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Owner of closed Norwich fried chicken restaurant Woolf & Bird warns of 'beige city'

PUBLISHED: 15:51 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:55 08 January 2018

Woolf and Bird restaurant has announced its closure.   PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Woolf and Bird restaurant has announced its closure. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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The owner of a recently closed Norwich fried chicken restaurant has urged the public to support independent businesses.

Felix Rehberg and Francis Woolf of Woolf & Bird. Photo from Emily RevellFelix Rehberg and Francis Woolf of Woolf & Bird. Photo from Emily Revell

Woolf & Bird opened in Exchange Street in March last year but announced its closure on January 3.

MORE: Norwich fried chicken restaurant Woolf & Bird announces its closure

Francis Woolf, 33, founder, owner and chef at Woolf & Bird said closing the business had been hard to take.

He said: “It has been very tough to deal with because I’m not just the owner, it’s my concept, my food, my name. Its been my entire life for the past year.

Woolf & Bird food. Picture: Louisa BaldwinWoolf & Bird food. Picture: Louisa Baldwin

“The amount of work and money I have put into it is almost unquantifiable, but it is just the way the cookie has crumbled unfortunately. We were relying quite heavily on a Christmas rush which never really materialised and so we made the decision to pull the plug on Christmas Eve.”

Mr Woolf believes the rise of delivery services and the subsequent decline in footfall has impacted businesses.

He said: “Norwich especially has a really strong sense of community and we have a really strong hub of creative people here doing great things, however in my experience, over the past couple of years we have become more acclimatised to the likes of Amazon and JustEat.

“These companies like to give the impression that using their services - which don’t require you to leave your sofa - somehow brings us closer together. Actually it is entirely the opposite - they destroy communities and city centres.”

Mr Woolf has reassured customers that sister restaurant Woolf & Social in Nelson Street “continues to grow”, however, he fears Norwich could become a “beige city” if people only “stick to what they know”.

MORE: ‘Totally gutted’ - Customers share support for owners of Woolf & Bird following closure

He said: “Norwich has some of the best coffee shops in the country without question and the market is a fantastic hub in the city. But if we just sit at home and buy everything online then we will lose what makes our city so vibrant and Norwich will just become bland, boring and uninteresting and people will move out.

“If people only stick to what they know, or don’t go out to eat because it’s raining or they have to walk, then independents who set up to try and offer a different eating experience are the ones that will suffer and we’ll end up with a beige city where all you see around you is familiar brand names.”

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