Staff of 1,200-year-old UK Pub Come Together to Save It From Closing Forever

The pub will reopen under new ownership April 4.

Exterior of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
Photo: Courtesy of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

A suburban London pub that has survived world wars, the 1918 flu pandemic, and several economic crises, was set to close its doors until members of the staff teamed up to keep it running.

The Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in St. Albans is everything you would expect a historic English pub to be. It's picturesque on the outside, dark and cozy on the inside — the kind of place that can make you feel like you're drinking a pint in a different era. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the historic watering hole faced financial hardship.

That's when manager Martin Robinson, Head Chef, Ian Baulsh, and Chef, Sam Walker decided to run the pub themselves. Robinson had been at the pub for 12 years, while Baulsh had been in the kitchen for eight. Previously, the pub had closed in the beginning in February after the former licensee's firm went into administration (similar to filing for bankruptcy in the U.S.) The BBC reported.

In an attempt to keep the doors of the pub open the former owner made a series of online posts to gather support and awareness for the landmark.

A pint of beer inside Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
Courtesy of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

"The past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry, and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future," previous owner Christo Tofalli said in a Facebook post announcing the historic pub's closure.

"This pub has been so much more than just a business to me, and I feel honored to have played even a small part in its history," he added.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is among more than 10,000 British pubs that have closed their doors since 2008, according to official government data from the United Kingdom's Office of National Statistics, CNN reported.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks inn, St Albans, Hertfordshire, 1930s.
Kitty Brunell's Standard 16 outside Ye Olde Fighting Cocks inn, St Albans, Hertfordshire, 1930s. Bill Brunell/National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

It traces its history to 793 AD. It has a unique octagon shape and has sat at its current location since 1539, according to its website. It's located near St. Alban's Cathedral, where the first draft of the Magna Carta was drawn up.

The pub will reopen on April 4 with a new food menu and several live music events.

Meena Thiruvengadam loves wandering new streets and discovering the world's stories. Subscribe to her newsletter, and look for her on Facebook and Instagram.

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