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Where did it all go wrong for Paul Rankin?

IN 1989 Paul and Jeanne Rankin opened up the restaurant Roscoff — helping to change the face of Northern Ireland's culinary scene.

It was the first restaurant in Northern Ireland to win a Michelin star but 10 years later, in 1999, Rankin replaced it with his flagship restaurant Cayenne.

Over the following 10 years he rapidly expanded his business with a chain of cafes, restaurants, bakery products and cookery books.

At the top of their success they employed around 500 people.

But over the last year it emerged he faced serious financial problems after selling off all but one business—Cayenne. This is how the Rankin business portfolio boomed over the past two decades before hitting financial troubles:

1989: Roscoff is opened.

1994: Paul and Jeanne appear together in the television programme Gourmet Ireland.

1996: Roscoff was voted Restaurant of the Year in the BBC Good Food Magazine's 1996 Awards.

December 2002: The Rain City Grill is opened on the Malone Road. 2002 also witnessed Irwin’s bakery launching the Rankin Selection, a variety of traditional Irish breads.

August 2003: Rankin cafe in Portadown, the first outside the Greater Belfast area, is opened after a £150,000 investment.

September 2003: Cayenne is extended in a £500,000 revamp. “This site is where it all began for Jeanne and me 15 years ago and it is our flagship restaurant,” Mr Rankin said.

October 2004: The Rankin Group acquire the lease on the property previously known as Christies and reopen it as Roscoff Brasserie. It brought the Rankin Group's portfolio to a total of four restaurants and six cafes province-wide.

December 2004: The Rankins open Soup in Castlecourt Shopping Centre, investing over £100,000 and creating five new jobs.

March 2005: Paul Rankin Cafe & Wine opens on the Lisburn Road. A Cafe Paul Rankin also opened at Dundrum town centre near Dublin. It meant the group's portfolio had 13 eateries, including restaurants Cayenne and Roscoff.

2006: The chef announces he is selling three Rankin cafes and his Rain City Grill restaurant on Belfast's Malone Road.

April 2008: The couple announce they are opening up their restaurant empire to investors.

September 2008: Paul Rankin announces he is selling all but one of his eateries — Cayenne. He said he is negotiating prices for his Roscoff Brasserie and the remainder of his Rankin cafe chain. Mr Rankin adds that negotiations for Rankin cafes at Belfast International Airport, Castle Court, Fountain Street, Junction One and the Brasserie on Linenhall Street are in the final stages. However in the same month Cayenne and Roscoff Brasserie make it into the Good Food Guide 2009.

October 2008: Roscoff Brasserie in Belfast city centre was sold.

February 2009: It emerges the couple are fighting to save their final and signature restaurant Cayenne and owe the taxman around £1m.

Belfast Telegraph


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