Campaign to save Engineer fails - But, Mitchells & Butlers vow to protect its gastropub status

Waitress Karla Camacho-Willey with the signed painting of the Engineer
Patrick Stewart, Cat Deeley and Jon Snow

Published: 08 September 2011

A CAMPAIGN to prevent an iconic gastropub in Primrose Hill from being taken over pub chain takeover has failed, the New Journal can reveal.
The Engineer in Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill, will close on October 1 when new owners Mitchells & Butlers take over from Abigail Osbourne and Tamsin Olivier – the daughter of legendary actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Dame Joan Plowright.
Restaurant manager Aliki Marcou said: “The campaign attracted a lot of support from regulars and everyone put up a long, hard fight – but it just didn’t work.”
An online petition attracted more than 3,000 signatures – including actors Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Pryce, Miranda Richardson and Christopher Biggins, TV presenter Cat Deeley, model Lisa Snowdon, and Channel 4 newscaster Jon Snow.
The pub’s website still has a large red notice notifying punters that a “local campaign is under way” and the pub was “under threat from reoccupation by its Landlords.”
The Engineer is celebrated in Primrose Hill for its posh grub and the popular treats on the menu include scotched quail eggs, English asparagus and a honey-smoked salmon and grapefruit salad combo.
The New Journal understands the popular double act Ms Olivier and Ms Osbourne will be taking head chef ­Oliver Prince to run the restaurant of their new gastropub, The Hampshire Hog, in Ravenscourt Park, West London.
Ms Marcou said she hoped to continue running the pub’s restaurant, although talks over staffing under the new owners cannot begin until the lease expires on October 1.
A commissioned painting of the pub signed by celebrity regulars including actor Matt Smith, politician David Miliband and Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe will be auctioned at a final night send-off. Proceeds will go to the Hope Foundation, which helps street children in Calcutta, and the Disasters Emergency Committee Famine Appeal for East Africa.
A spokesman for Mitchells & Butlers – which owns 1,600 pubs and restaurants across the country including the Harvester, O’Neill’s and All Bar One chains – told the New Journal the operators had no intention of converting the pub or restaurant into a “chain or branded operation”.
He said the firm also owns and runs individual pubs across London including The Old Bull & Bush in Hampstead, adding: “The Engineer is a superb pub in an unrivalled location. 
“It remains one of the best pubs that we own and we intend to continue running it as a unique, warm and welcoming place for local people to enjoy once the current lease expires in October.”
The Engineer will close for a short refurbishment period from October 1.


The Engineer

Mitchells and Butlers seem to have some great pubs that aren't part of their chains. The Spaniards in Hampstead, the gorgeous Island Queen in Islington, the Alwyne Castle in Highbury. All lovely. I think all the petition signing celebs will be pleasantly surprised. I know a lot of people don't like change but give the new owners a chance!

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