A north Northumberland restaurant has closed, less than two years since it underwent a £1.3million transformation. The Plough on the Hill at Allerdean, west of Berwick, opened to great fanfare in September 2017.
Owners Robert Kingsley and Sarah Carmichael had big ambitions to create a family-friendly gastropub,featuring the best seasonal produce from Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.
However, the couple have reluctantly decided to pull the plug.
It is mainly for financial reasons but also coincided with the departure of head chef John Lamond.
Robert said: “It just wasn’t sustainable for us anymore so we said enough is enough.
“Our business rates went up from £9,000 a year to £78,000 a year because the council said we hadn’t been assessed for seven years.
“Any money we were making was just covering wages and rates. It crucified us.”
Robert took on another job at Parkdean Resorts while Sarah held the fort.
“We always paid our bills and never let anyone down but we came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t viable,” he said. “It’s a real shame because we tried to do something really special for Berwick. We have put our heart and soul into it.
“It’s unfortunate but, even at this time, with the holiday season ahead of us, it’s too much for my wife to run it on her own.
“It will be a big miss. We have loved people coming to see us and dine with us.”
They have approached agents Christie & Co to see if there is interest in buying or leasing the restaurant.
In the meantime, they are still busy running their holiday home lodges on site. They also have planning permission for four apartments and have had drawings done to build more.
The creation of a boutique hotel on a property they own at Shielfield Terrace in Tweedmouth is another consideration.
“We’ve still got so many ideas to explore but it’s all a little bit up in the air at the moment until we decide what to do,” he said.
“We’re not running away and we may even open up the restaurant again at some point. If we do it will be bigger and better than before.”
The restaurant initially had Gary McLean, winner of 2016 MasterChef: The Professionals, on board as executive chef.
Within a few months, he left to concentrate on his own creative cooking and mentoring young chefs as a senior lecturer at City of Glasgow College.
It also held regular live music and had a popular gin bar.