MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima's Koj has closed permanently

By Restaurant

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MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima's Koj has closed permanently Cheltenham Coronavirus

Related tags MasterChef Andrew Kojima Restaurant Japanese cuisine Coronavirus lockdown

MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima says he will not reopen his Cheltenham-based casual dining Japanese restaurant Koj as a direct result of the Government’s further restrictions on hospitality during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The British-Japanese chef had hoped to reopen his restaurant once the virus stabilised and the Government guidelines became clear, but described the latest Government measures as “the final nail in the coffin for any hope and fight that I had left in me”.

Writing on the restaurant’s website under the title ‘the final curtain’, he says: “I have been in regular discussions with fellow restaurateurs and my accountants since we closed in March. I had budgeted for re-opening costs such as re-stocking, COVID-19 guideline compliance and re-training. The prospect of incurring these costs was daunting, especially given that business continuity remained at risk through factors out of our control: a confirmed case on site, or further regional lockdowns and restrictions. Nevertheless, I had hoped that if both the virus itself and the guidelines began to stabilise, we would be able to reopen.

“The recent rise in infections has prompted the government to impose further restrictions, which could last for at least 6 months. They are the final nail in the coffin for any hope and fight that I had left in me.”

Kojima adds that distancing measures that restaurants have to put in place and low customer confidence in eating out will also hamper his chances of successfully reopening Koj.

“I loved the atmosphere in our small restaurant when it was buzzing, so my initial concern was our ability to retain that character in the current environment. The task of generating revenues that exceed our overheads has been made all the harder by social distancing measures. Consumer confidence, already damaged by both the virus itself and its economic impact, will suffer a fresh blow now that the widely anticipated second peak has lead to further restrictions. And I expect the trading environment to deteriorate further as more redundancies follow. Even our most loyal customers will have to cut back on their occasional treats.”

“In opening my first restaurant, I realised a dream and expressed my passion. I followed my heart. Sadly, I have concluded that now is the time for my head to rule my heart, so that I can make a fresh start, rebuild my career and make a living to support my wife and our young children through this turbulent time, rather than add to their worries. Without the backing of a wealthy and optimistic investor, I cannot take the risk of incurring further losses and greater debt.”

Koj opened in 2017 after Kojima successfully raised £50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign​ that was endorsed by chefs including Michel Roux Jr and Tom Kerridge.

Begbies Traynor has been appointed as liquidator of the business.

Related topics Restaurant Openings Casual Dining

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