Harry Potter Café owner is in ‘suspense’ after last year’s fire

The owner of the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote excerpts from the Harry Potter books, which was damaged in a fire last year, said the ongoing closure is having a “direct impact” on tourism.

The avid Taylor, who owns The Elephant House on Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge, says he can’t open the famous cafe because the company that owns the building went into liquidation shortly after last year’s fire.

The fire started in the basement of the nearby Valerie confectionery last August 24, spread throughout the building and destroyed The Elephant House and several other businesses.

Emergency services extinguished the fire for more than a day, after the incident one firefighter was taken to the hospital.

Close

The owner of the Elephant House says it is in limbo as it waits for repairs to begin after a devastating fire last August. (Matt Donlan/PA)

The cafe’s front room was gutted by fire, while the back room, where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, was damaged by water and smoke.

Mr Taylor says he has funds from his insurance company to start work, but claims it was left in limbo because no work was done on the building to make it structurally safe.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Taylor said the extended closure is having an impact on tourism.

Close

The Elephant House Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter novel, on Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge after a fire broke out in nearby Valerie’s candy store (Jane Barlow, PA)

“This has a direct impact on tourism in Edinburgh,” he said.

“We’re constantly getting messages on social media from fans about the opening.”

Moorfields liquidators are currently managing the process, but Mr Taylor said they have not been contacted.

The liquidators said they “continue to look for a solution to the problems associated with the fire.”

Mr Taylor said: “I couldn’t get any information from them at all. That was my biggest problem.”

“Currently we have no income. We have money to renovate the property, but our livelihood will suffer if we don’t do it soon.”

Close

Café was damaged by fire last year (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Renovation cannot begin until the building is structurally sound, Mr. Taylor said.

“The landlord’s obligation under the lease is to make the property habitable, which is currently not the case,” he said.

“It is necessary to carry out structural work with ceilings and floors.

“None of the businesses can basically stay open until that happens, there are six different businesses, so it’s a tricky situation.”

A Moorfields spokesman said: “The liquidators understand that the George IV Bridge fire has placed owners and tenants in an extremely worrying and disappointing position.

“Unfortunately, the fire occurred before the appointment of liquidators. However, the liquidators have been trying to address the issues surrounding the fire and are trying to help property owners and tenants as soon as possible.”