Smithills Coaching house is to close — and will not be opening again as a restaurant.
The restaurant, which is housed in the stables of the neighbouring Grade I-listed Smithills Hall, has been sold by its owners after 46 years of trading.
Staff at the Smithills Dean Road restaurant, some of whom have worked there for 30 years, have been given their notices and told the restaurant will cease trading on August 27.
There are about 30 mem- bers of staff who will all be made redundant when the restaurant shuts.
It is not known who has bought the building, but the new owners are believed not to want to continue running a restaurant and are thought to be considering structural changes, although no plan-
ning applications have been submitted to Bolton Council.
The family-owned business was opened in 1966 by broth- ers Alan and Donald Clarke and remains divided in shares between the family.
Alan’s son Don Clarke, who says he retains an interest in the restaurant but is not directly involved in the day- to-day running, would not comment on the sale.
Mark Buls, director of Smithills Coaching House Holdings Ltd, was also unavailable for comment.
But an employee, who asked not to be named, said staff had been told earlier this year that the restaurant was up for sale and they had been unable to take bookings for weddings and future events.
Last week, staff were told individually it would be clos- ing and they would lose their jobs. The staff member said: “People are
feeling disgruntled and the atmosphere is a bit frosty. We have expected this for months. It has been running down over the past two years and they haven’t given us a reason why.
“It has been struggling for a while now, people have left and not been replaced.
“We have all just been waiting, knowing it could happen at any time.”
Cllr Roger Hayes, leader of the Liberal Democrat group and Smithills ward council- lor, was shocked to hear the news. He said: “It will be sad for a number of aspects. It is an institution in the
area and a lot of people enjoy going there, and it does pro- vide a lot of jobs in the area.”
Ward councillor Carole Swarbrick said: “I am very sad for the people who will lose their jobs and because there will be speculation about what is going to hap- pen to the building.
“I am sorry because it has been an institution there for years. It has always been considered good value for money and people will genuinely be sad that it is going.”
Civic Trust chairman Brian Tetlow said: “It is rather sad because it is the end of a long era. I would hope that some- body would take it up and continue the service.”