Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Victoria Square loses fourth restaurant in just one week

Ba Mizu has closed, the fourth restaurant to shut in a week

Victoria Square’s showpiece restaurant has closed, it can be revealed.

Ba Mizu shut its doors at the end of the worst week for Northern Ireland’s most expensive retail complex after Maggianos and Chillis pulled out four days ago.

The roof-top restaurant, located above anchor tenant House of Fraser, was leased and employed 32 people.

House of Fraser-based Oyster Bar also shut up shop yesterday, bringing to four the number of restaurants to leave Victoria Square in just four days.

The recent closures could spark fears over the future of the £400m development which opened in a blaze of publicity last March.

But a spokeswoman for House of Fraser told the Belfast Telegraph that the situation is only temporary.

“The current restaurant operator will vacate the premises on June 26,” she said.

“We are currently in discussion with a new partner and hope to have the restaurant open soon after this. The new restaurant will provide an improved look and feel for our customers.”

A former employee of Ba Mizu contacted the Belfast Telegraph to say wages hadn’t been paid yesterday.

When questioned by this newspaper, the House of Fraser spokeswoman said Ba Mizu “employs and manages” its own staff.

She added: “The employee’s contract is held with the concession and therefore House of Fraser has no control over the payment to concession staff.”

On Wednesday staff at Chilli's and Maggiano's were told they would close with immediate effect. Both restaurants are owned by Brinker, which is closing all its UK outlets.

To date, Victoria Square has seen Zavvi, Pier, Crombie and Hardy Amies shut their premises.

However, it was recently announced that four new tenants will open outlets this summer.

Centre manager Hugh Black said the closure of Ba Mizu was a House of Fraser issue that had nothing to do with Victoria Square. “Weekly footfall is up 50% since last year,” he said.

“We have four new retailers coming in, including Hollister, which is a huge world-wide brand.

“We weren’t expecting to lose Maggiano’s or Chilli’s but that was a UK-wide issue. But with our new tenants coming in, hopefully that will attract others.”

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