A part-time chef locked in a bizarre rent row with the local council says he could be forced to close his restaurant even if he wins the legal dispute.
Peter Worsick, who runs the 34-seat Castle Dairy in Kendal, Cumbria, said that at least 10 large parties booked in for company Christmas meals had cancelled since news of the dispute broke.
The companies were sympathetic to his plight, he claimed, but said they could not risk their staff being left with no Christmas party if he loses.
The dispute with the council, which owns the building, centres on claims that Worsick has not paid rent (which he denies) and the fact that he is not the leaseholder.
Worsick says he has helped run the restaurant since a friend took it over in 1997. The friend, whose name is on the lease, was forced to move away for family reasons at the end of last year (Caterer, 26 November, page 8).
The council is trying to win repossession of the restaurant and a hearing is scheduled for today. But Worsick fears it could be adjourned until the New Year, throwing the business into further uncertainty.
To add to his problems, thieves broke into the restaurant last week and stole some £3,000-worth of equipment, food and drink. "It gets worse and worse," said a dejected Worsick.