The owner of a Lurgan café and restaurant has claimed that plans to open a branch of Tim Hortons will close her business “for sure”.
Sacha Malone, owner of Maloney’s Diner in Flush Place, said the proposals, recently revealed by Armagh I, could be the final nail in the coffin.
A planning application understood to be on behalf of the Canadian fast-food chain has been lodged with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for a site at Millennium Way.
Ms Malone, like others in the hospitality sector, has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the changing regulations.
“We are one of the biggest restaurants in town and part of the footfall we rely on is via a football pitch which Tim Hortons is going to be opposite,” she said.
“We rely heavily on that on a Saturday, with the mums coming to get their teas and coffees, so why on earth would anybody come to me if they have that there, with a drive-through as well. Where the site is will completely take away from my shop.
“It’s just one obstacle after another. It’s getting to the point where the town is going to end up dying.”
Ms Malone, who took over the business from her father Colin four years ago, says more needs to be done to help local, family-owned businesses.
She was one of several business owners who vented their frustration after Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart posted on her Facebook page of the “excitement” at the progress of the Tim Hortons planning application.
The DUP representative said she had been continuing to work with the developer on this and was “pleased real progress had been made”.
Said Ms Malone: “Our town is crying out for businesses but nobody is being encouraged to open a business because the rates are too high and they just bring in these big boys.
“The town would gain from an attraction, something like an ice rink, but there are already around 35 food places in the town.
“At the moment, it’s hard enough to run a business with prices going up and all the new rules around Covid. It’s not jus the initial hit of Covid, it’s the constant hits that keep happening as the regulations change.
“We grew up in a council estate, My dad built this up from nothing but I don’t have money to fall back on. I am worried about the future of my family business.”