New pubco to turn historic pub into cocktail bar and take on Portobello Star

Molly Moggs

The site of historic pub Molly Moggs in London’s Soho is to be transformed by Marmalade Pub Company into a “stylish and vibrant” bar specialising in cocktails.

The Compton Cross will be the first site for the company which is a partnership between bar operator The Marylebone Leisure Group and leased and tenanted pub company Ei Group.

Marmalade Pub Company is also planning a “significant refurbishment” of the Portobello Star in Notting Hill – the award-winning cocktail bar headed by bartender Jake Burger, opened by the Leelex group nearly 10 years ago. It plans to re-open it later this summer under its new management.

The Crown and Treaty in Uxbridge is lined up as its third venue due to open this autumn.

The Soho site – one of the oldest and smallest pubs in the West End – was Molly Moggs for over 20 years until its sudden closure in March before reopening last month. The new operators promised that they would respect its tradition as welcoming to LGBT+ people.

Lawrence Santi, co-founder of The Marylebone Leisure Group and Marmalade Pub Company, said: “Molly Moggs has traditionally been positioned as an LGBT+ venue and we fully recognise the importance of this status for local people. As such we’ve been working closely with London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, to ensure that the Compton Cross continues to be a fully inclusive and welcoming venue for all members of the local community and visitors to the area.”

Amy commented: “The Marmalade Pub Company has become the first signatory of the new LGBT+ Venues Charter which I have developed alongside the mayor to help safeguard venues for the LGBT+ community. We are delighted that The Compton Cross, formerly Molly Moggs, will continue to be an LGBT+ venue.”

The Compton Cross will serve home-infused spirits and cocktails alongside a range of craft beers. Lawrence added: “As with all Marmalade Pub Company sites, the back-bar will be made up almost entirely of our own spirits and liqueurs, with cocktails made by our fully-trained team of mixologists, so we’re bringing something different to Soho.”

The Marylebone Leisure Group operates bars and pubs around London such as The Marylebone, Barsmith in Farringdon, Clerkenwell & Social, the Princess of Wales in Primrose Hill and Bar Italia in Uxbridge.

Nathan Wall, operations director for Ei Managed Investments, said: “We are delighted to have found some fantastic venues for The Marmalade Pub Company set to open this year, the first of which being The Compton Cross. We’re excited to see them all open and help enrich the local communities they’ll serve.

“Our Soho site is the oldest pub in the area having opened in 1731. During that time it’s seen many different guises and has been known as Molly Moggs since 1996. We’d like to thank experienced publican Jimmy McGrath and his team for temporarily running the venue as the much-loved Molly Moggs while we prepare for refurbishment works that will take the pub in a new direction, but one that will continue to embrace all the local diversity and culture of Soho.”

The new bar will be a few doors down from Bar Swift and Bar Termini – both winners in this year’s Time Out London Bar Awards.

Ei Group’s other ventures with with businesses in the licensed trade include Three Cheers Pub Company, Rupert Clevely’s Hippo Inns, Karen Jones’s Frontier Pubs and Peter Borg-Neal’s Hunky Dory Pubs.

Portobello Star

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