Magpie fire 'was like bereavement, but we're elated to be back' - says Co-owner

The Magpie Cafe is back on Thursday.
The Magpie Cafe is back on Thursday.
Share this article

More than eight months on from two fires inside the space of 24 hours, the world-famous Magpie Cafe is finally set to open its doors again tomorrow.

A canapes and drinks event was held on Tuesday night, before the restaurant officially reopens for business.

Co-owner, Alison McKenzie Slater celebrates the restaurant's return at Tuesday's event.

Co-owner, Alison McKenzie Slater celebrates the restaurant's return at Tuesday's event.

Co-owner, Alison McKenzie Slater said the destruction of the building by two fires was “like a bereavement in the family.”

“It has been eight months of sheer hell, the devastation of the fire and just seeing the building destroyed,” she told the Gazette.

“It has just been such an upsetting time and I’m so pleased that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I have very many happy memories of being down here with my grandparents and my father and mother, and the building is very special to me and means a lot. The fire was like having a bereavement in the family.”

The interior of The Magpie Cafe.

The interior of The Magpie Cafe.

The Magpie has been in Alison’s family since the early 1950s when her grandparents, Clifford and Gladys Barker, took over the running of the restaurant.

After they retired in 1964, her parents, Ian and Sheila McKenzie, ran the business until 1990 when she took it over in partnership with Ian Robson.

She added: “I’m just so happy and grateful for all the support we have received from our loyal staff and customers.

“It has been a difficult year for the staff too, they had two months without pay, so we are grateful to them for being so loyal.”

The interior of The Magpie Cafe.

The interior of The Magpie Cafe.

The return of the iconic cafe follows an enormous rebuilding job after the roof of the building was destroyed by the second fire back in May.

But despite the major work required, the design remains very similar to how the restaurant looked prior to the blazes.

“There have been tweaks to the design, regular customers might notice some small changes, but there’s no point changing something that worked already,” said head chef Paul Gildroy.

Co-owner, Ian Robson explained that design changes included taking the upstairs staircase back to its original design, adding: “The biggest change has been down in the kitchen.”

The cooking area has undergone a slight rethink, predominantly by removing walls to open up its appearance, and make the area easier to navigate.

The Gazette exclusively broke the reopening news last week, which prompted waves of support from well wishers, delighted to see the restaurant return.

Here are some of your comments.

Jill Murphy: “Brilliant news can’t wait to visit.”

Diana Turner: “Absolutely fantastic and a credit to everyone involved from when the fire struck and its restoration through to its future.”

The restoration is believed to have costed £450,000.