Popular Liverpool burger restaurant forced to close due to crippling rising costs
1 month ago
The owner of a popular city centre burger restaurant has announced its closure after struggling to keep going against crippling rising costs.
Hollie Wilson opened Poppin Burgers in July 2022 inside the Excelsior pub on Dale Street, building up a big fanbase for her unique flavoured burgers and loaded fries.
But the cost of living has seen food prices rocket and, added to the 20% VAT rate which hospitality pays, that has squeezed her business to breaking point.
Combined with a drop in customer numbers because people are cutting back to save money, she says she’s had no choice but to make the difficult decision to close the kitchen.
“The cost of living crisis and rising costs are making it impossible for small businesses like me to make a living. I’ve tried everything in my power to keep things going but it just wasn’t possible anymore.
“I tried for as long as I could but I’d just exhausted all avenues. The cost of ingredients was going up every week and even if you put prices up to accommodate that, it gets to a point where people just can’t afford to pay that.
“Food prices this year have risen so much, I’d estimate my costs have gone up 25-30% just in buying the ingredients, and that’s the whole basis of my business so it’s unavoidable.
“Customers really liked the burgers, that wasn’t the problem, but the costs were something I couldn’t control and when money is tight people tend to eat out less which is another big factor.
“Even if you try to go through one of the big delivery companies there’s a charge of 20-35% per order and service charges on top which you can’t pass on to the customer so you’re still left struggling to cover your outgoings.
“There’s only so much you can put in before you have to think, is this really feasible for me anymore when I’m not able to pay myself a wage for the hours I’m doing?”
Launching Poppin Burgers was an ambition fulfilled for 31-year-old Hollie, who’d always wanted to run her own business.
She swapped her previous job at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre to launch the restaurant, devising the menu, cooking and serving.
The Excelsior attracts a big football crowd during the season, so when games were on business was good. But Hollie says once the season ended, and the students went home over the summer, she found it tough.
“And then January and February are always quiet for restaurants so there just weren’t enough busy months in between to keep going,” she explains.
“You keep plodding on, not taking days off in case you miss trade, so you end up working all hours for very little.”
Hollie says the hospitality industry really needs more help, and she’s urging customers to get behind independents to keep them alive.
“It’s such a shame the way hospitality is at the moment and with burger restaurants especially you’re up against the likes of McDonald’s and other big more established chains.
“The independents work so hard and put their heart and soul into making sure customers have the best experience and the best food but they’re the ones who are affected most by rising costs and really need support.”
Hollie says that although she’s flipped her last burger for now, it’s hopefully not the end of Poppin Burgers for good.
“It’s definitely not the end, if the hospitality sector got better and the cost of living was maybe a little less intense I’d go back to it because I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from running the business.
“Next time around there’d be things I’d do differently, so hopefully in the near future I’ll be able to get back to it again.”