This was supposed to an amazing year for Victoria chef Robert Cassels.
Back in June, it was announced that Cassels would be inducted into the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame this coming October, recognizing his eloquent menus that focused on farm-to-table creations at his restaurant Saveur on Herald Street.
The restaurant had also been named as the “most romantic” in the city by Open Table.
But those good vibes are over after it was announced this week that Saveur had been abruptly shut down – with a long list of industry issues being blamed for the closure.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we say farewell,” reads an Instagram post. “Since 2020, the operational challenges faced by businesses due to ongoing closures, restrictions, and setbacks caused by the pandemic made an extremely difficult environment for restaurants to survive in. Combined with ongoing labour shortages, rising cost of food, and inflation, we have reached a difficult decision to close Saveur. The choice to sell our space was made with careful consideration. In the current environment, we cannot envision a successful future while at the same time adhering to our level of standards and quality of both food and service. We wish the new owners of 658 Herald St, great success with their new restaurant concept, opening in the near future.”
The news was met with shock by staff and customers, with one writing online that it was “gutting news.”
“Saveur blew my mind! The beef carpaccio was incomparable. What a huge loss for our city,” wrote one customer on the Instagram post.
“Sad to read this! We loved every experience we had at Saveur, our absolute favourite restaurant in Victoria. Food and drink were second to none. Thank you for being so amazing,” wrote another customer.”
Cassels was born and raised in Victoria, and helped transform an old boot factory into a restaurant known for its five-course tasting menus back in 2015.
The Instagram post honoured Cassels as “never compromising” standards, 70-hour work weeks and “personal sacrifices.”
“Throughout the past decade, so many important people have played a key role in the great success of this restaurant,” said the Instagram post. “Saveur was an empty shell when Chef Robert Cassels first started this project 10 years ago. With the help of many, (and you all know who you are), it was not only physically built-out from scratch, but Saveur became an extraordinary space, constantly evolving. By year three, it had skyrocketed to the top restaurant in the city. A vision of excellence became reality year after year through collaborations with local farmers, wineries, chefs, charities, incredible team members, and our customers - many became like family. On behalf of our incredible team, both now and then, thank you, everyone, for all of the memories. It has been our great honour to serve you.”