May 17th: Fighting Cocks landlord overjoyed to welcome customers back

Inside St Albans' Ye Olde Fighting Cocks after it re-opened on May 17th.

Inside St Albans' Ye Olde Fighting Cocks after it re-opened on May 17th. - Credit: Matt Adams

Christo Tofalli, landlord of Britain's oldest pub Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, couldn't be happier that its historic doors are open to customers once again.

After months of mothballing the iconic boozer, he was positively jubilant to welcome patrons back as lockdown restrictions ease.

"Being back open has put a massive smile on my face, it's put a bit of soul back into the pub... It feels quite homely and comforting."

As with the majority of venues, they've had to adapt to the government's Covid guidelines: "We've had to make some massive changes, especially to staffing levels - more staff, more table service - so there's a slightly different feel. You can't just wander around and go to the bar, hang around there and have a beer, but those times will come back.

"The fact is that we're open seven days a week and that's just fantastic."


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Last year Christo expressed his concerns about re-opening: "I am not prepared to start nailing perspex into centuries old timber – I would need planning permission anyway – just so that I can reopen.”

Fortunately that reality never came to pass, and the pub has not had to make any structural alterations to operate: "We've not made physical damage to the pub, we've not put up any screens. My job as a custodian is basically to protect the place. It's old, it's the oldest it can be, and Covid will go, the pub needs to remain. We've just done the right thing by it.

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He is also excited about plans for the summer, including the latest stage in a long-awaited plan to transform the rear of the venue to increase the number of covers which can be served all year-round and make it financially sustainable for centuries to come.

"We have got the summer of all summers lined up, we've been waiting for this for over a year: The Euros are starting and tickets are available very soon; the Fighting Cinema in conjunction with St Albans Film Festival, we've got four events with the big screen; our second pre-application for planning is going in for the big build, so we're looking for good news on that; we've got weddings booked, we've got parties booked...

"The pub's open, beer's coming in, come back home - we're ready!"


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