Café Ceres has closed and, right, the view through the windows of the roundabout
THERE’S a poignant little message on the website of Café Ceres, that comfy little café cum French bistro on the Hunters Bar roundabout at Ecclesall Road, Sheffield. It says “Au Revoir.”
After 19 years of croque monsieurs, French onion tarts, crepes Suzette and chicken chasseur owners Jean-Paul and Caroline Strappazzon closed on Saturday, September 21. But the decision was not theirs.
As it says on the website: “Our landlord has been unwilling to discuss a new lease and we therefore have no choice but to close down.”
The average life of a restaurant in Britain is about three years: The first full of hope, the second bedding down and the third deciding whether it’s sink or swim. Many don’t make it that far so almost two decades is some achievement.
The business had started out in the summer of 2000 on nearby Sharrowvale Road when the couple took over what was then La Ceres deli, keeping the name. It was a café and mini bakery during the day – the excellent quiches and onion tarts were big sellers – and as a little BYO bistro in the evenings later on in the week.
It was a little outpost of French cooking.Dishes were simple classics – salmon, a steak, chicken chasseur and, my favourite, crepes.
In its early days it was an atmospheric place. The toilet was at the end of the garden, a hangover from its days as a terraced house.
Jean-Paul, from the Haute-Savoie region of France, had been a ski instructor and he and Caroline had met on the slopes.
The café later moved up the road to the roundabout into much larger premises, previous a Thai restaurant and the Mini Bar fish eaterie. Life there was not without incident. In November 2016 a car crashed through the windows.
It was a community-minded place. The café hosted a book club and regularly welcomed local schools whose pupils came to order breakfast in French.
Au revoir also means ‘until the next time’ as well as goodbye. They say: “We really hope we can carry on in some form. Fingers crossed.”