Italian city restaurant shuts down after business slump

Valvona & Crolla has closed down its Vin Caffe opposite the Harvey Nichols department store on St Andrew Andrew Square. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Valvona & Crolla has closed down its Vin Caffe opposite the Harvey Nichols department store on St Andrew Andrew Square. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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One of Scotland’s best known food and drink businesses has closed down its Edinburgh city centre restaurant - after business slumped 50 per cent in the space of a year.

Valvona & Crolla, the celebrated Italian food and wine business which has been operating in the city since 1934, has closed down its “Vin Caffe,” off St Andrew Square.

Vin Caffe has been closed down

Vin Caffe has been closed down

The famous family-run company, which will open its delicatessen on Elm Row late three nights a week to serve dinner in its cafe, has admitted it was in the wrong location.

The closure has been announced in the wake of a string of restaurant chains opening recently on the south side of St Andrew Square.

More upmarket eateries are due to open over the next couple of years in the Registers development on the same side of the square as Multrees Walk and Harvey Nichols.

Valvona & Crolla chairman Philip Contini admitted the Vin Caffe had “run out of footfall” after a year of disruption from work on the nearby St James development.

Mr Contini said: “Our lease on the Vin Caffe was coming up for renewal. We did what we could to keep it open but it felt we were flogging a dead horse. We didn’t want to tread water or lose money by 2020 when the new St James development is due to open. We might have been piggy in the middle on Multrees Walk between St Andrew Square and the new development.

“We knew footfall would go down once the demolition work got underway. We did our projections and our bank was very supportive. We’ve ridden it out for the first year, but it just doesn’t make sense to stay open. We were down 50 per cent.

“We’ve just run out of footfall. Since work started on the development, the Vin Caffe has been full of dust and noise. Our staff have been apologising to customers every day.

“We’re going back to basics on Elm Row, where we’ve had a cafe since 1990. The kitchen team from the Vin Caffe will be coming down and we’ll be opening late for the first time all year.”

Multrees Walk, created in 2002 to coincide with the opening of Harvey Nichols, was the first new street created in the New Town since the 18th century. Established retailers there include Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Kurt Geiger, Bravissimo, Pandora, Reiss and Boss.

The Ivy, Vapiano, Goucho, Wagamama and Dishoom have all opened on St Andrew Square in recent months. Among the operators already signed up for the Registers development are the Italian chain Di Maggio’s.

Mr Contini added: “We were ahead of the game when we opened the Vin Caffe in 2004. We were really busy after we opened in 2004, but then got hit by the recession, then the tramworks. After they finished we felt we could really punch above our weight. What we offer is completely different from all the big London chains that have come up.

“There are problems in Edinburgh with the chains, but a lot of it comes down to location. If you’re just not quite in the right street it can make a difference. The way people move around town is changing and the market is changing. It’s not easy.”