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Dinners with worthless vouchers for bang take out fury on twins' dad

Furious diners who were left with gift vouchers for the ill-fated Bang Cafe restaurant are venting their anger at another city centre eaterie, Il Segreto.

The recent closure of Christian and Simon Stokes' co-owned restaurant Bang Cafe is causing havoc for their father Jeff Stokes and his business partner Giorgio Casari at Il Segreto.

The Herald can reveal the men, two of the capital's best known restaurateurs, have become a target for angry Bang Cafe customers, who have been left unable to use gift vouchers purchased at the Stokes' brothers pricey venue before its closure.

Jeff and Giorgio, who also co-own exclusive eaterie The Unicorn on Merrion Court, had agreed to honour any of the vouchers in question at their own establishment, located two doors away from the failed restaurant when a liquidator was appointed to Mayfair Properties, the holding company of Bang Cafe on Monday, January 18.

However, now that the twin brothers (34) are unable to finance the credit for the remainder of the outstanding vouchers, they have instructed Il Segreto not to accept any more.

Manager of Il Segreto, Giorgio Casari told the Herald: "We're no longer accepting vouchers from Bang customers. We are just acting under instruction from the proprietors of Bang as they're now insolvent.

Angry

"We have been taking the rap from some customers, who are understandably angry, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do.

Casari claims that his own co-owned restaurant, Il Segreto, has not been left at any financial loss thanks to the agreement and says that he and his business partner have been fully compensated for any purchases made at the venue under the voucher arrangement. Simon and Christian Stokes, the only children of interior designer Pia Bang and Jeff, declined to comment.

A member of staff at their troubled members club, Residence told the Herald: "They won't be taking any calls from the press or doing any further interviews."

A statement on their former restaurant Bang's website reads: "I am very sorry to announce that Bang Cafe will be closed for the forseeable future.

"I would like to thank you for your support over the last 10 years and I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause."

It is signed off, "Kind Regards, Simon Stokes."

The disgraced twins opened Bang Cafe in 1999, while Residence opened around the corner on St Stephen's Green in May 2008.

The twins are believed to have debts totalling as much as €9m from the collapse of their business interests.

An estimated €3m of this is owed to the Revenue Commissioners, while trade creditors of the brothers' businesses are also owed a significant amount.

Residence failed to secure examinership at a hearing last week and a receiver has now been appointed to the business.

Another Stokes company, Auldcarn, also went into liquidation last week with significant debts.

lnolan@herald.ie