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Simpson’s in the Strand: Owners hint of new project as famous carving trolleys and chandeliers auctioned off

Apr 18, 2024

The fate of one of London’s oldest restaurants might have been decided after its owners listed its famous silver carving trolleys for auction, alongside much of its contents.

Simpson’s in the Strand is selling thousands of items between August 2-3, including Wedgewood crockery, grand pianos, fireplaces, furniture, and Waterford crystal chandeliers.

The historic restaurant, which opened in 1828 as a chess club, was a favourite haunt of the likes of Arthur Conan-Doyle and Charles Dickens. It is owned by the adjacent Savoy hotel but has been closed since 2020, despite being refurbished and grandly reopened only three years earlier. Shortly after its 2017 relaunch, regular customers requested the venue repaint the cigar smoke stains on the ceiling that had been decorated over; Simpson’s obliged.

Restaurant lovers are being offered the chance to buy everything from the dining room’s cutlery to its chairs, with its Drakes silver carving trolleys — first introduced as a way to serve food without disturbing playing customers — the star attraction. Online, similar pieces by the same maker are listed for £8,000 or more.

A spokeswoman for the Savoy said: “While the stories, history and foundation of Simpson’s remain, a select few items will be available to purchase as it enters a new chapter.

“The Savoy will be affording buyers a chance to own a piece of this legendary establishment and eagerly awaits the opportunity to share the exciting plans for its future.”

The closure of Simpson’s, which also counts Winston Churchill, King Charles, and Peter O’Toole as past guests and in 1974 was among the first in the UK to win a Michelin star, further amplifies the trying situation for hospitality in Britain. It was one of the few restaurants left in the UK to offer a “bill of fare” rather than a menu, which spoke to its steadfast sense of old-world Englishness.

The hotel wouldn’t reveal what the restaurant would be used for after the sale, but the Standard understands a new chef is to take over the space and a new venture is in the works.

Gordon Ramsay currently operates three restaurants in the Savoy, but a spokeswoman for the group told the Standard he will not be involved.

Simpson’s, 100 Strand, WC2R 0EZ,