20 jobs lost as rent row forces owner to shut
A DISPUTE over rent finally forced restaurateur Louise Aungier to shut her Clontarf steakhouse Stockyard last week.
Twenty people will lose their jobs. But the restaurant could have kept going, if a deal could have been done to reduce the Dublin rent, she said.
After four years in business, she had won a loyal local customer base, but, like restaurants countrywide, had suffered a 40pc slump in turnover in the recession.
Strenuous efforts by staff and suppliers had helped her cut costs in most areas, including bulk-buying food, waste and wage costs, and taking minimal pay for herself and directors. They even joined forces with other restaurants to buy wine by the container to get a better deal.
But rent of €1,400 a week remained the non-negotiable element and she was unable to get a deal with her landlord, she said.
Ms Aungier said she had another restaurant, Casa Pasta, in Clontarf where her landlord had agreed to a rent reduction, which allowed them keep trading. She said she was devastated at having to break the news to her staff last week that they couldn't continue.
However, landlord Adrian Bresnan disputed Ms Aungier's claims that the rent was too high, saying it was reasonable for an 80-seater restaurant in a prime location, and this was shown by the fact he was already getting calls from prospective new tenants.
"I have bills to pay, I have huge borrowings and I cannot afford to reduce the rent; we are all trying to survive," he said, noting he had agreed to reduce cleaning and maintenance fees.
Ms Aungier "held a gun to my head" by unilaterally reducing the rent to €800 last month, he said, and he felt forced to give her notice to quit over breaches of contract.