The Directors of China Brasserie, Billingshurst, have very reluctantly come to the decision that they must close the China Brasserie restaurant in Billingshurst with effect from Saturday, March 21, 2015.
This decision will not affect China Brasserie in North Street, Horsham, which has very successfully traded from those premises for over 15 years.
Both of the China Brasserie restaurants are jointly owned by Don Burstow and his partners, Yee and Fien Wang.
The first restaurant opened in Horsham in 2001 and was the brainchild of Don’s late wife, Melanie. The success of the Horsham restaurant led to the Billingshurst restaurant being opened as “China Brasserie 2” in 2008, a few months before Melanie’s death.
Inevitably, operating successful restaurants of this kind and of this quality requires experienced chefs and front of house staff. Recruiting those staff for both restaurants and particularly the Billingshurst restaurant, has become increasingly difficult and it is that difficulty that has led to the closure.
Don explained that in 2007/2008 the Border Agency introduced a sponsorship arrangements whereby employers could become licensed with the Home Office and sponsor skilled employees to come to the UK to work in certain trades. That was particularly important for China Brasserie to maintain the quality of chefs that it required. Don said: “Melanie and I and our partners were determined that we would maintain a legitimate workforce in our restaurants and the appropriate way of dealing with that would be to become licensed through the Home Office. We were not prepared to take on any “illegal” employees. We went through a thorough vetting and registration process and have become a licensed sponsor. Unfortunately, because of the pressure to reduce immigration numbers, since 2008 the Home Office has raised its qualifying criteria for employing qualified chefs from overseas to a level that simply cannot be sustained by restaurants
of our kind in a location such as Billingshurst. In order now to qualify for sponsorship a chef would have to be paid a level of salary, plus accommodation and keep, far in excess of anything that we can afford. This has meant that, having successfully sponsored a number of chefs in the early years of our sponsorship licence, that is no longer possible. This really is a great pity as employers such as us, who have attempted to comply with the rules and remain legitimate with regard to the people that we employ, are now being priced out of the market. It would be very easy to employ workers who are not legitimately in the UK but we are not prepared to do that.”
We are extremely grateful to all of our loyal staff who have worked for us over the years, including a great contingent of young part-timers, many from the Weald School in Billingshurst.
Closure of the restaurant does mean that Yee and Fien Wang can now concentrate on maintaining and improving the fantastic quality of food and service that is available through the Horsham restaurant. We do hope that many of our loyal customers who have used the restaurant in Billingshurst will take the journey up the road to Horsham where they will be most welcome. Please do visit our website and social media pages where will we be continuing to offer a fantastic contemporary Chinese dining experience in Horsham’s North Street.