Award-winning restaurant Victoria St Bistro will close its doors on September 1, as diners leave the Hamilton CBD in droves.

“The first two quarters of this year have been the worst two quarters I’ve ever had in business,” said Lawrenson Group chief executive John Lawrenson, which owns 16 other restaurants and bars in the Waikato and around the country. “We’ve got to make some hard decisions somewhere and [Victoria St Bistro] was one of the hard decisions. But unfortunately, it isn’t the only one. There will be others. There are two leases coming up shortly which we won’t be renewing in the central city.”

A lack of foot traffic in central Hamilton is part of the problem, spurred by lower drink driving limits which came into force in 2014. Since then, suburban restaurants have grown while inner-city establishments have struggled.

“It’s a beautiful restaurant that we have been very proud of,” said Lawrenson. “You’ve just got to make the smart call at the time and take the emotion out of it.”