11 November 2013
Celebrity chef Mat Follas vows to ‘keep cooking’ as eatery closes.
Mat Follas at The Wild Garlic in Beaminster has said the future of the Wild Garlic looks uncertain but celebrity chef Mat, has urged people to watch this space.
The top-rated Dorset restaurant that won rave reviews from critics and pundits alike closed this week, just months after moving to Iwerne Minster.
Opened in the same year that the New Zealand-born chef won Masterchef 2009, The Wild Garlic in Beaminster was awarded two AA rosettes and had recommendations in The Good Food Guide, The Michelin Guide and Trencherman’s Guide, as well as rave reviews by food critics in The Guardian and The Telegraph.
Mr Follas also opened the Chesil Beach Cafe on Portland in July 2011 following a £1.1 million refurbishment of the Chesil Beach Centre, however the restaurant passed to new owners eight months later.
In April, Mr Follas said he was relocating The Wild Garlic to the The Talbot in Iwerne Minster near Blandford, where there was more space for diners.
Last week Mr Follas tweeted that he was ‘frustrated and deeply saddened’ to announce the closure of the restaurant for the ‘foreseeable future’.
Speaking to the Echo, Mr Follas said that he was currently in discussions with the brewery that owns the pub in the hope they could reopen very soon. He said they could be looking to wind up the limited company and then work with someone else in the future with the Wild Garlic as a part of the Iwerne Minster pub. He said they were hopeful they could find someone soon so that the restaurant could reopen as soon as possible.
“One way or the other I will continue cooking, it’s what I do,” he said. He said it had been a ‘tough year’ with the Beaminster Tunnel closure and the Chesil Beach Café venture.
But Mr Follas said the underlying business was good for the North Dorset restaurant and they had received good support but they had struggled to attract the everyday bar trade. He said it had been ‘fun but it just hadn’t been profitable’.
He said it might be time to accept that people seem to want a fine dining experience from him rather than bar food. Mr Follas added: “If it’s not what people want I need to get it to a size where it works and do the fine dining that people expect.” He said there seemed to be an expectation that they would be expensive when they weren’t and it was difficult to change opinions.
Mr Follas said that all the staff had been paid. He said: “The staff and customers we have had have been brilliant. “We have had a lot of fun and we will carry on in one way or the other.”
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