An award-winning restaurant in Surrey has been forced to close after the landlord increased the annual rent by 20%.
The Westerly in Reigate, which won the Remy Martin Restaurant Excellence Award in 2008, closed after landlord Carn Unwin upped the lease by £7,000 from £34,000.
Owners Jon and Cynthia Coomb, who had been making a loss of £25,000 a year on the business, were consequently forced to walk away from the premises.
"We had been running a very successful business but the economic climate has changed so much that our turnover has decreased significantly in the past three years," Jon Coomb told Caterer and Hotelkeeper.
"We simply couldn't afford to pay the extra rent and had no choice but to walk away. It's very sad for us."
Unwin, who was unavailable for comment when contacted by Caterer and Hotelkeeper, told local newspaper the Surrey Mirror that the rent increase asked of the Coombs took it to "market value". However, he added that the site would likely be turned into an office space in the future.
In response to this Coomb said: "The market rate is what people are prepared to pay for it. If it's now going to be turned into offices, it's obvious that the rent is too much for a restaurant.
"You can charge premium rates for sites on high streets where you can attract big players like Starbucks, Costa Coffee or Prezzo. But this site isn't one of those; it's off the high street and too small for the big chain operators."
Coomb added that he was currently in discussions about a "very exciting new project".
By Kerstin Kühn
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