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Pub boss’s love letter to Soho in emotional farewell

Despite more than 11,000 people signing petition, Coach & Horses is just days away from being taken over by chain

21 June, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Alastair Choat: ‘We leave this coming Monday’

THE licensee of a famous Greek Street pub which is days away from a pub chain takeover has penned an emotional love letter to Soho.

More than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling to save the Coach & Horses after Fuller’s confirmed they would not renew Alastair Choat’s lease.

The last pint poured under his tenure will be on Sunday before the keys are handed over the following day.

In a letter to Soho, Alastair and his daughter Hollie, the pub’s operations manager, said: “It is with great sadness and much despair that our tenure has drawn to an end and our last days can now be counted on less than one hand.

“We leave on this coming Monday. We have both revelled in throwing some of you out on necessary occasions but more so in dragging you all into the Coach far more often and thus maintaining its 75-year history as being your local community pub.”

Hollie Choat in the Coach: ‘People forget there’s a community, there’s so many people that live in Soho’

The letter thanked the many Coach locals and nearby businesses who have supported the business that was made famous by “London’s rudest landlord” Norman Balon until 2006.

Fuller’s, which is taking back the pub into its “managed estate”, says it will “preserve all that is great about this pub”.

Yesterday (Thursday) Hollie, 32, who has worked in the pub since she was 18 years old, said: “Soho is always going to change but now I feel souls are being ripped out of really great places.

“People forget there’s a community, there’s so many people that live in Soho.”

In the final weeks, the pub brought back and staged the Keith Waterhouse play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, which is set in the watering hole.

Regulars got naked after the pub secured permission for a naturist night earlier this month. They also stripped off for a naked calendar to bolster the campaign.

The last of the famous sing-a-longs at the pub will be this Saturday from 7.30pm and last drinks will be served between 5pm and 10.30pm.

A statement from Fuller’s from earlier this month said: “We intend to preserve all that is great about this pub and protect her future for locals and tourists to Soho alike and we look forward to meeting with, and listening to, the local Soho community when we take the pub on in June.”


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