Simpson's-in-the-Strand restaurant could disappear after 187 years
Simpson's-in-the-Strand restaurant could disappear from London's established culinary circuit after it emerged that its new operator will not be required to keep the name.
One of London's oldest restaurants could disappear from the capital's social scene after its owner announced it is seeking a new tenant for Simpson's–in–the–Strand.
The search for a new operator to "reinvigorate" the favoured haunt of the great and good since the days of Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan–Doyle and George Bernard Shaw, is said to be in its early stages with no preferred bidder yet.
It is understood that the Savoy Hotel, which owns Simpson's lease, will not insist on the new operator keeping the current name.
The Savoy's agents are believed to be courting an upmarket franchise or a renowned chef to take over the famous restaurant, which is next to the Savoy buildings.
Brian Clivaz, a restaurateur, has previously been associated with Simpson's but is not thought to be in contention to run its new incarnation.
"I don't think it will be Wetherspoons or All Bar One," said a spokesman for Davis Coffer Lyons, the commercial property agent conducting a worldwide search for a new tenant. "But at the moment it's one of these rather hush–hush things."
The spokesman added: "It is true we've been appointed to find someone to operate the restaurant as a chef or to go in with their own operation and brand and go from there. At the moment we've been appointed to find a tenant to go in and operate it for the Savoy. We're in the very early stages of finding an operator or the next person."
The spokesman insisted: "There is also potentially the opportunity that they [the new operator] could keep the Simpson'sin–the–Strand name with it and possibly roll it out further. That may be an option.
Prince Charles leaves Simpson's In The Strand in 1993 (Rex)
"It may not be the end of Simpson'sin–the–Strand or it may be — it all depends on which operation decides to go in."
Since opening in 1828, the restaurant, which was founded as the Grand Divan chess club and coffee house, has established itself as a dining institution. In 1848, the name "Simpson's" was added after a deal with caterer John Simpson.
Conan Doyle was a devotee and even references Simpson's in The Dying Detective and The Illustrious Client. Charles Dickens was also a regular diner. Howard Staunton, the 1840s English chess champion, frequented the premises. International chess elites flocked to Simpson's to witness Adolf Anderssen take on Lionel Kieseritsky in 1851.
Peter O'Toole at Oldie of the Year Awards at Simpsons in the Strand (Rex)
While games of chess have become less of a feature of the staunchly traditional establishment, Simpson's popular carvery trolleys have remained.
Roast meats continue to be carved at patron's tables, just as they were in Victorian times.
Kiaran MacDonald, the Savoy's managing director, confirmed that a search for a new tenant to "reinvigorate" the restaurant is under way.
6:00AM GMT 26 Jan 201