Despite the fact that the service was occasionally shambolic and the toilets none too clean - not to mention the removal of my favourite chorizo and morcilla pizza from the menu a couple of years ago - I still enjoyed my visits and the pizzas were always worth the trip.
The closure was sudden and unplanned - not how 'refurbishment' usually happens - they even had to cancel bookings for Fathers Day which they'd been promoting only a day or two earlier.
have you booked for Father's day yet? Free bottle of prosecco too! http://t.co/54WB6xtUvH— Big Red (@thebigredpizza) June 4, 2015
Just a few days later came the sudden closure.
Since then the Twitter feed has been one a long string of increasingly-plaintive claims that there will be 'news' soon, and links to the website where you can sign up for their mailing list in order to be the first to hear about the 'exciting new developments'. I'm starting to wonder how long the person doing the feed can keep this up for.**** IMPORTANT *** As from Tuesday 9th June, THE BIG RED PIZZA BUS will be closed while we undertake some much needed refurbishments.— Big Red (@thebigredpizza) June 9, 2015
What's more, if you have been past the Big Red recently, you'll be forgiven for thinking "what refurbishments?!" No sign of life, never mind refurbishments, within the ramshackle enclosure - if you don't count the rats of course.
So, what the fuck is going on?
Landowner John Cierach was the sole director of the operating company, Busbar Ltd, when it went into voluntary liquidation on 9 June. Staff were sent home without proper redundancy pay or compensation, some of them having worked there from the start. The winding up details say that the company owed £230k; according to the statement of affairs, some £78k of this was owed to Cierach himself, and some £85k to a company called Meredale (director J Cierach, secretary Mrs F Cierach) in lieu of rent.
Busbar Ltd also owed £30k to HMRC in income tax and £45k in VAT, as well as being in debt to EDF Energy to the tune of almost £10k. Not a happy state of affairs if you are planning to reopen a business any time soon. But a new company Bus2bar Ltd was registered in April (director Anthony John Mark Cierach) and maybe it is only a matter of time till the Big Red rises phoenix-like from the ashes. I don't know enough about corporate fraud or the insolvency laws to comment further, but there's a strong whiff of something dodgy going on if you ask me.
Cierach not only owns the business and the land on which the Big Red Pizza bus is parked (most of it at least, although I understand it does encroach over the Birds Nest's boundary), he also owns 2 Creekside (the big yard behind the Birds Nest pub) and 3 Creekside, site of the old Medina print works across the road. The latter is actually owned by a company called Grestar Ltd (directors Anthony John Mark Cierach and Fiona Cierach).
He has aspirations to develop all of this land, but his aspirations occasionally suffer from a lack of practicality - some might say they are even borderline delusional. Anyone want to buy a new flat under the DLR viaduct?
Maybe not even Cierach believes he will get permission for a large residential development at number 2, but his latest wheeze is that he is going to establish a Shoreditch boxpark market thingy on the land. All the paying tenants have moved elsewhere, and the yard that remains is a jumble of rubbish and discarded crap. If his ramshackle extensions and additions to the pizza bus are anything to go by, he is not known for his quality building work, so don't expect Deptford Boxpark to look anything like this.
For a start, there is a whole heap of shit still to be cleared out of the yard. Probably best to wait for that to happen first, before signing a lease on a new pop-up designer boutique container shop thingy.