Statistically, restaurant closures are two a penny and, according to some projections, one in four shuts its doors or switches ownership within a year of the canapés going round at the grand opening.
The collapse of The Bucklemaker, one of Birmingham best-known and, at times, most popular dining spaces, is of an altogether different order.
The restaurant/bar in St Paul’s Square, in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, was into its 22nd year of trading when the plug was pulled yesterday.
It had brushes with economic uncertainty in the past, most notably in the early 1990s, but it survived the storm and continued to served oysters and tankards of Champagne to the city’s business community.
The current recession is proving to be of a different order, however, biting deeper than any other downturn in living memory. The Bucklemaker’s owner, Nick Crudgington, took the decision to call in the liquidators reluctantly, having invested considerable sums of money and endless amounts of time propping up the business.
Mr Crudgington said he closed the restaurant because it would have been irresponsible to continue trading, thereby racking up further debts among suppliers as well as unpaid contributions to government coffers. He should be commended for that at least.
In comparison to the collapse of major employers, the loss of eight jobs at The Bucklemaker may seem insignificant. Why then has its demise sparked such unease and general regret?
The answer may lie in the fact that people have a genuine affection for bars and restaurants. They are the places were deals are hatched, relationships are started, friendships are nurtured, and, at times, where commiserations are shared.
Venues such as The Bucklemaker, with its idiosyncrasies and flamboyant management, are part of the fabric of our city and Birmingham is a poorer place for its failure.