We were shocked and saddened to hear about the sudden closure of Anthony’s, the cutting edge restaurant launched in 2004 by Anthony Flinn, first in Boar Lane and recently joining his other outlets in the Corn Exchange. The website’s down. The business has gone into administration.
Anthony made his name in 2004 when he opened Anthony’s serving a new kind of food: duck breast with olive oil and chocolate, risotto of white onion with Parmesan air. If some thought it ‘poncey’, many others found it new and exhilarating. Exhilarating enough for reviewers to leave their London strongholds to write rave reviews about the young lad from Huddersfield Tech. The Good Food Guide always rated him highly, though a Michelin star, which many thought he deserved, mysteriously eluded him.
It was an audacious move when, in 2008, at the start of the recession, Flinn and his father, also called Anthony, took on 13,000 square feet of floor space in the newly restored Corn Exchange. Here in the central ‘piazza’ beneath the starlit domed roof, he opened a keenly priced bistro while in the surrounding arcade were his shops: a patisserie, a bakery, a chocolatier, a temperature controlled cheese shop and a wine store, later came a café and a rib shack.
Only a few weeks ago, we wandered into the Corn Exchange to check out the restaurant’s new location, to be greeted by father Flinn who explained how it made sense to have the whole operation under one roof and took us on a guided tour. It still looked as good as ever: an independent restaurant full of pizzazz in the heart of the city. We had no idea that Flinn must have been putting on a brave face. I was due to review it for the Yorkshire Post; wish now I’d done it sooner. According to Company Watch there had been warnings since 2011. Looking back, I can see that the whole place was ominously quiet.
I don’t know the inside story. But spitting distance away is the voracious behemoth of Trinity Leeds with its twenty restaurants, all but two of which are chains, sucking business away from the independents. The beautiful Corn Exchange will look bereft without Anthony’s. Leeds and Yorkshire have suffered a heavy loss.
We’re keeping up our reviews of Anthony’s, The Piazza and the Patisserie for the time being so you can remember and weep a little. And pray that the ‘temporarily unavailable’ message on their phone number holds a glimmer of hope for the future.