I work behind the bar at the Warrington. So, theoretically, I should be able to answer questions about the future our beloved Maida Vale pub.
We do get such strange people that come in.
“Um hello. Is the Gordon Ramsay restaurant open yet?”
Both Miriama and I are standing there when the woman asks. Miriama takes a deep breath and says to me, under it: “You answer Elizabeth. I can’t take it any more.” And she walks away.
I smile and lean across the marble bar.“No. Sorry ma’am. The restaurant will open upstairs in February.”
“And what about down here?” She looks around at what is clearly a pub, not changed much at all since John left.
“The pub will be undergoing refurbishment, but it won’t be closing.”
Sigh. “Oh. All right then. Thank you.”
And she leaves. Without so much as ordering even a single Campari and lemonade.
There are two things that come along with a celebrity chef: money and idiots.
Having been listening to whispers of plans, and also studying the Ramsay track record for refurbishment and dedication to pub ideology, we staff are beginning to be less concerned about the fate of the Warrington. Ramsay Holdings have made a big investment in the Warrington Hotel. It has always been a moneymaker. It isn’t sad little place that needs saving, but it can use a cash infusion for refurb that a cow like Ramsay Holdings can afford. So celebrity power isn’t all bad. It isn’t Wetherspoons after all.
Still, even the most handsome, prizing-winning cows are followed by a wake of smelly pies. Hence the idiots: the fame seekers, the clutchers, the hangers-on, the name chasers, the overly-sensitive man snobs and the huffy-puffy ladies who sip and gawk. The irony, of course, is that Gordon and his partners would not be in a position to buy the Warrington, if it weren’t for such people. Thank god for tiresome turds and all the energy and money they spend at hyped new restaurants.
So Gordon can have his pub and eat it too. The food will be Ramsay-delicious and the Warrington will always be beautiful, a glorious centerpiece to a charming neighborhood. And the work the Ramsay design and refurb team does, we can only hope, will preserve the life of a beloved pub for a hundred years more.
The dark cloud the local sense is this: That while Good Gordon is accustomed to the dance of fools, Maida Vale is not. This nook of London, while a bit swank, has always been a secret. Local celebs could come and go without any fuss. Name dropping wasn’t our bag. Being at home and having a pint, then wandering home. That was the charm of the Warrington.
Unknowingly, Gordon may have just sh*t all over that.