The future of a popular Leeds restaurant is at stake after it was forced to close.
River Plate, which was due to celebrate its sixth birthday on Saturday, was shut last week after issues with rent payment.
Around 15 jobs have been lost at the Argentinian steakhouse inside the iconic Calls Landing building.
Co-owners Samantha Davies and Jennifer Fearnley said they were ‘utterly devastated’ when they turned up to the site on Wednesday morning to find the locks had been changed.
A tearful Samantha, 28, told the YEP: “It was a really hard, emotional day.
“We are two young girls from Leeds and have worked so hard for that place. It is our baby.
“We employed a small, close-knit team of people who loved their job and were all part of the dream.
“There were 19-year-old kids who were trying to get themselves through university who have lost their jobs because of this.
“We are so passionate about what we do and are gutted for our customers.
“It is such an injustice that has been done.”
The business partners said they were late in paying October’s rent but understood that a verbal agreement had been made with the landlords for a grace period.
A spokesman for Beeston-based Dave’s Leisure, which owns the building on The Calls, said: “The place has been closed because they have consistently not paid their rent.”
He also told the YEP a new tapas bar called Ambiente will be opening at the site next week.
Despite the huge setback, the pair behind River Plate are determined to keep their business alive.
Samantha added: “It is not the end. We are viewing other sites in Leeds and are hoping to do pop up events.
“We don’t want to rush into anything though.
“It’s important that we find somewhere that’s right so we don’t disappoint our customers.”
The restaurant’s pages on Facebook and Twitter have been inundated with messages of support from customers.
Samantha added: “It is really overwhelming to know that a little independent restaurant that we love has had an impact on other people.”