RHYL’S Taste Academy has closed after its funding was withdrawn.
The flagship social enterprise project on East Parade, funded through the European Structural Funds and the WCVA’s Intermediate Labour Market Scheme, closed on Monday despite efforts to secure funding.
The restaurant, since its opening in April last year, has welcomed thousands of diners and helped 68 unemployed youngsters gain new skills and find work.
Stephen Gardner, deputy managing director of Rathbone Cymru youth charity, said: “It is with great regret that Rathbone has announced the closure of the Taste Academy in Rhyl.”
Mr Gardner added: “When we planned and opened the Academy we were in receipt of funding that enabled us to offer a working salary to young people working alongside our chefs and serving staff in the restaurant.
“Following a change in funding policies this ended and we have been trying to identify replacement funding to enable us to continue to operate. Unfortunately, despite contacting local and national politicians and charities who distribute funds to support young people into employment, we have been unable to find further funding.
“As a charity, Rathbone is unable to sustain the trading losses that result from the loss of funding and have therefore been left with no option but to withdraw from our partnership with Rhyl City Strategy under which Taste was operated.”
Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones said Rathbone was aware funding would come to an end and should have developed the social enterprise business model further to make the project viable for the long-term.
She said: “I am bitterly disappointed, it did good work. The funding was time limited.
“If the business model would have been developed we wouldn’t be here.
“The Taste Academy was a huge benefit, not just for learners, but for the whole community.”