A Belfast pizza and pasta restaurant has become the latest establishment to close due to rising business costs.
Recent months of high inflation and rising costs of living have seen dozens of closures and popular Antrim Road Italian restaurant Casabella has now said it is ‘pulling the plug’.
In a social media post, the restaurant – specializing in “authentic” stone-baked and hand-rolled pizzas – said the news was “with a heavy heart”.
“It is with great sadness that we have to announce the closure of Casabella,” they wrote.
“As everyone will be aware of the rising costs of food, gas and electricity, we are no longer able to continue providing our excellent food.
“Over the past few months it has become very difficult to source stock and keep up with ever increasing price increases. And with heavy hearts we had to pull the plug.
“We would like to thank all of our amazing customers for their support over the years and especially our regulars.
“On a personal note, I would like to publicly thank our staff for their dedication and passion for the work they have done over the years.
“Thank you all.”
The news was greeted with disappointment by many netizens who hailed the restaurant for its tasty cuisine.
A local customer said: ‘Absolutely gutted for you all, the best pizza in Ireland. We will be sorry to see you go.
Another added: “We will miss you in the community. I want to thank all the staff, and it’s so sad to see one of my favorite Italian restaurants no longer in the community.
The latest closure comes after Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster said he feared the industry “hasn’t seen the worst” of the current cost of living crisis.
Last week he told BBC Radio Ulster that urgent action was needed and said two or three businesses were currently closing each week in the area.
“We have astronomical energy costs, we have rising labor costs. There is a limit to what you can absorb and a limit to what the customer can pay,” he said.
“You have 72,000 jobs that depend on it. We have seen the start of the shutdowns and I really fear that in the fall we will see energy costs rise again and inflation is likely to rise again. We haven’t seen the worst yet.
“We need immediate action, we need an emergency VAT reduction and we need support for our energy costs.”
Last weekend saw the closure of a branch of the popular Co Londonderry restaurant Moes Grill, which closed its restaurant located in Magherafelt at Castledawson roundabout.
The Velveteen Rabbit tea and coffee shop in Newry announced earlier this month that it had closed permanently due to a “shocking rise in costs”, while last month the Red Door tea room in Ballintoy , Co Antrim has confirmed it will be closing, as have south Belfast restaurant Bia Rebel Ramen and Copper Seafood and Grill in Newcastle.