Celebrity chef, Paul Rankin, has announced that he will be closing his flagship Belfast restaurant, Cayenne, after a string of Union flag demonstrations disrupted his business.
Mr. Rankin, who once owned a successful chain of eateries across Ireland, said: “Location is key in the restaurant business, particularly at a time of economic downturn, and our current setting is no longer sustainable. The disturbances around the flag protest, particularly during the Christmas period, also confirmed our decision.
“The lease at our current location has now come to an end and, given the change in the Shaftesbury Square area over the last number of years, it doesn’t make sense to undertake the necessary investment required to continue to operate there at this time.”
The chef added: “The once ‘golden mile’ of Belfast has suffered badly from a lack of regeneration and a general decline in popularity and appearance, even the Ulster Bank with its gable and statues across from us is to close shortly.”
Paul Rankin is one of Northern Ireland’s most renowned cooks. He won the country’s first Michelin star when he opened the fine-dining Roscoff Brasserie in 1989.
At the heigh of the recession, he was forced to sell off his chain of Rankin Cafés, as well as his Rain City restaurant.
The closing of Cayenne will result in the loss of 18 full and part-time jobs, but Mr. Rankin is promising to open another new restaurant as soon as possible.
“We’ve enjoyed a very loyal and supportive relationship with our customers over all these years and hope that they will bear with us while we find the right location to re-establish our restaurant.” Mr. Rankin said.
“Cooking is my ultimate passion and I am committed to establishing a new kitchen inspired by both Cayenne and Roscoff before it. There has already been some high level talks talking place about other exciting business and restaurant opportunities but I am open to identifying as many different options as possible so it really is too early to confirm any details as yet.”
Rankin’s own brand of foods will remain on sale in supermarkets across the UK and Ireland.