BELFAST restaurant The Barking Dog closes this week after almost 15 years of existence.
Chef at the Malone Road location, Michael O’Connor, said, “It’s just become impossible to keep the doors open.”
In a statement posted to social media on Monday, he confirmed that Sunday (May 14) will be the venue’s last day of trading.
Mr O’Connor blamed a combination of rising costs, staff shortages and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry.
“Ultimately, it’s been a battle for several years, especially one that just doesn’t seem to have any other outcome,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I know I’m not alone in this as other friends in the industry have recently had to make the difficult decision to close their businesses, as extenuating circumstances can simply make your working life unsustainable.”
Recent research has shown that the rising cost of doing business in Northern Ireland has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard.
Mr O’Connor said he made the decision “with an incredibly heavy heart”.
“I would like to thank all the customers who have walked through the doors over the years and purchased the Barking Dog and its style of food and service,” he said.
“There are so many regular customers who will be sorely missed, but please know that you have meant the world to me and this restaurant.
“Some great employees have graced the floors of this building over the years, and some have had tremendous success in this industry. It has been a pleasure to watch your pups grow and develop into absolute stars.”
The restaurateur encouraged customers to visit “and say goodbye” and encouraged customers with vouchers to use them up.
“The restaurant is open this week, from Thursday to Sunday. After that, the barking dog is gone to live on a farm,” he added.
Time to say goodbye pic.twitter.com/HnIQuMbIxp
— Barking Dog Restaurant (@BarkingDBelfast) May 8, 2023