SEAFRONT fish restaurant owner Bill Bryce has blamed parking problems, snow and the recession for the closure of his business in Worthing.
Mr Bryce opened Bryce’s, at the junction of Marine Parade and The Steyne, in 2006,
He said it cost him £250,000 to set up – cash he had now lost.
Mr Bryce, who runs another restaurant in Ockley, Surrey, said: “A lot of things went wrong, but parking in Worthing is an absolute disaster.
“We received constant complaints about the cost of parking and people not being able to park in the bays at the end of the parade because of building works (near Splash Point).
“People want on-street parking. They won’t walk to the restaurant, plus the cost of parking, and the aggressive attitude of staff enforcing parking regulations.
Weather and VAT
“We have also got the recession and the fact people are just not spending the same amount of money as they were when we first opened.
“The first two summers were just a wash-out. Last summer wasn’t too bad, but the snow last January and December resulted in massive cancellations of bookings.
“That, plus the rise of VAT and the other costs of running a restaurant going up, there is a finite amount of money people want to spend to eat out.”
He added: “We were perceived by some as too posh for Worthing, but I don’t agree with that. Hundreds of customers appreciated what we were doing, but unfortunately not enough.”
Mr Bryce said Worthing was now a “sad looking town”.
Michael Clinch, managing director of the neighbouring Chatsworth Hotel, which owns the freehold to Bryce’s, said he had no idea why the restaurant had closed.
Councillor Paul Yallop, leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “I am really sorry to see the restaurant go – it served excellent food with a great sea view. However, I am not sure we can blame its demise entirely on the parking charges, albeit they were increased by the West Sussex County Council last summer.
“On-street parking in that area is free after 6pm which surely encourages the public to use all the restaurants in and around The Steyne.
“I have not frequented the restaurant recently as it did not cater well for family dining, which is a growth area in Worthing.”