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Tuesday, 22 May 2018
A COUPLE who run a fish and chip shop in Henley are leaving after 16 years because they say their rent is too high.
Paulo and Ana Gouveia will quit Smart’s Fish Bar in Reading Road on November 18.
They are moving to Southampton to open another takeaway because they say rents are lower there.
The Henley Standard understands that Smarts will be run by new tenants.
Mr Gouveia, 45, said: “The rent went up two years ago and now it’s going up again so we asked if the landlord could drop it and they said no.
“We were interested in buying the lease but it was going to be too much money.
“That’s the reason for going but fish is now more expensive too. It costs about £109 for a box of 40 fillets. They are catching a smaller quantity of fish so the price has increased.
“We work hard but with a smaller profit it becomes very difficult.
“We are sad to go but there is nothing we can do. All we could do is charge more for the fish but we don’t want to do that.”
Mr Gouveia came to England from Portugal 24 years ago and has worked in fish and chip shops ever since.
He ran businesses in Berinsfield, near Benson, and Wantage before setting up in Henley in 2000.
The couple, who live above the shop with their daughter Ana Claudia and son Leandro, used to visit the town regularly before they decided to open the business.
Mr Gouveia said: “When we first started it was very good because the fish was cheaper and so was the rent.
“In the last two years it has been so difficult because we are working a lot harder.”
A sign in the shop window explains why the family is leaving and Mr Gouveia has spoken to customers about it.
He said: “They are sad because we have been here a long time and know a lot of them very well.
“I wish I could stay for another 16 years but we have to leave. My wife is sad but there isn’t a future with the rent.
“We will still come back to visit Henley because it is such a nice town. I want to thank all the customers. They have looked after us and I hope we have looked after them.”
Henley town manager Helen Barnett said she was shocked to hear the couple were leaving.
“I am particularly disappointed to hear that their landlord was unwilling to work with them to enable them to stay in the town,” she said.
“Smart’s is a well-established family business which has been in the town for more than 15 years with a five-star reputation and the Gouveias will be missed by generations of local residents.”
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