Barry sees restaurant enter the Michelin Guide while another is forced to close

On the day a South Wales town celebrated one its restaurants being in The Michelin Guide, another famous establishment was closing its doors.

James Sommerin’s The Shed saw the well-known chef have a restaurant back in The Michelin Guide a year after his popular Penarth seafront spot closed.

But on the same day Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, which is located just over the road from The Shed, announced its shock closure blaming staff shortages.

The Shed

The Shed in Barry, which opened at the Good Sheds in Barry last autumn, was added to the August intake of recommendations from the prestigious guide.

Posting on Twitter after the announcement, Mr Sommerin said: “Thank you so much @MichelinGuideUK and to all our customers and team. We are over the moon, such a boost for the team after what has been a really tough year for hospitality.”

Michelin has recently announced a new approach to revealing the latest restaurant recommendations, by releasing some of their inspectors’ favourite new additions to the Guide ahead of the annual launch event.

All of the Michelin Guide distinctions for 2022 – Stars, Bib Gourmands and Green Stars – will then be unveiled at an annual launch ceremony as usual. That usually takes place in January.

Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said: “By revealing some of the new additions made by our inspectors throughout the year, we further strengthen the ties that bind us to food lovers.

“Moreover, in a period that is still very complicated and in which the restaurant industry continues to face unprecedented challenges and uncertainties, we hope that these regular revelations and updates will provide opportunities to highlight the profession, and we invite everyone to discover and support the restaurants around them.”

What the Michelin Guide said about The Shed: “Located in a former goods shed near Barry Docks, this airy, contemporary restaurant’s faux-industrial style reflects the area’s industrial heritage. Reclaimed timber tables, burnished leather chairs and a copper-fronted bar set the scene and a super-friendly young team pull it all together with infectious enthusiasm.

“Sit back and watch the chefs in the open kitchen as they prepare appealing modern dishes which showcase good quality ingredients in original, well-thought-through combinations. Flavours are punchy, the 30-day aged steaks are a hit, and the daily changing soufflé is a must.”

Since opening The Shed, James and his team – which are made up of daughters Georgia and Angharad and wife, Louise – have also opened Home, in Penarth.

Home, on Stanwell Road, offers an immersive experience for diners who will have to ring a doorbell to enter the venue, which will have blacked-out windows and the cooking will be done in an open kitchen by James and Georgia, who last year represented Wales on the Great British Menu. The chef also hopes to regain a Michelin star for Home.

When it opened he told WalesOnline : “We’ve designed a restaurant where you’ll be completely immersed in Home. It’s taster menu only, no a la carte, and the menu will be a surprise. We just want to create an amazing environment.

“You can’t see anything from the road, it’s no longer a goldfish bowl – we’ve blacked the window out and it keeps things intimate. When you come to our Home you’re having our experience.”

Hangfire Southern Kitchen

Barry sees restaurant enter the Michelin Guide while another is forced to close
Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in Barry

Over the road from The Shed, the award-winning barbecue restaurant Hang Fire Southern Kitchen is closing permanently, with ‘unbelievable sadness,’ say its owners.

The Barry-based venue, owned by Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn, was fully booked from the off, in 2016, taking more than 1,300 bookings in their first 24 hours of trading.

But the doors to the popular spot are now closing due to staff shortages in Wales.

Owner Ms Guinn told WalesOnline on Wednesday: “We believe the pandemic has had a profound and damaging effect on the hospitality sector in general. Many workers in this industry no longer feel that restaurant life is for them.

“We have recruited and lost more staff in the last five months than in the last six years – with most seeking employment in different industries altogether and wanting weekends and evenings off to spend with their families. This, for us, is a clear sign of the times that recruitment will continue to be a challenge and a huge drain on our already depleted resources.”

Ms Guinn said that running a BBQ restaurant isn’t like running a regular restaurant as it takes around six months to train someone in the skill of barbecue and multiple chefs are needed, too.

She added: “Working with fresh produce and all the Southern cooking techniques takes Sam time to teach. The learning curve is steep and requires dedication from the chefs. Ultimately the staffing crisis is a battle we can’t win as a small independent restaurant with limited resources despite our very best efforts. We have always been proud to have incredible staff retention rates and it’s tragic to see our restaurant close under these circumstances”

Ms Evans added: “It’s with unbelievable sadness that we are forced to close the doors. There are factors well beyond our control that have led to this difficult decision. Shauna and I have been working around 80-90hrs each a week to run the business. It’s simply not sustainable from a physical or mental health point of view, and with zero candidates of quality coming forward over the past few months, we have had to make this tough decision to close.”

The team at Hang Fire have won such plaudits such as The Observer Food Monthly Best Restaurant, Slow Food Wales Best Restaurant and GBEA Entrepreneurs of the Year awards, all a testament to their quality and passion for what they do.

Ms Guinn added “The legacy of the first Hang Fire restaurant will live on in the numerous National Awards we’ve won – and more importantly, in our hearts. It’s been one of the most rewarding and challenging projects we’ve ever undertaken, and truly, it’s been nothing without our staff – and we’ve always had an incredible team. We’ll be leaving on a high note, without ever compromising the quality and service that we’re so famous for.”

Ms Guinn said their focus for the near future was now on supporting the existing staff team, communicating with their customers and wrapping up the restaurant.

“For now, we still have a mammoth task in hand in terms of closing down the restaurant and that’s where we need to pull focus for now. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the amazing customers that have supported us so enthusiastically over the years and we have made so many amazing friends through the restaurant.

“Hang Fire will likely rise like a phoenix in some other guise – but for now we’re shutting off the smokers and saying goodbye to the Southern Kitchen. It’s been a wild, and at times, white-knuckle ride, but one we’ve loved with all our hearts, but for now this story ends here.”

When asked what’s next for the dynamic duo, Samantha said: “We are naturally positive and optimistic people and believe in always pushing forward. We have so many plans in the works that have all been on hold this year. We have plenty of exciting projects coming up; We’re launching our own line of alcoholic drinks, starting with our own Moonshine, I have at least two new cookbooks to finish, we’re planning our BBQ masterclasses and Shauna is halfway through making her first documentary series focussing on incredible women.

“We have had to turn down so many TV opportunities this year, so it would be nice to have the time to say yes to more projects in the future“

Hang Fire Southern Kitchen is now permanently closed as of August 25.

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