Salt Bistro becomes latest Belfast restaurant calling an end to service
SALT Bistro in Belfast's popular St Anne's Square has stopping serving after seven years with the loss of around a dozen jobs
Owners Donal and Teresa Cooper, who hail from Limerick, confirmed in a Facebook post that the eaterie has pulled down the shutters.
"Regretfully we have closed our doors. We are so very grateful to everyone who has supported us over the years," they said.
"It's been a joy and a privilege to meet and serve each and every one of you."
Salt was among a cluster of restaurants in the Cathedral Quarter, offering local provenance casual dining in chic yet casual surroundings.
But like others including The Potted Hen directly opposite and also 27 Talbot Street, it has fallen victim to rising costs and tightening consumer spending.
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said he was "saddened" to learn of Salt's closure.
"A steady string of struggling eateries are being caught up in the midst of a casual dining crisis, which has emerged over the last few years," he said.
"Rising costs and staffing issues are putting many restaurants here under severe pressure.
"A huge chunk of the food and beverage industry in Northern Ireland is really struggling right now and their margins are being squeezed to death.
"We've had rates increases, we've seen the national living wage go up, we've seen pension contributions filter through and, everything combined, it is putting a number of premises on the edge of a cliff."
The number of restaurants falling into insolvency or closing in Northern Ireland from 2016 to 2018 was 52, while since 1997 a quarter of all the region's pubs have also thrown in the towel.
"Restaurants and pubs are being stifled by high costs and rates bills, and are enduring severe financial constraints. They need urgent help, or others will go the same way as Salt," Mr Neill added.
Comments on Facebook following Salt's closure announcement were generally complimentary about the food and service, though some customers with pre-paid Christmas bookings asked if they would get their deposits back,
In response, the owners said: "Absolutely. Almost all have already been contacted. But if you have any questions about a booking, email us at email@example.com."