Sabotage claim in restaurant battle at Byron
By MEGAN KINNINMEN
AN ANONYMOUS restaurateur who dobbed in nine Bay Lane restaurants to Byron Shire Council for alleged compliance breaches has been accused of industrial sabotage.
The restaurants in Bay Lane, behind the Beach Hotel, have been accused of illegally operating as seated restaurants, and are now under investigation by the council after the anonymous complaint from a Byron Bay restaurant owner claiming to represent eight other competing restaurants.
However, the allegations are denied by the owner of one of the Bay Lane restaurants, Adam Morgan, of the Pasquale Italian Restaurant, who yesterday lashed out at the accusers, saying they had their facts wrong and were just out to ruin the competition.
"It's very nasty. Horrible," Mr Morgan said.
"It's industrial sabotage. They're trying to stop people from coming down here and go to their restaurants instead."
Mr Morgan denied the anonymous accusations that Bay Lane operators had undercut legitimate business owners.
"This is about Bay Lane being successful and busy," he said.
"They (the anonymous restaurants) are obviously not selling what people want to buy, or they've obviously chosen the wrong location."
Mr Morgan said he had applied through the Freedom of Information Act to see the complaints handed to the council which allege he was operating illegally ? a claim he denies.
"The've accused me of only having a takeaway approval when I am a registered restaurant," he said.
"I'm angry that they've made this accusation to the council and they haven't looked into it first.
"I would like to say to whoever made the complaints: You have been misguided.
"I bought this business in 2002 with the full approvals to operate as a restaurant."
Mr Morgan said he feared the uncertainty over the Bay Lane restaurant strip could effect custom and also hamper the sale of his business.
"I just want it cleared up," he said.
"I don't want a potential buyer to think there's a cloud over Bay Lane.
"It makes my business unsaleable."
If proven, the breaches could result in fees of more than $100,000 having to be paid to the council for each business to gain approval to operate as seated restaurants.
Many of the restaurant owners have sought legal advice to respond to a letter from the council asking them to prove themselves compliant by August 26.