The Silent Goodbye

The Silent Goodbye

Sheffield, a city brimming with culinary diversity and vibrancy, is undergoing a silent transformation. The familiar haunts, the cherished eateries, and the cosy cafes that once adorned its streets are slowly fading away. Tonco, with its intimate ambience and delectable offerings; V or V, a haven for vegetarians and vegans; The Gatsby, an established cocktail bar and Juke & Low, celebrating British cuisine with a modern flair, are just some of the eateries and bars that have bid their farewells to the city over the last few months. These closures, lamentably, are not isolated incidents but symptomatic of a larger trend plaguing Sheffield’s food and drink scene.

The reasons for the unfortunate downturn in Sheffield’s restaurant industry are multifaceted, but they are apparent to most. Firstly, the high cost of living in Sheffield has made dining out a luxury, rather than a routine indulgence, for many residents. As wallets tighten, fewer people are willing to spend on leisurely meals and pub drinks, causing a decline in footfall for these establishments. 

Additionally, small eateries are facing increasing financial burdens due to rising utility costs, especially gas and electricity, and higher business rates. A few years ago, the pandemic-induced economic turbulence was the tipping point for many. For those who survived the uncertainty of those years, it must be heartbreaking that these pressures have finally pushed them over the brink.

Another factor is the ever-rising costs of ingredients. We saw prices rise significantly for widespread ingredients such as oil and wheat when Russia invaded Ukraine over two years ago. The pressures of the climate crisis have seen us witness food shortages and price hikes. Inflation continues to push prices up for both our eateries and their customers. Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly untenable for restaurateurs to sustain their operations profitably. 

However, amidst the sombre narrative, glimmers of hope are there. The Sheffield Beer Report 2024, commissioned by the University of Sheffield, found the brewing and pub scene in Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority area is going against the grain of the national trend for closures, despite the challenges of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis. Despite closures for long-term eateries, there are others that are bucking the trend. 5Tara, a Punjabi restaurant, is opening a second venue in the city, Joro, with its unique tasting menus, is opening a new base and the Hallamshire Hotel is reopening after a new refurbishment. There are also many more food halls and other eateries planned to open this year, which shows Sheffield’s food and drink scene is far from dead. However, there still needs to be greater support to make sure we all thrive. 

There are tangible solutions that can alleviate the strain on Sheffield’s culinary landscape. Firstly, government intervention to tackle the high costs of energy, coupled with measures to mitigate inflation, is imperative. Addressing the root causes of these economic challenges is essential to safeguarding the viability of businesses, both in Sheffield and beyond. And, of course, these things would greatly improve all our lives, not just the stakes of local restaurants and eateries. 

Local councils also have a pivotal role to play. Reconsidering business rates and implementing policies that promote entrepreneurship and support small businesses can inject much-needed vitality into the local economy. By fostering an environment conducive to growth and innovation, councils can nurture the next generation of culinary ventures, ensuring Sheffield remains a gastronomic hub.

As patrons, we, too, can play a part in preserving Sheffield’s culinary heritage. While the cost of living crisis bites for most people in Sheffield, there are many who still can eat out in the city.  Supporting restaurants, cafes, and pubs for those who can is not just an act of indulgence but a gesture of solidarity. In doing so, we contribute to the sustenance of our local communities and safeguard the rich tapestry of culinary experiences that define Sheffield. When we lose a food establishment, people lose jobs, suppliers get fewer orders, and we lose part of our community.

ShefFood, Sheffield’s food partnership, also wants to offer help and resources to struggling eateries through their network of sustainable food organisations. ShefFood facilitates connections with local producers, provides invaluable advice, and consultancy services, committed to bolstering the resilience of Sheffield’s culinary ecosystem. By leveraging their resources and expertise, ShefFood can help support businesses to weather the storms and emerge stronger than before.

Among the current partners of ShefFood are delicious establishments such as China Red, ALS Goncha, Ammi’s Kitchen, Lavang, Bragazzi’s, Marmadukes, Pom Kitchen, Proove Pizza, Nam Song, Dana, Pina, Church: Temple of Fun, Elma’s Cafe, and Forge Bakehouse. These places are the perfect example of how Sheffield’s food scene keeps pushing forward with new ideas and solutions to overcome challenges and continue to delight us with delicious food. They not only thrive but contribute to Sheffield’s food scene through their partnership with ShefFood.

While the closures of beloved eateries like Tonco, and V or V may mark the end of an era, others opening herald a new beginning. By addressing the systemic challenges facing the hospitality industry and rallying together as a community, we can ensure that Sheffield’s culinary legacy endures for generations. Let’s answer the call, back our local businesses, and keep Sheffield’s food scene alive and kicking. 

If you are a food establishment that needs help or advice, get in touch with the ShefFood team at