Restaurateur cooks up plan to sue city over scaffolding

A TOP restaurateur is threatening to sue the council because of building work which he says has led to a 60 per cent drop in custom and a £14,000 loss.

Pierre Levicky said work which started two months ago has made his restaurant look like "an underpass" and means he won't be able to trade properly until next spring.

His Chez Jules Fish outlet on Cockburn Street will be masked behind scaffolding and mesh until the end of September as the council carries out statutory repairs to the tenement building. Mr Levicky said if he did not get a solution in the next few days, he would take the council to court.

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It is understood the city centre building needs urgent structural repairs and significant maintenance work done on the roof.

It was supposed to be concluded by the start of June, but letters sent out to business and residential tenants show it will remain covered in scaffolding for at least another three months.

Mr Levicky, who returned to the Capital in 2008 with three new restaurants, accused the council of "killing" his business.

He said: "Nobody wants to come and eat at a building site, so we have had to close at lunchtimes because it is so dark. The scaffolding covers everything, people do not know we are here and it gives us no chance. Business is down by about 60 per cent and we've lost 14,000 since this happened.

"It would have been OK if it was only for a few weeks, but now we are told it will be until September, and it could mean we have to close."

Mr Levicky, who runs a sister restaurant on Hanover Street and a separate one on Eyre Place, said he was particularly unhappy because of the time of year.

He said: "We now miss the whole festival and no-one will know we are here. We are buried behind five metres of scaffolding, it is like an underpass, and we can't put chairs outside.

"It will be March before we can get busy again."

Mr Levicky, who runs the restaurant in partnership with Mark Lawrence, said he had even taken to standing outside the restaurant in a bid to cajole customers to come inside.

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The Frenchman has had previous run-ins with the council, which complained to the police after it accused Mr Levicky of attacking an environmental warden. Mr Levicky's not guilty plea was accepted by the crown.

Due to an ongoing police investigation into allegations of fraud and mismanagement at the council's property conservation department, however, the council was unable to comment on the case.

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