Michelin-starred Aberystwyth restaurant to close this weekend
SY23 in Aberystwyth, Wales will be shutting its doors for the final time this Saturday due to a series of “unprecedented challenges”.
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The Michelin Guide, which awarded the restaurant a coveted star last year, described SY23 as a “lively restaurant, tucked away in a Welsh seaside town” with “well-paced and attentive” service and dishes, such as turbot with cockles, demonstrating “good textural contrasts and real depth of flavour”.
But, despite the critical praise, SY23, which opened in what was a hairdressers in 2019, appears to have been a victim of the extremely difficult trading conditions hospitality businesses across the UK have faced in recent years, and, perhaps more critically, it is about to lose its chef patron.
In a statement from owners Mark and Rhian Phillips, they announced that operations would cease this Saturday (23 December) and it was revealed that chef Nathan Davies, formerly of Gareth Ward’s Ynyshir, declined the opportunity to take the reins: “We extended the opportunity to Nathan, our esteemed head chef, and Hollie to take on the business, but unfortunately, they have chosen not to accept the offer at this time. Since our opening in late 2019, the restaurant industry has faced extraordinary difficulties, and Rhian and I have made sacrifices that have been greater than most people can imagine.”
Just prior to the announcement of the closure, Great British Menu finalist Davies shared on Instagram that he would be leaving SY23, citing how the business had changed “fairly significantly” recently, but did not reveal what those changes were or where he was headed next.
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The Phillipses also shared that they will be spending the next six months preparing for a court case: “Whilst the doors to SY23 may be closing, our court battle against the insurance companies and at the premises business interruption claim, during the Covid pandemic will continue. If anything, our situation today only strengthens the importance of this case, and the responsibility that the insurance companies have to small businesses. Our case will be heard in the High Court of Appeal, during June 2024. This will enable other businesses, not only in hospitality, to pursue their claims.”
The case concerns pandemic-related closure insurance payouts that Zenith Insurance PLC and QIC Europe Limited refused to grant to the couple’s operating business, Why Not Bar. Many restaurateurs who have been through a similar issue will doubtless be eager to see its outcome next summer.
“While it is heartbreaking to say goodbye,” the statement concluded, “we believe it is the best decision for the business in these challenging times. We thank you for being part of our journey and for allowing us to be a part of your dining experiences.”