Town centre restaurant closes its doors after three years of serving Italian food to public

Berkhamsted's Villagio at the time when it opened in 2011
Berkhamsted's Villagio at the time when it opened in 2011

A town centre restaurant has closed down after three years of serving food to the public.

Diners who had planned to eat at Berkhamsted High Street’s Villagio were given less than a day’s notice that their booking had been cancelled because it was shutting.

3/9/2011'Villagio restaurant to open in Berkhamsted ENGPNL00120110309163111

3/9/2011'Villagio restaurant to open in Berkhamsted ENGPNL00120110309163111

The Italian chain – which also has restaurants in Andover, Basildon, Chatham, Chislehurst and Hammersmith – informed customers of the closure decision yesterday morning. It shut later that day.

A notice on the chain’s website now says: “To all our customers, sadly Villagio Berkhamsted is now closed. Our nearest Villagio is Villagio Hammersmith.”

The Hammersmith restaurant is about 30 miles from the one that was in Berkhamsted High Street.

The news comes less than a fortnight after Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe closed its doors in nearby Lower Kings Road. The confectionery store had been there for more than two years

Chairman of the Berkhamsted & District Chamber of Commerce David Steadman said businesses come and go in any High Street. He reiterated his comment last week that trade in the town is thriving

Talking about Villagio, he said: “I do not see anything unnatural about it and there are a lot of restaurants in Berkhamsted, so there’s a lot of competition.

“The popular ones survive with whatever the winning recipe is and the others fall by the wayside, and it’s just a part of the business cycle.”

He pointed out that while Villagio has closed its doors, Bill’s Restaurants chain hopes to open a new eatery in Berkhamsted

The Villagio had faced tough competition from the town centre’s other Italian eateries after opening in September 2011.

In 2012, the Carluccio’s chain – owned by acclaimed Italian celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio – opened a restaurant in Berkhamsted Town Hall after French eatery Brasserie Gerard left the building.

At around the turn of this year, the Ask Italian restaurant further down the High Street reopened after an extensive refurbishment project.

The owners of I Love Food in nearby Lower Kings Road spent £100,000 refurbishing their eatery before it reopened in April 2014.

That’s not to mention the opening of Berkhamsted High Street’s Brasserie Blanc restaurant – the chain of much-loved French celebrity chef Raymond Blanc – in April 2012.

Villagio had also faced stiff competition from Berkhamsted’s Zaza Italian Restaurant in Lower Kings Road, which opened in March.

Last week the property company that owns the retail hub developed out of the town’s former Royal Mail sorting office said a restaurant could soon be moving into it

A Costa Coffee and Marks & Spencer Simply Food store opened inside of the complex four months ago, but some say the M&S never has that many customers.

Villagio was unavailable for comment at the time when this article was published.