A YORK city centre restaurant has closed suddenly as Strada axes more than a third of its portfolio amid rising costs.

The Italian restaurant chain announced this week it is closing 11 sites, with York’s Low Petergate restaurant being one of ten to have already shut its doors.

The company said it carried out a “comprehensive review” of its 26 restaurants, resulting in 11 being earmarked as “no longer viable”, blaming rising rents, wages and business rates.

In a statement Strada said: “Following a comprehensive review, it is with regret that we are closing a number of our Strada restaurants, as they are no longer viable as Stradas in this increasingly competitive market.

“Where possible, we are converting the sites to new formats or selling them to other operators, but in some cases, recent increases in rents and rates, coupled with government-decreed rises in wage costs, make it very difficult to operate profitably a full service restaurant serving fresh food.”

York joined other Strada restaurants in Camden, Clapham, Blackheath, Harpenden, Newbury; Horsham, Henley, Cardiff and Cobham in closing since Christmas.

The Birmingham Mailbox branch will also cease trading at the end of this week.

Business in York spoke out about fearing for their future last year when figures published in February revealed almost 500 businesses in the city were in arrears on their rates. This was followed up last month when City of York Council revealed that no business or charity with a rateable value below £200,000 will have to pay an increase in their business rates in 2017/18.

Strada’s Low Petergate restaurant opened in March 2007 when the business invested £750,000 on refurbishing the old St James Tea Rooms.

The closure of Strada could spark a potential U-turn in the recent trend in York where empty retail premises have repeatedly been turned into restaurants.

Steve Brown, managing director of York’s inward investment body Make it York, said: “The Strada site is in a great retail location so you would like to think it makes an interesting proposition and it is a good size too.

“One of the things we have done is we have written directly to about 60 retailers that operate in other cities and towns and have planted the idea that York is a great place to do business.

“We have got a good data base that we are adding to all the time of retailers that aren’t in the city, but that we feel should be.”

Strada has said it plans to convert three of 11 closed sites into a new format called Coppa Club, but is looking to sell the others.

It has not revealed which of the sites it plans to reopen under Coppa Club.