'The truth is it is no longer viable as a business'

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st July 2020

Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant, Wilks, will remain closed forever, precipitating owners' pre-Covid plans to sell the business. 

Founders James and Christine Wilkins told Bristol Live that they had taken the decision to move on to a new venture in October 2019, shortly after featuring in the Waitrose Good Food Guide and maintaining its Michelin star for the eighth consecutive year. 

However, as plans to sell the business were cut short by the pandemic, they decided to move on. 

Chef and co-owner James, aka Jimmy Bird, said: "The margins here were tight anyway with costs forever going up and little way of passing that on to customers.

"Customer confidence is weak at the moment and the country is looking at a serious recession. The truth is it is no longer a viable business.

"Of course, this is a hard reality to accept for us."

While the couple said they "greatly enjoyed" living and working in Bristol, and that they would love to return at some point in the future, they were left with no choice. The business is on the market at £175,000, with an annual rent of £27,500. 

Over the course of his career, chef James Wilkins worked in several Michelin starred restaurants including Aubergine with Gordon Ramsay, The Halkin with Stefano Cavallini and The Greenhouse with Jeff Galvin.

When he was 23, he moved to Cannes where he started working for Richard Neat, who at the time was the only English man in France to hold a Michelin star. Over the next few years, he travelled between France and England working in some of the best restaurants under the industry’s top chefs.

In 2006, Michel Bras asked James if he would move to Japan to work as head chef and director at his restaurant inside The Windsor Hotel, which he accepted.

With over 20 years in the industry and having worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens around the world, James and his partner Christine settled back down in the UK to open their very own restaurant. The Michelin star was first awarded to Wilks in 2012.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st July 2020

'The truth is it is no longer viable as a business'