Belfast Telegraph

Former owners of Potted Hen banned from being directors over £400k debt

By John Mulgrew

A husband and wife team once behind one of Belfast's top restaurants have been banned from the boardroom for eight years after racking up debts of £400,000, it has emerged.

Catherine Mary Regan (43), of Ross Mill Avenue, Belfast, and Dermot John Regan (41), of Dungannon Road, Moy, Dungannon, both ran the Potted Hen at St Anne's Square in the Cathedral Quarter.

The restaurant operated under Oregano Belfast Ltd.

In 2015, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that an insolvency order had been brought against the couple.

Now, the Department for the Economy has banned the couple from serving as company directors for eight years.

The reasons for the disqualifications included amassing debts of £408,000, which included sizeable tax debts.

According to the department, the former restaurant owners also failed "to deliver up all company books and records to the joint liquidators".

It said they failed to "promote the success of the company in that company funds of £64,000 were diverted away from the company and its creditors and instead were used for the benefit of their partnership business".

Other reasons included owing around £232,000 in VAT between 2012 and 2014, along with £93,000 for the same period, and PAYE tax debts of £7,200.

The firm had owned The Potted Hen in Belfast's St Anne's Square and Oregano, on the Ballyrobert Road in Newtownabbey.

A petition to wind up Oregano Belfast Ltd was first presented on March 19, 2014.

Documents filed to Companies House on behalf of Oregano Belfast Ltd by liquidators show the scale of the firm's debts, with those owed to unsecured creditors amounting to more than £400,000.

The Potted Hen was opened in November 2010 by the Regans, who had originally tasted success with Oregano. It was the first restaurant to open in the St Anne's Square complex, and it blazed a trail for all the other quality eateries which can now be found dotted around the area.

It then hit the headlines in December 2013 when a dissident bomb exploded just yards from the restaurant's front doors.

The Potted Hen remained open and trading for some time after the company running it was wound-up.

However, in October 2015, customers found the eatery locked up.

In 2012 the restaurant was named the best in Northern Ireland at the National Restaurant Awards in London, and expanded in size that year to create a private dining area on the second floor. It was credited with helping the Cathedral Quarter become the social hub it is today.

When it opened, Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne heaped praise on the Potted Hen's cuisine.

That included a "smooth" chicken liver parfait with the "most perfectly baked golden little brioche roll" along with salt & chilli squid.

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