Blend Kitchen: Popular Sheffield restaurant that trained vulnerable adults shuts down

Bosses said it was hit by problems including being surrounded by empty units
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A Sheffield restaurant that worked with vulnerable adults has shut down after running out of money.

Blend Kitchen on Ecclesall Road was hit by a drop in custom, income from grants and higher costs, the trustees said.

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Starting out in 2016 as a not-for-profit social enterprise it operated as a pop-up before moving in 2018 to Pinstone Street. After raising £350,000 it opened on Ecclesall Road in April 2021.

Blend Kitchen founder Chris Hanson. The not-for-profit restaurant has announced its permanent closure.Blend Kitchen founder Chris Hanson. The not-for-profit restaurant has announced its permanent closure.
Blend Kitchen founder Chris Hanson. The not-for-profit restaurant has announced its permanent closure.

Trustee Gareth Jones said he pre-pandemic business plan was to grow through external private catering. But the impact of Covid on the hospitality sector, increased competition for funding and a cost-of-living crisis created a “perfect storm.”

He added: “Footfall catastrophically dropped during this time and it did not return to anywhere near pre-pandemic levels even after restrictions were lifted. Office workers did not return to the area surrounding the café, and the utilities at the site severely increased in cost. Additionally, the area did not develop as expected, leaving the business surrounded by empty units.”

Last year it announced it had trained more than 100 people in its first year including young adults with difficult backgrounds, individuals with mental health conditions and people with learning disabilities. And 20 had been made permanent employees.

Blend staff meeting HRH Sophie, then countess of Wessex (Photo: Nike Ei.Imggrphy)Blend staff meeting HRH Sophie, then countess of Wessex (Photo: Nike Ei.Imggrphy)
Blend staff meeting HRH Sophie, then countess of Wessex (Photo: Nike Ei.Imggrphy)
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Now the trustees of Blend: Cook, Eat, Share CIC (Trading as Blend Kitchen) have announced its liquidation. Redundancy numbers or its financial position were not disclosed.

Mr Jones added: “The trustees would like to acknowledge and thank all the volunteers, staff, partners, ambassadors, patrons and organisations that have supported us since our inception. It feels really sad that our journey has come to an end.”