A Derry restaurant severely damaged in a large fire earlier this month is to be demolished, according to restaurant owner, Stan Lee.
The Mandarin Karma restaurant was completely destroyed in a fire and after numerous inspections over the last few weeks it has been decided that the building is to be tumbled.
The restaurant next door, the Mandarin Palace, was also damaged in the fire but does not have to be demolished.
“I met with all of the staff employed by the two restaurants last week and told them that I had to lay them all off. That’s 68 jobs. I am completely distraught. Not only has the fire resulted in local job losses but my restaurants used 20 local suppliers. The restaurants were responsible for a micro-economy and I just hope that I can get back on my feet sooner rather than later.”
The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing and is being led by the PSNI.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) told the Journal yesterday: “NIFRS is assisting the PSNI with its investigation into the cause of the fire at the Mandarin Palace Restaurant in Derry.”
Mr. Lee has already submitted an insurance claim but it is unlikely that any decision will be made until the police investigation is complete.
“The main structure of the building is sound but the Mandarin Karma restaurant will have to be completely demolished.
“The interior of the Mandarin Palace will require some work but it will not have to be demolished.
“I have been talking to friends and family about them providing the financial support to re-open the Mandarin Palace in the interim but no decision has been taken over that yet,” added Mr. Lee.
Mr. Lee met with the Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson outside the fire ravaged building yesterday afternoon.
Speaking to the Journal, Mayor Stevenson said she hoped the people of Derry would show their support to Mr. Lee.
“Stan and his family were the first to have a riverside restaurant in Derry - they have been an integral part of the social scene here.
“I hope that Stan and his family can get the support they need to perhaps re-open the Mandarin Palace within the next six to eight weeks.
“The Mandarin Palace and the Mandarin Karma were real assets to this city and I believe Stan will be back on his feet sooner rather than later.”
City Centre Manager, Jim Roddy, from the City Centre Initiative echoed the mayor’s calls for the people of the city to get behind Mr. Lee.
“When I was involved with Derry City F.C., Stan was always one of the first to make himself available and offer help. Stan has helped so many groups around this town and has never asked for publicity. I now think it’s time for everyone to start helping Stan,” said Mr. Roddy.