Dog Track's emotional owners admit hard times forced restaurant closure
Belfast restaurant Dog Track has announced that it is closing its doors after less than a year in business.
The tapas-style eaterie on the Ormeau Avenue only opened last December.
The closure, with immediate effect, was announced in an emotional post on its Facebook page.
The new premises was the second restaurant from the owners of the Barking Dog on south Belfast's Malone Road.
It was launched by chef Michael O'Connor and manager Michael Fletcher with £500,000 investment with the help of First Trust.
Dog Track seated 80 people and had a 'serving track', with food moving around on a conveyor in front of diners in a similar style to fast-food sushi restaurants.
It is understood around 20 members of staff worked at the premises.
The Facebook post read: "We overcame so many difficulties to get the restaurant open, building delays and problems, funding issues and some of the worst winter weather for years.
"We've worked as hard as we can, we've changed things and we've prayed, but we haven't been able to make things work.
"Our staff have been just the best, working hard and keeping their chins up when the restaurant was quiet. They never gave less than 100%, we hope they all get jobs sorted as quickly as possible and would ask any other restaurants looking amazing staff to please give them a chance."
The post said that things were particularly difficult in Belfast's hospitality industry.
It added: "We know things are hard for anyone running any business, especially one in the hospitality, at the minute and we would urge the people of Belfast to get out and support locally-owned businesses providing livelihoods to thousands across the city. Use them or lose them. It is breaking our hearts that it has come to this, but we just cannot survive any longer and it is with great anguish that we've taken the decision to close.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us along the way and to all the lovely customers we've had for their support. We aimed for the stars, but got lost in the clouds."
Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne said: "It's never good news when a restaurant closes, particularly in an area of redevelopment such as the Linen Quarter.
"Dog Track was innovative and exciting, its sushi train more than a gimmick and its service and food standards as high as the best.
"I'm sorry to learn of its closure, but look forward to seeing the Michael O'Connor and Michael Fletcher double act popping up again soon."