'Oldest pub in Britain' to reopen as former owner confirms takeover deal

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks landlord Christo Tofalli has announced that a new owner has taken on the much-loved St Albans pub

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks landlord Christo Tofalli has announced that a new owner has taken on the much-loved St Albans pub - Credit: Danny Loo

A deal has been signed to reopen Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the oldest pub in Britain.

The famous St Albans tavern fell into administration in February 2022, but its landlord today (Saturday, March 26) announced that the pub is ready to go "from strength to strength" under new ownership.

Christo Tofalli, who has owned the pub since 2012, said he is proud to have found the right team to take on the business.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is allegedly Britain's oldest pub

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is allegedly Britain's oldest pub - Credit: Danny Loo

He said: "Last night, I signed over the pub to the new owners, and I know 100% that they will put their heart and soul into keeping Ye Olde Fighting Cocks at the centre of the St Albans community.

"We have all been working tirelessly to make sure the right team went in, and indeed this has happened.

"I couldn’t be prouder of what has been achieved over the last few weeks.

"They are an amazing bunch with many years’ experience in hospitality and will look forward to welcoming you all in the very near future."

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is a grade II-listed building from the 1500s, but the site has been occupied since the eighth century.

The pub survived the Reformation, the English Civil War, and animal rights protests over the pub's association with cockfighting.

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But the coronavirus pandemic left Christo feeling "defeated".

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks survived the Reformation, the English Civil War and animal rights protests, but Covid-19 forced the pub into administration in February 2022. - Credit: Richard Protz

When the landlord closed the pub's doors, he said: "Before the pandemic hit, the escalating business rates and taxations we were managing meant trading conditions were extremely tough, but we were able to survive and were following an exciting five-year plan and were hopeful for the future."

Christo added: "The past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry, and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future."

According to the Office for National Statistics, 13,600 pubs and bars disappeared from British streets between 2000 and 2019 - a decline of 22 percent.

In the East of England, the number of pubs declined by 23 percent over the same period.

With the new owners in place, Christo hopes that the pub will be able to reopen its doors.

He paid tribute to his family for their support over the last decade.

Christo said: "The last 10 years have been some of the best of my life and I would like to thank everyone that worked with us, visited the pub, did business with or simply just followed us.

"Without you, all of it simply would have been nothing.

"I wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything without the unwavering support of my wife Sarah and sons Alex and Thomas.

"I look forward with great pride to seeing Ye Olde Fighting Cocks go from strength to strength – and of course enjoying a cheeky beer the other side of the bar and celebrating the best pub in the world reopening."

On social media, fans of the much-loved pub praised Christo for his work.

One Facebook user wrote: "The new owners may have a lot of experience, but YOFC won't be the same without you at the helm."

Another said: "You are part of the fabric and history of St Albans and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

"Your grit and determination will never be forgotten."

The Herts Ad has made contact with the new owners, who said that they would reveal more details about the takeover over the coming week.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks previously served food and drink.

It won Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival awards under Christo's ownership.

More information about Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is on the pub's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YeOldeFightingCocks