A mostly wet summer and train strikes affecting tourism to the isle and the cost of building overheads have prompted the decision to shut down Waverley House in Margate.
The restaurant and venue space closed it doors on Sunday (September 24) after a “ very challenging 18 months.”
Sadly the closure means the loss of seven full-time jobs and some part-time positions although all staff and suppliers have been paid in full and all party bookings have been issued full refunds.
Waverley House was opened by Tomas Eriksson in 2022 following the huge success of his pop-ups at Cliffs in Cliftonville and then his first restaurant venture in 2019 alongside son Rio with New Street Bistro in the town.
The dad-of-four invested in the former ‘Morgans’ building on the High Street to create the restaurant, apartments and event space.
But, despite being a firm favourite with many locals, poor tourist trade this year has meant the costs are just too much to sustain.
The 42-year-old said: “It was an absolutely killer winter and then the summer was down 30% from last year. I think we all (hospitality businesses) expected a big July but the weather killed it.
“The train strikes over the last 14 to 14 months have had a huge effect on lots of hospitality because people would not commit to coming here for the weekend.
“There are also overheads, I think maybe (Waverley) was a step too big from the Bistro. But we gave it an honest go but there is no point banging your head against the wall.”
Tomas says he is most upset about staff losing their jobs although a number of part-timers were due to return to college or university.
He said: “It was quite quick. We took the decision to voluntarily liquidate. We told our staff and they worked for a week knowing about it but they were all super professional.
“All our staff have been paid and all our suppliers and all party bookings refunded, we wanted to leave on as good a note as possible.”
Tomas invested some £70,000 between September last year and April this year to keep the business running but the drop in summer trade meant the decision that “enough was enough” sadly had to be made.
He added: “It was a combination of the summer and the building which is big and had lots of overheads to run it. But we have learnt lessons from it and will take all that and apply it to the next thing.”
Tomas has thanked customers and his staff and says although there is no new venture in the pipeline yet he fully expects to embark on something new when the time is right.
The building, at 46 High Street but also with a seafront entrance, is based on the site of the former King’s Head hotel – one of the oldest family pubs in Margate with the section in the High Street dating back to circa 1755.
The Kings Head was initially an accredited Town House, hosting auction sales and providing for the gentry who frequented the bathing rooms which ran from the pub to the harbour.
The bathing rooms had rear access to the beach via a wooden staircase from which horse drawn bathing machines would convey clients to the medicinal waters.
The original pub extended further back that it is now and had just four rooms above and a slender bar below.
By1885 the Kings Head Hotel occupied 46-48 High Street and within ten years, a massive development took place with the construction of a multi-storeyed hotel annex with frontage on Marine Drive. The cellars were adjacent to the old sea wall.
In the early years of the 1900s the establishment was known as “Isaac’s Hotel” and Fish Restaurant.
In 1999 the pub was renamed the Waverley. In 2013 it became Morgan’s which closed in October 2017 and in 2022 it returned to the Waverley name.