A long-running family business is at risk because of roadworks, its owner says.
The 55-year-old said: “If we have another year like last year, people will lose their jobs. It’s as simple as that.”
Don Giovanni’s, in Temple Gate, has nine full-time staff. Mr Firetto has worked there since he was 18, but says he is now “uncertain of its survival”.
Work on the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone – a scheme including homes, offices and station upgrades – started in June 2017.
But the development is set for completion in autumn, nine months after the original date given by Bristol City Council.
He described the roadworks as “seemingly never-ending”, “choking Temple Meads” and “having a disastrous impact on businesses”.
The businessman says the “carnage” has put off customers and caused problems for his suppliers.
“For four years we showed growth on growth,” he said.
“But last year not only did our turnover stop increasing – it dropped by £17,000.”
Mr Firetto added that one of the worst periods for Don Giovanni’s was when the pavement outside it was dug up and replaced during the three months from early February.
He said: “Rubble is not a nice view when you are sitting there eating.
“We had to ask the workers to stop digging once because the cutlery was going up and down on people’s tables.
“It would be one thing if you were left with a lovely promenade afterwards, but the pavement looks no different to how it did before.”
‘People assumed we were closed’
The restaurateur says the partial closure of Clarence Road at the end of last year was “catastrophic” for his business.
He said: “People assumed we were closed. In February the council put up ‘business open as usual’ signs, but the damage was done by that point.”
Mr Firetto says another blow has been a loss of trade from nearby hotels DoubleTree and Novotel.
“Since the pedestrian crossings closed, it’s stopped people coming over,” he said.
“It was a two-minute walk from the hotels, and now it’s a 15-minute walk. People just get herded up to St Mary Redcliffe Church.”
The removal of six parking spaces near the restaurant has made it more difficult for customers to visit, Mr Firetto added.
He claims he only found out about this when a highways worker came into the restaurant in March last year and asked diners to move their cars because the parking bay needed to be removed.
Mr Firetto revealed his suppliers have parked on Chatterton Street’s double yellow lines to load and unload since the bay was taken away.
He added: “Before it all started, there was no postal consultation, which we would have expected.
“The only consultation was signs on lampposts, which I didn’t see. It was a box-ticking exercise.”
His solicitor wrote to the council in March to outline Mr Firetto’s concerns, but he says he is yet to get a response.
“Sadly this is the arrogance we are dealing with,” he said.
“We don’t think they give a monkey’s about local businesses. It’s disgusting.”
What the council says
A spokeswoman for Bristol City Council said it is “extremely sympathetic” to those inconvenienced by roadworks and aims to minimise disruption.
She added: “We are not aware of any businesses ceasing trading as a direct result of the works and a public consultation was completed during the design stage to allow the public to comment on the proposed works, with appropriate signage throughout the development.
“In addition, monthly email updates have been extensively distributed to businesses and residents in the area detailing current and future work taking place.
“The purpose of the roadworks is to improve traffic flows and pedestrian and cyclist access and these improvements will support the growth of businesses for the future.
“Regarding the correspondence sent to Bristol City Council on behalf of the owner of Don Giovanni’s, we will be contacting his representatives to look at his concerns.”