Only 24 hours previously, Montgomery’s Resaurant and Coffee shop in Ballymoney Street, Ballymena would have been a hive of activity. Now there is a dark cloud hanging over the premises and, of course, the devastated Montgomery family.
The clink of cutlery on china has gone. The chatter of shoppers has been ended. It is a sad, sad spectacle which few in this town and borough could have foreseen.
Ballymena Times’ Editor, Des Blackadder, visited the premises at Friday lunchtime to speak with the local family about the sudden and unexpected demise of one of the town’s best known businesses.
It was an emotional meeting, with Stephen Montgomery and his sons visibly affected by the closure of the complex into which they have poured their hearts and souls.
In an hour long interview, they spoke of their sadness for all affected by the decision to cease trading. And they revealed that a drastic drop in property valuations coupled with the austere economic environment had been the prime factors in the closure which will mean the loss of 40 jobs between the town centre operation and the Cullybackey general store.
Stressing that the restaurant business had remained hugely successful ‘right up until the last minute’, the family say they have already received ‘expressions of interest’ from business sources which could lead to the re-opening of the restaurant/coffee shop, albeit without the family’s input.
You can read more of the interview in next week’s Ballymena Times, out on Tuesday morning.