Red Lion to close

Saturday will be “the last ever night”, landlord tells Facebook followers

The Red Lion, a traditional English pub in the centre of Copenhagen that for nearly two years has been serving its customers fish ‘n’ chips and craft beer, is closing down on Saturday night, according to a Facebook post from its landlord, Martin Popplewell.


“It's the last ever quiz,” Popplewell wrote on September 2 in response to an enquiry about the pub’s monthly quiz. “Yes – it's also the last ever night,” he added a day later.


However, when The Copenhagen Post contacted Popplewell to confirm this, he said he was unsure of an exact closing date and would have "more information" on Monday September 9.


Popplewell has owned the premises on Nikolajgade since early 2012 after taking over a smørrebrød eatery, Restaurant Sankt Nikolai, which he then renamed and officially launched this year as a fully-fledged English pub on February 1.


By that time, it had transpired that the restaurant was a bad investment.


“We discovered [in early 2012] that 90 percent of our yearly income would come in the five weeks leading up to Christmas,” Popplewell told The Copenhagen Post in June.


“We didn't know this [when we bought it] and it left us with waiters and chefs costs that were beyond our means.”


In order to make up the shortfall, Popplewell and his wife cashed in their pensions to keep the pub-restaurant afloat. But as the year progressed, the debts increased and the decision to relaunch as a fully dedicated pub became a logical one.


“I managed Charlie’s Bar for over five years, so I am no novice – with the restaurant I was,” he explained in June. “I learnt quickly however and opened a cost effective pub instead.”


Following the February relaunch, business was good as the pub hit its sales targets up until May, but then summer came, which brought with it an immediate 50 percent decline in takings.


“The seven months of cold stopped, and since the sun has come out, we've been hit very badly – as we have no capital or cash flow and exist day-by-day,” he said in June.


Since then, Popplewell has not gone down without a fight. He has been actively searching for both new customers and investors (10,000kr for a one percent stake) and won several stays of execution.


But, in the end, the bank came calling.  


“With a decent cash flow, we could have ridden out the summer, but sadly the immediately-due debt created by the failing smørrebrød restaurant will actually close us down,” he predicted in June.


“That makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow.”

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