The nationwide Italian restaurant chain, Strada, has announced the closure of 11 sites in the UK, citing “disappointing trading and rising costs.” It is the first casual dining casualty of 2018 — and the beginning of what looks like an ominous time for certain sections of the industry.
The company’s UK portfolio has been shrunk to 17, with nine of the remaining restaurants situated in London. Three London sites — Camden, Blackheath and Clapham — along with seven others across the country have closed since Christmas. A site in Birmingham will close at the end of this week.
In a statement, the company said: “Following a comprehensive review, it is with regret that we are closing a number of our Strada restaurants, as they are no longer viable as Stradas in this increasingly competitive market.
“Where possible, we are converting the sites to new formats or selling them to other operators, but in some cases, recent increases in rents and rates, coupled with government-decreed rises in wage costs, make it very difficult to operate profitably a full service restaurant serving fresh food.”
2017 was a challenging year for two other high-profile British restaurant chains — both Byron and Jamie’s Italian were forced into closing sites, while the number of restaurant closures in the capital, if not massively unusual, included a collection of notable names. Over the Christmas break, the chef and restaurateur Nuno Mendes posted this message to Instagram, expressing his surprise that his own restaurant Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields had weathered the storm, noting:
I honestly didn’t think we would manage to stay open until the end of the year. Still, by some miracle and lots of perseverance, we managed to survive. The year is not over yet but we expect to open up again on the 4th which is another miracle in itself. There is a lot of uncertainly at the moment so I don’t know if we will manage to stay open to see the end of next year but let’s hope so