Church of Ireland rent hike blamed for top Northern Ireland restaurant's closure
The owners of an award-winning fine dining restaurant in Northern Ireland have blamed a rent hike by their Church of Ireland landlord for a decision to shut after five years.
The husband and wife owners of 4 Vicars, in Armagh, which is next to St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, said they had made the decision to close with regret.
It's another blow for the city after The Moody Boar at the Palace Stables shut down last year - also blaming a rent increase.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Gareth - who is head chef - and Kasia Reid said: "Unfortunately, we have taken the decision to close our restaurant with immediate effect. Our landlord has proposed to increase the rent payable on the property to a level where we cannot trade. It is not our wish to close our business and we have done all we can to avoid this."
A spokesman for the Church of Ireland Diocese of Armagh confirmed that it owns the property at 4 Vicars Hill. "The property has been let out for a number of years to the present tenants who have operated a restaurant from the premises." He said an agent for the diocese had been "endeavouring" to renew the lease before it expires at the end of this month. "Unfortunately, the tenants have chosen to close the restaurant," he said.
The spokesman said the diocese was conscious that the property was held in trust, and that it had "responsibilities" in fixing rents and holding recent reviews, adding: "The diocese seeks to be fair and reasonable in all dealings with its tenants."
The couple vowed to continue in the industry, through event catering or setting up elsewhere.
Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne said the city had lost a "little jewel".