'Harry Potter' café to reopen three years after 'devastating' fire

The owners of the Elephant House café in Edinburgh hope the site can finally reopen in 2024.

Edinburgh’s ‘Harry Potter’ Elephant House café to reopen three years after George IV Bridge fire Getty Images

Edinburgh’s ‘Harry Potter’ café is set to reopen next summer, three years after a devastating fire on the city’s George IV Bridge forced the popular site to close.

The Elephant House café, infamously known as the location where author JK Rowling wrote some of her Harry Potter books, has been closed since August 2021 after a fire badly damaged the premises.

The reopening of the café has been delayed after the blaze caused several properties to close, with the owner of the building going in to liquidation.

The Elephant House is hoping to finally open its doors again next summer, according to the cafe’s owner David Taylor, who also runs a second Elephant House location in Victoria Street, the street believed to be the inspiration for ‘Diagon Alley’ in the Potter series.

The refurbishment of the original café could cost around £1m, but work cannot begin until the block affected by the blaze has been deemed safe.

It is believed the fire started in the Patisserie Valerie café which has a basement that runs underneath the Elephant House, but that outlet is not expected to reopen.

Mr Taylor has revealed the table Rowling used to write the best-selling books on was saved from the fire and restored.

It will be moved back to the George IV Bridge location which Mr Taylor has owned for 28 years.

He said: “The fire was devastating, not just for us but also for Harry Potter fans around the world who still flock to see where JK Rowling was inspired to write.

“Restoration of the building has been delayed as the landlord entered liquidation, but recent discussions have given us good reason to hope we will be able to reopen during 2024.

“The café has its own international fanbase and has been a much missed Edinburgh attraction since we had to close, but we will be back.”

Andrew McRae, co-founder of Elephant House International, said: “After the fire, David managed to salvage the table JK Rowling frequented when she was writing her books, and it has pride of place in the new Elephant House café overlooking Victoria Street in Edinburgh which is believed to be the real inspiration for Diagon Alley.

“Fans and regular customers alike have been very excited to sit at the table and our Butterscotch Beer is proving to be a huge hit at the new venue, which is two minutes’ walk from the original café known globally as the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’.”

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