Harrogate's Van Zeller announces sudden closure

One of Yorkshire's best-known restaurants has announced it is to close as it simply cannot continue in an over-saturated market.

Friday, 1st July 2016, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:12 pm
Tom van Zeller outside his restaurant in Harrogate

Harrogate’s Van Zeller, once named one of the top 50 restaurants in the UK and attracting rave reviews from The Telegraph and The Independent, has shut with immediate effect.

Owner Tom Van Zeller has said there are simply too many new restaurants opening in the town - eight this year - and independents just cannot cope.

“I’ve taken the decision to close the restaurant,” he said. “I don’t honestly see the point in continuing to fight an uphill battle.

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“The final decision was taken this morning, but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while. It’s not been a particularly good 2016 by any stretch of the imagination.

“The economy is heading back to square one with regard to independents in Harrogate.”

Mr Van Zeller started his career at Bettys tea rooms in Harrogate, spending the next few years working under legends including Raymond Blanc, Damien Hirst and Terence Conran. He went on to open Van Zeller in the town in 2009, receiving critical acclaim for its food.

The Guardian’s critic said the cooking was “up there with the country’s finest”, while The Telegraph described it as “a cracking little restaurant”.

But in recent months, said Mr Van Zeller, the scene in Harrogate has become unsustainable.

“I’ve got to look at what’s happening here and further afield economically,” he said. “There are eight new restaurants opening in Harrogate right now.

“It’s a sign of the times.”

The new restaurants are in addition to the existing 130 plus which serve the town with a population of around 75,000.

“The current saturated restaurant is becoming even more badly saturated by corporate brands,” added Mr Van Zeller. “We’ve survived this long. That’s a great credit to the staff, our lovely guests, not to mention my wife.

“But it is a massive shame. What will the future hold? I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.”