Why Ecclesall Road is "thriving" despite Napoleons Casino closure plans
Traders and business owners have hit back at a casino owner who blamed the closure of one of his Sheffield branches on the fact that one of the city's busiest nightspots "wasn't what it used to be".
They spoke out after Dave Allen, owner of Napoleons, announced the company would close the doors to its Ecclesall Road branch for the final time on Sunday after 42 years in business.
Mr Allen said "time moves on and Ecclesall Road is not what it used to be" and also mentioned the planned closure of Baldwins Omega in Brincliffe in July would affect trade at the casino.
But Freya MacDonald, who will open the doors to her new restaurant Sheffield Olive next Thursday, said they had chosen Ecclesall Road because it was an "affluent" area of the city.
She said: "The area is changing but I still think it's a thriving area. There are now more families moving into homes around Endcliffe Park so there is more of a mix than just students.
"We chose Ecclesall Road because it's affluent, it's a busy road and there is a lot of traffic coming in and out of the city. We like the actual property as well."
Caroline Strappazzon, owner of nearby Cafe Cerees on Junction Road, said business was "very tough" but that wasn't an issue exclusive to Ecclesall Road.
She said: "I am not surprised that Napoleons is closing because I know how hard it is. We've had a decent Christmas but we've been going for nearly 18 years so have a solid customer base.
"Trade has been far worse but I wouldn't say it's booming either. I think it's been a gradual change rather than anything drastic. When we first arrived there was a lot of optimism but the economy was a lot stronger then."
Ms Strappazzon said she didn't think the closure of Napoleons would have an impact on her cafe and restaurant.
Mr Allen, chairman of the A&S Leisure Group, who own Napoleons, said Sunday would be a "sad day" and thanked customers for their support over the years.
He said the firm hoped to build a 500-seater banqueting suite at its Owlerton branch and open another casino, bar and restaurant in Manchester.
"After 42 years at Ecclesall Road it is a sad day, but time moves on and Ecclesall Road is not what it used to be," he added.
"We’d like to thank everyone for their patronage over the years and do hope people will continue to enjoy the Napoleons experience at Napoleons Owlerton in Sheffield.
"We are also sorry to hear that Dave Baldwin is bringing his era to an end this year, when Baldwin’s Banqueting Suite will close in July.
"Over the years we have always seen a good deal of Baldwins’ business ending up in Napoleons and unfortunately that will no longer be the case. We must now look forward to the future and the exciting plans we have in place for the Owlerton and Manchester sites.”
A spokesman said staff at the Ecclesall Road branch would be offered jobs at other branches and that Mr Allen or the firm would not comment any further.
A Sheffield City Council spokesman said: "Napoleons has had a long and proud presence on Ecclesall Road. It is sad when any business closes but the gambling sector is going through a period of unprecedented change with new venues opening across the city.”