INDEPENDENT restaurants in Bournemouth fear their future could be in jeopardy after the rapid arrival of 13 national chains at the BH2 leisure complex.

The leisure complex on the town’s former bus station site has sucked up business from across the town, restaurateurs fear.

BH2, whose Odeon cinema complex opened earlier this year, includes national names such as Frankie & Benny’s, Five Guys, Ask Italian and TGI Friday’s, Chiquito and Nando’s.

Among those feeling the strain are independent restaurants in the Triangle area, where one restaurant has reported losing an average of 250 customers a week.

Ed Cvijan, general manager of the independent Mexican eatery Ojo Rojo, told the Echo: “Since the opening day of BH2 we have seen an absolute drop of customers.

“We’re now down £4,000 or more a week compared with last year, and we’re facing a potential scale back.

“We simply can’t compete.”

Andy Lennox, founder and CEO of Koh Thai in Bournemouth said: “The recent additions to Bournemouth – over 30 restaurants and bars in just under 12 months – have added much value to brand Bournemouth as a destination.

"Of course this has affected businesses in the area, us included, albeit we have an exceptionally loyal customer base and thus have managed to buck the trend. Whilst competition is always healthy, a word of caution should be noted by council for any further operators wanting to enter the market and potentially putting perfectly good independent restaurants out of business through pure saturation.”

Long-standing independent Mexican restaurant Coriander, on Richmond Hill, announced last Friday that it had closed. It had been an institution in the town since the early 1980s and its closure attracted hundreds of tributes on social media from customers and former staff.

Although its owners have not expanded on the reasons for closing, some diners voiced their sadness that it could not be sold as a going concern. BH2 has a branch of the Tex-Mex chain restaurant Chiquito.

One customer said on Facebook: "Can't believe nobody wanted to take it over as a going concern.

"Or maybe the chain Tex-Mex restaurants in the town have killed off the trade."

Earlier this year, business recovery specialist Begbies Traynor warned that restaurants and bars would face greater pressure as consumers felt the pain of rising costs and the falling pound.

A spokesperson for BH2 said the complex was “integral” to Bournemouth, giving “more choice to visitors as well as providing significant investment, positive regeneration and jobs for local people”.

n Additional reporting by Ben Coley