More than 210 staff are left out in the cold and owed millions in backpay Three more restaurants shut their doors yesterday, owing wages to more than 210 staff. Two branches of Fook Sing Seafood Restaurant in Fo Tan and Sha Tin closed after serving lunch, while the Royalty Restaurant in Shau Kei Wan did not open at all. They are the latest victims in a flurry of retail closures as rising rents bite. Fook Sing is believed to owe 166 staff at least $1.9 million. Its owner is still in Hong Kong. Royalty Restaurant's 50 staff have not been paid for between one and two months but the total is unknown. Most have sought help from the Labour Department, which had yet to track down the owner. The closures follow the shutting of four outlets of three-year-old chain Hang Ho Restaurant in the past two weeks, leaving more than 200 staff owed at least $3 million. The Fook Sing restaurant chain, which opened in 1999, once had seven outlets and its Sha Tin branch at one point took in $4 million a month. But business had dropped over the past two years, especially after the Sars outbreak, and only two outlets remained. The owner is understood to have tried to sell the business. On the final day, patrons at the Sha Tin and Fo Tan restaurants were told of electricity problems and managers told staff the restaurant had run out of money. A deputy manager at the Sha Tin store said rumours of the closure had been circulating for some time. 'After Sars, the owner has not been punctual in paying us. The day of getting salaries has been delayed from the 5th to the 10th to the 16th of every month,' she said. 'I know that the Sha Tin store's lease will end in July but I did not expect them to close the doors so soon.' A dim sum chef said he had lost confidence in the restaurant business. 'I just transferred from a restaurant which closed down. In the future, we should all ask to be paid by the day,' he said. Yuen Fuk-wo, vice-chairman of the Eating Establishment Employees General Union, said he expected more restaurants to close as competition grew keener, with large chain restaurants expanding quickly. Chak Shui-hang, an officer with the department's Labour Relations Service, said the directors of the Fook Sing Restaurant had been contacted. 'We will arrange for the workers to meet with the representatives of the company to resolve the issue of wages on Friday and Monday,' he said. About 1,900 positions are available in the food and beverage sector, according to the department.