‘Very challenging 18 months’ leads to sad closure of Waverley House in Margate

Waverley House closed on Sunday (building photo by John Cripps)

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.

Tomas Eriksson

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.

Photo http://www.dover-kent.com/Pubs/Kings-Head-Margate.html

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.

56 Comments

  1. When the DFLs stop coming you find actual Thanet residents can’t afford London prices. 3.50 a pint not 5 plus.

    • It does appear that the bubble has burst for a number of restaurant premises – The Old Post Office, Charlies and now the Waverley.

      Perhaps the building can be given over to housing – that is Thanet’s current growth industry.

      • Unfortunately for the old post office , it’s just in the wrong place to attract any consistent customer loyalty of tempt new people in , not aure how many times it’s changed hands since first opening but seems no one wants it as the interior fitted when it first opened as a restaurant has now been ripped out.

        Other margate restaurants are also seemingly struggling, the Buoy and Oyster is fast developing a reputation for an over priced and underwhelming experience in recent months , Sargasso on the pier is another venue generally viewed as having very optimistic opinions as to the value of its offerings.

        A meal at The Fort Hotel can be best described as being something where the only lasting feeling is the hole in your wallet.

        Undoubtedly times are hard for businesses of all types, but being reliant on custom revolving around the tourist trade tempted to visit by sponsored links in the media isn’t going to sustain them through the winter months. They need the local trade as well. Fortunately there are still some decent sensible places left.

    • The government’s analysis of their own over-ready Brexit deal said inflation would go above 10% by 2023. The same analysis said there will be wide-scale industrial action if public sector workers are not given an inflation matching pay rise. That is exactly what happened and the government knew it would happens years in advance. So everyone that voted Tory in 2019 voted for inflation and strikes and therefore support the rail strikes.

        • The governments own analysis in 2019 said it would happened and it happened. War and Covid have just added to the inflation people had already voted for.

        • The only pandemic is in our politicians heads and there is barely a war going on in Europe. Search any Ukrainian city and everything is running completely as normal. Even nightlife. Our media continue to treat us like idiots

          • Well said Trete. MSM think we’re all stupid. I’ve been down to Dover and there are no refugees crossing the channel. Boris and Farage stopped it like they promised. All the reports about thousands of migrants is more project fear to try and distract us from the Brexit benefits.

    • I blame locals who didn’t support Waverley House. And if locals could not afford to dine at Waverley House, I blame the the Tories for 13 years of crony capitalism and ruining the economy. As a rabid Tory supporter and fan of market forces did you support the local business Waverley House Peter?

      • I don’t support ANY Margate businesses anymore (apart from Cafe G about twice a year), as I don’t like what it has become. What is clear though, is that eateries have reached satuation point in the town… not helped by the railway situation that has kept many visitors away.

  2. It’s a shame, but many restaurants cafes or eateries in Margate have a short lifespan, it wasn’t a cheap meal out so I’m not really that surprised.
    Better fortune with your next venture.

  3. There are more places to eat now so more competition from sites with lower overheads. Charlie’s was not due to finance as I understand it- that was always busy! Post Office was in the wrong situation. The weather was poor in June and July and strikes did cut down visitors. Good luck for the future

      • They aren’t going to thrive if my recent experience and that of 4 otherpeople i know ( all separate bookings) are anything to go by. A skate wing that in the past would have been a single serving now seems to be cut into 3 and the extra tables they’ve squeezed in means it’s easier to talk to the people on the next table than the person sitting opposite. There was a time you needed to book at least 3 weeks ahead, you can now often get a table the same day.
        Hopefully they’ll get back on track.

  4. I do like to support local restaurants all over Thanet and I eat out once or twice a week but I have never been to Waverley’s (I have been to Buoy and Oyster amongst others in Margate). Maybe they weren’t targeting ‘locals’ and it is purely down to the poor summer and the rail strikes. Sad to see any independent business go. I’m sorry I missed the chance to support this particular restaurant 😥

    • Very true none of these businesses were never aimed at locals good food yes but overpriced many looked down on the local population we after all are a seasonal town it’s been like that for the start of seaside holidays here in 1786 the difference over the years after September everything closed down for the winter business was like that when we were in the EU stop blaming brexit some people nothing to do the weather effects trade it didn’t help with rail strikes it is a shame they closed how many of the others will follow suit next many seaside towns suffer the same most of the people who invested are from the EU anyway they would moan.nothing personal just fact living in this town for many years before I retired seen it all.

  5. I am a DFL/second home owner who spends 3-4 days a week in Margate. So many places are charging London prices I struggle to see how they think they will get enough trade.

  6. Good to see a professional business man with integrity doing the right thing when dissolving his business and not leaving others out of pocket. Wishing Tomas every success in the future.

  7. We ate at the Waverley a few times and it was lovely food although a bit too expensive for a regular treat. Taking over the whole building was just too much expenditure during difficult financial times. Well done for shutting the business down properly and not just running away from the problem. Good luck on your next venture, sad to see it didn’t work.

  8. I don’t think that the rail strikes are to be blamed. If they had had such an impact, then businesses left right and centre would be going under.

    • I Ramsgate, for example, there is a catalogue of hospitality businesses that have managed to survive Brexit, the pandemic, and the rail strikes.
      Some have failed, some have re-inventwd themselves or relocated.
      No business, I would posit, has failed because of very occasional rail strikes.

      • Wrong, yet again.

        Those who want to stay more than 1 day need to arrange accomodation, usually in advance. This has been almost impossible this year thanks to rail strikers only having to give 2 weeks notice. Consequently, hotels, B&Bs and holiday cottages are struggling, as are the businesses that rely on the people who stay in them.

        If you and your ilk actually ventured further than your home for more than a few hours, you’d fully understand the crisis rail strikes have put businesses in.

        • Over the summer when Dreamland had events on , finding accomodation for 1 night was almost impossible , Minster being the nearest avaialble. The more expensive airbnb type properties have not done well and anecdotally it seems that a good number of “whole home” properties have gone back to longer residential lets earlier in the season than has happened in the last few years and some owners are not going to return to short term bookings next year, so there may be an easing of the dearth of property available to rent long term going forward.

        • What is the source of this visitor research you are quoting? TDC don’t release visitor stats/research until about 18 months after the season. I own a part-time holiday let and I was fully booked all summer.

          • The trades that i work with who work on holiday lets, landlords i know that jumped on the air bnb bandwagon and a friend that lets a room in their own house via airbnb. As i said it’s all anecdotal and the higher rents that thanet property now commands has for some tilted the scales away from the short holiday let sector. I’ve no doubt that there are still many that do well, but the market is likely not as buoyant as it was.

        • I no longer have any ilks. I left the gate open by mistake and they escaped.
          Since the current wave of industrial action began 15 months ago, there has been an average of 2 day’s strike every fortnight.
          It has been a bit annoying for me. But not a show stopper. I’ve managed to travel far and wide, the length and breadth of England, with little problem (especially with no ilks to look after).
          I imagine that the Waverly’s problem was that they were charging too much.

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