'It's demoralising' - Three city venues targeted in Christmas break-ins

Jamie Barbutt outside Salt on Saint John Maddermarket

Jaime Garbutt, owner of Figbar and Salt, has spoken of his frustrations following a break-in at his two restaurants - Credit: Archant

A devastated restaurant owner has voiced his frustration after an overnight break-in on Christmas Day, with three city centre venues targeted. 

Figbar and Salt, which are next door to each other in the Lanes' St John Maddermarket, suffered extensive damage and had equipment stolen after someone smashed through a back door.

The Red Lion pub on Bishopgate was also targeted, with police being called early on Boxing Day.

It is not known whether the incidents are linked.

But the break-ins come at an already challenging time for hospitality businesses in the city, with a wave of cancellations seen at Christmas due to the uncertainty around Covid.

Figbar (photo: Denise Bradley)

Figbar and sister restaurant Salt were broken into overnight between Christmas Day and Boxing Day - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Owner Jaime Garbutt said: "It's very upsetting. The past 18 months have been really difficult for small businesses with many fighting to survive. 

"We were hoping to draw a line after a difficult past year so to come in and find this is really demoralising."

Mr Garbutt had been at the restaurant late into the evening enjoying a Christmas Day meal with his family and had returned in the morning, when he found his restaurants had been broken into.

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"There was quite a lot of damage," he said. "The tills had been ripped out, the office was trashed and the back door was smashed into.

"We don't keep much cash on the site as we have only been accepting card payments for the past two years due to the pandemic so they wouldn't have gained much but the damage to the property and the loss of equipment is the biggest loss for us.

The Red Lion in Norwich which has opened it's doors to customers once again. Picture: Danielle Boode

The Red Lion on Bishopgate. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"One of the many charms of the city is that it is pretty safe and secure. It's the first time we've had a proper break-in and while they were just looking for money it's hard not to take it personally.

"We're a very close-knit community of businesses in the Lanes and we're proud to be a part of it. We've had lots of messages of support already."

Both Figbar and Salt are currently closed for a Christmas break but the theft could hamper their January reopening.

Mr Garbutt added: "We will have to replace all the stolen equipment and repair the damage before reopening so this could be delayed depending on how quickly this is sorted with our insurance company."

We have contacted police for information.