End of an era? Buffalo Bar staff touched by support 3163889_d32bc99b - © Mike Quinn Full view

End of an era? Buffalo Bar staff touched by support

© Mike Quinn
Buffalo Bar in Highbury is set to shut its doors at the end of the year © Mike Quinn


The staff at an iconic Islington music venue facing eviction have been moved by the support of locals fighting to save the place.

DJ Paul Guided Missile, who has worked at the Buffalo Bar for 10 years, said: “The regulars are some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met and I’ve made some great friends amongst staff, who have become friends for life.”

The bar on Upper Street will close its doors with a ‘Last Stance’ on New Year’s Eve.

In a statement, they said: “The night will serve as a fundraiser for our full time staff who find themselves without a job just before Christmas.”

“We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with us; all the promoters, the DJs, the many thousands of bands and, of course, all the staff who’ve pitched in over the years.”

Tickets to the fundraiser sold out in less than 24 hours and Paul says he will be there “dancing with tears in my eyes, like in that song.”

The eviction notice – ordered by County Estate Pubs and Stonegate Pub Company, who lease the venue’s annex – was found stuck to the front door when staff turned up to work a few weeks ago.

Both companies were not available to comment when contacted for this story.

Over 5,500 people have already signed a petition to save the bar, which has seen the likes of Keane, Bloc Party and The Kooks grace its stage.

The Subways, who had Top 40 hits with Oh Yeah and Rock & Roll Queen, have been at the forefront of the campaign.

They told NME: “It’s genuinely heartbreaking. We played our first London show there, met our manager there, met some great friends and we are left with some incredible memories.We learnt so much in that dark, welcoming cool little basement. The Subways without the Buffalo Bar doesn’t feel right.”

Cllr Olly Parker, in his maiden speech before the full Islington Council on Thursday, delivered a passionate appeal against the “blandification of London” and said Buffalo Bar “has probably done more for cultural life in Islington than anyone”.

Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, has also lent her support.

“The fact that it’s been around for 14 years, opening late, and no one has complained to me is remarkable. I’ve written to the leaseholder and hopefully they will come round. It’s the sort of place we need in Islington,” she told the Independent.

In her letter to the leaseholder, she wrote: “[Staff] explained to me, with great patience, that a number of famous bands have began playing and continue to play at this bar.”

“I really felt my age by the end of the meeting but I came away completely convinced that we have a cultural jewel in our midst whose future is under threat.”

“This bar clearly makes a very important contribution to youth culture and I think you should consider the impact the closure of this bar could have, not just on patrons, but on the cultural significance of this part of London.”

© Anil Sharma/Flickr
© Anil Sharma/Flickr


The bar, which first opened in 2000, puts on a mix of events, from salsa nights to indie rock shows. Emma Watson and Boy George are on a long list of celebrities to have passed through its trademark red and white doors.

Whilst headlining at the O2 Arena last month, American band The National devoted their song Mistaken for Strangers to the beleaguered venue. “This one’s for the Buffalo Bar,” toasted lead singer Matt Berninge, with a smile.

County Estate Pubs and Stonegate Pub Company, which owns the Slug & Lettuce chain, are undecided with what to do with the venue after December 31. Paul thinks it will “probably be used to store broken chairs and half-open boxes of dusty champagne flutes.”

Before then, staff will be hosting a number of farewell shows with some of their favourite bands – details of which can be found on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

A scrapbook for fans to share their memories of the bar has been put together here.

Written by Emma Volney

Emma is a reporter for St John Street’s news and feature sections. You can follow her on twitter @emmavolney

Leave your comment below!