Thursday, 23 September 2021

Museum cafe operator resigns

THE Quince Tree pub and restaurant in Stonor could be re-opened

THE Quince Tree pub and restaurant in Stonor could be re-opened.

But the company has decided to quit its café at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley.

It says the business isn’t making a profit, so the directors have given notice that they will leave in March after two years.

The museum has already begun looking for a new operator and hopes to retain the 11 café staff.

The company runs another café in London as well as a home delivery service.

Jack Butler, operations manager for the Quince Tree, said: “We are going to continue to build the business in London and are looking to expand. We are in negotiations with various parties to re-open Stonor. It’s not going to be closed forever — it’s owned by the Quince Tree and it will continue going forward.”

The Stonor business was opened by Bobby Yerburgh in 2012 after he bought the former Stonor Arms pub, which had been closed for four years, and refurbished and extended it.

The business closed in April with the loss of more than 30 jobs. The company said it had struggled to make a profit and that the pub would be closed “for the foreseeable future”.

Mr Butler said the decision to leave the museum café was down to the failure to make a profit.

He said: “We are very proud of what we have achieved and this is not like Stonor, where we closed.

“It’s the most successful it has ever been but we are not making any money there, it’s as simple as that. It’s not a profitable business. If a business is not making money these are the tough decisions that have to be made.

“The cost of wages for a small spend per head meant that the directors decided to give notice. We will look after the staff until March. Nobody will be losing their jobs.”

Ludo Keston, chief executive of the museum, pledged that the cafe would remain open with a new company in charge.

He said: “We were advised last month by the Quince Tree that they had regrettably decided to give us notice to leave the museum.

“We are obviously disappointed, particularly given the wonderful reputation the Quince Tree has built up, providing great food and service to our many visitors.

“The museum is now in discussion with a number of high-quality caterers about entering into a contract from March 2017 and would like to thank the Quince Tree for giving us plenty of time to find the right new partner.

“We would like to reassure all our visitors and clients that we will continue to operate a café serving delicious, freshly cooked food and will be delivering quality events to the many corporate and private clients that we have already booked for 2017 and beyond.”

Henley town manager Helen Barnett said: “While is it a shame to finally lose the Quince Tree brand from Henley, the River and Rowing Museum is a hidden gem.

“It hosts some very glamorous events, functions and exhibitions that are all exciting opportunities for a new catering company.”

Henley Mayor Julian Brookes added: “I’m very sad to see the Quince Tree pulling out but the museum will make sure the cafe continues onwards and upwards.

“I think it has the potential to be a good business - it’s often busy and can thrive as part of the whole offering at the museum.”

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