The fruit, vegetable and juice specialist has not made any official comment on the recent departure, but the Times understands business rates and lack of parking played a role.
Chocolatl has been closed since July 6, when heavy rain caused its kitchen to flood, and a note on its Facebook page said the shop will remain shut ‘until further notice’.
David Podbury owns Pantiles Cameras, which overlooks both shops and has been trading for more than 40 years. He called the lack of parking near the promenade a ‘massive issue’.
“The Union House car park is now gone and the Fairground site is mostly used by commuters,” he said.
“High streets, as a whole, are finding it difficult at the moment. As a destination shop we are okay because people come to look for us.
“However, business rates are ridiculous. The High Street is struggling and more and more shops are empty, but we are still paying the same business rates or it gets higher.”The Pantiles has benefited from a boost in visitors with jazz and cultural events proving successful. The latest, The Pantiles Food Festival, attracted thousands once again last weekend [see page 21].
Mr Podbury was unsure about how the proposed Business Improvement District could impact on the area. This would see businesses pay a levy towards providing events or services to enhance an area.
A spokesman from Targetfollow, who own and manage The Pantiles, said: “Over the summer, we have attracted tens of thousands of people to events with our active marketing and the flourishing events.
“We are, however, aware of the changes in the way people live and shop which is affecting the general retail climate, but we are constantly seeking to evolve and diversify our offer. We have a number of exciting prospective tenants interested in the limited available space.
“We are aware that there are constraints on parking, and we are working on a number of initiatives with the council and stakeholders.”