Bar Pintxos: Owner opens up on decision to close - and why it might reopen
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The chef and entrepreneur shocked Preston's culinary circles this week, announcing that the Spanish-styled restaurant and bar wouldn't be opening its doors again.
Hundreds of messages of support flooded in, with Anthony overwhelmed by the kind words.
He said: "I've never seen anything like it in my life - the influx of responses and kind words on both my Facebook page and the LEP comments section.
"I was taken by surprise, in a massive way."
Anthony a father-of-three who lives in Grimsargh, said the decision wasn't made because of money or the pandemic, but because of family reasons and it hadn't been planned for.
He said: "Right up until January 2, I had no intention of closing. I'd bought a load of non-alcoholic Spanish wines for Dry January, I'd ordered in for Veganuary, and we had plans to elevate and go for our first Rosette.
"But then things change and I've had to make the decision for family reasons. Things happen for a reason and I can't be working seven days a week, 14, 15, 16 hours a day, I just don't have the capacity.
"I had to cancel 100 bookings last Friday, and turned down 250 bookings for the rest of January - it's never not been a viable business, but at the moment, my priorities have to be at home and I don't have the team in place to maintain the standards that I expect and the customers deserve."
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Anthony, 47, claims "the talent pool in Preston in terms of hospitality is not great", and other businesses are also struggling to recruit the right managers.
But he says he's still committed to "fighting the fight for Preston '', a city he loves, and says there is a chance that Bar Pintxos could open again -with different people at the helm.
He said: "I've taken it as far as I can take it, and now it needs someone who wants to take it forward.
"I don't want to sell the building and I don't want to just lease it out – I’m not in a rush.
"I've been speaking to a few people who are interested in wanting to take the place on. But they need to be the right people, with the right team and finances.
"I would work with them on a consultancy basis, I'd advise on menus and I'd even do pop-up events if they wanted. Even though I'm closing the doors right now, I'm not finished with food in Preston.”
Anthony, whose food has been highly-rated by renowned food critic Jay Rayner, says he "wouldn't change a thing" about the the last 18 months running the business.
He said: "It's been addictive, I’ve have loved it. I've met some really great people and made amazing friends, in fact we've had a wonderful little community going on.
"I have nothing but pride for what we've achieved and I want to thank the staff and the customers. It’s been brilliant."