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Monday 19 March 2018

Restaurant surviving on breadline

Popular eatery served with order of eviction as it struggles with rent

HARD WORK: Restaurateur Alexandra Farrell in Diep le Shaker. Photo: Gerry MooneyNIAMH HORAN

The owners of popular restaurant Diep Le Shaker have been served with an eviction notice as they can no longer meet the annual €130,000-a-year rent bill.

Matthew Farrell, director at the Asian fusion restaurant located near Baggot Street, Dublin, confirmed he received the notice last Thursday as he described how his restaurant and take-away group faces a "massive challenge" in the coming months.

The restaurant owner is in negotiations with landlord Arthur French O'Carroll, who was at the centre of a long-running legal battle with his mother Renee French O'Carroll over the building of the restaurant in the back garden over her Georgian home on Fitzwilliam Square.

Now Mr Farrell explains: "We are trying to suggest 75pc to 80pc of this price, but the landlord is not budging."

His comments come as new figures reveal that one restaurant a day is closing due to the credit crunch and the collapse in spending.

"Everyone is close to the edge, primarily because of the extremely high rent," he said. "And everyone in the restaurant business is afraid. We're flying by the seat of our pants really. Our banks have just pulled our overdraft from us. It's impossible to project where anyone will be in a couple of months."

Mr Farrell, who runs the group along with his daughter Alexandra and son Matthew Jnr -- both of whom are now directors in the company -- also spoke about the well-known customers who would frequent his eaterie at the height of the boom.

"Anglo Irish Bank were one of our best customers. They had an account with us; all the other major banks had accounts with us too. Most of the senior executives of Anglo would have dined here a lot.

"But if they came back again? I'd turn them away. Given what they've done to the country they would have some necks."

"But I don't just blame Seanie Fitz and his colleagues, I blame the regulator, the government, they all threw caution to the wind. And the government has done nothing to help the country recover.

"In France, for example, they have cut VAT on restaurant menus to get out again. They realise how important the hospitality industry is."

His daughter Alexandra, who now works 50-hour weeks to keep the restaurant afloat, said they are constantly having to stay competitive with their menu. But she says the award-winning restaurant is a personal challenge for herself and her brother.

"I really enjoy the business, it's been in the family for almost 12 years and we will do everything to make sure it succeeds. It's all about friendly service and good quality food at a good price.

"The new lunch menu that we've just launched with two courses for €15.95 and three courses for €19.95 will surely bring plenty more customers through the door."

Sunday Independent

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