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'Everyone is gutted' - heartbreak over restaurant closure

PUBLISHED: 12:34 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:16 22 May 2019

The Ambitions restaurant at Yarmouth College which is closing Picture: supplied

The Ambitions restaurant at Yarmouth College which is closing Picture: supplied

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Former students have tagged as "heartbreaking" a decision to close a college training restaurant that has produced a string of top chefs.

Chef Simon Wainwright of SW1 has spoken out about the decision to close the Ambitions restaurant at Yarmouth College 

Picture: James Bass PhotographyChef Simon Wainwright of SW1 has spoken out about the decision to close the Ambitions restaurant at Yarmouth College Picture: James Bass Photography

East Coast College in Great Yarmouth has confirmed it will be closing its Ambitions training restaurant in September, and investing in its Lowestoft facility instead.

It follows a merger between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Colleges to form East Coast College two years ago.

Vicky Russ, director of curriculum development and partnerships, said catering and hospitality training would continue at both campuses but there was no longer a need to run both restaurants.

She said: "We will be operating one training restaurant, East, at our Lowestoft Campus to which all catering and hospitality students will have access to practice 'simulated' service.

"It is certainly not our intention to stop or negatively impact on what are very popular and successful courses at both campuses."

"This change will enable the college to invest in the training restaurant at Lowestoft, to improve the experience that all students (from both campuses) will gain from practicing there and of course the experience of our diners."

Simon Wainwright who owns SW1 in Gorleston, said it was "a real shame."

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He said a whole generation of top chefs including Mark Dixon at Fleggburgh and Daniel Smith at the Ingham Swan had benefited from having the facility on their doorstep, guided by top tutors.

"If it wasn't for that college and the training I got there I probably wouldn't be doing what I am today. It was a great place to train and learn. The tutors were brilliant.

"Yarmouth just seems to be losing everything now."

People on social media said: "This is really sad to hear. Ambitions is an amazing experience and learning area for hospitality students.

"Some of my best memories are from Ambitions."

Another said: "It is heartbreaking."

One former student said: "A lot of the ex-students like myself would never have had the job experiences we had if wasn't for Ambitions, the teachers there have amazing contacts there, so everyone is gutted."

Under the changes the service hours at East will be extended to three lunch services and two evening services each week, during term time.

Meanwhile, the college has confirmed that while plumbing will be offered at both colleges Level 3 plumbing will only be offered at Lowestoft from September.

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