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London bar Scout closes for good

Bartenders Matt Whiley and Rich Woods have permanently closed their sustainability-focused east London bar Scout due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

London bar Scout was known for its emphasis on seasonality

Whiley announced the closure in an Instagram post Sunday (11 July).

He wrote: “Permanently closed. Covid beat us. Thank you to everyone that came, enjoyed and supported over the last 4 1/4 years. Choose local, eat local, support local.”

The post concluded with a quote from the poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron: “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, / There is a rapture on the lonely shore, / There is society, where none intrudes, / By the deep sea, and music in its roar: / I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

Whiley, an industry veteran and co-founder of the now-defunct bars Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop, first opened Scout in Old Street in 2017. The bar garnered international acclaim for its emphasis on local ingredients and seasonality. “If it’s not in season in the UK, we won’t buy it,” Whiley said at the time of the venue’s launch.

In September 2018, he relocated Scout to a larger site in the east London neighbourhood of Hackney. In June 2019, Woods – who co-founded the drinks agency Weapons and Toys with Whiley – gained an equal stake in the bar. Whiley left for Australia to set up a new Scout residency in The Dolphin Hotel in Sydney, and Woods took over operations in London.

Scout’s Australian project closed its doors in 2020. Earlier this year, Whiley opened his most recent venue in Sydney, a low-waste bar and bottle shop, called Re. 

Scout London is the latest casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on the hospitality sector. Repeated lockdowns and restricted trading environments have led to a rent debt crisis, staff shortages and ultimately the closure of thousands of venues, including acclaimed bars such as London’s Milk & Honey and New York City’s Pegu Club.

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