Michelin Guide listed Belfast restaurant Blank to close ‘due to financial strain’

Couple behind award winning eatery blame “the ever increasing cost of doing business”

The owners of Blank restaurant in Belfast, Jonny and Christina Taylor.
Jonny and Christina Taylor admitted that launching Blank restaurant during October 2021 had been a gamble.

An award-winning south Belfast restaurant, known for its no-menu fine dining concept, is to close.

Blank on the Malone Road is among the small number of northern restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide.

It was launched in 2021 by Jonny and Christina Taylor, best known for Shed Bistro on Belfast’s Ormeau Road.

Blank presented customers with a five course casual fine-dining experience curated using local produce farmed and sourced on the island of Ireland.

Guests were only offered a list of the ingredients on arrival, with dishes remaining a mystery until presented at the table.

But the Taylors said the rising cost of that local produce, coupled with escalating labour costs, has made Blank financially unviable.

The Taylors confirmed Blank will close on June 8, but said there are plans for “a more casual and accessible dining experience” at the Malone Road premises.

In a statement, Jonny and Christina Taylor admitted opening blank in October 2021 had been a gamble.

“For more than two years it has worked. However, the ever increasing cost of doing business and the amount of staff we need on site simply renders Blank unviable.

“The cumulative pressure has become too much and we feel we need to redesign the restaurant offer at that site.

Empty table inside Blank restaurant containing its list of ingredients.
Blanks offers a list of the ingredients on arrival, with dishes remaining a mystery until presented at the table.

“The margins in operating such a fine dining restaurant are very finely balanced.

“While we have always been very busy at weekends, it has been more difficult to attract customers midweek and far too often we get last minute cancellations, often of more than one table.

“When that happens it makes that day’s trading unviable.

“I really hope customers take this on board, and give a restaurant booking the same status and respect that goes with a theatre or a concert booking.”

The couple asked that all Blank vouchers be used in the six weeks before it closes.

The announcement follows Michael Deane’s decision to close his Michelin-starred Deane’s Eipic restaurant in Belfast city centre, and replace it with an eatery focused on ‘value for money’.

The closure of Blank is latest blow to the north’s hospitality scene.

Blank Restaurant on Malone Road in Belfast
Blank restaurant on Malone Road will close on June 8.

Derry City eatery the Sooty Olive and east Belfast restaurant Broker both announced plans to close last week.

Both restaurants blamed rising costs within the industry.

Last month saw Mourne Seafood founder Bob McCoubrey step down from his business after two decades.

Mourne Seafood Limited is now in the process of being wound up.

The Bank Square seafood restaurant remains open and under new ownership.

The well-known restaurateur said the impact of Covid-19 and high costs had made it impossible for him to continue trading.