Bosses at a Leeds restaurant have branded a landlord “heavy handed” over plans to evict them from their home of over 10 years.
Chiefs at Indian restaurant chain Akbar’s have reacted angrily to being given notice to leave their city centre branch in Greek Street, while at the same time being issued court proceedings by long-term landlord Evans Property Group.
Evans is proposing a £22m regeneration in and around Greek Street, which includes the demolition of a decommissioned 1970s mechanical car park and the neighbouring Akbar’s to make way for a £12m boutique hotel.
The property group, which issued Akbar’s a six-month notice to vacate in November, insists it has followed correct legal procedure and intends to pay Akbar’s over £100,000 in compensation for it to move on.
But Shabir Hussain, managing director of the restaurant chain, claims the “ultimatum” has left around 40 staff worried for their jobs while the company is “struggling” to find a like-for-like replacement venue.
He told the YEP: “It’s a bit heavy-handed. When you have been a tenant for somebody for so long and a good tenant that pays on time with no issues there needs to be some relationship and concern.
“We are fighting the court process because we want to remain in the building, we are an institution in Leeds.”
Mr Hussain said Evans was pre-empting the planning process by trying to clear its building before the future of the site has been secured.
He said: “We don’t know what the planners are going to say. We can’t understand why, if planning permission has not been formalised, throw a tenant out who has been a good tenant?”
Akbar’s, which has 12 UK restaurants, estimates it could take six months to find a suitable new premises and as long as a year to fit it out at great expense.
Evans’ 10-storey hotel plans for the site partially occupied by Akbar’s at present have yet to gain planning approval but are hoped to compliment renovation work to its neighbouring Minerva House and Capital House tower blocks.
Alan Syers, portfolio director at the property group, believes the redevelopment is something “Leeds City Council are extremely supportive of”.
Insisting that Evans has been in dialogue with Akbar’s about the planned notice to vacate since August, he said: “I’m surprised with the comments they have made, I understand it’s clearly a disruption to the business and they would clearly have to move but the statutory procedure which has been followed also entitles them to statutory compensation.”
He added that the end date on Akbar’s lease is March 24 this year, though it is expected the firm will stay at the Greek Street site for considerably longer.