Gas supply problems thwart Leeds restaurant launch

A restaurant owner has spoken of his fury after he had to postpone the grand opening of his new venue twice in one week due to a failure to connect the gas.

Russell Habib, who owns the Cilantro Pan-Indian restaurant in Moortown, Leeds, said the gas was supposed to have been connected by last Friday, when he was due to host a launch party.

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But Northern Gas Networks postponed the connection until Sunday of this week and Mr Habib hurriedly rang all the guests to rearrange the opening for Tuesday evening.

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However, Mr Habib was furious when the work was again postponed by Northern Gas, who now plan to connect the gas supply in the new year.

He told the YEP: "This work has been scheduled to take place for six months.

"It's awfully embarrassing having to explain to our customers that this is happening. It's left me suffering financially and given me a bad image.

"The problem is the gas pipe is in the middle of Harrogate Road but I don't see why they couldn't have checked this all those months ago.

"We're trying to establish a new business, creating 12 new jobs, and at a time like this it's just a major set back."

Mr Habib, supported by his wife Anna, also owns a restaurant in Pickering and even tried to arrange for dishes to be transported to his new venue.

He added: "We have high standards and the food must be perfect. We'd rather not open if we couldn't guarantee that."

A spokeswoman for Northern Gas said: "Northern Gas Networks is as frustrated by this situation as Mr Habib.

"We explained to Mr Habib that the work would need to take place in the new year as there is an embargo on non-emergency work during the festive season.

"In addition, this is a very sensitive and busy location and the connection requires a lane closure and suspended parking, making it unlikely that we would be allowed to carry out the work.

"As we had suspected and advised the customer, Leeds City Council Highway Authority stopped us from doing the work on that (original] day.

"The Highway Authority then suggested Sunday between 6am and 12pm. Again we were thwarted, this time by the sub-zero temperatures.

"The work is now scheduled for Sunday, January 9, which is the earliest possible date that we can feasibly carry out a connection in the new year."

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