Tony Rodd – Restaurant Closures at a Ten-year High

Chef Tony Rodd has taken the agonising decision to close his Copper & Ink restaurant in London’s Blackheath. A master chef finalist in 2015 Rodd opened the restaurant in 2019 with his partner Becky. Together they survived the Covid pandemic and lockdown but recent rising costs crippled cashflow and finally the pair had to accept defeat.

“It’s been a tough decision,” Rodd told The Chefs’ Forum. “It’s not what we want but the business is not in the shape it was. Customers are coming in to eat less and costs across the board are rising.

“I know I can hold up my head and know that I did what I could and always behaved in the right way. We paid good salaries and always looked after our suppliers. We’re not alone. In the last month I have counted over 100 restaurants that have now closed since Christmas. And they are not just at the higher end like us – they’re across the spectrum of hospitality. Even in Blackheath 12 restaurants have closed in the last 18 months. That includes a burger bar that was selling burgers for under £10. The heart is being ripped out of our local communities and once we are gone we won’t be coming back in a hurry.”

If any chefs are finding the current soaring costs stressful and are worried about the future, we are always here for a chat.

We would like to wish Tony all the very best for the future and thank him for shining the spotlight on the current scenario regarding restaurant closures in the UK.

Much more needs to be done to support the hospitality industry, as restaurant closures are at an all-time high for the last decade.

According to figures from accountancy firm Price Bailey, as of July 2023, 569 restaurant businesses filed for insolvency, bringing the total to 2028 closures in the 12 months previous.

This was a 55% increase on 2021, when 1,303 restaurants, an average of 3.1 per day were forced to close.

This month’s closures identified by Chef Tony, further attest to the severity of challenges faced by hospitality businesses.

Half of all restaurants are still trapped in high energy contracts taken out the previous year and energy costs for small restaurants have gone from being 4% of turnover to 14% of turnover.  This has happened very quickly, making it impossible for restaurants to make a profit, let alone break even.

The government needs to be working with Ofgem on a recue remedy for hospitality and flatten the curve of closures and livelihoods being lost.