For almost a decade, Deeson’s British Restaurant in Canterbury was a byword for quality high-end food.
Alas, owner and head chef Sam Deeson has now announced that he is shutting the Sun Street business.
A sign in the window explains: “The cost of running a restaurant such as Deeson’s in the current financial climate has proven just too much. Passion, unfortunately, does not pay the bills.”
It is, perhaps, a tad too easy to blame factors outside the restaurant’s control – “the current financial crisis”- for its failure rather than seek answers closer to home.
It is, after all, only natural not to want to conclude that the nature of the business itself might be the over-riding factor in its success or otherwise.
That said, almost everyone in Canterbury who has eaten at Deeson’s is full of praise for it.
But it is also very expensive. Many who have been there only go on the most special of occasions in the knowledge that they could be parting with close to £100 per head for a three-course meal with alcohol.
It thus becomes very difficult to build up a regular clientele large enough to sustain it.
On the other hand, visit one of Canterbury’s two Wetherspoon’s pubs on different days and you’ll soon notice the same faces time and again.
People go there because the food and drink is cheap. People go to McDonald’s for the same reason.
The marketplace thus must not be seen as some sort of abstraction operating independently of people, but as ultimately shaped by the millions of decisions people daily make about how to spend their money.
And if they think a business charges too much for its product or service, they either won’t use it or will patronise it sparingly.
The restaurant business is also notoriously volatile. Statistics published in the US in 2016 revealed that 60 per cent of restaurants fail in the first year while 80 per cent close after five years.
The city of Canterbury, too, has its own part to play. Bustling with students and tourists, it is saturated with places to eat. The competition is massive. Those that survive do so because they offer good food at an acceptable price.
While many will lament the passing of Deeson’s, which had come to be seen as a fixture of the city’s urban landscape, it appears that Sam Deeson’s other food venture, the neighbouring Pork & Co, remains open.
Mr Deeson will still have an outlet for his undoubted passion for great grub.