Michelin-starred restaurant in Belfast, Deanes EIPIC, to close after 26 years
After 26 years in business, the Michelin-starred restaurant, Deanes EIPIC, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has announced it will be closing its doors at the end of 2023. The closure comes as a result of rising costs, which have become too high for both customers and the restaurant itself.
Deanes EIPIC was the flagship fine dining restaurant of an empire started by Northern Irish chef Michael Deane in the 1990s. The restaurant earned its first Michelin star within a year of opening as Deanes in 1997.
Cost sensitivities among customers, the impact of Covid-19, Brexit, and the cost of living crisis were cited as the primary reasons for the closure. A relaunch is planned with a new “value for money” approach.
Head chef Alex Greene, a finalist on the UK television show “Great British Menu,” stated that the move is symptomatic of a growing trend in the hospitality sector.
“EIPIC as a whole was not a restaurant that was dying,” Greene said. “People have expectations when they walk in the door. The cost of meeting those expectations has doubled since the closure, and the cost has spiraled out of control. And we can’t double the price.”
The tasting menus at EIPIC cost £100 each, about $123, and while they are not at the extreme end of the price scale, Belfast does not have the influx of well-heeled diners found in cities like London or Paris.
Greene also noted that “the more luxurious end of dining, with white linen tablecloths, service and so on, seems to be fading into history.” Modern restaurants of Michelin caliber are simpler and more economical to deliver to the customer.
The closure of Deanes EIPIC follows a series of high-profile restaurant closures, with Copenhagen’s Noma and Michel Roux Jr.’s Le Gavroche restaurant in London also shutting their doors. These closures reflect a trend that the fine-dining business model is becoming increasingly unsustainable due to rising costs and changing consumer preferences.
Greene and Deanes EIPIC general manager Bronagh McCormick will be moving out of the city to start a new food business in 2024 in the Morne countryside, south of Belfast, where there has been a post-Covid-19 boom in the food and drink sector. The region, famous for its mountains and sea, has been named a UNESCO World Geopark, and next year the coastal town of Newcastle will host the Irish Open golf tournament. According to Greene, “People are willing to travel from the city or anywhere else to enjoy good food and good accommodation, and the costs of doing so in the country are significantly lower than in the city.”