The permanent closure of one of Battlefield’s most popular eateries is a sombre reminder that the cost of living crisis is now eating away at Glasgow’s successful hospitality venues.

Sinclairs café and wine bar first opened in April 2021 and was a hit in the local community, but less than two years on, bosses have made the "heart-breaking" decision to close on Sunday, January 22.

Kenny Harkin, the kitchen manager who helped owner Andy Haughie open Sinclairs, laid bare how the economic crisis made it impossible for the business to go on.

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Popular Glasgow cafe forced to shut amid cost-of-living crisis

Starting a business during the pandemic was "tricky in the first place" but then "it really boomed for a while", Kenny says.

But since the beginning of last year, business began a slow and steady decline.

Rising food and energy costs began to gnaw at the cafe and customers were feeling the pinch as well.

Kenny said: “It wasn’t a downturn in numbers so much, but people were spending less money.

“People are coming in a couple of times a week, maybe once a week, and not spending as much.

“We’re a wine bar at night and that started to drift away.

You could definitely see that people were prioritising when they wanted to go out and when they wanted to spend their money and what they wanted to spend it on.

“Going out for a bottle of wine wasn’t so much a priority anymore, which is totally understandable.”

“Everyone is facing it. And we just slowly started to see this progression of things.”

Glasgow Times:

The team at Sinclairs tried a number of strategies to stay afloat, like offering budget menus, but they could only cut prices so much without sacrificing quality.

The ethos of using Scottish and local suppliers was "a big part of what they wanted to do" and allowed them to keep the menu simple, but "it came with a price".

Kenny said: “We didn’t want to pass on too much of the cost to the customers because, at the end of the day, there’s only so much you’re going to pay for a bacon roll. There’s a ceiling to that.”

Costs for food and energy continued to climb and VAT rates went back up to 20%, hammering the business.

He said: “Even though we weren’t experiencing a loss in footfall, people were spending less. It’s very difficult to afford those costs and stay open.

“We tried to cut our hours back to five days a week. We cut our wine bar hours as well, just to try and mitigate what we were feeling.”

Kenny told the Glasgow times that Sinclairs’ monthly energy bills quadrupled, costing the business thousands of pounds a month.

He said: “When we have customers in, we need to keep the heating on.

“In our kitchen, we use gas and electricity. Coffee machines and beer pumps, they have to stay on.

“It’s part of a business like this, of course it is, but the point is when your costs are going up, and up, and up, and you're expected to still just keep going, there is a breaking point mentally.”

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Cost of living: How Glasgow families can claim £49 energy payment

Telling the tight-knit team of staff about the impending closure was "heart-breaking", Kenny says.

Kenny and Andy knew closing was "on the cards for a while" and spent every day "scratching their brains" about how they could make the café work.

He said: “We've got a certain level of quality and that requires good people who know what they're doing, who cares.

“And we've got those, we've got a great team, and it was the most heartbreaking thing we had to do.

“Heart-breaking may be a bit strong, but it does feel like that.

“We put a lot of effort into this, heart and soul kind of thing. We thought about it all the time, constantly, and really, really wanted it to work.”

Glasgow Times:

Kenny describes what is happening in the industry as an ‘economic pandemic’ as more and more local businesses are forced to close due to the crisis.

He said: “There's a lot of businesses saying they're feeling the pinch as well.

“And that, you know, there's worse to come. Unless there’s some form of help.”

Sinclairs has received an outpouring of support from customers and other local businesses since they announced the closure.

Kenny said: “Everyone's been super supportive and really sorry to hear the news.

“It did make a difference that kind of lifted our spirits a bit because we got a lot of messages saying, it's not your fault, basically.

“A lot of businesses said they were in the same boat. Some are going to be able to make it and some won't.”

Cost of Living Crisis: Why are so many Glasgow restaurants closing?

As part of a special investigation, we will be delving into the many closures plaguing the food and drink industry to find out what it means for our city.

As of January 18, the Glasgow Times has reported nine closures in the food and drink sector alone since the beginning of the year.

Please contact Marissa Macwhirter ( or Sarah Campbell ( if you have any questions, comments, or tips.