‘What the **** is wrong with Sheffield?’: Bar owner fumes after posting empty restaurant photo

The owner of a popular city centre bar has fumed ‘what is wrong with Sheffield?’ after posting a picture of empty restaurant.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 2:15 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 2:41 pm
OISOI Restaurant at St Pauls Place in Sheffield
OISOI Restaurant at St Pauls Place in Sheffield

James O'Hara, who owns Public cocktail bar on Surrey Street, posted a picture of an empty Oisoi Market on Saturday afternoon.

He tweeted: “Anyone been to the beautiful Oisoi market on Arundal St? Lovely place with exiting food and produce.

“This is it at 1:30pm on a Saturday afternoon. What the **** is wrong with Sheffield?”

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Oisoi opened as a premium artisan oriental food market in September 2015 and opened their new street food restaurant this year.

Despite a host of rave reviews online and from Mr O’Hara, the new market appeared quiet in the picture.

In October, Oisoi’s first restaurant revealed it was ‘closing until further notice’ due to ‘irretrievable matters’.

Mr O’Hara complained that not enough people were spending their money on eating and drinking out.

Replying to users on Twitter, he said that there were not enough people trying to support new and independent businesses.

He said: “The simplistic answer would be that not enough people choose to spend their money on eating and drinking out. Just don’t think we’ve ever successfully got a culture for it going. And we’re a poor city. There’s not enough disposable income I guess.

“It’s the ‘I wish Sheffield had X’ talk that I’m totally bored of.

“When something great does open its rarely supported enough for it to survive. Or it tries to survive until the owner is unwilling or unable to keep going.”

Many Twitter users echoed Mr O’Hara’s concerns while some said it was ‘packed during the week’.

One user replied: “Yep - if it was in Manchester, no doubt it would be very busy on a Saturday afternoon - and even though Sheffield is an amazing city in many ways, there really does seem to be a different mind set in Sheffield when it comes to eating out.”

The businessman went viral earlier this month when he revealed that he ‘might as well hand back the keys’ to Public after a huge increase in business rates.

He said that the bar that he had transformed from being a disused public toilet had received a bill showing a massive 730 per cent in business rates.

Mr O’Hara said the so-called rateable value of the bar had gone from £3,250 a year to £23,750 thanks to the government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

Since posting the tweet, Mr O’Hara said he has been chatting with local business owners ‘experiencing very similar situations with outlandish business rates’.

“I’m gonna be brutally honest about the realities of running a business in Sheffield going forward,” he tweeted.

“There’s so many misconceptions around it. I’ve had calls and texts today off a multitude of different retail and bar/Café operators saying they’ve never known a tougher year.”