Tofalli said in a Facebook post that the demise of the pub in St Albans, Hertfordshire, was inevitable after “after a sustained period of extremely challenging trading conditions”.
He added: “Along with my team, I have tried everything to keep the pub going. However, the past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future.
“Before the pandemic hit, the escalating business rates and taxations we were managing meant trading conditions were extremely tough, but we were able to survive and were following an exciting five-year plan and were hopeful for the future.”
No safety net
Tofalli continued: “However, the Covid-19 pandemic was devastating and our already tight profit margins gave us no safety net. This resulted in us being unable to meet our financial obligations as they were due, creating periods of great uncertainty and stress for all who worked for, and with, the pub.
“It goes without saying I am heartbroken: this pub has been so much more than just a business to me, and I feel honoured to have played even a small part in its history.”
A spokesperson for Mitchells & Butlers, the pub company that owns the site, said: “We can confirm that sadly our tenants at Ye Old Fighting Cocks have appointed administrators but can reassure locals that this is not the end for the pub.
“We are currently exploring all opportunities for the site’s future and hope to reopen the pub under new management as soon as possible.”
Humbling messages of support
Tofalli said within hours of announcing the closure over the weekend, he had been inundated with messages of support both locally and worldwide. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told the BBC. “With all the messages I have had, it speaks for itself what we achieved.
“To be reading about the impact we've had on people is mind-boggling and extremely humbling. We became an important part of the community. The family we created was huge. The time has come for me but we will make sure the handover is seamless and the synergy keeps going.”
Tofalli thanked Mitchells & Butlers, the pub company that owns the site, for its help during the period. The pub, which dates back to 793 AD, is expected to reopen as a pub but under new management in the future.