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Café Hampstead: Restaurant site for sale - as woes continue for troubled eatery

PUBLISHED: 17:03 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:41 29 August 2019

Café Hampstead, which remains open despite being liquidated. Picture: Polly Hancock

Café Hampstead, which remains open despite being liquidated. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The owner of the Café Hampstead restaurant building is set to sell the freehold for the address - but the eatery will carry on running from it.

The site, in Rosslyn Hill, is listed for £2.97million and is being marketed by Savills as an "investment" opportunity.

It says the current rent is £110,000 a year, and that the lease to Ei Group is set to expire in June 2045.

Land registry documents show the freeholder of 48 Rosslyn Hill as Rosslyn Hill Property Ltd. Confusingly, the freeholder according to Savills is Vane Real Estate Capital Limited.

Ei Group, the leaseholder, is in turn letting it out to County Park Limited. A finance document in that firm's records from April 2018, available through Companies House, is signed by an "R Newmark," and was witnessed by a Timothy Danby.

Mr Danby is a director for the Beach Blanket Babylon restaurants in Shoreditch and Notting Hill, whose directors were Robert and Brett Newmark prior to their disqualification by the Insolvency Service in 2016. He is also the sole director of Cafe Holdings Ltd, whose main shareholder is Robert Newmark.

Café Hampstead went into liquidation in January, owing more than £346,000. In the months running up to its collapse, several staff had not been paid. At a tribunal in January, one former worker won more than £10,000 for unpaid wages and unfair dismissal.

The Ham&High last year published evidence suggesting Robert Newmark may have been breaching their insolvency orders by continuing to be involved in running the business through hiring and firing staff and dealing with finances.

At the time Mr Newmark, through his lawyers, denied "being involved in the running of the business", and said the consultancy advice he gives Cafe Hampstead Ltd was not "in a management role and is not contrary to the restrictions placed upon him as a disqualified director". He said he had not breached the order in any other way.

Meanwhile, Cafe Hampstead remains open. The Ham&High understands the new company running it is Green Dollar Ltd, whose sole director is listed on Companies House as Tim Danby.

We can also reveal that another former staff member, Mr Star Cruz, has won a £2180.25 payout for unpaid wages and holiday pay. And a judgment is pending for another ex-Café Hampstead staff member who has taken the restaurant to an employment tribunal.

According to Hampstead employment lawyer Jessica Learmond-Criqui, despite the wins in court, they may never see a penny.

"Employees who are owed money by their employers when the employers go into liquidation often get a raw deal and recover little of the sums owed," she explained.

"Sums for unpaid notice pay and unfair dismissal payments, as in this case, can be claimed as unsecured debts, on an equal footing with all other unsecured creditors.

"The unsecured debts will be much more difficult to recover as they rank last in the order of priority of payment from the liquidator and are therefore only payable after all other debts have been discharged, and if sufficient funds are realised from the insolvent estate."

She said former Café Hampstead employees owed wages could claim some money from the National Insurance Fund.

There's more bad news for the middle-eastern themed restaurant: food hygiene inspectors from Camden Council recently scored it 1/5.

Among the issues were mouse droppings on the floor and in pipes, staff not regularly washing their hands and some areas needed further cleaning. Inspectors gave their report on December 18.

Camden Council said the restaurant had since acted to remedy the issues, and it would be monitoring progress over the coming months.

Cabinet member Cllr Richard Olszewski said: "[We] undertake regular inspections of restaurants, takeaways and other food premises in the borough to ensure that good standards of food hygiene and safety are maintained.

"The business can ask the council to return to carry out a rescore with the aim of achieving a better Food Hygiene Rating, when all the necessary hygiene improvements highlighted have been undertaken."

Cafe Hampstead has been contacted for comment.

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