RESTAURANT owners have spoken of their dismay after burglars raided their new premises and smashed it up before pilfering all their stock - just days before their grand opening.

But they have praised police for their swift action in recovering all the stolen goods and arresting a suspect, as they prepare to open Manzo Steakeria in Bishop Auckland on Friday (May 6).

Alex Cook, director of the firm, told The Northern Echo: "We have spent the last eight weeks bringing the premises up to scratch and investing a lot of money, time and energy to get it right.

The Northern Echo: Stacey Caldwell Director of new bar and restaurant Manzo Steakeria which was broken into last night Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTStacey Caldwell Director of new bar and restaurant Manzo Steakeria which was broken into last night Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

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"As we started to get stock in and display it some lovely gentleman decided to break in and help himself smashing up the beautifully restored premises.

"He cleared out our stock we had brought in in anticipation of opening this Friday. But it has had a happy ending.

"Durham Police have been absolutely brilliant - if it wasn’t for their swift action I think we would have been severely out of pocket.

"It’s unfortunate, of course, that we had to clear up the mess the culprit made of our restaurant."

Mr Cook said cases of wine, spirits and beer and been recovered, while the raid happened at some point between Friday night and Saturday morning.

The Northern Echo: The interior of Manzo Steakaria in Bishop Auckla dThe interior of Manzo Steakaria in Bishop Auckla d

He said: "They broke through the front door - and they barged their way through and found it necessary to kick a few tables over. 

"It was nothing major, but it’s the inconvenience and damage that was caused."

Mr Cook, who has a restaurants and pub in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, and is new Bishop Auckland has praised the welcoming response from members of the public.

He said: "Although concerning, it was comforting to know how proactive the police are and also the public response we have had ever since taking over that site. People have popped in and really welcomed us to the town.

"It’s a shame that possibly one person has maybe tarnished slightly the image of Bishop Auckland - we are very hopeful they are the minority.

"We look forward to settling into Bishop Auckland's high street and having a successful restaurant."

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A Durham Police spokesperson confirmed an arrest had been made and enquiries into the circumstances are taking place.

They said: "Police have arrested a man in connection with a burglary at Manzo Steakeria, on Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland.

"The burglary is believed to have happened sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning, April 29 and 30.  

"While on patrol in the early hours of Saturday morning, officers stopped a man who was in possession of several bottles of spirits, which officers suspected were stolen.

"The man was arrested and taken to police custody where he was interviewed by officers.

"He has since been released under investigation to allow for further enquiries to be carried out." 

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