A RESTAURANT owner has been left fearing for his livelihood after vandals tried to start a second fire at his building.

Stephen Cheung, owner of The China Room, in Westhoughton, was forced to close the business after a blaze in a neighbouring bin store spread into the kitchens late last year.

He had tried to keep the eatery open, but in May it was decided that he must shut down the restaurant he has owned for 15 years and begin refurbishment.

However, on Saturday, July 28, with just two weeks left until The China Room was set to reopen, Mr Cheung arrived at the unit to find a second fire had been started in the same spot.

“I noticed lots of newspaper charred outside the door and when I saw it my heart sank, I thought, ‘no, not again’," he said.

Fortunately, the most recent blaze caused less damage than the first and did not spread inside the restaurant although Mr Cheung says the deliberate fires are just the latest example of criminal damage and anti-social issues around his restaurant.

This has included groups of young people who have thrown eggs and even bricks at the back door of the building while staff are working inside.

The problems reached a peak in November when Mr Cheung was woken by a call to tell him about the fire.

“I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning to say it was on fire," he said.

“It’s lucky people saw it or it could’ve been a lot worse.

“It’s very frustrating. We have worked hard to build a business, it’s my livelihood. It’s still in the back of my mind. I’m worried it will happen again.”

During the course of the following closure the business lost "thousands" in takings and Mr Cheung has continued to pay staff to retain their services.

Despite the fires, The China Room is set to reopen its doors on the week of August 12 and its owner feels supported by the Westhoughton community.

He said: “We live in the area and there’s a great community spirit, a lot of the customers told us keep going, keep your head up.”