TAMWORTH’S revolving-door restaurant sector is in the midst of another seismic shift, with two popular eateries closing and a handful of others set to open or move locations.
Over the new year period, both the Ritz and Rocks restaurants closed their doors, while pizzeria Red Embers and steakhouse The Safari Club are about to move to new premises.
Meanwhile, a new French restaurant is poised to open in West Tamworth and a wine/tapas bar is rumoured to be moving into the old Red Embers site in Peel St.
Leading local restaurateur and owner of the Ritz, Graham Manvell, said the burden of penalty rates and a hectic work schedule forced him to close the doors of the stylish eatery.
“We really busted ourselves to keep it open but it was too hard in the end,” Mr Manvell said.
“There’s no question penalty rates made it harder. You just can’t make a crust with those sorts of expenses. We wanted to try and bring a different type of restaurant to Tamworth, it’s great for the town.”
Mr Manvell, who also runs SSS BBQ Barn and Kitty Crawford Estate, said he established the Ritz after the BBQ Barn burned down.
Former restaurant owner Barry Pawsey said running a successful eatery was “extremely difficult”.
“Anyone who provides a good quality product will do well but it’s tough, there are many places to eat in Tamworth and a lot of competition,” Mr Pawsey said.
“I think a lot of people go into it with a romantic, rather than a realistic, idea.
“When I had my restaurant, we were working from 7am in the morning until midnight.
“It’s a hard life.”
The owner of the Rocks restaurant, located next to council chambers, declined to comment to The Leader about the closure.