[ad_1]

Pictured: Sam Harrison, of Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith

Pictured: Sam Harrison, of Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith

A struggling business owner has been dealt a crippling blow after his local council ordered he tear down a marquee which was approved during Covid.

Sam Harrison, of Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith, now fears his business won’t survive the winter, which would result in him having to lay off his 50 staff in the lead up to Christmas.

He told MailOnline closing the terrace would equate to up to £15,000 of trade wiped out every week, making it unsustainable to keep so many people employed.

‘It’s been awful,’ he said. ‘My team is my family. I spend more time at my restaurant than I do with my own family.

‘I’ve had people in tears, asking how they’re going to pay their bills. They respect me as a businessperson and know I can’t give them hours if I simply don’t have them, but it’s heartbreaking.’ 

Already, he’s had to stop rostering four staff as a result of the decision, and has cancelled 50 Christmas bookings of various sizes which had requested the space. 

The patio was erected when the government eased regulations to help the hospitality trade serve food outside at the height of the pandemic.

Has your business been impacted by a similar council decision? Email brittany.chain@mailonline.com 

The patio (pictured) was erected during Covid and temporarily approved, but has now been removed

The patio (pictured) was erected during Covid and temporarily approved, but has now been removed

Bizarrely, he is still permitted to serve 32 customers on the patio itself, but without the marquee, the weather in London makes it too unpredictable to take bookings

Bizarrely, he is still permitted to serve 32 customers on the patio itself, but without the marquee, the weather in London makes it too unpredictable to take bookings

But when he went to renew the temporary approval for a further year in November, he was told several complaints had been made, primarily citing the noise, and he must tear the structure down.

Bizarrely, he is still permitted to serve 32 customers on the patio itself, but without the marquee, the weather in London makes it too unpredictable to take bookings.

Mr Harrison noted the marquee actually served to mute some of the noise, but said he’s not running ‘a casino or nightclub’.

‘It’s the sound of clinking glasses. We’re a respectable restaurant, not a late night bar. We’re asking to trade outside until 10pm,’ he said.

See also  Redfern Legal Centre WIN Covid fines Supreme Court case; 45,000 penalties could be struck down

He also learned the bulk of the complaints had actually come from residents who own apartments in the complex above the building, but don’t live there full time.

Mr Harrison has been in the hospitality industry for more than two decades, since he was 16, and been a restaurant owner for 19 years. He says he's never experienced anything like the hardships currently facing the sector

Mr Harrison has been in the hospitality industry for more than two decades, since he was 16, and been a restaurant owner for 19 years. He says he’s never experienced anything like the hardships currently facing the sector

He now fears his business won't survive the winter, which would result in him having to lay off his 50 staff in the lead up to Christmas

He now fears his business won’t survive the winter, which would result in him having to lay off his 50 staff in the lead up to Christmas

‘The people bought flats in a development that is an art centre with a restaurant. [Some] don’t even live here permanently, they’re not members of our community.’

Last week, Hammersmith and Fulham council responded to Sam’s callout on Twitter, vowing to try to find a solution.

But Mr Harrison claims they’ve since backtracked and said there’s nothing they can do, and now his only option is to appeal the decision – which would cost upwards of thousands of pounds.

And with the added pressure of the soaring cost-of-living, Sam fears it’s something his business simply wouldn’t survive.

This is London. We’re a vibrant city… We’re asking to trade outside until 10pm 

Sam Harrison, of Sam’s Riverside

‘It’s going to be the toughest winter most of us have ever known. All we’re asking for is our local council to work with us,’ he said.

Mr Harrison has been in the hospitality industry for more than two decades, since he was 16, and been a restaurant owner for 19 years.

He says he’s never experienced anything like the hardships currently facing the sector.

‘It’s harder now, arguably, than during the pandemic,’ he said. ‘At least then there was support from the government. 

‘We have costs spiraling out of control, we have the rail strikes to contend with which is hugely damaging, and we feel trade is going to fall off the cliff in January.’ 

