Nothing ever changed at The Stockpot in Old Compton Street. That’s why we loved it. The décor could have been put in place in 1965 and just left there, maybe with the odd slap of paint or varnish. The menu was basic to put it mildly, and with few nods in the direction of modernity. Trend-setting? Ha! Cool? Gimme a break. Except, of course, that The Stockpot’s complete lack of cool made it cool in its own way. That’s why, alongside the people who genuinely needed ultra-inexpensive food (you could eat three courses here for little more than a tenner), there was always a contingent of the slick and the hip slurping soup or coffee.
It has not escaped anyone’s notice that Soho is being transformed by the annihilation of old businesses and their replacement by businesses that attract Big Money. (Have you walked down Berwick Street recently?) This is not exactly what’s happened to The Stockpot. When we phoned last week, they told us that the owner is retiring, and the landlord had simply decided to take the lease back. This is the way of the world. People retire, and their businesses retire with them. But even if there was no predator behind the scenes, and the block is not being redeveloped as a £300-a-night hotel or eighteenth homes for Azerbaijani oil gazillionaires, the immutable fact remains: The Stockpot has closed down. And with it has died yet another bit of the old Soho. The Soho we love. The Soho that has something to offer everyone, and not just tourists or hipsters or ad execs or rich people. Even if you never went there, you should be sad. We certainly are. And we’re not alone.
Here's how Londoners have reacted to the news on Twitter:
Sad to hear about Stockpot closing. Proper Soho institution. School-cum-pub dinners for the people— Michael Hogan (@michaelhogan) November 27, 2015
Silly really, but I honestly thought The Stockpot would be there forever. Like an aged relative or an old dog it would hold fast.— Derek Brown (@DBrown_Esq) November 27, 2015
The Stockpot is closing. R.I.P. Soho. pic.twitter.com/2awSCxmLsz— edgarwright (@edgarwright) November 28, 2015
Gutted to hear of the imminent closure of Stockpot. A #Soho legend rammed with memories and school dinners. *sobs*— The Soho Collective (@SohoCollective) November 26, 2015
The wonderful, timeless Stockpot on Old Compton Street in Soho closes this Sunday. The era of the £5 gammon is finally over.— Peter Watts (@peter_watts) November 27, 2015
The Stockpot in Soho is closing - the ruination of Soho gathers pace - gentrification is killing the very soul of London— Tim.A.Roberts (@Tim_A_Roberts) November 27, 2015