Reading Sweeney and Todd owner blasts Boris Johnson for ‘ruining my business’ as Christmas bookings collapse

The owner of a much-loved Reading pie shop has blasted Prime Minister Boris Johnson for ‘ruining my business’ after a collapse in Christmas bookings.

Craig Hayward, owner of Sweeney & Todd in Castle Street, says Christmas is normally a busy time for people coming to eat in the restaurant.

But he said “at least 75 per cent” of the Christmas bookings have now been cancelled, and that the restaurant is “hardly functioning” in the run up to Christmas.

READ MORE: The ‘old fashioned’ Reading pie shop still trading after more than 40 years

The restaurant is still open and ready to cater for anyone who wants a meal, but Craig is furious at the government for the impact on business.

And there is just one man Mr Hayward feels is to blame, the Prime Minister.

He said: “He’s certainly been very clever, managing to shut down hospitality without imposing any actual restrictions.

“Once he spoke on the TV about the new variant, that was it for us – our bookings just plummeted.

The restaurant is hardly functioning now, I’d say at least 75 per cent of what we had booked in have now cancelled.

“All we are doing is running the shop at the front.

“What has been done to the hospitality industry is a disgrace.

“We are very lucky to have got through this Covid pandemic.

“We’ve managed to survive through the whole thing and now we have lost nearly all our Christmas trade – and it’s all because of him.”

His comments come as plans are revealed to convert existing office space above the restaurant into new homes.

The plans propose converting part of the Grade II listed building into four new flats on the ground, first, second and third floors.

The papers reveal the office have been empty for more than 10 years and Craig said the plans, which have been in the pipeline for more than a year, were “the most logical thing to do.”

He said: “Nothing in the restaurant will change, but it’s clear no-one wants office space in Reading, so converting them to housing is the most logical thing to do.”

The plans can be found here.

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