Mourne Seafood Bar owner ‘stepping back’

Mourne Seafood Bar owner ‘stepping back’

The founder of a popular Belfast city centre restaurant is stepping away from the business after struggling to recover lost trade post-pandemic.

While the Mourne Seafood Bar will continue operating as usual under new ownership, Bob McCoubrey, who founded the Mourne Seafood franchise back in 2005, said he was “stepping back from it all”.

In an interview with the Irish News, Mr McCoubrey said: “There was just too much debt. We had no debt pre-Covid. You just don’t get a chance to pay it off with the margins so slim.”

The Bank Street restaurant, which opened in 2007, announced earlier this year that it would be closing for lunch during weekdays, as hybrid working has meant less footfall from people working in offices.

This comes after soaring energy costs have made it even harder for hospitality businesses to stay afloat.

The eatery’s outdoor seating area, set up to allow people to dine out during lockdown restrictions, was also destroyed last summer, causing what Mr McCoubrey estimated to be £15,000 worth of damage.

He said: “I am stepping back from it all. I just decided to cut my losses and give a new team a go at it.”

Those taking over comprises the restaurant’s management and staff and so customers likely won’t notice a difference, Mr McCoubrey said.

He added: “The fresh company has a new start and they are going to honour all the gift vouchers. Customers won’t be affected and suppliers won’t be affected. They have all been paid.”

The Mourne Seafood Cookery School will also be unaffected.

The original Mourne Seafood Bar, in Dundrum, Co Down, was taken over by its staff seven years ago.

Now, McCoubrey’s company, Mourne Seafood Limited, is in the process of being wound up to settle the significant debt that has built up post-pandemic.