A Lossiemouth beach cafe has closed its doors until spring.
The Beach Hut at West Beach has shut after struggling through the early, quiet months of winter – with bosses hoping it will safeguard the business for the busier period ahead.
In a Facebook post, boss Ryan Thomson said he’d made the decision to close the cafe with “immediate effect”.
“It’s just not financially possible to keep it open through the winter months being on the beach front,” he wrote.
“It’s been struggling for months. I’m not prepared to stay open and potentially lose everything I’ve worked towards.
“The decision was made and my staff was told yesterday that I’m having to close, it’s not the new year that I was planning but for the time being it’s the correct business decision.”
‘Only a single customer came in one day’
Mr Thomson told the Press and Journal that at some points over the winter period he was seeing only one customer a day – making it unsustainable.
That meant he had to break the news to three members of staff that they would be let go.
When he opened the business in time for the Queen’s Jubilee in June, he said he had every single seat inside and outside booked.
But he said it would be “financially stupid” to continue to trade during the winter.
Mr Thomson stressed he plans to reopen in March.
“I’d like to thank everyone of my staff that’s helped me get this far, and I’m sorry it’s had to come to this. Without you I’d never of got anywhere.
“I will be planning opening the cafe again beginning of March 2023 when the weather gets better, but in the meantime we are closed.”
While The Beach Hut is now shut, they confirmed bookings for private functions will still be taken.
Mr Thomson says he already has two hen parties booked in and hopes to make the most of the property’s alcohol license and sound system for parties.
Lack of support for small businesses in the north-east
The news comes after Mike Duncan, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses called out the lack of support for north-east small firms during the winter and cost-of-living crisis.
He said in October: “They have battled through Brexit, persevered through the pandemic and are now crippled by the soaring costs of just keeping going.
“Many hospitality businesses across Aberdeenshire and Moray are closing their restaurants.
“These decisions are not taken lightly, but a combination of lack of staff, rocketing energy costs and inflationary pressures on food make it an understandable business decision nonetheless.
“For the small business owner or the self-employed, there is little security in knowing thousands could be added to your electricity bill at the end of March, when the energy relief is due to expire.
“Added to that, many businesses across the north-east must set their prices now in order to secure bookings and orders for the year ahead.
“Our smallest businesses are fed up being described as ‘resilient’ and ‘nimble’, and really wish they didn’t have to be.”