Last week, Hammersmith and Fulham council responded to Sam's callout on Twitter, vowing to try to find a solution. But Mr Harrison claims they've since backtracked and said there's nothing they can do, and now his only option is to appeal the decision - which would cost upwards of thousands of pounds

Last week, Hammersmith and Fulham council responded to Sam’s callout on Twitter, vowing to try to find a solution. But Mr Harrison claims they’ve since backtracked and said there’s nothing they can do, and now his only option is to appeal the decision – which would cost upwards of thousands of pounds

Mr Harrison said it’s a very real possibility that Sam’s Riverside, which was recently voted one of London’s top 10 favourite restaurants, won’t survive the winter.

‘I genuinely don’t know if we’ll be here in the spring,’ he said. ‘If we don’t generate enough cash in December, businesses like mine can’t continue. You’ve still got to pay the rent and the bills, which are all out of control. 

‘Hospitality is my life, I love it. I don’t know how to do anything else, but this is the hardest it’s ever been. It’s literally a daily fight for survival.’ 

Mr Harrison’s only hope now is that the council will see reason and agree to allow him to put the marquee back up – even if it’s only temporary.

‘We’re just staggered that something that has been allowed for two years would suddenly be denied… particularly considering the current economic climate and the position the industry is in, which is basically on it’s knees,’ he said.

He would have accepted a compromise of even just keeping the existing structure throughout December.

‘We only get December once a year, and we haven’t had it for the past two because of Covid. December is vital in a normal world and it’s our first in three years… If they’d let us keep it just this month that would’ve been a compromise.’  

Even though he's already lost about 50 bookings as a result of the decision, he's hopeful he'll be able to rebuild the structure and seat walk in diners for the remainder of the Christmas season

Even though he’s already lost about 50 bookings as a result of the decision, he’s hopeful he’ll be able to rebuild the structure and seat walk in diners for the remainder of the Christmas season

Even though he’s already lost about 50 bookings as a result of the decision, he’s hopeful he’ll be able to rebuild the structure and seat walk in diners for the remainder of the Christmas season. 

See also  Donors face waiting FOUR MONTHS for appointments to give blood despite NHS warning of low stocks

It comes after celebrity chef Mark Hix went through a similar ordeal at his luxury seafood restaurant in Dorset.

The Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen star built a large wooden deck in 2020, which was automatically approved as the government relaxed regulations.

Mr Hix applied to retain the structure permanently but town hall bureaucrats have rejected the proposals, claiming it encroached on public gardens.

The 40ft by 26ft space outside his Oyster and Fish House enjoys sweeping views of the sea at Lyme Regis on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. 

The 59-year-old restaurateur, who opened the eatery in 2020, said his income would be reduced by around 30 per cent if he is forced to tear the £20,000 decking down. 

Celebrity chef Mark Hix threatened to withdraw charitable support for the local Dorset community after the council ordered he tear down an outside seating area which was temporarily approved during the pandemic

Celebrity chef Mark Hix threatened to withdraw charitable support for the local Dorset community after the council ordered he tear down an outside seating area which was temporarily approved during the pandemic

The three-level extension was automatically approved as the government relaxed regulations to help the hospitality trade serve food outside

The three-level extension was automatically approved as the government relaxed regulations to help the hospitality trade serve food outside

Mr Hix is now threatening to pull out of annual food festivals and fundraising events he hosts, which he says have raised ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ for the local RNLI and boosted tourism.

The TV personality and food writer claims to have the support of almost every eatery in the quaint harbour town.

He has accused the Lyme Regis Town Council of being ‘anti-business’. 

‘Before I built on it, there was a bit of grass on a slope with a hedge. There are no bylaws saying you can’t build on that land and it was completely useless.

‘The council granted permission and now they’re objecting to me keeping it.’

The restaurateur said the outdoor patio provided huge relief during Covid, bringing in a lot more business and serving as a ‘great addition to the gardens’, particularly in summer.

The Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen star built the large wooden deck at his luxury seafood restaurant in 2020

The Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen star built the large wooden deck at his luxury seafood restaurant in 2020

[ad_2]

Source link