“We have worked so hard and put so much love, passion and hours into the business, that this news is devastating. But for the sake of our team we’ve decided to close next Sunday,” fellow restaurateurs Juan Clares and Rosaleen Shortt tell me.

Seated inside their usually bustling restaurant El Rincon on South Parade in Summertown, the news is visibly upsetting, with Rosaleen close to tears.

The El Rincon team in happier times

But the unthinkable has happened, because despite a bustling business, regular customers and an enduring passion for Spanish cuisine, failed lease negotiations have meant they are leaving their Summertown home next Sunday.

‘We don’t want to leave this city because we love the community here’

“This is not the end,” they told me. “We are looking at other premises and want El Rincon to pop up elsewhere in Oxford. We don’t want to leave this city because we love the community here,” Rosaleen said.

Rosaleen Shortt at El Rincon

“And there’s such an exciting buzz around Oxford’s food scene. People are willing to get on a bus, bike or take a taxi for a great meal and we love that. People really appreciate good food here.”

‘we put our hearts and souls into providing the best food, drink and hospitality we could’

When El Rincon in Summertown opened its doors three years ago it made an instant impact on Oxford’s restaurant scene.

The authentic Spanish cheffing skills of Juan Clares and his partner Rosaleen’s charming front-of-house demeanour were a big hit.

El Rincon went on to win our BEST EUROPEAN category in 2022’s OXINABOX FOOD AWARDS, and the future looked bright. READ ABOUT IT HERE

El Rincon receiving Best European trophy in the Ox In A Box Food Awards from Ox Gins

“We had really made a name for ourselves,” Rosaleen agrees. “Our regulars will ring up and ask if Juan’s signature dishes were on the menu – his paellas and ox cheeks were infamous – and as a restaurant El Rincon was working.

“And that’s what we wanted when we opened, for El Rincon to be a neighbourhood restaurant, and we put our heart and souls into achieving that, to provide the best food, drink and hospitality we could,” they both said proudly.

“So yes we are looking for new premises. We just want to carry on where we started and make sure our three years of hard work don’t go to waste because we are so proud of what we crated here.

Rosaleen and Juan

“So many of our customers have said that wherever we go they will come with us and the response to the news of our closure has been really overwhelming.

“So much incredible support has really given us a renewed energy. We are so pleased we did something that people enjoyed so much.”

El Rincon is at El Rincon is at 38 South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN and closes on Sunday September 17.