It is with great sadness and regret that we have to inform you that Canada Wood Kitchen and Bar will be closing for business on Monday 1st April . We have successfully operated and grown our business for the past four years and along with our fantastic team enjoyed meeting many regular customers from near and far.
The decision to close our business was unfortunately not ours. We have operated at Canada Wood on what is effectively a sub-let basis for the past four years from BKK Holdings Ltd. The Landlord, Callendar Estates were aware of this arrangement and over the last four years dealt only with our company on a financial and day to day basis. We have had numerous meetings with Callendar Estates over the last year or so to try and have the lease assigned to our company, and indeed eventually succeeded in getting a draft lease with the agreement of all parties about 6 months ago.
This lease is still with our lawyers as we were trying to negotiate more favourable rental terms as the annual rent increases going forward were unsustainable. The annual rent has almost doubled each year. That represents a huge sum for a 50-cover restaurant, that sits in the middle of the countryside, and a figure that was unsustainable on our current turnover and profits.
The rental figure is calculated by means of a base rent plus a % turnover rent, an agreement which was accepted by BKK, prior to our involvement. As of June 2018 Callendar Estates were trying to increase the turnover rent by a further 2% on top of an annual base rent increase. On our current forecasts that would amount the current rent plus approximately 30%. It was this increase that we reasonably asked to be removed from the contract and thus keep the rent at a level which although still high by market standards for was more manageable.
At our last meeting towards the end of February, it was intimated to our company that this proposal would be taken back to the trustees for discussion and likely approval. We were told that we would need to make payment of the 2% income rent which had been withheld (with agreement with the Estates Manager). We agreed to this and said that it would be paid in full by June.
At the same meeting we also discussed expansion plans for a new cafe in the car park which would help service the many walkers and cyclists using the facility at present and alleviate capacity issues during peak season. It would also be a good addition to the site and overall facilities. This cafe was to be fully funded by our company with the exception of the ground works which have already been carried out by Callendar Estates. We also discussed plans for erecting a covered area on the terrace to the side of the building. At no time did we discuss any issue with the sub let or any plans for rescinding BKK’s contract.
Following the meeting we received one email stating that the Estate had spoken with surveyors who thought that the proposed rent was in line with the current market (there is no evidence to support this) but asked us for accounts before our next meeting.
On Monday 25th March we met with a representative of BKK holdings Mr Clive Ramsay who informed me that he had been contacted by Callendar Estate’s Solicitors instructing him to rescind his lease for Canada Wood or face legal action for recovering the outstanding income rent due from our company. Mr Ramsay informed me that he signed the document the previous week and that his agreement would terminate.
Immediately following this meeting I tried to call the Estate’s manager, to confirm that our position with them was as I thought had been agreed at the previous meeting; he unfortunately was on holiday. We then contacted the Estate office who informed us that we had to go through their solicitors. Upon speaking with the solicitors I was informed that he only took instructions from Guy and that I should speak with BKK who rescinded the lease the previous week as my agreement was with them.
As I stated previously BKK holdings have had nothing to do with the financing, operation or any aspect of the restaurant. BKK as a company has had no trading income since its inception, and Mr Ramsay resigned as a director of the company in 2017, but yet still appears to have rescinded the agreement between BKK and Callendar Estates; that without any prior consultation with us, leaving our company with no legal right to occupy the premises and continue to trade.
It was a further 3 days before any representative from Callendar Estates responded to us at which time they stated that we would need to vacate the premises in 5 days. We have tried to speak with a representative from the Estate on many occasions over the past 7 days but no one will take our call or respond to our emails. Our solicitor has written to their solicitor and again but has had no reply.
We are absolutely devastated for our fantastic team as there are now 25 people out of work and we have no explanation or communication from
Callendar Estates to confirm why. We have also written through our solicitor stating that we would accept the full 7% conditions, and although this could put us at further risk in the future as it continued to rise, it was seen as the only option to protect our team and business as we literally had two working days to try and get a resolution. Disappointingly Callendar Estates and their representatives have failed to acknowledge our letter or offer.
We have been excellent tenants to Callendar Estates over the past 4 years , creating a fantastic restaurant facility and working alongside all parties on the multi-site operation to make it the success it is today. As well as our initial substantial set up investment we have had to replace many items in the kitchen including a full extraction system and two ovens.
In our opinion the Callendar Estate trustees have shown no regard for us, our superb staff or loyal customers. They have acted in an oppressive, dictatorial manner. We have been good tenants, contributing to the development and use of the site, creating employment for local people and raising the profile of that whole area.
To all our fantastic customers (many who have become good friends) we will miss you all.
Pleae feel free to contact Callendar Estates if you wish to discuss any of the above with them. Unlike us you may be lucky enough to get a response.
Thanks for your support over the last 4 years,
The Canada Wood Team