Award-winning Peterborough restaurant to close amid cost of living pressure
- Credit: House of Feasts
The cost of living crisis has eaten into the profits of an award-winning restaurant which could shut down this summer.
After nearly six years in business, House of Feasts at 41 Crowland Road, Peterborough is threatened with closure if chef Damian Wawrzyniak cannot serve 30 to 50 diners each day.
Mr Wawrzyniak - whose restaurant is featured in the 2018 Michelin Guide and The Times' top 40 for alfresco dining - said he fears for the future of Cambridgeshire's food industry if diners cannot continue to purchase food.
The provisional closing date for House of Feasts is Sunday, August 21.
Mr Wawrzyniak said: "It's cost of living.
"Our prices have all gone up.
"If you take my fish and chips, which was priced around £7.50, we used to make a fair profit. The cost is now around £12, and the margins are very slim.
"At one point, year-on-year cost increases were around 40 per cent, but they rose by around 300pc recently.
"But my prices have been kept reasonably similar to previous rates because we also need to balance our costs with affordability for customers.
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"All we would need to do is serve 30 to 50 customers per day, but everyone's costs have gone up, so fewer people can afford to dine out."
The chef added that there is "nothing written in stone" about the closure, and he hopes that by running special events, he can attract more customers to his restaurant.
Mr Wawrzyniak added: "I definitely worry for the future about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the industry as a whole, particularly farmers.
"We have a few regulars who are farmers and we are hearing about how they are taking big decisions over whether or not to hike prices.
"The problem often lies in supermarkets and 'middle-men' raising prices, but passing the same amount - effectively less - on to food producers."
According to the government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the East of England had the highest average rents per hectare compared with other UK regions in 2020.
The region contributes significantly to the English food economy, producing 64pc of the nation's sugar beet, and 27pc of its grain.
As well as serving customers at his restaurant, Mr Wawrzyniak has completed charity work.
With help from the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire community, House of Feasts sent 27 lorries filled with supplies to aid Ukrainians following the 2022 Russian invasion.
"Even if the restaurant is forced to close, which does make me incredibly sad, I will continue supporting good causes in a personal capacity," the chef explained.
He said he is involved in a pre-loved charity shop in Peterborough, and that he takes pride in his charity work.
"I am proud of what we've achieved at House of Feasts," he added.
"I'll be incredibly sad if we are forced to shut down in Peterborough or move out of our community."