Restaurant cuts ties with AA Guide after inspectors failed to the visit the restaurant over five years

Alex South

Alex South


Clark's Restaurant in Scarborough cuts ties with the AA Food & Drink Guide after inspectors failed to inspect the restaurant year on year since 2018.

Speaking out on the restaurant’s Instagram earlier this month, Clark’s Restaurant chef patron Rob Clark announced that the latest communication with the AA Food & Drink Guide has highlighted that their most recent inspection has been cancelled due to the restaurant not serving lunch.

The owners were quick to point out that their first inspection, which resulted in the restaurant winning a rosette, had happened on the evening.

AA’s most recent reply to the restaurant, shared on social media by Clark’s Restaurant, stated that: “I have been in contact with our inspector regarding the meal visit to Clark’s Restaurant. As confirmed previously there is a meal visit allocated to your property. Unfortunately, the opening times of your restaurant may have delayed the visit, we can only assess restaurants in the evenings when we are staying in a Bed & Breakfast property which doesn’t serve [the] meal (the food aspect is something we must assess for their scoring).”

They added: “I can understand [your] frustration on the lack of a recent visit but once again, [we] can confirm that there is a meal visit allocated and this will be completed as soon as possible.”

As a result, Clark’s Restaurant has decided to revoke their membership and part ways with the AA Food & Drink Guide.

Speaking exclusively to The Staff Canteen about the ordeal, Rob said: “We first contacted AA in 2018 to request an inspection and once they booked in, we were assessed we were absolutely thrilled to receive a rosette. Our inspector outlined what we needed to improve and the team and I set to work. We received amazing publicity from winning the award with customers visiting our restaurant having seen on social media and the AA guidebook.”

He added: “We commissioned a plaque for outside the restaurant to showcase us finally becoming award winning in a seaside resort of heavily saturated restaurants, hotels and brasseries.

“For the following years we awaited with anticipation when they may visit and scrutinised every reservation that it could possibly be them. However, no re-inspection ever materialised. I emailed AA to shed light on this year’s £222 bill and they claimed our operating hours didn’t fit their schedule.”

Citing rising costs, the ongoing cost of living crisis and the difficult positions operators find themselves in, Rob said: “Hospitality has been drastically hit over the past 6 months as a consequence of the nation’s cost of living sky rocketing and running an establishment has the same issues. Electricity, phone, heating, wages, produce and operating costs all increasing with a reduction of business resulting in lower profits and at times only having profitable weekends which are not sustainable for any business.”

Commenting on their decision to cancel their AA membership, Rob explained: “The decision to cancel our membership with AA has been a very difficult one, we saw Inspections in our town occur in 2022 which was a perfect opportunity to revisit. Our business has drastically changed in 5 years as industry developments move on and we deserve an accurate rating to reflect our standards upheld and served.”

**The Staff Canteen reached out to the AA Food & Drink Guide for comment about Clark’s Restaurant inspection, as well as what the company will be doing to ensure that visits for paid members are honoured and carried out within a reasonable time frame. They are yet to comment. 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Alex South

Alex South

Editor 22nd March 2023

Restaurant cuts ties with AA Guide after inspectors failed to the visit the restaurant over five years