THE bosses of a now-closed town centre Italian restaurant have been ordered to pay more than £5,000 to a former employee by an Employment Tribunal.

Gioia Italiano Limited was ordered to pay the staff member £5,344.96 for unauthorised deductions from her wages, breach of contract, and failure to pay holiday entitlement.

The worker – named in court papers as Mrs A Wilkinson – brought proceedings against her former employer after not being paid wages she was owed.

Gioia opened in Church Street in Blackburn in November 2017 in the former Rovers store.

The shop underwent a £100,000 investment and the Italian venture created 23 new jobs.

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

It was one of many new restaurants to open in the town centre since the completion of the Cathedral Quarter development.

It followed hot on the heels of A Mano and Turtle Bay, in Cathedral Square. Hugo’s, East Z East and Frankie’s also all opened in the last two years.

But the business closed in May last year after struggling to attract enough custom.

The financial judgement in favour of Mrs Wilkinson was made by Employment Judge Porter after hearing in Manchester on January 14 following a hearing which she attended as the claimant.

No one from Gioia attended the hearing.

Last month Blackburn with Darwen Council regained the lease of the vacant premises and it has now put the restaurant up for letting with a prominent sign in the front window.

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Council chiefs hope a new entrepreneur can now take on the premises and make a success of a restaurant, bar or coffee shop there.

The judgment of the tribunal was that the restaurant made an unauthorised deduction from the claimant’s wages and is ordered to pay to the claimant the net sum of £3,988.96.

Court documents go on to state: “The claimant was dismissed in breach of contract in respect of notice and the respondent is ordered to pay damages to the claimant in the sum of £600.00.

“The respondent has failed to pay the claimant’s holiday entitlement and is ordered to pay to the claimant the net sum of £756.00.”