Eatery’s fear for future over ‘dire’ rent hike

Almara and Sadique Miah and staff outside the Zari Restaurant and Lounge in Ifield Parade. Picture: Steve Robards
Almara and Sadique Miah and staff outside the Zari Restaurant and Lounge in Ifield Parade. Picture: Steve Robards

A popular restaurant in Crawley fears it will not be able to ‘stay afloat’ if it faces a significant rent increase.

Zari Restaurant and Lounge in Ifield Parade, said it has just been told about a hike as part of a rent review with the council.

Almara and Sadique Miah have run the Indian restaurant since 1990 and it has been a Sussex Food and Drink Award finalist.

Almara, 48, said: “We have been told that our rent will be going up by 20 per cent plus the rate increase which has come into force this month.

“This increase is dire for small businesses to fork out especially in such uncertainty with Brexit.

“We as a small business will find it hard to stay afloat – as well as many of the other shops in the parade I’m sure.

“It is not just the rent that has gone up – everything has. We have not been able to put our prices up to customers for four years. But we don’t want to have to.

“We can’t put it on our customers, we will upset them.”

The pair had received a letter from Crawley Borough Council letting them know about the rent review and had a recent visit from a council officer.

Almara said: “For a restaurant, the premium is higher – much higher than someone who runs a shop or hairdressers.

“But it has gone up for everyone and it affects everybody.

“The council needs to be looking after the local people and the town’s community assets. I am not saying they should not put it up all together, but it should be a fair rent review.

“If they do this to small businesses like us and other speciality shops – we will not survive.”

A council spokesman said: “The council has recently completed rent reviews with the majority of their tenants on Ifield Parade, as provided for under the terms of the leases held.

“Zari’s rent reviews remains to be undertaken and the council will negotiate these rents based on discussions and information from the completed transactions with other businesses along the parade.”

MP Henry Smith said he was ‘very concerned’ about the rent hikes.

He said: “I’m very concerned that the rent hikes are damaging vibrant neighbourhood businesses like Zari’s in Ifield Parade and call on the Town Hall leadership to review policies with such negative effects on small local employers.”

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