. Its owners have links to other pubs, the Harry Styles-hosting Birthdays and the Canadian-hipster (sic) outfit Vice, as is neatly explained here.

David Altheer 290413

* Clapton Hart, 231 Lower Clapton Road E5 8EG; Windsor Castle, 135 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney E5 8EQ; Old Blue Last, 38 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch EC2A 3ES; Birthdays, 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston N16 8BJ 

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a Loving Dalston speciality. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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