I’m sad to say that one of our favourite pubs (locally, and probably anywhere) has just closed down. The Leopold Tavern on Albert Road in Portsmouth shut down at the weekend after failing to agree rent with the pubco Enterprise Inns (or EI as they now prefer to be known).
Enterprise have shut a lot of pubs around in the area, but this one was a shock. The Leopold is popular, both with traditional ale drinkers (it had just won local CAMRA pub of the year), lager drinkers and fans of craft beer (the bottle and can selection was outstanding). It had a real community focus. Since moving down to Portsmouth three years ago, it had become a favourite place to go with people with all sorts of backgrounds and tastes (be they work colleagues, family, friends, or various hobby groups). This was in large part down to the brilliant staff and the way the Landlord Stuart (and his family) ran it.
Enterprise have proposed to take a large number of pubs under direct management in the coming year. We have already experienced this in Portsmouth with The Dolphin – which since reopening has been drab, expensive and lacking any real personality. There are plenty more too – The Old House at Home, the Eldon Arms, restaurants like Kitsch n’Dor … The ones that don’t lose their character and left empty, then sold for flats.
Alongside this there are numerous horror stories about their treatment of landlords – a lack of training, beer prices, repairs. Obviously I don’t know the internal details, but surely this can’t be a sustainable way to run a business? I hope Enterprise don’t wreck any more Portsmouth pubs, but the rumours are that a few more are on their list. If a success story like the Leopold isn’t safe, then I don’t know where is!
As a final note, the pub actually closed a day earlier than planned after being drunk dry. It just goes to show the popularity of the place.