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It’s Goodbye to TGI Fridays After 24 Years and Other Guildford Shop News

Published on: 28 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2022

Packing up on a Monday (February 28) at Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF).

By Hugh Coakley

TGI Fridays, the restaurant at the top of North Street, closed down last week, deciding not to renew their lease after 24 years in the town centre.

TGIF opened in Guildford 24 years ago in premises previously occupied by Habitat.

But with Guildford still an “exciting” area in which to do business, a source from the company told The Dragon, they “were exploring new sites” in the town.

There seems to be a buzz around the town despite footfall being down more than 25 per cent down since pre-Covid in 2019 and costs, such as electricity, soaring.

As one door closes another opens, Itsu opened in North Street with a fanfare delivery of free meals on opening day.

There are workshops and events in Solar Sisters cafe in North Street, in the pre-owned designer shop, Misty & Claridge in Chapel Street and, of course, in the Zero Carbon Guildford shop at the bottom of North Street. It’s getting to be a bit like Brighton.

Ten new shops and restaurants are opening or soon to open, continuing the cautious optimism which is bucking any retail uncertainty following Covid and online competition (see December 2021 article: Covid Uncertainty Hitting Retail But 14 New Town Shops Show Cautious Confidence).

Scaffolding seems to be sprouting in the High Street with four major installations including the National Westminster bank and the Guildhall.

As one chain closes down, even temporarily, another one is expanding. Neptune, the furniture and kitchen showroom, has been doing well, said staff in their High Street shop. Spending on household goods increased during the pandemic, so much so, they are extending next door into the former-post office building to be able to show their bathroom range as well.

Neptune is expanding into the former post office next door. Guildford shoppers are likely to be glad to see it occupied again.

Several shopkeepers have said getting the right staff is a problem. Ceylon House of Coffee hasn’t opened since the Christmas break due to a problem with their coffee grinding machine but mainly, said director David Mensa, due to a lack of staff. They will be open soon, he promised, and with vegan food being offered as well.

Owner of Muffin Break in the Friary, Shahzad Ali, said he couldn’t get customer service staff or bakers, but was “just managing”.

Crew Clothing is opening up on March 3 in Market Street.

There have been a few moves recently. Crew Clothing are moving into Market Street on March 3. Staff said the new shop was a similar size but they “are excited as it will be boost to business in the better location”. Their last day in the upper High Street shop is Sunday, February 27.

Fired Earth has also moved to what staff said was “a better showroom, much bigger and allows us to show bathrooms” in the upper High Street. They were also “desperate for staff”, needing a manager and a retail sales assistant.

The new Closs & Hamblin’s in Chapel Street is concentrating on made to measure curtains, blinds and shutters.

And Closs & Hamblin have jumped straight into their new shop in Chapel Street, just vacated by Fired Earth. They are now concentrating on made to measure blinds, curtains and shutters but with their wonderful haberdashery offering virtually gone due to space in the new shop.

And there are several new shops and restaurants soon to open. Ivy Asia is having a launch party on March 10 with, it is reported, as many as ten ex-TGI Fridays staff finding a job with the new restaurant. Great news for them.

Sleep 8 opened in The Friary selling beds, mattresses pillows and all bespoke say the enthusiastic staff.

Sleep 8, selling beds and mattresses, has opened in The Friary, their sixth store in the country. The new staff at the shop said: “It’s all bespoke. We are excited to be in Guildford, come and have a look”.

Slim Chickens opening in Friary Street.

The Thai street food branch of Thaikun in Friary St has closed and is being replaced by Slim Chickens.

Owners, Gianfranco Taormina and Marina.Rapisarda outside the new Deli Italy in The Shambles.

A new Deli Italy is planned to open on February 27 in The Shambles. Owners, Gianfranco Taormina and Marina Rapisarda, who is also involved in the ever-busy Sicilian cafe, Sicool, and the soon to open Italian restaurant next door, said they couldn’t wait to start serving customers in what is fast becoming an Italian quarter in the centre of town.

Hoxton Bakehouse is bringing artisan breads to Market Street. Date to be announced.

And the Hoxton Bakehouse is opening a store in Market Street in the former Jones Bootmaker shop. No date has been announced yet.

Another shop reported to be opening in Market Street is an opticians, Ollie Quinn. Refurbishment work is ongoing in the shop next to the artist Robin Mullen.

Celly’s Unisex Hair salon in Jeffries Passage on the corner of North Street

Itsu opened with great fanfare this month; it always looks busy when I pass. And Cellys Unisex Hair Salon on the corner of Jeffries Passage and North Street is now open.

Monsoon is moving back to the High Street after a brief absence and moving into the former Kikki K unit.

Megan’s Dog-friendly Restaurant is looking to open a restaurant in the former Moss Bros shop in the High Street.

Il Gusto in The Friary has been empty since the Christmas holidays. Will it reopen?

On a more sombre note, Il Gusto, the personalised gift shop in The Friary, has not opened since the Christmas holidays and the shop has been completely cleared for some time. A sign in the window says “Closed due to refurbishment”. The shop opened just before Covid struck and franchisee Andy Conlon said it had been very difficult trading. Let’s hope they will return.

Travel and holiday specialists, Kuoni, have “temporarily closed the doors” of their branch on the corner of the High Street and Quarry Street. They are still operating but there is no news of when they will be coming back to the High Street.

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Responses to It’s Goodbye to TGI Fridays After 24 Years and Other Guildford Shop News

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    February 28, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    In what way do all these changes in shops and footfall affect the town centre car parking?

    In normal times on- and off-street parking is the biggest income stream to GBC, higher than property incomes or Council Tax.

    However, rather than some analysis of the decreased income, effects of new shoppers’ car parks, and likely recovery this year, the GBC budget meeting just raised fees to recover the income. There was not a lot of discussion, or real business cases presented. Instead, the basic hourly fee goes from £1.30 to £1.60; more than 20 per cent.

    Will people grudgingly absorb the massive costs of visiting Guildford or continue to drift to other towns or the internet?

  2. Georgina Grant Reply

    March 4, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    I am also wondering why it is becoming so much more difficult and expensive to come into Guildford. I often use the Park & Ride, but the previously excellent 10-minute service is now 30 minutes, and my local bus service now has only two, instead of three buses per hour.
    The two-hour free parking zone at the top of South Hill has been reduced to one hour.

    These changes, added to the number of shops which have closed, are all disincentives to shop in the town. I hate online clothes shopping and used to look forward to my browse through the stores. Now there is little left that is geared to the older generation.

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