One of the things that mystifies me about how hospitality businesses operate is the lies they tell when they are closing down, selling up or moving on. The ‘closed for renovations, reopening soon’ signs are sometimes genuine (in other words, they failed a council hygiene inspection and were forced to close pending the installation of new equipment) but more often than not they are fake news without an obvious purpose.
On 10 May on Facebook the owners of Shifty Chevre posted ‘It’s our last raclette Wednesday!’ Hmm. Why is it the last one? On 11 May they posted on Instagram and Facebook ‘We would like to invite all our regulars for our big farewell party this Sunday’. Followers interpreted this as meaning that the business was closing, so the clarification was made that ‘Most of our dear staff members are moving onto new adventures so we want to make sure our regulars get to say proper goodbyes!’
So you’re not closing? Nothing to see here, move along please. Nonetheless I was suspicious. I’ve seen similar early warning signs like this often enough. After that they were closed, and silent for 10 days. On 19 May the excuses for the unexpected and unexplained closure started: on Facebook they said ‘We are unfortunately dealing with urgent maintenance works therefore we will not be open to public this weekend!’ Oh really?
They remained closed the following week, the menu was removed from beside the entrance and the cheese cabinet in the window was emptied. Finally an (almost) honest statement was made on 29 May: ‘To all our beloved customers, thank you for your support and patronage. We have now officially signed out of Shifty Chevre and passed on the reins to new owners.’
If you’re handing over a going concern to new owners the transition can be seamless to customers. This may be a handover of the premises, but it is obviously also a closure of the business, which the departing owners never acknowledged.
Is openly admitting the business is closing too much like an admission of failure? In hindsight my comments in April this year about their pricing and presumed prosperity sound ingenuous; it is likely the departure had already been negotiated by then.
Shifty Chevre opened in December 2014 and lasted about two and half years, and now there is no cheese. They join a list of favoured places that came and went far too quickly: Juanita’s, B’Stilla Cantina, Le Cellier and La Condesa.