Birmingham restaurants feel the heat as four close

Rodizio Rico

Birmingham’s casual dining scene has been hit by another wave of closures as the difficult trading conditions continue for operators.

Spanish restaurant Amantia on Bennetts Hill has revealed it will close within a fortnight, just days after Rodizio Rico and its sister site Osteria Rodizio Rico shut in the Cube.

Italian restaurant Pinocchio, which was a short-lived venture in The Mailbox, has now been confirmed as being permanently closed after initially saying it was undergoing a refurbishment.

Rodizio Rico’s two restaurants were taken back by the landlord ahead of the Easter weekend. However Rodizio Rico is fighting the closure, claiming the action was taken at 4am on Good Friday despite the company owing just £416 in outstanding rent.

Owner Mike Nayla told this was due to “a genuine mistake” related to the RPI increase in its rent. He added: “We don’t understand it. Maybe they have an offer on the unit and want to push us over the cliff.”

The closures follow on from a difficult 18 months for the sector, with administrations and CVAs seeing a number of restaurants stop.

Recently Patisserie Valerie, Ed’s Easy Diner, Giraffe and Lasan Group have followed Carluccio’s, Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo, Byron, Strada and others in reducing the number of sites they operate.

The Oyster Club

There are, however, a steady stream of people who believe they have the recipe for success. Amantia’s lease has been assigned to an unnamed operator, while around the corner Adam Stokes has this month opened The Oyster Club close to his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant, Adam’s.

Yesterday revealed chef Robert Ortiz, who has his own Michelin-starred restaurant in London, is to bring his Peruvian cooking to Moseley with the launch of his restaurant Chakana.

But with the casual dining sector still awash with heavy discounting and promotions of the type that usually stop on January 31st, more casualties are expected in the months ahead.

Pinocchio, which last September took over the closed Strada site just yards away from Rodizio Rico, has also confirmed its closure. In a statement on their website, Pinocchio’s owners said: “Unfortunately we have had to take the difficult decision to cease trading, we would like to thank all our our customers for dining with us in the past.”

Amantia owners Andrea Tragaj, his wife Marta Retenaga and her sister Silvia have said they will now “spend more time with our family and focus on other projects”.

In an upbeat message ahead of its May 5th closing party, they added: “We are already working on a new exciting (but slightly different) venture that we will share with you very soon.”