Chef’s fears for future of Sheffield’s independent restaurants

New Fitzwilliam & West Bar,West One..Pictured is Co-owner and Chef Chris Hawkins with one of the restaurants signature dishes 'The Brendan'
New Fitzwilliam & West Bar,West One..Pictured is Co-owner and Chef Chris Hawkins with one of the restaurants signature dishes 'The Brendan'
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Another popular Sheffield restaurant has closed suddenly, fuelling fears that independent eateries in the city face a bleak future.

Fitzwilliam & West, a bistro and cocktail bar which opened in the West One Plaza eight years ago, was shut on Monday. Liquidators have been called in.

The closure comes less than a month after another long-standing independent, Platillos in Leopold Square, shut down.

Artisan at Crosspool and Back of House on Ecclesall Road have also both ceased trading in the last three months.

Chris Hawkins, co-owner and head chef at F&W, said: “We’ve been going eight years but the last two have been a continual battle.

“We’ve tried to struggle on and get through but it’s become increasingly difficult.

“The economic conditions haven’t helped but you also have big chains coming into the city and it’s just incredibly difficult for independent places to compete.

“We’re sourcing local ingredients, buying in fresh, always offering good service with plenty of staff on hand and none of that come cheap.

“Then you walk past Nando’s on a Tuesday night and it’s rammed.

“The new Cosmo, in St Paul’s Place, is offering all you can eat for £13.

“We can’t compete with that and maintain our standards.”

The closure of F&W was announced through a note in the window after a staff meeting on Monday morning. It thanked customers for their support.

The restaurant, run by Chris with cousin Jonathon Hawkins, was originally known as 23 and was named best restaurant in the first Eat Sheffield awards.

Chris said: “It’s in the hands of the liquidators now.

“All I’d like to do is thank staff and customers for their support, and remind people that if you don’t use local independent places you lose them.”

But Chris would not be drawn on if he may plan a return with another venture in the future.

Insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor, based in The Fountain Precinct, city centre, have been named as proposed liquidators. A creditors’ meeting has been called for March 7.

Partner Deborah Lockwood said: “Until that meeting takes place it would not be appropriate to speculate on what may be owed to who.”