Who says it’s all over for pubs – as Rosslyn Arms to become Oak & Poppy
Shuttered boozer and former Cafe Hampstead restaurant to reopen in Spring 2022
03 December, 2021 — By Harry Taylor
Mitch Tillman outside the Oak and Poppy as work begins
THE slew of pubs reopening in Hampstead will continue with another long-shuttered bar set to reopen its doors next year.
Pints will be pulled again at the former Rosslyn Arms from spring 2022 – although with a new name: Oak & Poppy.
Mitch Tillman’s First Restaurant Group are the new operators at the site in Rosslyn Hill. Mr Tillman, who grew up in Hampstead, will be turning it into a family friendly and more “feminine” pub.
The site has had a chequered history in recent years. For three years it was home to Cafe Hampstead which went bust in summer 2019 owing hundreds of thousands to creditors [see below].
Mr Tillman, 46, who still lives locally in West Heath Road said: “Friends of mine have always said ‘why don’t you open a pub locally,’ and I’ve always said ‘no way, not going to happen’. I felt that people don’t really feel like they’re going out and spending money if they’re going out nearby, only when they’re going into proper central London.
“But the pandemic changed that. I walked around and I’d never seen Hampstead so busy, and maybe people aren’t going back to the office as much so they’ll be drinking locally.”
He added: “I think it’s going to stay that way because people have got used to it now.”
Mr Tillman’s company already runs six pubs across London, including the Grafton Arms in Fitzrovia.
After deciding to make a move when the second lockdown ended, he had a viewing and signed a lease in late September. There were delays finding builders, but work is now under way and it is hoped the pub will reopen in April or May next year.
His plans will see a complete renovation and redesigning of the inside, and he hopes to get permission to introduce a retractable glass roof at the back, to make up for the lack of a beer garden.
He hopes to convert the upstairs into flexible working space or self-contained flats to be rented out. “Getting the name right is important,” he said.
“We had a long list and this was the best to sum up what we’re after. Nobody wants to take away the history that’s in a name, but this place hasn’t been the Rosslyn Arms for some time.
“It will be family-focused, it will be pretty and more feminine than most pubs – we’ll do good breakfasts, daytime food, Sunday lunches, and it will be somewhere you’ll be happy to spend time in.”
Mr Tillman got his start in the pub industry aged 13 when his father Harold, the former head of the British Fashion Council, was an investor in the Brighton pub in Camden Town in the late 1980s; it is now The Blues Kitchen.
After getting his degree in hospitality and business, he returned to Hampstead briefly to run the Sandringham Hotel in Holford Road. He also had a spell at the Dorchester Hotel.
He added: “[The Brighton] was this Irish pub, spit and sawdust, lots of old Irish boys in there, and it was falling down. We turned it into a cocktail bar, and I fell in love with the business.
“The atmosphere, the people, the stickiness of the optics, and filling up the juice bottles. It all went from there.”
Final Cafe Hampstead owings revealed
THE final company to run the old Cafe Hampstead restaurant went bust owing £544,093.32, new documents at Companies House show. Green Dollar Ltd, whose sole director was Timothy Danby, owed £462,000 of that sum to a company – County Park Limited – linked to former banned director Robert Newmark. It had previously held the lease for the unit in Rosslyn Hill with Ei Group. Mr Danby is listed on Companies House as a director of companies that Mr Newmark is the owner of.