The Albert Tavern in South Norwood is to close permanently.
The Albert, warmly regarded as a community hub by locals living near the Harrington Road pub, is one of 79 pubs which brewers Greene King has announced are to close.
The brewers blame the “tightening of trading restriction for pubs”, but as has been the case so often, the closures are just the latest shift of a brewer from the beer trade into the property business.
One-third of the Greene King closures are to be permanent. That is understood to include the Albert.
The Suffolk-based brewer raised the possibility last year of selling the Albert site for redevelopment, probably as flats, but encountered angry opposition, marshalled by the beer-loving anarchists at the South Norwood Tourist Board.
This time around, though, after six months of covid-19, and with Greene King now owned by profit-thirsty Hong Kong property developers, the decision seems to be final.
Greene King has had many of its pub staff on government-funded furlough since March, but that wages subsidy comes to an end this month.
A member of the Albert bar staff posted on social media at the weekend, “I work at the pub and up until Tuesday we believed that The Albert would reopen.
“But it isn’t going to reopen in the near future. Some of us will be redeployed, others will be made redundant. Our consultations have started.
“Obviously they had to have a meeting with staff who work there before informing other Greene King departments and pubs.
“Being furloughed for six months, then being told you may be out of a job so near to Christmas isn’t good for anyone.
“We would all like it to reopen very soon, but unfortunately it isn’t going to happen in the near future, if at all.”
There has been a pub on the site of the Albert for more than 150 years. The original was destroyed when hit by a Doodlebug flying bomb in World War II. The current pub was built in the 1960s.
Although in a relatively modern building, the management and staff managed to maintain an unpretentious, old-school, traditional London pub ethos, offering regular community activity nights, decent food and a good price and well-kept real ale.
Having hung on to staff during furlough, the decision by the brewers now to close so many pubs appears archly cynical, something that Greene King virtually admitted in a statement on Friday.
In announcing the wide-ranging closures, a spokesperson for Greene King said: “The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs.
“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to not reopen 79 of our pubs and restaurants. Around one-third will be closed permanently and we hope to be able to reopen the others in the future. We are working hard with our teams to try and find them a role in another of our pubs wherever possible.
“We urgently need the government to step in and provide tailored support to help the sector get through to the spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses.”
Hong Kong-based CK Asset Holdings agreed to buy Greene King in a £2.7billion deal in August.
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