Italian restaurant coming next as popular tapas bar closes
PUBLISHED: 05:30 24 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:19 24 August 2020
A city restaurateur has thanked his loyal customers after Covid-19 robbed him of the opportunity to say a proper goodbye after more than two decades - and urged them to back the city’s other independent offerings.
Jose Garcia, who owns Torero Tapas Bar on Fye Bridge Street in Norwich, revealed in February that he was planning to retire in May and had a crammed bookings list running up to his final farewell.
However, after coronavirus sent the country into lockdown he lost his opportunity to say goodbye, with the restaurant opting not to reopen once the government measures were eased.
Mr Garcia, who was born in Madrid and opened the restaurant in 1999, said: “It was a shame I couldn’t really say goodbye and I must admit it does feel weird not going to work again after 21 years. I still feel a bit lost.
“I will miss the coffees with my staff and the warmth of the people the most, but I always said I would like to retire around 55 and I’m 56 now.
“Running a restaurant is hard work by its very nature and I think I’ve earned an early retirement.”
The Spanish restaurant is set to be replaced by a new independent Italian restaurant called The Bridge, which is currently in the process of being decorated with a view to opening in October.
Mr Garcia said: “It’s a family-run business and they seem lovely people so I wish them well. It’s very brave to be opening a new restaurant now.
“It’s quite rare for an independent restaurant to last as long as we did and I have seen a lot come and go in my time. When I first started very few pubs served food and now they all do, so by the end not only were did you have competition from other restaurants, but pubs too.”
The Spaniard also said he felt locally-run restaurants were being somewhat eclipsed by national chains, backing this newspaper’s Love Local campaign.
He said: “In London at the minute it seems like people are slightly turning their backs on chains and supporting independents, but the opposite appears to be true about Norwich. I really hope people can start to support independents more.”
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