Fundraisers rally to help Illegal Jacks reopen

Illegal Jack's was on Lothian road. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Illegal Jack's was on Lothian road. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A POPULAR restaurant forced to shut down after its ceiling caved in could reopen as early as June.

Award-winning Tex-Mex eatery Illegal Jacks closed in October after plaster came raining down on to the food counter as startled 
diners looked on.

Now a fundraising campaign launched by owner Jack Muir to get the restaurant back up and running is on course to hit its ambitious target of at least £75,000 by Friday – with £62,801 already pledged by almost 700 different backers.

And a new home for the culinary hotspot – previously based on Lothian Road – has been secured at St Patrick Square near Edinburgh University.

Mr Muir said support from fans of the restaurant had been “wonderful” – but insisted there was still one last push needed to reach Friday’s target.

The 41-year-old said: “We’ll hopefully reach it – we’re sitting on £62,801 just now so the block of it is done. The place needs a lot of work so we had to set the target high. The design is being done right now, but I can’t start any work on it until I’ve got the funding.

“It’s steady progress. The main thing has been to get the funding in place, and there’s been a lot of enthusiasm.

“It’s a proper case of every little helps. It’s been heartening, but incredibly stressful at the beginning because it was slow to take off.

“But now I can see the finish line. The next two days are going to be crucial, as Thursday is the election and Friday is the hangover day.

“We have to make it – it’s the only game in town. It can’t happen quickly enough.”

The new restaurant will be designed by Musselburgh-based consultants Cubit 3D and promises “a warmer, cosier feel” than the old premises, as well as brand new kitchen 
facilities and equipment.

“It’s going to look really good and a lot cosier,” said Mr Muir. “The old place was old and tired because it had been part of a long lease. With the new place, we can get it right from the start and invest in everything so that it’s done properly.”

Mr Muir insisted 14 new jobs will be created when the eatery is opened in June – while those who donate money on the restaurant’s fundraising web page will be in line for free food and drink when the kitchen throws open its doors this summer, depending on how much cash they pledged.

Last year, the businessman said £25,000 worth of sales had been lost during the closure after he was forced to call in liquidators and pay staff the remaining money they were due.

He said water had been streaming into the premises from an upstairs flat for a month – and that he had warned letting agents that the ceiling could collapse if the leak was not plugged.

Crime writer Ian Rankin has already offered his vocal support to the fundraising drive, after he was filmed reading a eulogy to the restaurant.

In the video, he said: “Friends, followers, foodies, donate your hard-earned cash so that we may resurrect this venerable institution. So that we can bring back Jack. So that full-size burritos may be served once again in Edinburgh. Become a mother or father . . . become a Jackstarter.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com