‘More needs to be done to boost city’s evening economy’

Alfredos on the Square has closed down.
Alfredos on the Square has closed down.

The council has stressed that it is making efforts to support the private sector in improving the night-time economy in Lisburn city centre.

The local authority was responding to criticism directed at it following the announcement that city centre restaurant Alfredo’s on the Square has closed down.

The eatery, which was originally located at Pipers Hill, moved to Lisburn Square last year and celebrated its first anniversary at the new premises back in March.

However, in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page on December 3, the owners of the business confirmed “with great sadness and much regret” that it has shut.

“When we first opened on the Square, our hopes and goals were to enhance the nightlife of Lisburn, and bring a new dining experience to the city centre. Regrettably, faced with the many challenges of operating a hospitality venue in the city, this did not work out for us, and we bid you a final ‘Arrivederci’…,” the post said.

Commenting on the closure on social media, much criticism was directed at the council, with some members of the public suggesting the local authority isn’t doing enough to stimulate the city’s night-time economy.

Speaking to the Ulster Star, the newly-elected President of Lisburn Chamber of Commerce, Evan Morton, expressed his sadness at the closure of Alfredo’s and said there needs to be more support for local hospitality businesses.

“Unfortunately the city centre evening economy in Lisburn remains weak as Belfast is a huge draw for the local population. More worrying is that hospitality investors are attracted to Belfast with its vibrant tourist economy and nightlife attractions,” he commented.

“The challenge is to create a hospitality offering in Lisburn outside the successful Omniplex entertainment quarter that can be sustained by private investors. Measures are required to increase footfall, along with a willingness to support local hospitality businesses.”

While expressing disappointment at the closure of Alfredo’s, a council spokesperson stressed that significant efforts are being made to encourage more people to shop, eat and enjoy themselves in the city centre.

“Through its annual promotional programme the council actively encourages residents to support local businesses by eating and shopping locally. It also encourages visitors to come to the Lisburn Castlereagh area to shop, eat and enjoy what the area has to offer,” the spokesperson said.

“The new ‘Love Lisburn’ campaign is the ideal opportunity for all local businesses to promote themselves and any offers they have to customers. The council also offers business workshops and evening economy development programmes as well as free local events designed to promote and benefit the city centre.

“Treat Week, formerly known as Restaurant Week, is funded each year by the council and is dedicated to promoting local eateries across the council area. It is important that local eateries work with the council and showcase their business.

“Treat Week 2018 is scheduled for late February and the council would like to see the majority of local eateries participate and play their part in improving the evening economy.

“Through its investment programme and strategic use of its assets and in conjunction with central government departments, the council continues to explore opportunities to attract private sector investment into the city centre, growing the economy and in particular the night-time economy,” she added.