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What difference has the 'Restaurant Quarter' label made to South Croydon?


MOVES made last year to boost business in South End's rebranded Restaurant Quarter have produced mixed results, according to restaurateurs in the area.

After the successful staging of the first South Croydon Food Festival in Spice's Yard last April, there were hopes of a revival and attracting many more regular visitors.

But last August, Le Cassoulet, the highly rated restaurant of chef Malcolm John, permanently shut its doors.

And a quiet summer despite the Olympics led to the creation of a dining club by the South Croydon Community District (SCCD), in a bid to attract locals and boost business.

Sunil Tanner, owner of the Chilli Rooms, said that while business has been relatively strong at weekends, recent customer levels have been disappointing.

He said: "On weekdays we could do a lot better than what we are.

"I think it's mainly due to the recession and people having to save money after Christmas shopping."

Mr Tanner also suggested that too much national emphasis on economic woes might also explain why people are more reticent about eating out in South End.

"It's bound to put a scare up people," he said.

"Every day you hear about another company going into administration. It's just the general public being very cautious about their spending."

On the moves made by the SCCD dining club, he added: "It does help, but not as much as one would expect. It brings in people who are looking for offers."

But Orhan Turkay, manager of the Croydon Bar and Grill, believes his restaurant is set for a positive year.

He said: "It was a fantastic Christmas and more busy than we thought.

"I don't know what it will be like next month and the month after, but I think things are going to build up this year."

Peter Bagatti, vice-chairman of the South Croydon Business Association (SCBA) and owner of Italian restaurant Bagatti's, said that business had remained "steady" since the 2011 riots.

Although the Olympics produced little effect in terms of visitor numbers, he acknowledged that local restaurants had taken a drop since the start of the economic downturn in 2008.

"Hopefully, from South End's point of view, as a Restaurant Quarter we'll see things improve," he said.

The initial rebrand of the Restaurant Quarter was part of the Croydon Recovery Project, funded by a one-off GLA grant to help the borough move on from the riots.

Some of this cash was put into new signage, welcoming visitors to the new Quarter, while it also helped to fund the South Croydon Food Festival, which attracted more than 5,000 people to the area last April.

However, without the funding boost this year, it is not clear whether the festival can take place again.

Rose Farrar, from White Label Consultants, who worked on the event's PR alongside the GLA, says getting local sponsorship for a repeat is a priority of the SCBA.

"They need to find as much cash as possible so they can continue funding community events such as the food festival," she said.

"The key will be finding sponsors who will invest in the area and make it be the best it can be."

What difference has the 'Restaurant Quarter' label made to South Croydon?

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