Ironbridge restaurant closes saying 'fun has gone' as it explains 'weekly fight for survival'

An Ironbridge Indian restaurant has announced that it has closed for good "because the fun has gone", replaced with a weekly fight for survival in the face of soaring bills and nightmare staff shortages.

The Pondicherry was in a former police station building.
The Pondicherry was in a former police station building.

The Pondicherry in Waterloo Street has posted a farewell message on its website expressing the hope that it will leave a legacy of goodwill that will extend to those most in need.

"It is with deep sorrow that we have decided to close our doors for good. Over the last 20 years we have loved building friendships with our customers. Thank you for your support. We will miss you," it reads.

"It is ironic that we made our decision shortly after we were announced as finalists in two categories of the 2022 English Curry Awards: The West Midlands' Restaurant of the Year and the Midlands' Chef of the Year.

"We are closing because the fun has gone out of running a restaurant. Like virtually every other hospitality business we were in a weekly fight to stay alive.

"Our energy bills have risen by 300 per cent, with more rises on the horizon since many energy suppliers are no longer offering the certainty provided by long term contracts. Prices of ingredients, like cooking oils, have similarly gone through the roof and staff shortages are a nightmare.

"Opening for fewer days (the decision forced on many dining establishments) only reduces the losses suffered by restaurants. It is no real solution to the problem and certainly doesn’t help staff who see their wages going down while their bills at home are rising inexorably.

"We are lucky. We were in a position to make a controlled exit and ensure that our suppliers are looked after.

"Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all those small businesses that have no option but to battle on against almost impossible odds. Please support them whenever you can.

"In the meantime, thanks again for your friendship and support over the last 20 years – we will miss you."

The Pondicherry was housed in a distinctive blue brick Victorian building which historically was home to Ironbridge police station and magistrates court. The building was bought by Telford businessman Arfon Azam and given a £250,000 refurbishment, opening to diners, according to our archives, in April 2007.

Only seven months later it was voted the best Indian restaurant in Shropshire by listeners of a local radio show, and received a further accolade when it scooped a MOFO, awarded by Mood Food Magazine for exciting cuisine with high standards of service.

Its reputation spread far and wide and among those to have dined there were snooker commentator Willie Thorne, multiple world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, and ex-boxer Nigel Benn.

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