THE country's oldest vegetarian restaurant is set to close after nearly 60 years in business.

All three Hendersons outlets in Edinburgh are to close after the family’s first shop opened in 1962, due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

Janet Henderson opened her first shop on Hanover Street selling surplus fruit and vegetables from her East Lothian farm with her husband Mac - a rugby player capped three times as a forward in the Scotland team that won the Triple Crown in 1933, who lived until he was 101.

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The trail-blazing restaurant announced its closure in an online statement today and hit out at the government’s initial hesitance in ordering hospitality venues to close. 

They said this meant they had went into the crisis having “haemorrhaged a serious amount of money”. 

The statement went on: “The furlough scheme was a life-line with some hope but still came at a cost with 40 employees, plus we still had essential fixed operating costs, insurance, rent, utilities - with very high monthly outgoing costs and no income coming in - the current situation was unsustainable.”

HeraldScotland:

During the lockdown, Hendersons provided a click and collect and delivery service for customers but this was not enough to keep the business afloat. 

Due to a lack of footfall and passing trade from their usually reliable customer-base of tourists and office workers - absent during lockdown, the business suffered further. 

The statement went on: “If our location was in a neighbourhood area – it might have been a different story and if we had more of a strong online presence or wholesale trade, perhaps we could have pushed through and come out the other side.

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“Our family has been privileged to play our part in Janet and Mac Henderson's great adventure that has been so well supported over the years. It has been a very difficult decision for us and the Henderson family would like to thank our loyal customers, brilliant suppliers and lovely staff over the past 58 years and we will miss being part of what was Edinburgh’s bustling restaurant scene, which we hope will return in the not too distant future.”

HeraldScotland:

Many employees over the years having worked in Henderson’s have gone on to start their own ventures such as Chris Graham (owner of The Magnum), Ian and Susie Wilson (Susie’s Diner) and others were inspired to start their own ventures such as Simon Hope (Food for Thought in London). 

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Janet started the business in 1962 after travelling through Europe and was introduced to vegetarianism by an aunt in Vienna. 

She died in 1973, upon her return from a trip to South East Asia, a decade after her first Hanover Street Shop opened.

The business remained in the family until its closure with Oliver Henderson and Catherine Home, the two youngest of Janet’s children as the owners and directors of Hendersons of Hanover Street and Hendersons Holyrood.