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Thursday, Nov 26, 2020

UK's oldest vegetarian restaurant closes doors for good

A chain of family-run vegetarian restaurants in Edinburgh have been forced to close due to the financial impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
Henderson’s, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the UK, cited government decision making as playing a part in forcing it to close.

The business, which has three branches in the Scottish city, was launched in 1962 by the late Janet Henderson and husband James, known as Mac.

An attempt was made to continue trading as a shop and deli, but with the centre of Edinburgh deserted, the business was operating at a loss.

The family described running the business as a ‘great adventure’ and were critical about the actions of the government in the lead up to the lockdown in failing to support hospitality businesses.

A Facebook post read: ‘The Government’s resistance to close hospitality business’ until late March meant that by this time our restaurant & deli business’ closed, we had haemorrhaged a serious amount of money leaving us in a very weak position.

‘The furlough scheme was a life-line with some hope but still came at a cost with 40 employees, plus we still had essential fixed operating costs, insurance, rent, utilities – with very high monthly outgoing costs and no income coming in – the current situation was unsustainable.

‘We opened the shop/deli for a month, providing a food/vegetable box delivery and click and collect service.

‘Unfortunately, the city centre is bereft of footfall as virtually no passers-by, tourists or office workers, thus it was impossible to continue operating at a loss.

‘Due to the uncertainty of the future of hospitality, lack of guidance from the government and ongoing restrictions, there was no realistic prospect of us returning to any kind of normality in the foreseeable future.’

A spokesman for Henderson’s said the family had been privileged to run the business that has been so well supported over the years by customers, staff and suppliers.

They said closing the restaurants had been a very difficult decision.

The spokesman added: ‘There have been many challenging times however Covid was the final straw and it is with deep regret we have had to go into voluntary liquidation.

‘The three restaurants and deli will not re-open and the staff and suppliers have been informed.

‘We shall all miss being part of Edinburgh’s bustling restaurant scene.’
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