4:42 PM October 13, 2022
The longtime cafe bar owner in Norwich has decided to stop serving food to focus on his mental health and his passion for restoring furniture.
Warren Bryant, 50, opened The Workshop in Earlham Road in 2006 after working as an antiques restorer.
It has become a hidden gem in town for its cozy atmosphere and Middle Eastern menu, also selling indoor plants and furniture.
But the pandemic caused Mr Bryant to rethink his priorities and with his daughter born during Covid too, he cut his hours when the government allowed businesses to reopen.
Now, with his sanity ailing, he has made the decision to hang up his apron strings from October 15.
He said: “The money and hours in the food industry are rubbish and it’s such hard work – I was in my 30s when I started and I was doing around 130 hours a week.
“Covid was the best thing that happened to me in terms of mental health because I could slow down, but in the last six months my anxiety has increased again.
“I felt like I was preparing my heart and my body for battle by going into the kitchen.”
With bills rising due to the cost of living crisis, if he continued to serve food he would have to choose between “paying the electric bill or the mortgage”.
But Mr Bryant is optimistic about the future and The Workshop will now be a restored furniture store and a collective, with space rented out to other creatives.
His own space will feature restored 20th century furniture, including items he made himself.
Her sister Heidi Bryant will have her own business serving coffees and pastries upstairs, with outdoor seating and indoor plants still for sale.
He added: “Everyone talks about the climate but never about the furniture, which is a real killer, and I want to teach people how to restore and they can also bring things.
“The building was a used furniture store about 50 years ago, so it’s repurposed there.”
Mr. Bryant is also looking for people to rent out the kitchen as a prep space.