A Waterford businessman has blamed the closure of his Cardiff restaurant Seafood Shack just six months after it opened on a “cyber attack” on its reservations system.
Darryl Kavanagh, who previously ran Cathedral bar and restaurant (formerly Mantra nightclub) in Maynooth and Muldoon’s and Harvey’s bars in Waterford, has claimed that he lost up to £100,000 (€113,000) after the cyber attack on the Welsh restaurant’s online booking system in the run-up to Christmas.
The restaurant, located on High Street in the centre of Cardiff, closed on December 29th after bookings were cancelled from its system without Mr Kavanagh’s knowledge.
“It was serious. It just decimated our business,” said Mr Kavanagh.
He reported the attack to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime.
A spokesman for South Wales Police confirmed that Action Fraud had referred Mr Kavanagh’s complaint to them and that it was carrying out an investigation.
Mr Kavanagh (50) said he also had to close the business because a director of the business who acted as a “designated premises supervisor” (DSP), required under Welsh alcohol licensing law, had left the company.
The Waterford man said that he did not realise the consequence of not having such a supervisor as the licensing system works differently in Ireland.
He has since appointed a replacement and was making a new application to the Welsh licensing authority.
In an attempt to reopen the business, Mr Kavanagh said that he was appointing an independent accountant to assess the impact of the cyber attack.
“I am trying to work my way through it, protect the business and get it opened again,” he said.
Mr Kavanagh acknowledged that the business owed money to creditors but that the debts were normal in the course of business and did not exceed the amount that investors had injected into the business.
“Every business owes money at some stage. We haven’t run away from our responsibilities in relation to paying people,” he said.
Seafood Shack opened a champagne and oyster bar called Lillies in September at a high-profile launch attended by Welsh sporting stars Jonathan Davies, Ian Gough and Christian Malcolm.
Mr Kavanagh walked away from debts of $23 million (€20 million) in 2014 after being discharged from bankruptcy in the US courts.
He owed money to Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and the State loans agency, the National Asset Management Agency, over debts acquired from Bank of Ireland. At one stage, he owned 12 holiday homes in Dunmore East and had retail, industrial and commercial properties in Co Waterford.
Mr Kavanagh was one of Waterford’s best-known publicans during the Celtic Tiger years. He sold Muldoon’s Bar for a reported €10 million in 2004 and opened Harvey’s Garden Bar, one of the largest pubs in the southeast.
After returning from the US, he reopened Mantra nightclub in Maynooth as Cathedral bar and restaurant in 2015 but that closed soon after. He subsequently moved to Cardiff and opened Seafood Shack last year.