September 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, April 3, 2014
A Highgate pub frequented by regulars such as Hollywood star Tom Hardy will not be knocked down to make way for housing, its new owner has promised.
Property developer Matan Amitai said The Winchester in Archway Road will remain a community pub on the ground floor but he will convert the upstairs hotel rooms into flats.
Mr Amitai bought the Victorian pub a few months ago from landlords Pat and Val Collins, who after 32 years of pulling pints behind the bar, have sold up to move to Ireland.
“We intend to make some improvements but to keep with tradition and run it as a pub as we believe there is definite potential,” said Mr Amitai, who owns property consultancy firm GFO Capital.
Mr and Mrs Collins will leave for Kildare this week.
The pub will probably close for about two days before reopening again.
Mr Amitai is still unsure if he will keep the pub as an independent business or if he will bring in a pub company to run it.
The Winchester, which Mr and Mrs Collins said was “more of a community centre than a pub,” has welcomed a number of high-profile celebrities through its doors, including Dark Knight Rises actor Hardy, model Liz Hurley, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, Doc Martin star Martin Clunes and comedy actor Simon Pegg.
It also provided inspiration for the fictional Winchester pub featured in Pegg’s hit zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead.
On hearing that The Winchester will remain as a pub, Mrs Collins said: “We are delighted. It’s excellent news, more so for all the customers.
“They were all quite relieved that they will still have somewhere for their meetings.”
Mr Amitain will submit a planning application to convert the pub’s hotel rooms into flats in the coming weeks.
He is not yet sure how many flats will be on the site.