Manly West Restaurateur Fights Hefty Fine Over Outdoor Seating

The owner of Casa di Louie in Manly West is taking legal action over a hefty fine issued for setting up an outdoor dining area three years ago. 

Read: Manly West Shopping Centre Looks to Grow with Expansion Plans

The owner of the popular Italian eatery is reportedly headed to the magistrates court to contest the penalty amounting to $15,480.

The controversy started in 2021 when the restaurateur was offered a 10-year lease by the landlord of a retail space on Radford Road. After signing a letter expressing his need for additional room, the owner alleges the landlord’s representative proposed utilising three of the precinct’s 95 parking spots for expanded seating.

Photo credit: Casa di Louie/Google Maps 

Recognising the necessity of separating diners from vehicles, the restaurateur hired a builder, who informed him that council approval would be required for such an arrangement. When he contacted the council’s business hotline, officials stated that the proposed outdoor expansion would not be permitted.

Photo credit: Casa di Louie/Google Maps 

At this point, the owner claims he informed the landlord of his willingness to terminate the lease agreement. However, he alleges the landlord’s agent advised him to proceed with the outdoor seating expansion despite the council’s stance against it.

The agent representing the landlord corroborated that he verbally relayed to the restaurateur his understanding, based on “high-level” advice from a town planner, that extending the outdoor dining area would not pose an issue. 

Although it technically exceeded the precinct’s originally approved gross leasable area, the agent noted the carpark had never reached full capacity.

Photo credit: Casa di Louie/Google Maps 

The agent asserted that the council had never issued the restaurateur a show-cause notice or offer to remedy the situation, which he insisted was the crux of the matter.

The restaurateur stated that for three years after the expansion, he received no communication from the council until October of the previous year when they informed him of a single complaint pertaining to “safety.” However, the council declined to disclose the complainant’s identity or provide the investigation report, only citing concerns about “manoeuvrability” in the area.

A council spokeswoman explained that they had repeatedly made it clear to the restaurateur that the infringement was a result of installing an outdoor dining area without approval and against the advice they had provided. 

Read: European-style Mobile Restaurant to Roll Out Soon

Whilst acknowledging the resident’s frustration, she stated the council was obligated to investigate complaints, and the situation could have been avoided had the restaurateur followed their initial guidance.

Published 14-March-2024