Pie shop loved by Arsenal fans is victim of the virus
Blow for fans as Piebury Corner owner says it’s ‘impossible’ to stay in business – and warns of more closures
21 August, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
Piebury Corner owner Paul Campbell has warned that more businesses could struggle to survive
A POPULAR Arsenal pie shop has gone into liquidation, with its owner warning more businesses will fold as the financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus crisis is felt.
Piebury Corner, which has restaurants in Holloway Road and King’s Cross, will shut for good, its owners announced on Wednesday.
They said it had become “impossible” to sustain the business with plummeting footfall, landlords demanding full rent and their Arsenal matchday takings decimated due to fans still being banned from football stadiums.
Town Hall leader Richard Watts said that, as a regular customer, he was “very sad” to hear that Piebury Corner had gone under.
He added: “We are clearly very worried about the impact of the upcoming recession on Islington businesses.
“I would appeal to landlords to be as understanding as possible about their tenants.
“Losing a high-quality tenant like Piebury Corner can only be a bad thing for landlords.”
The business was started almot a decade ago by couple Paul and Nicky Campbell. They set up a stall outside their home in Gillespie Road to sell pies to passing Arsenal fans heading to the Emirates Stadium.
The Piebury Corner business had expanded into King’s Cross and Holloway Road
The original stall became a Gooner institution as it lured fans in with pie puns and fun facts, and two more sites in Holloway and King’s Cross saw the Campbells expand into fine dining and cocktails.
But with footfall in King’s Cross now reportedly down to 1 per cent of its pre-Covid figures and Holloway Road struggling, Mr Campbell decided to call it a day.
He told the Tribune: “It’s not only us. We have been fighting hand to mouth for a couple of years getting King’s Cross off the ground.
“We thought we had just turned a corner and then coronavirus stopped us in our tracks.
“I’m sure that when VAT returns are due and the furlough goes, more businesses will go.
“A lot of people outside of London don’t realise the effect of this working from home stuff. The hospitality industry is in a desperate state.”
He added: “Covid-19 has put us in an impossible situation financially, with landlords at both sites still demanding rent in full plus all the other fixed overheads due.”
Hundreds of Arsenal fans from around the world expressed their grief on social media after the Tribune this week revealed online that Piebury Corner had closed.
One fan went as far as to ask notoriously well-paid Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil to step in and prop up Piebury.
Mr Campbell said: “A lot of people are going to be upset. All I can say is, come to the area, socially distance safely and support all local pubs and restaurants that depend on matchday revenue.
“Support the guys that are struggling on.”
While Piebury Corner has gone into voluntary liquidation, Mr Campbell has not ruled out the possibility of returning at a later date. He said he may reopen the pop-up stall to serve fans on matchdays but only when the Emirates Stadium is at least three-quarters full.
“We are gutted for everyone,” he added.
“We have one foot in the grave, but we’re not completely buried.”
Martin Whelan, who runs the Tollington Arms in Hornsey Road and the Lincoln Lounge in King’s Cross – a stone’s throw from the Caledonian Road Piebury Corner – said: “I really feel sorry for Paul and Nicky and the family. They were a very well-known business, and we shared a lot of their clientele from all over the world.
“Although the FA [Football Association] have announced that football is coming back next season, until we get bums in seats in stadiums, all our businesses which were based on massive sports events of 25 to 27 games a season are doomed. Arsenal contributes to about 40 per cent of my turnover.
“I am actually in the same boat as Paul, and so is every other business around the Emirates.”