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Devonshire Cat: Pub to close as a result of pandemic

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Photo by Glyn Baker (Creative Commons).

The owners of a much-loved city centre pub have announced that it will not return after lockdown.

Abbeydale Brewery said that The Devonshire Cat on Wellington St is "not in a position to reopen" due to uncertainty surrounding the future of the hospitality industry and the prospect of "long-term changes to social interaction".

"With the underlying trend of a reduction in footfall over the past years it has become increasingly challenging to run the Devonshire Cat as a viable business," said the brewery in a statement.

"It is, therefore, inevitable that the Covid-19 outbreak has had a devastating effect on the viability of this business.

Hopefully in due course someone new will take on the lease and bring the pub back to life

Unfortunately, the rateable value of our city centre venue was too high to benefit from the grants offered at this time."

The pub, which opened in 2001, was bought by Abbeydale in 2013 and was one of the first pubs in Sheffield to sell a wide range of craft beer.

One Twitter user said the closure was "absolutely gutting" and that Sheffield would be a "poorer place" without the pub.

Andy Cullen of Sheffield & District CAMRA told Now Then that the Devonshire Cat was a "high profile and shocking" example of the crisis facing the city's pubs.

"The two biggest issues that have surfaced have been some property owners still demanding full rent on premises that cannot open, and pubs in properties with high business rate values not qualifying for the government's small business grants," he said.

"The Devonshire Cat, judging by Abbeydale's statement, fell into the latter category, as probably will many city centre venues."

Cullen pointed out that, like other businesses unable to trade, closed pubs still have to pay for rent, utilities and staff costs.

"Sheffield & District CAMRA wishes all the best to The Devonshire Cat staff for the future, and urge all to go out and support the independent pubs when they reopen."

We will miss the Devonshire Cat so much

"Hopefully in due course someone new will take on the lease and bring the pub back to life," he added.

The Black Bull at Ecclesfield and The Old Red Lion at Grenoside have announced that they will not reopen, but the Devonshire Cat is the first city centre pub to close since the start of lockdown.

The pub was at the forefront of attempts to make the city's beer scene more diverse, launching Out & About to create a comfortable space for the LGBT+ community.

In their statement, Abbeydale said they were "hugely proud" of what they had achieved with the pub.

"We will miss the Devonshire Cat so much, and wish to thank all of our customers over the years for their amazing support."

"We are disappointed not to have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye but would love to see all of you up at the Rising Sun, which will continue to represent Abbeydale Brewery into the future."

Sam Gregory

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The Old Red Lion at Grenoside has announced it will not reopen. Photo by Chemical Engineer (Wikimedia Commons).

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