Fears The Duke's Head 'laid-back country bar' in Highgate could go bust

The Dukes Head, Highgate High Street.Pictured Sinead Mulligan manager and Theo Hudson leaseowner.

Manager Sinead Mulligan and Theo Hudson, leaseholder of The Duke's Head in Highgate - Credit: Polly Hancock

Landlords of a Highgate "country and western" style pub fear the fledgling business will go bust following angry responses to a licence renewal application. 

Brothers Theo and Ben Hudson opened the Duke's Head in Highgate High Street in August, with over-21 and zero tolerance to drugs policies.

Open until 1am, with last entry at 12am, it has proved popular with celebrities and locals who come to enjoy speciality rums, gins, bourbons as well as imported German and American beers.

Due to an issue with the licence holder, the siblings have to reapply for a new premises licence. They are seeking identical conditions to those previous stated.

They are currently on a 26-day temporary event licence, which means they have to restrict what days they are open until a full licence is issued. 

Currently they are opening Thursday to Saturday.

The Dukes Head, Highgate High Street.Pictured Theo Hudson leaseowner, and Sinead Mulligan manager.

Theo Hudson, leaseholder, and Sinead Mulligan, manager, fear for the future of The Duke's Head in Highgate - Credit: Polly Hancock

"We've had no issues in 17 years, it's just I've had to reapply for a new licence and they've all kicked off because they've seen the blue paper in the window," said Theo.

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"It's never going to change its usage because it's always been a pub."

In redacted objections seen by the paper there are claims the pub is a "red necked theme"  bar with "crowds of customers standing outside smoking talking loudly, shouting arguing fighting smashing glasses, smoking weed". 

Theo vehemently denied this, saying he put £80,000 of his own money to refurbish the space.

"We're doing something totally unique, there's nothing like this in the village, and I think that's what upset them. We're the cleanest, most organised pub.

"I've been in the pub industry for 20 odd years, my brother for 30, we know what we're doing. They think we've just popped up and doing something they don't like so they've all ganged up on us."

Objections to the licence have yet to be published ahead of Haringey's committee meeting on May 18.

"They think we're applying for a 1am licence, but I'm not, I'm reinstating the old licence. I've just put my head down but now I'm losing lots of money and I'm losing staff. It's terrible for the business."

Sinead Mulligan, Theo Hudson and Dave Murphy in the Duke's Head

Sinead Mulligan, Theo Hudson and The Duke's Head freeholder Dave Murphy - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Sinead Mulligan, bar manager, said: "They look at us with tattoos and think it's a heavy metal bar, but it's not, it's laid-back country."

The pub has walls celebrating artists including Jonny Cash, Willy Nelson and Dolly Parton.

The owner of the building, Dave Murphy, who previously ran the pub, lives above it with his elderly father, John Murphy, who was also a publican.

"We have no issue with any noise," he said.