THE fate of a popular restaurant is shrouded in mystery as its owners refuse to comment on its future.

Circo by Senor Buddha in Preston Circus, Brighton, has been shut for several weeks.

There is a notice in the window which says: “Dear customers, we’re closed for staff holidays and a bit of maintenance.

“Please visit our sister restaurant, Pabellon, in North Street. Thanks.”

The Argus:

The store was closed each time The Argus visited the restaurant this week and there was no response when the door was knocked upon.

A passer-by said: “I understand shutting seasonably as a restaurant.

“But being in Brighton and shutting for the summer, when the city is at its busiest, that just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Sources close to the restaurant say it has shut down for good.

This comes just a week after The Argus reported that its sister restaurant, Pabellon had closed down suddenly after being open for just nine months.

This left staff without pay with one former employee telling The Argus they were owed money by the business.

He said: “Now, without being paid, I’m struggling to pay my rent and buy some school stuff for my daughter.

“I need to buy this school stuff but unfortunately I don’t have the money. I have been doing extra jobs cash in hand for the last ten days to collect money for food.”

A letter from owner Lee Shipley to staff on August 20 was leaked to The Argus.

It said: “Dear staff, due to a problem with our alcohol licence we have decided to shut Pabellon for good.

“I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work along this amazing journey which, unfortunately, has come to an end.

“I’ve met some amazing people on the way and I wish everyone all the best on their future endeavours.”

He added that staff “will be paid any outstanding holiday pay for this week to cover any lost earnings”.

The Argus contacted Mr Shipley but he refused to comment on the restaurant closures and instead hung up the phone.

Circo opened in 2015 as Senor Buddha and food website Restaurants Brighton reported it was inspired by “owner Lee Shipley’s two passions – the food of Spain and South East Asia”.

It rebranded as Circo in 2017.

But food magazine Big Hospitality reported last month that Circo had shut down.

The Argus contacted representatives at the magazine who said they were confident about the information having learned it from “multiple sources close to the restaurant”.