£500k Belfast restaurant closes after 10 months

Belfast restaurant Dog Track has closed its doors after 10 months. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Gareth McKeown

A BELFAST city centre restaurant launched following an investment of over half a million pounds has closed after just 10 months.

The shutters have come down on the 80-seater Dog Track restaurant, housed within the Weaving Works on Ormeau Avenue its owners have confirmed. The tapas restaurant, the second from chef Michael O'Connor and Michael Fletcher after the Barking Dog on Malone Road, closed its doors yesterday at a cost of up to 20 jobs.

In a statement the owners said it is with "great regret and sadness" they have decided to close the restaurant.

"We've worked as hard as we can, we've changed things and we've prayed, but we haven't been able to make things work," a Facebook post read.

"It is breaking our hearts that it has come to this, but we just cannot survive any longer and it is with great anguish that we've taken the decision to close. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us along the way and to all the lovely customers we've had for their support. We aimed for the stars, but got lost in the clouds."

In a lengthy statement the duo paid tribute to staff, but also warned that their business could be the first of many to close in the city unless they are supported by the local people.

"We know things are hard for anyone running any business, especially one in the hospitality, at the minute and we would urge the people of Belfast to get out and support locally owned businesses providing livelihoods to thousands across the city. Use them or lose them," they said.

Dog Track opened its doors in December last year following a £500,000 investment, supported by First Trust Bank. The innovative restaurant, which featured a 360 degree serving track similar to that of Japanese eateries, focused on western cuisine in a tapas style, with the owners previously planning, if successful, to roll out the concept to two other restaurants, with Derry and Dublin mooted as possible locations.

Speaking to The Irish News last year, Mr O'Connor, who has previously been involved in Belfast restaurants Coppi and Il Pirata said the venture had been 14 years in the making and described the plans finally coming to fruition as a “dream come true”.

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