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Closing chapter for Sewell restaurant

PUBLISHED: 10:15 26 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:51 03 July 2010

ONE of the region's top celebrity chefs has admitted defeat in his attempt to establish a restaurant in Great Yarmouth, closing the door on Anna Sewell House less than 14 months after opening it.

ONE of the region's top celebrity chefs has admitted defeat in his attempt to establish a restaurant in Great Yarmouth, closing the door on Anna Sewell House less than 14 months after opening it.

Richard Hughes had thought the tiny 17th century building in Church Plain - the famous birthplace of Black Beauty author Anna Sewell - would be a perfect venue for romantic couples or small groups of friends.

However, he said: “We said we would give it a year and it has not worked. A big problem was how small the place is. We were full on Friday and Saturday nights but virtually empty the rest of the week and we did no lunch trade at all. You can't keep going on 30 covers a week.

“There was no financial issue as such because it is a low cost to run but I had two really talented people standing over there doing nothing.

“We could have kept it going for the remaining two years of the lease but we are incredibly busy at the Lavender House and something else will be happening for us in Norwich city centre in the spring.”

Sam Matthews, who was in charge of the Anna Sewell House restaurant, and head chef Julia Hetherton have returned to work at The Lavender House, in Brundall where Mr Hughes forged his national reputation.

Mr Hughes, who is also the co-owner of The Pigs, in Edgfield, said: “I am disappointed for Yarmouth as I have close links with the town. I spent my first six years in the kitchen at the Imperial Hotel and do a lot of teaching at Great Yarmouth College.

“A number of people came up to me and said Yarmouth needs a restaurant like Anna Sewell House but the problem is that no one went to it.”

He said he could not blame the recession as the Lavender House was booming, having had its best December figures on record and with bookings from January to March 25pc up on last year.

Mr Hughes said Anna Sewell House had received great Press reviews and the AA Guide had awarded it a rosette in its first year.

He said it was possible he might re-open the restaurant in the future to give a platform to one of his younger chefs coming through.


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