Steakhouse CAU becomes latest mid-market restaurant to close
CAU has become the latest mid-market restaurant to leave Tunbridge Wells, following Jamie’s Italian and Strada.
The Argentine chain’s parent company Gaucho has entered administration, with 540 jobs set to be lost across the UK’s 22 branches.
In the Tunbridge Wells branch, on Mount Pleasant, this will see 19 redundancies.
Joint administrator Matt Smith said: "Unfortunately the CAU brand has struggled in the oversupplied casual dining sector with rapid over-expansion, poor site selection, onerous lease arrangements and a fundamentally poor guest proposition all being factors in its underperformance.
"The Gaucho business on the other hand, which operates in the premium dining market, continues to trade well in its market segment, is profitable and has a strong underlying brand and guest loyalty."
Other Tunbridge Wells chain restaurants such as Prezzo and Carluccio’s are still trading, but have seen other branches close around the country.
The Times has previously reported on this trend, dubbed the ‘casual dining crunch’.
Owners have reported a fall in covers during the day, which some have put down to customers having too much choice or overly-similar options.
Tunbridge Wells-based law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore published a survey which showed 67 per cent of restaurant owners who responded thought ‘over-saturation’ was hurting the industry.
Alisa Sweeney, Partner at Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP, said: “It’s a shame to see the removers already in at the Tunbridge Wells branch of CAU, another casualty of the so called casual dining crunch.
“At Thomson Snell & Passmore, we know from a recent survey we carried out with operators and those in the restaurant business that they are facing increasing pressures.
“This is from a melting pot of challenges ranging from attracting and retaining the right talented staff, rising business rates, uncertainty in the economy, especially due to Brexit, and consumers constantly looking for the latest concept and innovations.”
Additional reporting by Charlotte Taylor
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE LOADING VAN
A removal lorry outside CAU in Mount Pleasant Tunbridge Wells