Restaurant forced to close amid 'challenging times' for town centre

Ozan Kulaksiz and Onur Guvenc <i>(Image: NQ)</i>
Ozan Kulaksiz and Onur Guvenc (Image: NQ)

A JACKET potato restaurant in Bournemouth town centre is closing for good amid “challenging times”.

Kumpi in Old Christchurch Road will close its doors on December 23, despite the “best efforts” of its owners to keep it afloat.

The ‘next level’ jacket potato restaurant was opened in December 2021 by Ozan Kulaksiz and Onur Guvenc.

During the summer, the pair said they were finding it “very difficult” running a business in Bournemouth after seeing a “massive decrease” in footfall.

They felt the council was focusing too much on the seafront and its pop-up restaurants, and said ‘more needed to be done’ to attract tourists and residents beyond the sand.

Now six months later, Ozan and Onur say the situation in the town centre has not changed.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Onur said they had reached a point where continuing was “no longer feasible”, and that Kumpi was among the “many businesses in Bournemouth facing closure”.

He added: “We won't be the only ones closing this month, and it pains us to see the impact on the local business community.

“We believe in the strength of our community and hope that in the future there will be more proactive measures to support local businesses in Bournemouth.”

Ozan and Onur met 12 years before opening their venture while working part-time jobs and studying at Bournemouth University.

Vowing to start a business together, they opened their design management company, Design Agency Red White CA, in 2010, before branching into hospitality.

Both originally from Turkey, the duo were inspired by a traditional Turkish take on the baked potato - Kumpir.

They decided to launch Kumpi as a ‘cloud kitchen’ during lockdown in 2020, operating on delivery services through a kitchen in the town centre.

The business was then moved into the Old Christchurch Road unit at the end of 2021.

Onur said previously: “We wanted to turn our business into a nationwide brand, we want to see it grow and be Bournemouth-based.

"But we can’t achieve it because of all the issues with the council and the town centre.”

Earlier this year the Daily Echo ran a series of articles focusing on the state of the town. Business people, shoppers and politicians all had their say.

At the end of November, a town centre summit took place with stakeholders making pledges to improve the situation.