Larkin Cen to close two Woky Ko sites due to cost pressures

26 October 2022 by
Larkin Cen to close two Woky Ko sites due to cost pressures

Chef-restaurateur Larkin Cen has announced that two of his Woky Ko sites in Bristol will be closing due to cost pressures and staff shortages.

The sites at Queens Road and Cargo will be closing, but the St Nicholas Market site will remain open.

Cen said increasing costs, staffing shortages and wage pressures "impacted the viability" of the two sites, while the Cargo restaurant at Wapping Wharf was also experiencing a "very substantial drop in sales" due to a footbridge being closed for prolonged works.

The chef also said that staff would be made redundant from the end of the month and encouraged other restaurants with vacant roles they could offer to get in touch.

In a post on Instagram, Cen said: "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we will be closing our Woky Ko Queens Road and Cargo. St Nick's will remain open as usual.

"With fantastic commitment and hard work from the Woky Ko team, we managed to stay open throughout the main outbreak of covid, creating a delivery service for our loyal customers. Unfortunately, over the last year, increasing costs, staffing shortages and wage pressure impacted the viability of these two parts of the businesses. Further covid related closures totalled over 200 days across all our sites and now on top of that we are experiencing a very substantial drop in sales at Wapping Wharf due to the main footbridge being closed for prolonged works. The price pressure on our takeaway orders caused by the economic squeeze, has meant that both locations are no longer viable."

He added: "Our St Nicks Market operation will remain open and will be our cornerstone as we look to regroup and stabilise the business."

Cen left his career as a solicitor to open his own restaurant after taking part in the BBC's MasterChef competition in 2013.

He opened the first Woky Ko in 2016 in Bristol's Cargo at Wapping Wharf, serving Taiwanese style bao buns, Japanese katsu and chow mein. That same year, he opened Cen restaurant at the Celtic Manor in Newport. The restaurant closed three years later.

Image: Kirstie Young

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