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Business / Town centre restaurant The String to close

THE DIRECTORS of Lerwick restaurant, bar and venue The String have announced that they will cease trading in the coming weeks.

Directors Akshay Borges, Neil and Kelly Riddell said they were “devastated, in particular for the permanent staff who would be made redundant as a result” – and the trio thanked everyone for their hard work during the company’s time in business.

The String opened on Lerwick’s Commercial Street in August 2018 and the team will vacate the building on 31 March.

The directors added that they hope a new tenant will take on the lease of 88 Commercial Street, which is in walk-in condition, for “what seems likely to be a very busy summer of tourism”.

Their intention is to trade out until as close to 31 March as possible.

The upstairs of the building was regularly used as a venue for live music.

In a joint statement, the three directors said they had reached a decision on Sunday having spent recent months looking at possible alternatives to closure.

While The String Shetland is a limited liability company, the directors have pledged to use their own resources to ensure all outstanding sums owed to creditors are met in full.

“While the economics of running a restaurant in a small community were always going to be challenging, and while a downturn in trade in the past two to three months has not helped, ultimately we do not view this enterprise as a failure, but a short-lived success,” they said.

“Our staff worked tremendously hard to achieve a great deal over the past year and a half, generating consistently very good reviews for the quality of food and customer service.

“We took delight in the opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic local produce available from small suppliers, while we were privileged to play host to dozens of brilliant events featuring local and visiting musicians.”

Kelly Riddell said: “Neil and I ended up taking on a much greater level of involvement than initially anticipated, and ultimately that has not proved compatible with raising two infant children.

“We are clear that our family is where our primary focus must lie, and we’re not in a position to make the substantial additional investments necessary to ensure the business continued to thrive.

“We are very sorry that decision ultimately means our hard-working staff will lose their jobs. We are fully committed to continuing trading for the next few weeks and would love nothing more than to see The String going out on a high.

“Akshay is an extremely talented chef and we are sure that he will go on to achieve more success in whichever path he chooses next.”

Borges, meanwhile, said: “We got a lot of support from tourists and locals alike, and everything we achieved would not have been possible without our staff and customers.

“I am looking forward to obtaining a better work-life balance and moving on to new opportunities. Without the help of Neil and Kelly’s investment of time and money, the restaurant would not have been possible and I wish them all the best for the future.”