A firm which ran the Tatties & Point fast food shop in Lerwick and the cafe-bar at Sumburgh Airport has gone bankrupt along with its owners Mike and Marion Sage, leaving debts of up to £225,000.
Under the partnership name Northern Isles Restaurants, the Sages also ran the Airfayre cafe at Kirkwall Airport and the Leisurefayre cafe in the Pickaquoy leisure centre in Orkney.
The partnership’s affairs and those of the Sages are now in the hands of insolvency practitioners Ferris Associates of Glenrothes after the signing of trust deeds for bankruptcy. The Sages’ large house in West Burrafirth will be sold to meet some of the debts.
Northern Isles Restaurants was set up about four years ago to run cafes and contract catering. Trustee John Ferris said a combination of factors led to its problems, including expanding too quickly and extending operations to four locations, overestimating sales and suffering the effects of the recession.
Tatties & Point was kept open by Mr Ferris for the Tall Ships visit to Lerwick in the hope of generating considerable extra income for its creditors from the surge in trade. However, the anticipated custom did not materialise, due partly to the number of temporary food stalls set up during the festival, including several from south.
Despite the collapse of the Sages’ firm the tattie shop continues to trade and the premises’ owners Jim and Marilyn Moar hope to have a new tenant in next week. “It’ll be continuing as normal with hopefully some improvements,” Mr Moar said on Wednesday.
He had been pursuing the Sages for some time over unpaid rent but he said they had disappeared. He was baffled as to how the long-established business had failed to make money. “The tattie shop has been going over 30 years. It doesn’t all of a sudden stop!” he said. “What they’ve been doing with the money is beyond me.”
The cafe at Sumburgh Airport is back in the hands of The Sumburgh Hotel which used to run it under licence from Highlands and Islands Airports.
The Shetland Times was unable to contact the Sages through two of their personal telephone numbers.
They may be in Orkney where they stayed in their daughter’s B-listed mansion called Daisybank, which is currently up for sale for over £510,000.
On his page on the business networking website Linkedin, Mr Sage, 61, wrote that he had now closed his business and was “seeking a new challenge, anywhere considered”.
He used to be an executive with Malcolm Younger’s media companies when they produced the now-defunct Pictorial Post and Shetland Post. He was managing director of Mr Younger’s ill-fated Shetland Weekly newspaper before it began publication in 2005. Mrs Sage was a trainee reporter on the paper which collapsed after just nine editions.
The Sages came to Shetland when Mr Sage was customer services executive with NorthLink ferries between 2002 and 2004. Before that he and Mrs Sage, 58, were directors of WK Catering Services in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, England, which went into liquidation. Mrs Sage was also briefly a director of one of the original baked potato fast-food shops Spud-U-Like in Edinburgh during the 1990s.