Top restaurateur Michael Deane is facing substantial losses after severe flooding closed his flagship Belfast restaurant.
The well-known chef said Deanes on Howard Street could be closed for a month with an estimated weekly loss of £30,000 in takings.
That figure doesn’t include the cost of repairs, which he hopes will be met by insurers.
Mr Deane was alerted to an emergency at the upmarket establishment when alarms went off at around 3am yesterday. He found the floor of the Michelin-starred establishment flooded with two inches of water after it cascaded through the ceiling. It is thought pipes may have frozen over and burst on Saturday night.
“It’s a disaster,” Mr Deane said.
“We have around 40 members of staff here. The ceiling will have to come out and there’s an awful lot of damage. The air conditioning units are affected and there’s water running down the walls over some of the paintings we have up.
“With January being a quiet month anyway, it has basically brought this business to its knees — but at least nobody has been hurt.”
The restaurant had been open for business on Friday and Saturday.
“We didn’t expect to come in on a Monday morning and find this. It’s like someone put a petrol bomb through the window. But we just have to pick ourselves up and get on with it though these are hard times with all restaurants fighting for every customer and grasping every penny.”
Instead of customers the restaurant swarmed with insurers, structural engineers, electricians, plumbers and architects.
He said his businesses had been targeted in robberies — but the present crisis was the worst yet.
“I’m a bit stunned, things like this put the heart out of you.”
The premises was formerly split into Deanes Brasserie downstairs and fine dining establishment Restaurant Michael Deane upstairs. But around three years ago, Restaurant Michael Deane was closed and the ‘fine dining’ moved downstairs and renamed Deanes.
Mr Deane, who is married to former UTV news presenter Kate Smith, also owns Deanes Deli at Bedford Street, Deanes at Queen’s in south Belfast, and Simply Deanes at The Outlet shopping mall in Banbridge, Co Down.