A COUNCIL is taking legal action to recover the premises of an Italian restaurant which closed last year after less than six months in operation.

Gioia Italiano in Church Street in Blackburn town centre opened at the end of November last year but shut in May.

It was run by Mike Hajewskyj and his partner Pam Bates and the business behind the restaurant is still registered as ‘active’ by Companies House.

Since May Blackburn with Darwen Council has been trying to contact the owners to recover the lease of the premises so it can be relet.

It is also understood seeking thousands of pounds owed in business rates and costs associated with the restaurant despite giving the firm an initial rent holiday.

Two friends of the couple behind the venjture - Danny McDonough and Nathan Howard - have issued legal proceedings to recover hundreds of pounds they say they are owed.

In February the two self-employed businessmen from Darwen started proceedings at Burnley County Court.

Mr McDonough, of Eventech UK, claims he is owed more than £1,000 for installing sound, lighting and CCTV equipment .

Mr Howard, who runs Howard Decorating and Building Contractors, claims he is owed hundreds of pounds for work done to prepare the 70-seater restaurant for its opening last year.

A Blackburn with Darwen Council spokesman said: “This matter is in the hands of our legal department therefore it would be inappropriate to comment at present.”

Mr McDonough said: “Our legal proceedings are continuing.”

Mr Hajewskyj, a former mechanical engineer, said: “If Companies House says the business is still active that must the case. This is a personal matter. It is between the council and us.”

As well as a restaurant, Gioia had a quick-service deli counter, a wine bar and a play area.