Ex-boss warns Wind Street's party is over
A FORMER Swan- sea bar boss claims the party is over for the city's busiest street.
Gareth Williams held the lease on the So bar in Wind Street for the last seven years but said trade had dropped dramatically since 2008.
Earlier this year the bar was exposed to have sold drinks to underage customers, but Mr Williams said this was not the sole reason for it shutting down.
The 33-year-old said he believed high beer prices, ''ridiculous'' rental rates and the increase in cheap booze being available in supermarkets had combined to bring about the downfall of his business.
Mr Williams said: "Wind Street is not making money anymore, it has had its day.
"The numbers of people attending have gone down dramatically, and I believe rent being charged isn't making it financially viable."
Mr Williams said he fully admitted a member of his staff sold alcohol to an underage customer, but said this was the first time it had happened in seven years and the employee was dismissed as a result.
He said: "People think we closed for under-age sales, but the truth is we had just had enough.
"We had been there seven years and we could see Wind Street declining.
"Over time it has just got worse and worse."
Mr Williams recently received a letter from solicitors acting on behalf of pub company Enterprise Inns demanding just over £64,000, including a surrender fee of £15,683.75 for getting out of his 10-year lease three years early.
He said: "When we took over the bar Wind Street was a big cafe quarter, but in the past two years it's gone down and down.
"We were relying on Friday and Saturday trade and I felt we were getting slammed by beer prices and rental rates by the brewery.
"Supermarkets are selling alcohol so cheap and people were turning up in town drunk.
"Wind Street gets branded as a trouble spot but people are coming in drunk from home."
Nas Shasha has owned the Ice Bar in Wind Street for 10 years, and said the recession has impacted on trade.
He said: "At the Ice Bar we are running about 40 per cent below what we took in 2008.
"I put that down to the recession and the fact there are too many bars in Wind Street.
"We are all in the same boat, I would be surprised if there is anybody doing any better. We are all feeling the pinch but we are no different from anyone else," he added.
A spokeswoman for Enterprise Inns said So bar was forced to close after the premises licence was surrendered by Mr and Mrs Williams following a police visit. She said: "Poor operating standards also meant that the licensees did not take full advantage of the location and circuit around Wind Street.
''Clearly, licensees continue to face a wide array of influences on their businesses, including the burden of government regulation, excessive increases in duty on beer, competition from supermarkets and the impact of the economic recession, but we continue to provide financial and non-financial support to Enterprise licensees who are struggling despite their best efforts."