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So, is the Coach in rude health?

Landlord faces uncertain future due to 'hostile takeover' – but brewery and pub firm insists it plans to create welcoming venue 'for Soho literati and tourists alike'

30 October, 2018

Alastair Choat: ‘Pubs should be a place to gather, drink a few pints, meet friends, make friends and sing to your heart’s content’

AND so to Greek Street, for a pint or two at the watering hole any self-respecting Diarist frequents, the Coach & Horses.

Once, of course, ruled by the world’s rudest landlord, Norman Balon, it’s now under the control of the charming Alastair Choat.

But Diary learns that Alastair’s tenure is in doubt, owing to what he calls a “hostile takeover” by brewery and pub firm Fuller’s.

Alastair took the pub on from Norman – who still pops in for a game of cards on Wednesdays – in 2006, but now Fuller’s, the firm the pub is tied to, is looking to bring the pub into its “managed estate” portfolio.

Alastair told Diary he feared for the place’s unique feel if Fuller’s went ahead with an intended spruce-up.

“So many pubs are like chains now,” he says. “Pubs should be a place to gather, drink a few pints, meet friends, make friends and sing to your heart’s content.

The Coach & Horses

“We’ve lost so many pubs over the last few years and the majority of those that survive are being turned into McPubs that don’t have any individuality. In contrast, we have gone the other way, back to having a piano and singing sessions. Unfortunately, all of our work will soon be undone by Fuller’s, who are planning a hostile takeover in June 2019 so they can serve packaged pies and plain Pride.”

Not so, says a spokesman for Fuller’s: “The Coach & Horses is an amazing and historic pub in Soho and it should be one of the gems of our estate.

“As a result, we will be bringing it into our managed estate and we will be making a significant financial investment in this fantastic site. We will be restoring it to its former glory and retaining all of the features that have made it such a famous pub.

“The restoration work will bring it up to a very high standard and we will be reopening it as soon as possible as a welcoming pub for Soho literati and tourists alike. We have a history of preserving iconic pubs, and this will be no exception.”

What would Norman have said to Fuller’s about their plans? And how would the pub’s famous regulars, such as the columnist Jeffrey Bernard, have reacted?

One can only imagine… but it would not have been polite, that’s for sure.


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