Steele yourselves – it’s end of an era at top pub

BELSIZE Park pub-goers are devastated that the neighbourhood’s best-loved boozer is to change hands after 24 years.

Landlord of the Sir Richard Steele Paul Davies revealed on Tuesday that he was considering an offer from Faucet Inn Ltd – the company which runs the Dartmouth Arms.

He and co-landlord Kirk McGrath would be passing it on with a heavy heart because it had been “a lifestyle rather than a job”, he said.

“It’s the end of an era – we’re passing it on to someone else,” said Mr Davies. “We’re very saddened. We’ve been here for 20-odd years and we’ve raised our kids here.

“It’s one of the most famous pubs in north London. It’s been an amazing time and we want to thank everyone. It’s more of an institution really. It’s a very busy, party-fuelled venue so every day presents something quite memorable. It’s been a privilege to run it.”

Regulars warned any new owners to keep The Steeles, as the Haverstock Hill venue is known, as it is and not turn it into a gastro pub as other bars in the area had.

Customer Pat Dasso, known as Pat the Tat, said: “It’s a terrific pub. The staff are brilliant and the service is great. We don’t want that gastro rubbish here. They’ll lose all their customers.”

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Hampstead resident Elayne Elstar added: “My biggest fear is that The Steeles will change and I am a great believer in if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The Steeles is unique. I have taken friends there from all over the world and they have all without exception said, ‘Gosh, I so wish I had a pub like this near me’”

Pam Gunsell, who has been going to The Steeles for more than 30 years, said: “It’s like a big surrogate family. I’m really gutted that this is happening. If they turn it into a gastro pub – bang goes the community.”

The Steele’s has gained notoriety in recent years for its celebrity clientele, which has included Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Jude Law, Rhys Ifans and the Gallagher brothers.

But drinkers said that regardless of which A-lister might be propping up the bar, the landlords never handed out any special treatment.

“They’re not sycophantic to well-known faces – they don’t get treated any differently,” said Ms Gunsell.

Faucet Inn Ltd refused to comment.