A Sunderland music and events venue has become the latest business to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bonded Warerhouse, on Low Street, just outside Sunderland city centre, will not reopen after lockdown lifts, owners have announced.
Staff said months of enforced closure and the ongoing uncertainty about when arts and performance venues will be able to operate again had forced them to make the “extremely difficult decision”.
The 19th century warehouse has hosted concerts, comedy events and private parties and weddings over the years, as well as becoming famed for its Sunday lunches.
A statement on the venue’s website read: “Thank you all for your patience and kind words during this difficult time, we appreciate your support more than ever.
“We’re really sorry to say that due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, we have had to make the extremely difficult decision to permanently close the doors of Bonded Warehouse.
“This isn’t a decision we have taken lightly, however with the toll the last few months have taken on the business and the amount of uncertainty still remaining, we felt we would rather fully reimburse all of our private reservations and close down on our own terms.
“We have some unforgettable memories here. From every beaming face who walked down our aisle, epic live bands like Smooth + Turrell and The Futureheads blowing our roof off, to our ‘legendary’ Sunday roasts that became a firm favourite on Wearside.”
Owners added that those affected had been contacted, but anyone who needed to get in touch could still reach them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They added: “Stay safe and stay well and keep supporting the independents of Sunderland.”
On the venue’s Facebook page, regulars and many who had booked wedding there mourned the closing of the “beautiful” space, with some claimed served “the best Sunday lunch in the North”.
One person said: “Really gutted .We had our wedding here last August it was a fantastic day and a beautiful venue. A huge loss to Sunderland.”
Sharing a video of a performance by local band The Futureheads in 2019, one fan added: “Gutted. Sunderland needs places like this to survive.”
Another said: “This is devastating news for the city and all the people affected who work for Bonded Warehouse. It was an amazing music venue for our city.”
The closure comes as musicians and music industry professionals share fears about the future of live music in the UK following the pandemic, with hundreds of high profile figures calling for increased government support under the slogan “let the music play”.
On Sunday, the government announced a £1.57bn support package, although it is not yet known exactly how this money will be divided out.