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Closure ‘is not the end', vows James Sommerin

27 July 2020 by

James Sommerin has said the "tragic" closure of his eponymous restaurant in Penarth "is not the end".

Restaurant James Sommerin in the Vale of Glamorgan opened in 2014 and gained its Michelin star in the 2017 guide.

The chef has confirmed it will not reopen following the coronavirus lockdown.

He told The Caterer: "All we want to do is thank everybody for their support because it's a small town and we have taken it very personally. It's one of those really tragic things, but it's certainly not the end for us we have to try to keep positive and look to the future now.

"None of it has made any sense, but we will come back. I'm going to fight like mad. I love cooking, seeing the looks on guests' faces when they have enjoyed their meal. Knowing that one plate of food has made a difference to someone – as stupid as that sounds – it is so rewarding to me as a chef and I want to feel that again. I miss it."

Sommerin confirmed that the business had not been eligible for government grants after it was forced to close in March because the rateable value of the site had been too high, leaving it without support as bills continued to mount.

During lockdown Sommerin and his family – which includes sous chef and daughter Georgia, wife Louise and sister-in-law Cath – prepared 20,000 meals for frontline workers before launching a takeaway service, which continues to serve meals from a friend's kitchen.

A second restaurant in Barry with a more casual offering had been in the planning for two years before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the hospitality industry to a halt, and Sommerin said that he hopes to see it open later in the summer.

The new restaurant, situated in an old goods shed, will be called the Shed and will serve Welsh produce, simply prepared.

The chef said he definitely sees a return to fine dining in the future and added: "We will come back, we will do something eventually, but it will take a little while. We just have to get back on our feet and we will be championing Wales again."

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