StanMan's Kitchen in Gloucester closing this weekend
STANMAN'S Kitchen will close for good this weekend in a shock move that has left loyal customers of the cafe and shop devastated.
Neil and Nicky Wildin, who have run the Westgate Street eaterie for the past five years, will be puling down the shutters for the final time, assuming their existing stock is sold by Saturday.
They put their much-loved business on the market as a going concern several months ago and insisted they would sell only to someone looking to continue in the same vein.
But despite plenty of interest, no-one has taken the plunge – citing either finance issues or uncertainty over the shop's location.
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So the husband and wife, who have become one of the street's flagship independent retailers, are calling it a day.
"The lease runs out next year and there's a lot of factors for not renewing it," said Neil. "A lot of our costs are going up, the local stuff we buy in is going up and we don't feel we can put our prices up because we are at a limit. We've spoken with the landlord, they're very understanding and are happy for us to go as soon as this weekend.
"We're having a 'moving on sale' – we don't want to call it a closing down sale – and if we've sold everything, then Saturday will be it."
He said Saturday had become the only day of the week they did serious business.
The couple, both 44, who have four children, live in Longlevens and are staying in the area.
Neil said business had dropped significantly in the past 18 months and they had decided to bow out before harder times might hit.
"We've been here five years now. The first three years business was fantastic but there's been a huge drop off in footfall in the street over the past 18 months or so," he said. "If we renewed the lease, we couldn't be sure what will happen. But we're going now, we're not bankrupt, everyone's getting paid."
They left behind corporate careers to start StanMan's and will now take stock of their options before deciding their next move. Four student casual workers are also employed there.
Customer Lynne Lee, the retail manager at Gloucester Cathedral, has been coming to StanMan's since it opened.
She said: "I was waiting for years for a shop like this to come to Gloucester, it's just what the city needed and it's been absolutely brilliant.
"They are more than a business, they have become part of the community and they have made a difference. It's not good for Gloucester to be losing a business like this."
City councillor Pam Tracey (C, Westgate) said: "I'm devastated, they have been superb for Westgate Street. I just hope someone else takes that premises over soon."