Plymouth’s Samphire Brasserie vegan restaurant shuts without explanation

The Mayflower Street eatery has been open for nine years and vegan since 2015 but it has now closed leaving plant-based food fans concerned

Plymouth’s first vegan restaurant has closed without explanation after nine years of serving meat-free dishes. The Samphire Brasserie, in Mayflower Street, closed temporarily in April 2022 but had never reopened and now its Facebook page has disappeared and its website has been shut down leaving the message: “This restaurant has now closed, sorry.”

PlymouthLive has been trying to contact the restaurant’s owners since May, but has had no response. On repeated visits to the restaurant, PlymouthLive found no one there and yesterday there was a pile of unopened letters inside the front door.

Samphire Brasserie was the city’s first vegan restaurant and so well regarded it was named by TripAdvisor as one of the top 10 in the UK in 2017. It initially opened in 2013 serving vegetarian food but stopped selling meals containing dairy products two years later.

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Founders Becca Speare and her partner Joe Wadge began the venture with the help of Outset Plymouth Start Up and a loan of £ 20,000. The couple then became vegan together after both having been vegetarians and turned the business into a 100 per cent plant-based affair.

They said the idea for the cruelty-free restaurant stemmed from their struggle to find somewhere to eat out that did not include fish in the restaurant’s ingredients. Everything on the eatery’s menu was made from scratch and it specialized in making its own “meats” from seitan and “cheese” made from nuts and tofu.

Samphire Brasserie, which was awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, was also famous for giving its meals humorous names, often based around puns. Examples included its What the Duck patty, Born to Brie Wild portobello mushroom, Hoisin Poison shredded “duck” and Thanks for Poutine Up with Me When I’m Hungry fried “chick’n” with gravy and cheddar.



The inside of Samphire Brasserie vegan restaurant was deserted on June 23, 2022

The restaurant, which employed 11 people, also had a selection of sweet treats, including viennese whirls, trifle, bakewell tart and vegan cheesecake. It had a vegan deli counter containing sandwiches and cakes, and operated a takeaway service, in addition to taking celebration cake orders.

But the business had a checkered financial history. The Vegan Deli Ltd, the company set up by Ms Speare and Mr Wadge went into liquidation in July 2019 after its balance sheet showed a deficit of more than £ 71,000.

The company sold its goodwill, fixtures, fittings and residual stock to Paul Wadge, a shareholder, just prior to liquidation. The assets were sold for £ 8,900. Liquidators said this was allowed “to realize the best value for the assets and the benefit of the company’s creditors”. Documents filed at Companies House revealed £ 21,107 was owed to unsecured creditors but there was no money to pay them.

Paul Wadge contacted PlymouthLive in 2019 to say: “The Samphire Brasserie name and assets were recently purchased by a new company called Samphire Vegan Deli Ltd, in order that we could offer continuity to our customers. Our aim is to grow the business and continue to offer innovative and exciting vegan food. ”

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Samphire Vegan Deli Ltd, which is still listed as active at Companies House, has Paul Wadge and Karen Knight as directors. Its only accounts, filed in 2021 for the year to June 2020, revealed a deficiency of £ 20,910 on its balance sheet.

Accounts prepared by Condy Mathias Chartered Accountants, but not audited or reviewed, said: “The accounts have been prepared on a going concern basis, as the directors continue to provide support, when necessary, to the company. They have also reviewed the period for the 12 months from (when) the accounts were approved and in their opinion the company will reduce the overdrawn position and show positive results for the next period. ”

On April 8, 2022, a post appeared on the Samphire Brasserie Facebook page reading: “Hey guys. Due to unforeseen circumstances we will be closed until further notice. Thank you for your understanding and patience. ” There were more than 30 comments on the post, mostly wishing the restaurant well and asking when it would reopen. One even pleaded: “Please come and open a restaurant in Helsinki.” At the same time, the restaurant’s website said: “Sorry, we are currently closed until further notice.”

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