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13 bars and restaurants that closed down during the pandemic in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

Yatai Izakaya closed during the pandemic.
Yatai Izakaya closed during the pandemic.

Two years ago, the coronavirus outbreak forced the UK into its first lockdown, sparkling a rash of hospitality closures.

Bars and restaurants were among the hardest hit businesses in the pandemic and the sector continues to struggle with the effects of multiple lockdowns and rising inflation.

We watched on as well-loved establishments offering a range of different cuisines closed their doors, many of them in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

As coronavirus restrictions steadily ease in Scotland, it’s time to not only look forward but think back to the businesses we have lost over the past two years.

Yatai Izakaya – Aberdeen

When John Jones, the owner and head chef of Yatai Izakaya, announced he was closing the Langstane Place Japanese restaurant and bar it unleashed a wave of emotions.

More than 1,000 people responded to John’s Facebook post in November 2020 and more than 300 wrote of their sadness at Yatai’s end.

John would not be the last independent restaurant owner to pin blame for a pandemic closure on changing restrictions and the untenable costs of renting premises on potentially zero income.

“The restaurant has become unviable and I cannot afford to sink any more money into the business,” he said at the time.

Christo’s Greek Taverna – Aberdeen

One loyal customer of Christo’s, a long-standing Greek restaurant on John Street, was so moved by its end that she started a crowdfunder for people to show their appreciation for the many good times enjoyed there.

Karolina Piwko raised £6,500 for owner Christos Karageorgiades and his family as she looked to say “one last goodbye” to the venue.

Christo’s opened in 1991 but the pandemic proved too big a challenge and it closed its doors in July 2020.

Karolina’s generosity moved Christo, but the pain of shutting up shop was clear.

“It is difficult to speak about the restaurant,” he said at the time. “We are devastated and I know what all of our special friends are doing to help us.”

And that's a wrap.

Posted by Christos Greek Taverna on Friday, 9 July 2021

Melt – Aberdeen

Mechelle Clark, the owner of Melt, tried everything to stay afloat during the pandemic.

But in August 2020, during the second lockdown, her cheese restaurant, with outlets on Holburn and Belmont streets, closed for the last time.

“We have changed our business a hundred times during the first lockdown,” Mechelle said at the time, highlighting her pivot to delivery platforms and online orders.

“Then the second lockdown happened.”

No.1 Bar and Grill – Aberdeen

The family-owned No.1 Bar and Grill survived multiple pandemic lockdowns but eventually closed its doors in February this year.

The owners blamed last-minute restrictions put in place over the festive period to combat the spread of the omicron variant that severely disrupted what should have been one of the busiest times of the year.

However, there was a note of optimism in No. 1’s farewell.

“We hope that as normality returns in the future we will return,” the business said.

Howies Aberdeen – Aberdeen

Howies closed its doors on March 19, 2020 and has yet to reopen. The future of the Chapel Street restaurant remains uncertain as the company that owns it focusses on Howies outlets in Edinburgh.

“This decision was not taken lightly, but we have no outside space in Aberdeen and we are unlikely to consider reopening there until well into next year,” Howies owner David Howie Scott said in July 2020.

Almost two years on, and a reopening has yet to materialise.

Topolabamba – Aberdeen

Taking its name from a port city on the Gulf of California in north-western Mexico, Topolabamba opened on Union Street in 2017 with the aim of bringing a bit of salsa to Aberdeen’s restaurant scene.

However, the outlet fell victim to the pandemic and didn’t reopen after the first lockdown.

Topolabamba’s building, however, will get a new lease of life when Six by Nico, a restaurant chain owned by Scottish chef Nico Simone, opens there this spring.

The Tasty Thistle – Aberdeen

When the Press and Journal spoke to The Tasty Thistle owners Nicky Robertson and Sarah Smith in October 2020, they struck a defiant tone.

The couple was determined to see out the pandemic despite hurdles such as the disappearance of office workers and school children from the West End café.

It was not to be.

The Tasty Thistle is now closed.

Barburrito – Aberdeen

Mexican restaurant chain Barburrito announced the permanent closure of its Aberdeen branch in December 2020.

The decision, which also covered outlets in Edinburgh and Manchester, was part of a restructuring aimed at keeping the chain alive in the face of the pandemic lockdowns.

The company continues to operate but there seems little prospect of a return to Aberdeen at this point.

Selera Malaysian Bistro – Aberdeen

The loss of Selera during the pandemic was a blow to Aberdeen’s credentials as one of the UK’s most diverse restaurant scenes outside of London.

Owner Normala Abd Rahman set up shop in the city after a career in oil and gas brought her to Aberdeen.

It wasn’t long before she spotted a gap in the market for authentic Malaysian cuisine.

Selera opened in July 2017 serving everything from Nasi Ayam (rice and chicken) to Ikan Tiga Rasa, a fried seabass in three Malaysian special sauces.

hospitality venues closed pandemic
Selera owner Normala Abd Rahman in 2018.

Bangin’ Burgers – Aberdeen

Tucked into The Lounge Bar and Grill on Aberdeen’s Market Street, Bangin’ Burgers had the misfortune to both open and close during the pandemic.

The outlet served its last burger on March 13 this year, just eight months after it opened.

Owner Chris Holden said not enough customers were coming through the doors and warned that Aberdeen’s restaurant industry faced a potential wave of closures over the coming months.

hospitality venues closed pandemic
Bangin’ Burgers was on Market Street in central Aberdeen.

Fusion Bar and Bistro – Aberdeen

The pandemic saw a temporary reprieve for this North Silver Street restaurant.

Owners Cranberry Co reopened the venue in September 2020 following a two year closure because the group’s other restaurants were too small for social distancing.

Sadly, Fusion Bar and Bistro is once again closed.

hospitality venues closed pandemic
Fusion Bar and Bistro reopened in September 2020.

Hop and Anchor – Aberdeen

BrewDog opened this Exchange Street bar following the Ellon brewer’s purchase of London pub chain Draught House in 2018.

The Hop and Anchor was heralded as the first Draught House branch to open outside of London, but now looks to be another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

hospitality venues closed pandemic
The Hop and Anchor was part of BrewDog’s Draught House chain.

Formatine’s – Aberdeenshire

Ellon lost a much-loved community hub when Formatine’s closed in April 2021.

Owner John Cooper built a strong reputation for the shop and restaurant as a breakfast and lunch hangout.

An outpouring of sadness met the announcement of the cafe’s demise.

More than 1,000 comments were made on John’s Facebook announcement, showing just how much Formatine’s was missed.

According to John, the business lost out on sales of more than £1 million in 2020 alone because of the lockdown.

He said that under those circumstances it was impossible to keep going.

To make matters even worse, Formatine’s building was badly damaged by flooding in early 2021, stopping the business from reopening.

Do you remember visiting any of the listed venues, or recall any fond memories inside them?

Or maybe you know of other venues that have closed?

Let us know by filling out the form below.

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