‘We are heartbroken’ - Restaurant at holiday resort closes down due to coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:59 02 August 2020
A restaurant at Potters Resort has closed down due to the impact of coronavirus - with the owner stating some “tough decisions” will have to be made for the family-run holiday business to survive.
The Black Rock Grill, in Hopton, announced on Friday (July 31) it would not be reopening as it was “not viable to operate with social distancing”.
News of the closure has been greeted with sadness and at the resort itself owner John Potter said: “We are heartbroken, it was something we were very proud of.”
Uniquely for the region diners at the restaurant would cook their own food on slabs of volcanic granite heated to 4400c.
“It was a highlight of one of the many offerings at Potters but is unfortunately a victim of this pandemic,” Mr Potter said.
“It’s a very sad day, it was my baby 11 years ago, I was really proud of the fact that despite it being very novel for people to cook their own food at the table, 11 years on it was more popular than ever.”
The restaurant was not viable, however, when the resort’s core business was selling holidays and short breaks, he said.
“We are a holiday business, not a restaurant business. We have to focus on our core business to survive this.”
Another priority was keeping residents safe, he added.
MORE: Famous holiday resort to reopen with 50 new restaurant suites
The family resort, one of the oldest of its kind in the UK, was celebrating its one hundredth anniversary this year when coronavirus hit.
And although Mr Potter laments the loss of the Black Rock Grill, he is determined the resort will face down the challenge.
“We’ve survived wars, floods, fires, and we will survive this,” he said.
“It is just a blip, a big blip, in the scheme of things.
“When you get to 100 years these things get put into perspective. It might feel like the end of the world when you see it from close-up, but in 100 years we’ve gone up, down and across.”
He said there was “nothing positive to come out of this pandemic”.
“People are dying and losing their jobs, but from a purely business perspective I am not going to let Potters go down on my watch.
“We have to make some tough decisions now to keep going for another 100 years.”
Last month the resort, which employs around 800 people, began redundancy consultations, with the company stating job losses are something they will “reluctantly have to consider”.
“We’re hoping to save as many jobs as we can,” Mr Potter said.
He has also not entirely ruled out the possibility the grill could reopen sometime in the future, if circumstances change.
“It is not a decision that is irreversible,” he said. “But there is no vaccine and that is the case indefinitely until that changes.”
‘With a heavy heart’
An email sent on Friday (July 31) to members of the restaurant’s club stated:
“Like us, over recent weeks and months, we’re sure you’ve all been watching and waiting for things to start getting back to normal, albeit with some differences and adjustments to our everyday lives.
“While it is something we’ve always been proud of, offering such a unique dining experience comes with additional costs that many other restaurants don’t see. The honest reality is the Black Rock Grill has to be at full capacity for it to operate profitably and, in turn, continue to meet the expectations of those choosing to enjoy an evening with us.
“So, when working through how we could open safely, it became clear that with a much reduced volume of diners, it is, sadly, simply not viable for us to reopen.
“With no imminent sign of a vaccine or a change in social distancing restrictions, it is therefore with a heavy heart we have made the decision to permanently close the Black Rock Grill.
“This has not been an easy decision to make, especially when we reflect on the last 11 years and the wonderful nights we’ve had together.
“An experience at the Black Rock Grill was like no other and it was amazing to see, so many years later, that the novelty of our ‘Hot Rock’ main course (and signature dessert of course!) never grew old.
“So to you, our wonderful and valued diners who sought something different, and a true ‘dining experience’ over ‘just a meal out’ - thank you for the memories!”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.