Weymouth restaurant owners have told of the struggles of running their businesses amid the cost of living crisis, minimum wage increases and ever-increasing running costs.

They’ve aired their frustration after the family who own the Crustacean seafood restaurant, as well as The Loft pizza restaurant, announced their closure at the weekend blaming a tough financial climate and an overly seasonal climate in Weymouth.

Dominique Manasseri is owner of Nicetta on St Mary Street and Oliveto on the Esplanade alongside her husband Alvise.

She said that news of the closure did "worry her" about the state of the industry.

Dorset Echo: Dominique Manasseri, owner of Nicetta and OlivetoDominique Manasseri, owner of Nicetta and Oliveto (Image: Tom Lawrence)

She said: “It does worry you because you look and think what did they do that we’re doing? Or not doing?

“It is sad as well, anyone who tries to run their own restaurant and business is taking a massive risk."

Mrs Manasseri said that rising costs of energy bills and food have also left customers unwilling to spend money in restaurants, with owners seeing fewer people willing to go out for a meal. 

“There have been stories in the press for months and months telling people how expensive things are and how you have to save and it has made people nervous to go out and spend money," she added.

“There is a very hard line between putting price increases straight to the customer or trying to swallow some of that cost.

“If you swallow too much, it's not good, if you put it on the customer, they won’t come.

“Two years ago, there wasn’t every problem, people were still excited to come out.

“Since last year, people have stripped back and will stay in instead of going out.

“The problem is the economy, people are encouraged to save their money but if people went out and spent £20 at a local business, it will all come back and help the economy.”

Eric Tavernier is the chef and owner of Les Enfants Terribles on Weymouth harbourside.

Dorset Echo: Eric Tavernier, Chef and owner of Les Enfants TerriblesEric Tavernier, Chef and owner of Les Enfants Terribles (Image: Tom Lawrence)

Mr Tavernier said that the cost of living crisis has changed the way people

He said: “It is tough, we have been here for ten years, but we then had COVID-19 and costs rising everywhere.

“In the past people used to come for a three-course meal at lunch with a bottle of wine, now they come for one meal, one plate of food, one glass of wine.

“In the evening, they would have had three courses, coffee, three or four bottles of wine, you don’t see that anymore.

“Last year we had a lot fewer customers, we only did the same money because we increased our prices by 25 per cent, if we didn’t do that I would be 25 per cent down and we had to do offers to bring people in.

“At the moment we are doing our trade on Friday and Saturday, but we are open Tuesday to Saturday, because I have to give hours to my staff.

“Paying the electricity and the gas is like paying a second mortgage now.

“I used to pay £10,000 a year for electricity and gas, it is about £25,000 now.

“It is not like it used to be.”

A third Weymouth restaurant owner, who did not want to be named, said: “I was very sad to hear about the closures of Crustacean and The Loft.

“The energy prices have not helped.

“We are doing ok, but it was a very challenging time to open a business anywhere in the UK.

“What we hear from our customers is a lot of them feel they can’t afford to go out.

“Instead of having three courses, they will have just two or one or not have any alcohol.

“It has been very tough. The closures do make me quite worried, of course, it is dependant on a lot of things like overheads and how many staff you employ."