It is with heavy hearts that we announce the immediate closure of Copper & Ink.
We have agonised over making this decision and spent much of the Christmas break trying desperately to find a way to save the restaurant, but to no avail.
The decision to close is borne out of the continued financial difficulties caused by COVID, increased energy costs, the cost of living crisis and price increases from all our suppliers that we have had to bear the brunt of for the last 3 years. All of which we know you have felt too, which has resulted in less guests coming through our doors, making running a business untenable.
We have had a wonderful 5 years, and we want to thank each of every one of you from the bottom of our hearts for the warmth, love & support you have bestowed upon us during this time.
We know there will be many questions and we will attempt to answer as many of them as we possibly can, however, we are also in a period of grief for the loss of the place we have called home for all this time, so we would appreciate some respect for our privacy whilst we process everything and go through the procedure of winding everything up.
In the meantime, we have put togethers some FAQs below which we hope might go some way to answering the pressing questions some of you may have.
We have been privileged to be such an integral part of the Blackheath Village community and we will dearly miss seeing all of you on a regular basis.
Until we meet again...
Tony, Becky & The Copper & Ink family
A FURTHER STATEMENT ON VOUCHERS AND THE CLOSURE I wanted to write a further statement regarding voucher sales and the circumstances behind the closure of Copper & Ink. I’m aware of many rumours and comments circulation on Facebook and Instagram and wanted our guests to understand the truth behind what has happened. I want you all to know that Becky and I never intentionally sold vouchers in the knowledge we were to close in the New Year, and that we had every intention of allowing you to redeem those vouchers.
As you all know, we were trading through November and December and vouchers have been available to purchase since we opened in 2018. The last two months are always busy times for hospitality and often the money made in those months sustains a restaurant through the quieter months of January and February. This includes both guests coming through our doors and vouchers sales. This is the same across the UK, in restaurants big and small.
For Copper & Ink this was no different. We were working hard at the end of the year to ensure the business could survive January. We were making plans to convert part of the restaurant into a cocktail bar. We had written a menu for January and had even purchased meat and fish to be frozen as we knew the meat and fish markets didn’t open until the 5th of January. Rota’s had been written, staff were ready to go. We closed our doors on the 23rd looking forward to a brief holiday before reopening in the new year and feeding you all.
For Becky and I, this was the first break we’d had all year. In fact, after our wedding in September, we took two days off, while the restaurant was closed to enjoy some time together. November and December were busy times for us, so after Christmas day and boxing day with family, we sat down on the 27th for the first time in a while, and reviewed the past two months’ trading, and looked at what January had in store. It was only then that we saw the dire situation the business was in.
November was much quieter than expected, but we were working on the assumption that people were holding out for December. Sadly, our December trading was 70% that of the year before, with overheads considerably higher. We had made it to the end of the month and paid our team, but had nothing left in the bank, and nothing to sustain us through the new year. We looked at the advance bookings for January and it was bleak. We knew that if we were to open our doors, we wouldn’t be able to pay our team, or our suppliers for any ingredients. We didn’t feel it was acceptable to put people in that situation.
Becky and I spent the next five days desperately trying to save the business. We spent this time on the phone to our shareholders asking if we could raise enough money to complete the crowdfunding to convert part of the building into a cocktail bar (aimed at bringing in additional funds each week) or to raise enough simply to be able to pay the team for another few months. All discussions failed and the decision was taken on the 1st January that we had to close the restaurant. We sat down with our team on the 2nd and made the announcement publicly. Things happened very quickly and were out of our control.
I know many of you are upset and disappointed, angry even that you’ve paid for vouchers that you can no longer redeem. I am genuinely sorry that this has happened. I promise you, this was never my intention. We had always aimed to reopen and for you to be able to use the vouchers.
Many of you have known us for five years or even longer. You’ve spoken to us, trusted us with your birthday celebrations and anniversaries. You know us. We would never have done anything intentionally that might have put you in this position.
The business is going through a liquidation process, as there is no money left, and that means we’re unable to reimburse you and for that I am sorry. If we could, we would. Becky and I can’t offer our own money as over the past year and a half, we’ve taken a lower salary, if we’ve paid ourselves at all. We have no savings left, and now no job. If you bought your vouchers with a card, you will be able to reclaim this money from your bank. I know that’s not perfect, but I’m afraid that’s all we can do at this time. Again, if we could do more, we would.
Many of you are angry, but the attacks on Becky and I have been quite horrific. We’re grieving the loss of our business, a place we called home for 5 years, and at the same time, are having to deal with some very nasty comments. Please can I ask for some consideration with what you might write.
I also want you all to understand that the closure of Copper & Ink is just the tip of the iceberg. We have struggled for the past year or so, not because our food was poor or the service terrible. You’ve all shared meals with us and wanted to dine with us in the future. The hospitality industry is under immense pressure and the greater economy is struggling. For a restaurant, bar or pub, our overheads have rocketed. Energy bills have increased by 250-300% (ours increased by £1000 a week) and food and drink inflation has caused the ingredients we by to increase by as much as 35%. Wages have increased and we’re still stuck with the highest VAT in Europe and extortionate and outdated business rates. We’re also still repaying COVID debts from being forced to close in 2020.
But the public are in a similar position. Your energy bills are still incredibly high and have gone up again this month, all the while the energy providers post record profits. Your mortgages and rent are high due to interest rates and inflation means your shopping basket and petrol prices are more expensive than ever. This means less spending power and less people eating in restaurants.
As an industry, we have faced record closures in 2023 (as many as 6 food and beverage businesses closing daily) and now have less that 100,000 F&B business in the UK for the first time in 20 years.
In Blackheath alone we’ve lost Artis, Hand Made Food, Bianco 43, Laicrom, Koy, The Village Burger Bar, Aqua and more. Some of these have closed due to COVID, others the effects of Brexit, but many as a result of the cost of living crisis that is plaguing the country. Our highstreets are changing and we need to fight for their survival.
5 years ago we opened the restaurant to be a part of the community and give you all something special. We’ve worked with local businesses, donated to local charities, employed your friends and family, celebrated your promotions, been there when you proposed and even hosted your weddings. We have worked ridiculously hard to make something incredible for the community and we are so grateful to all of you who have reached out with kind words and regret. But for those of you who feel wronged, we apologise. We never intended to take your money without being able to deliver a meal. We’re saddened you would believe we could do that.
For any of you who haven’t reached out regarding your voucher, but who might need confirmation that we have ceased trading, I would ask you to please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you confirmation so that your bank can reimburse your funds. There have been so many positive and negative messages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that is has been impossible to respond to them all and we may have missed important messages, so please email me if you still need to arrange a credit from your bank.
Again, we are truly sorry for the closure of the restaurant.
Q: Is there anything we can do to prevent the restaurant from closing? A: Sadly not. We have spent a lot of time trying to find a way to save our restaurant and there doesn't seem to be anything we can do at this time. we had hoped that our plans to create the cocktail lounge would have given us a reprieve, but sadly we were unable to meet our target.
Q:I bought gift vouchers in 2023, what happens with these? A: Unfortunately, as we are closing with immediate effect, these gift vouchers cannot be redeemed or refunded. We had every intention of re-opening after our Christmas break to allow our guests to utilise these, however, after much work to save the restaurant, we have had to make the decision to close.
Q: I've got a booking in January, what does this mean for me? A: We are sadly unable to accommodate any bookings and you should have received notification of this via email. The restaurant is now going through an administrative process to close.
Q: I pledged money to your Kickstarter campaign, what happens to it? A: As we did not meet our target, the campaign will close and no funds will be taken from you.