The last departed commercial tenant in Queenstown’s Sofitel Hotel complex is being chased for unpaid rent but says he’s broke.
Restaurateur Colin Cloudesley’s Fatzcat Cafe & Bar Ltd – the company that operated his Fatz Cat Italian restaurant – faces liquidation proceedings following an application by Christchurch developer Graham Wilkinson.
Wilkinson took over Sofitel’s 16 retail spaces last October.
Cloudesley – a wild-card mayoral candidate in 2007 – is understood to be more than $100,000 in arrears. He became the complex’s last non-hotel tenant when he shut his pizza joint on January 8.
Cloudesley, who has shifted to Christchurch and is on the dole, estimates he lost more than $500,000 since reopening in the new Sofitel building in 2005.
“I’ve got no money,” he says.
He’d been successful in former premises on the site but says he only went backwards in the new Sofitel.
“You might have the odd good night but your down time was too quiet.”
Stairs down Brecon Street that were supposed to go past his restaurant instead moved in the opposite direction and customers who’d booked frequently didn’t turn up because they got lost, Cloudesley says.
Wilkinson says when he bought Sofitel’s retail units from receivers, he asked Cloudesley to propose how he’d deal with both Fatz Cat’s rent arrears and future rental payments. Wilkinson says he didn’t get a reply.
Cloudesley, on the other hand, says Wilkinson expected him to pay full rent – $72,000 a year – when he’d only been paying receivers half that.
Wilkinson responds: “Any arrangement he may have had with the receivers would have been his business but would have been without prejudice to the lease.”
Cloudesley’s unfazed by the application to wind up Fatz Cat Cafe & Bar, to be heard in the High Court at Christ-church on March 29.
In the meantime, he’s cheekily changed his company name to Rent Too Dear Ltd.
Wilkinson agrees with Cloudesley that Sofitel’s first floor didn’t work as a restaurant precinct.
Wilkinson – who owns the leasing company for the five-star hotel above the former retail precinct – confirms planning for the refurbishment of both lower floors is still under way.