Polpo pub Ape & Bird closes

Ape & Bird, the central London gastropub founded by Russell Norman, pioneer of Venetian small plates chain Polpo, has closed its doors after four years in operation.

As reported by Eater, the lease for the 150-seater Cambridge Circus pub has been bought from Norman and his business partner Richard Beatty.

A notice on the pub window reads: “It is with regret that we have decided to permanently close Polpo at Ape & Bird. “We have accepted an offer for the lease from a very exciting operator, allowing us to concentrate on our core estate.”

According to Eater the entire Ape & Bird team will continue to work for Norman and Beatty within the Polpo group.

Russell Norman, co-founder of the Polpo group

Proving how difficult trading conditions in the UK have become, the Polpo group has also been forced to close its site in Bristol, which opened just 18 months ago.

Boasting an oak bar, a theatrical red curtain at the entrance, and episodes of Fawlty Towers piped through speakers in the loos, Ape & Bird was never the easiest of venues in the Polpo portfolio.

Opening in November 2013 as a gastropub serving pies, steaks, whole roast chickens and pig’s trotter Scotch eggs, a year later it was rebranded as Polpo at Ape & Bird and brought under the Polpo umbrella in order to focus on the restaurant group’s successful model of Venetian-inspired small plates.

“I always wanted to do a pub and it’s our first site in seven where people can come in for a drink without having to order food, which is a dream,” Norman told db back in 2013 when it opened.

The Polpo group now consists of five Polpo sites in London, one in Exeter and one in Brighton, as well as Polpetto and the New York-inspired Spuntino in Soho.

While Cambridge Circus near Shaftesbury Avenue is one of the highest footfall areas in central London, it has proved something of a flee in the ear for restaurateurs, who have had mixed levels of success with the location.

Despite being just 10 days into 2018, there have already been a number of high profile restaurant closures this year, including Thai barbecue specialist Smoking Goat in Soho, the wine-focused 8 Hoxton Square in east London and the Kensington Roof Gardens in High Street Kensington, which enjoyed 37 years in business.

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