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Bermuda-based company under more fire over historic tavern closure

Olde world: Simpson’s Tavern in London has been shut down by its Bermuda-based landlord (Photograph supplied)

A Bermuda-based company is coming under increasing fire after it called time on one of London’s oldest restaurants.

Tavor Holdings, registered on Victoria Street in Hamilton, owns a property in the British capital that has been home to chop house Simpson’s Tavern since 1757.

But last month the company pulled the plug on the popular eatery after it ran into arrears on its rent.

The move has made headlines in Britain. And in the latest withering attack on Bermuda’s reputation, The Times describes the island as “tax-efficient” and “an international financial centre without a soul“.

In an article headlined ‘Scrooge is alive and operating from Bermuda’, influential critic and columnist Giles Coren wrote that the restaurant may have been the inspiration for Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol.

Mr Coren wrote: “Scrooge, alas, the cold-hearted landlord of dismal legend, is very much alive and well. And operating, nowadays, out of Bermuda.

“Although he’s not called Scrooge any more, the grisly, Christmas-hating old moneylender. He’s called Tavor Holdings, and through his agents, Hartnell Taylor Cook, and his solicitors, Memery Crystal, he has acted in the weeks before Christmas, out of what appears to be pure Dickensian humbuggery, to summarily close and force into bankruptcy the Christmassiest hostelry in all the length and breadth of merrie England.”

Referring to the three ghosts that appear in Dickens’s story, Mr Coren wrote: “Oh, how we could do with those redemptive spirits today, to pay a little visit to Tavor’s tax-efficient North Atlantic HQ and try to turn those stony hearts towards good as the pitiless Christmas of 2022 grows near.”.

He went on to quote the restaurant’s manager, who said that Tavor “have made it a liquidity issue and served a forfeiture notice which will force us into bankruptcy so they can sell the freehold”.

Mr Coren wrote: “So that’s it then — 265 years of history destroyed at a stroke from a sunbed 700 miles north of the Bahamas.”

He added that he was “besieged” by City workers asking for his support in the fight to keep the restaurant open.

One wrote: “This is about what we want the City to be — a real place of work, with a culture, where you can take a new kid for a decent meal for £20 and say, ‘This is what we are part of’, or an international financial centre without a soul.”

Mr Coren concluded: “As interest rates soar, families default on mortgages and Britons slide into penury, what possible hope is there for the poor if the rich can be so careless with a place they profess to love?

“For, make no mistake, the rank values that have brought Simpson’s low are the very values that Dickens sought to satirise through Ebenezer Scrooge and worked so hard all his life to eradicate.

“Simpson’s has set up a crowd-funding page to fight the closure and I implore you to donate but, at the time of writing, it stands just shy of £33,000, a paltry 8 per cent of the total needed.”

After the column’s publication on Saturday, donations had risen to £63,752 by last night. The eatery is seeking £385,000 ($436,500) to pay off its rental arrears, pay legal fees and compensate unemployed staff.

Mr Coren added: “Stock is spoiling in the fridges, staff are being made redundant and it’s going to need some big gestures from within the City to get the fund to where it needs to be. Because I don’t think this time we can count on the Ghost of Christmas Past to turn it all around.”

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Published November 07, 2022 at 1:52 pm (Updated November 07, 2022 at 1:52 pm)

Bermuda-based company under more fire over historic tavern closure

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