Restaurant boss faces new year battle to save iconic Rest

Marco Giannasi.
Marco Giannasi.

A top south side restaurateur says he may have to begin 2018 by launching a public campaign to save the iconic Battlefield Rest.

Scores of customers are said to have volunteered to back a high profile bid to force city tax assessors to finally agree a fair rates bill for the venue, which earlier this year was hit by a monster bill of more than £33,000.

Owner Marco Giannasi says that after an anxious year spent “in limbo” the council and his agents appear deadlocked in negotiations, making it impossible for him to plan for the business.

Despite emergency Holyrood measures designed to ameliorate draconian rates applied by rates assessors across Scotland he still has no guarantee the assessors will ultimately back down on their initial demand for a 550 per cent rates increase.

Earlier this year he said frankly: “We will have to close down if this insane assessment cannot be curtailed.”

Now, with 2017 almost over, he says he is still none the wiser about how much he will have to pay - and adds that customers are just as perplexed.

“Our regular customers don’t understand how the tax people can operate like this,” he said.

“They want to help, and so do many other local people - not all of whom are necessarily regular visitors to the Rest.

“I have to explain to them, and to staff, that while we are doing our best our business plans have to be frozen until we find if we can get a bill that has some bearing on reality.

“I have external repairs I want to carry out too, but I can’t proceed until this nightmare is finally ended.”

At the moment he is operating with an interim assessment of half of the original percentage increase demanded, but is still waiting for an answer to basic questions about how the assessors’ office arrived at such an astronomic rates hike.

He says an earlier explanation that it was based on what any reasonably competent operator could expect to make from such an outlet is patently absurd.

It also appears to use a formula based on turnover, which is inherently unsound as it does not necessarily bear any relation to profit - in extreme cases a business with high turnover could even make a loss.

“I am left wondering about the future of the business and of course so are my staff,” said Mr Giannasi.

“We have many local people on our side, and so many of our customers and friends want to help, so it could be that we start a petition in the new year.

“No business should be expected to operate under such conditions.”