Norwich restaurant Just Lobsters closes after company goes into liquidation
- Credit: Jessica Long
A restaurant in one of Norwich's most iconic buildings has closed its doors after the company behind it went into liquidation.
Happy Pants Limited, trading under the name Just Lobsters in Tombland, went into voluntary liquidation on November 10 after a meeting of its creditors.
The restaurant which first opened in 2014 on the site of the former Samson and Hercules ballroom and nightclub owed creditors approximately £635,000 with £50,000 of that owed to HM Revenue and Customs, according to documents filed at Companies House.
But in a post on their Facebook page, after the company went into liquidation, the restaurant stated that it was only closing temporarily.
The statement, which is still visible on both Facebook and their website, reads: 'Just Lobsters, Norwich, is temporarily closed for an upgrade. We are opening soon with a new look, but same great taste. Sorry for inconvenience. See you soon!'
Liquidator Neil Gibson, of G I A Insolvency Ltd, said the majority shareholder at the time of liquidation was a former director of Happy Pants called Kevin Steckel.
Happy Pants Ltd, which trades under the name Just Lobsters, has been contacted for comment.
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The historic building is owned by Norwich firm Citygate Developments. A spokesperson for them confirmed that Happy Pants terminated its lease with them at the beginning of December.
He added: 'We are actively looking for new tenants for the building which is home to lots of history and is a great space.'
According to the Companies House filings, they were owed £24,000 by Happy Pants.
There was controversy when the restaurant first opened in 2014 when the iconic Samson and Hercules statues outside the building were painted bright red.
But once the eatery opened, it received largely positive reviews on Trip Advisor with it ranked as the 140th best restaurant in Norwich out of 650 in the city.
Jules102016 wrote: 'Lovely place, lovely food and excellent service by friendly hosts. Remember the place before it was a restaurant but they have done the place proud.'
And Stuart H added: 'The clam chowder was also the best I've tried this side of New England. Was a quiet midweek evening but there was still a great atmosphere.'
•Writer Derek James looks back on the historic building at the heart of the city
If you grew up in Norwich, and are of a certain age, then the chances are you may have waltzed, jived or twisted your way into the arms of the love of your life at the dear old S&H.
Samson & Hercules House is more than just a building, it is a glorious landmark and one which we must be cherish, preserve and give it the future it deserves.
This was the beating heart of the city night scene for generations of boys and girls, men and women...at a time when it stood head and shoulders above its night-time rivals.
The present house was put up by Norwich mayor Christopher Jay in 1657 – a fine specimen of an old city mansion.
It is said to have built over a pit for victims of the great plague in 1578 who, it is reported, are often up and about doing a touch of haunting.
It has had a colourful history over the years and was packed with GI's during the war. It was packed to the rafters.
In 1948 Geoffrey (Mr Norwich City) Watling bought it and turned into an the number one night spot in the city.
The biggest names in the big band business – even Count Basie - played there and in the late 50s the first discos and jive nights were held. Dinner/dances, social events, cabaret nights, the lot.
He sold both the Samson and the Norwood Rooms to Mecca in 1960 and thousands of people continued to pack the place as the swinging 60s arrived.
What will the future hold for the S&H? Whatever it is it must be looked after...a building with a unique history.
And please, give the statues a new lick of paint.
•The 359-year history of Samson and Hercules
1657: Samson and Hercules arrive to support the porch of a newly erected building – number 16, Tombland.
1789: They are removed and placed in the rear courtyard for more than a century.
1830: They are replaced by two plain pillars. Nearly 100 years later they are restored by George Cubitt but Hercules is in too poor condition and replaced by a replica.
1890 to 1909: Samson is restored to the front of the building with the new Hercules replica.
1930s: The building opens as the Samson and Hercules ballroom and survives two fires in 1937 and 1944.
1980s: The building becomes Ritzy's.
1993: Samson's arm falls off. Both statues are removed.
1999: New fibre glass replicas are installed. The building becomes Ikon.
2003: The club closed its doors permanently.
July 2014: The original carved oak statue of Samson leaves Norfolk Collections Centre to undergo conservation work in London.
2014: Plans are announced to open the building as a lobster restaurant.
2016: Just Lobsters restaurant closes