The news that Soho haunt the Gay Hussar was to close had many of the liberal establishment choking on their goulash soup. But a vanguard of troublemakers have raised hopes of saving the restaurant — with a fiendish lefty plot worthy of one of its secluded private dining rooms.
A group including Murdoch bête noir Tom Watson, cartoonist Martin Rowson and al-Jazeera hack Mark Seddon is hoping to raise at least £200,000 to save the venue — and what more appropriate legal vehicle could there be than a diners’ and workers’ co-operative?
Supporters or groups willing to part with £500 or more will join an industrial and provident society, entitling them to a share of profits when the restaurant returns to profitability in 2014.
Folklore from the venue abounds:
- Tony Blair was first persuaded to run for parliament on a ground floor table while dining with former MP (now Baron) Tom Pendry
- It served as Tribune Magazine’s semi-official canteen from the 1960s
- The Guardian used the venue 1970s to thrash out its leader line in general elections
- Sightings of Roy Hattersley would earn Private Eye readers a £5 prize in the early ’80s
- MP Tom Driberg made a less successful bid to persuade Mick Jagger to stand for Labour — before the Rolling Stone man fled the sexual advances of the Labour Party chairman