A POPULAR town centre fish and chip restaurant has closed down after its owner gave up fighting mounting debts.

Denis McCabe says he ploughed £200,000 into Alice’s when he opened it in Deansgate seven years ago, but he closed his business for the last time on Saturday night, owing £69,000 in rent arrears.

“I will probably be made bankrupt,”said 66-year-old Mr McCabe. “There is no way I can pay the rent arrears.

“I tried approaching the landlord’s agents to talk to them, but all they have ever done is ask when I can pay them what I owe.

“I’ve been running an overdraft of £10,000 for a long time, and I have constantly put money into the business to keep it going.

“But there are not enough people coming into Bolton town centre to sustain us. The multi storey car park in Bow Street going - which is now effectively derelict - is killing businesses in this area of the town centre.”

Fifteen people employed at Alice’s have lost their jobs.

The Bolton News:

Bury-born-and-bred Mr McCabe previously ran a chippy in the centre of Manchester, but launched Alice’s seven years ago and it quickly became well known for its delicious fish and chips.

“I’ve always known how to make good fish and chips,” said Mr McCabe. “But the rent and rates we have to pay have made it impossible to keep going.”

Mr McCabe’s former business partner William Bones wrote a notice which was placed in the window of Alice’s after it closed.

It said: “Frankly, Bolton as a town is clearly dying. The increasing number of empty properties within a stone’s throw from this spot is a testament to that.”

A council spokesman said: “We are disappointed to hear that Alice’s has shut. This news was unexpected as we’ve met them regularly prior to the closure.

“Alice’s actively promoted the free town centre weekend and bank holiday parking offer and our events.

“Unfortunately we have no control over business rates or rent levels and we do have sympathy with the view that landlords who don’t operate locally have no understanding of the local rental market.

"This is something which we have tried to address with landlords.”