Downturn Plagues Cardiff’s Culinary Landscape as Esteemed Restaurants Bow Out

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The capital of Wales, Cardiff, finds itself in a subdued state at the commencement of 2024, with several distinguished restaurants bidding farewell in the early weeks of the year. The closures of well-regarded establishments such as The Conway, Kindle, Brass Beetle, and The Smoke House point to an amalgamation of financial challenges, including surging energy costs and broader industry hurdles.

This closure trend echoes the disheartening wave that began in 2023, claiming notable venues like Rocket & Rye in Cowbridge and Michelin-rated SY23 in Aberystwyth. The closures have prompted contemplation within the culinary community about the sustainability of the hospitality sector amid escalating difficulties.

The Conway, a gastropub that held the distinction of being Cardiff’s first entry in the Michelin Pub Guide, disclosed its closure at the beginning of January. In a heartfelt statement on Facebook, the team conveyed deep sorrow over the decision, attributing it to insurmountable financial challenges. The post acknowledged the diligent staff and steadfast patrons who played a pivotal role in embedding The Conway within the local Pontcanna community over its 15-year existence.

Kindle, a sustainable, wood-fired restaurant housed in the former Bute Park warden’s offices, also succumbed to the challenges afflicting the industry. Owners Deb and Phill Lewis, who had initiated a Kickstarter campaign to raise an initial £43,000 for Kindle’s launch in 2021, revealed in a mid-January announcement that they could no longer sustain the establishment. The closure underscores the broader struggles encountered by the industry, with the statement emphasizing the concerning pattern of nationwide business closures.

Brass Beetle, a popular Cardiff restaurant acclaimed for its pizzas and cocktails, is poised to close its doors at the end of January. Operational since 2017, the venue acknowledged the “challenging” issues confronting the hospitality industry as the driving force behind their closure. In an emotive Instagram post, the staff expressed gratitude to patrons who had supported the restaurant throughout its nearly seven-year journey and stressed the importance of bolstering local independent businesses.

Adding to the list of closures is The Smoke House, a Pontcanna barbecue restaurant that, after more than a decade of operation, announced its closure at the end of the month. The restaurant attributed its decision to the unfavourable “financial climate,” expressing disappointment that the diligence and dedication invested in keeping the establishment open did not yield the expected rewards.

As these closures send ripples through Cardiff’s culinary scene, stakeholders in the hospitality industry are urging the Welsh Government to reconsider plans to reduce rates relief from 75% to 40%. Critics argue that such a move could exacerbate the challenges faced by pubs and restaurants, making them less competitive compared to their counterparts in England. The Welsh Government, however, contends that it is providing substantial rates support, totalling £134 million for the upcoming year, in addition to permanent schemes worth £250 million.

While the closures of iconic establishments signal a testing period for Cardiff’s hospitality industry, there is a glimmer of hope with anticipated openings, such as Picton & Co in the Bay. However, the industry’s resilience and ability to weather the current storm remain uncertain, prompting stakeholders to explore innovative solutions and rally community support to ensure the survival and revival of Cardiff’s vibrant dining scene.

Lauren Redford
Lauren Redford
Journalist Lauren Redford is a seasoned business journalist who focuses on regional areas throughout the United Kingdom. With her expertise and dedication, Lauren brings insightful coverage of local communities and their economic landscapes. With a meticulous approach and a passion for storytelling, she uncovers stories that resonate with readers and offers a deeper understanding of the business world. Lauren's commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news makes her a valuable member of the News Write Ups team.

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