The co-owner of a Chinese restaurant in Billingshurst described the decision to close the branch as a ‘great pity’.
Don Burstow and his business partners Yee and Fien Wang will be closing the China Brasserie in the high street on Saturday March 21 due to difficulty in hiring experienced staff.
The first China Brasserie opened in North Street, Horsham, back in 2001 and was the brainchild of Mr Burstow’s late wife Melanie, who died shortly after the Billingshurst restaurant opened in 2008.
The Horsham branch will remain open.
Mr Burstow 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.”
He said that the move would allow Yee and Fien Wang to concentrate on maintaining and improving the ‘fantastic’ quality of food at the Horsham restaurant.
For more information visit China Brasserie’s website.