Restaurant which provides employment for young people with special needs closes its doors

A cafe providing employment and work experience for young people with special needs has closed its doors.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 3:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 5:31 pm
Some of the guests and organisers who attended a meeting on securing funding to enable the 180 Café to remain open in 2016 . Seated front row from left are, Fiona Rowan, chairwoman of the board of the Step By Step charity, ,John O'Dowd, Joanne Dobson and Doug Beattie. The cafe did gain a reprieve at that stage but four years on they have now announed their permanent closure. INPT11-209.

The closure of the One Eighty Restaurant at Mandeville Street in Portadown has been described as a ‘big loss’ not only to staff and trainees but to the wider community in Portadown.

In a post of social media the restaurant said: “It is with deepest regret and sadness that we announce the permanent closure of One Eighty Restaurant in Mandeville Street, Portadown.

“Since the social enterprise was established in 2011, we have been overwhelmed with the sustained and dedicated support we have received from customers, staff, trainees and partners and we thank each individual for their contribution to its success over the years.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the hospitality industry and having conducted an extensive review of business operations, in line with directive from the Northern Ireland Executive on social distancing regulations, it has been determined that closure of the restaurant is unavoidable.

“Our priority at present is our staff and trainees and our commitment to supporting them through this difficult time.

“We would like to express our gratitude to staff who have set many young people with additional support needs on a pathway to employment and independence. We are working closely with our partners to assist trainees in finding suitable alternative placement opportunities.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC, expressed deep regret at the closure and said: “There were many sleepless nights back in 2017 when they fought to keep this fantastic facility open for the most vulnerable in our society and I am deeply saddened to hear they will now be closing their doors indefinitely.

“This is a big loss not only to the staff and trainees but to the general public who frequent the restaurant on a regular basis.

“I understand the current situation along with funding is the cause for this closure and it is with a heavy heart that they have decided not to reopen, however they will be working closely with their current trainees in finding suitable alternative training placement opportunities.

“I would like to take this time to thank the fantastic staff who worked incredibly hard to mould many young people with additional support needs on a pathway to employment and independence, your dedication and hard work has had a positive and lifelong impact on these amazing young adults who have worked hard and gave many a customer an enjoyable and unforgettable dining experience.”