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Pub could open again at the former Cambridge Stores

Dickie Fitz closure blamed on Brexit

14 August, 2017 — By Richard Osley

A PUB could open again in the former Cambridge Stores – a watering hole in Fitzrovia with a history dating back to the 18th century – after the upmarket restaurant using the building stunned food critics by suddenly closing.

The Dickie Fitz, in Newman Street, shut up shop little more than a year after opening, despite being lauded by restaurant reviewers for its sea bass dinners. The Affinity Group, which owned the restaurant, also closed the doors of the highly-regarded Lady Ottoline restaurant, near Russell Square, Bloomsbury, at the same time last month.

One of its directors has blamed Brexit for tougher trading conditions. Planners have now been asked to allow the shuttered Dickie Fitz, at the corner of Goodge Street, to be returned to use as a pub. Pub historians trace the site’s use as a bar back to 1780 under its former names “The Oxford and Cambridge”, “The Cambridge Stores” and “The Cambridge Arms”, although the building was rebuilt around 1900.

Since closing as a traditional pub it has been used as an outlet for the Ping Pong chain restaurant, the Newman Street Tavern – which was largely a restaurant – and then the Dickie Fitz. Close to the borough boundary, council officers in neighbouring Westminster will decide whether the “change of use” should be allowed.

Paperwork submitted by site owner Shaftesbury said: “The property was historically and traditionally a public house prior to the restaurant use so the proposed use is considered to be appropriate in terms of its type and relationship with other entertainment uses. The property is outside of the stress area [the zone where bars are at saturation point] and reverting to its original use is considered to be an enhanced service for the area.”

The Dickie Fitz had drawn writers from national newspapers to sample its Australasian-themed menu, but came to an end with a Twitter message – apparently from someone working there – which said: “Our entire company has shut down. 80 staff across 3 venues have lost jobs.” The popular Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush has also closed.

The Affinity Group’s Richard Fulford-Smith’s told industry newspaper Tradewinds: “The fatal Brexit vote heralded the start of a different economic cycle for the UK, and London in particular. We suspected it would hurt us and it has.”

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