F&B outlets set to reopen after stand-off ends over rent in Raffles Place

Staff from the Singapore Land Tower speaking to the police outside the building on May 3, 2019.
Staff from the Singapore Land Tower speaking to the police outside the building on May 3, 2019.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - A stand-off over rent between the landlord of Singapore Land Tower and four food and beverage (F&B) establishments was resolved on Wednesday (May 8) and about 50 staff are set to move back to their workplaces in the 48-storey skyscraper in Raffles Place.

Mr Christopher Lim, the managing director of Fifty Raffles Place, who owns the four outlets, announced that they will all be reopening on Friday, about 10 days after staff had first been denied access.

Mr Lim said on Wednesday that "the landlord offered to finally accept the offer of Fifty Raffles Place to settle the rental arrears in full". This was after Fifty Raffles Place served an originating summons for the re-entry into their premises, he added.

The four outlets are: Angie's Oyster Bar, Empire Sky Lounge, Sear Steakhouse and Lower East Side 45. They are all on the 45th level of the Singapore Land Tower.

Tower owner S.L. Development moved in on April 29 to repossess the premises after $685,957 was allegedly owed in unpaid rent and three letters of demand had been sent by its lawyers.

Mr Lim claimed the missing rent was due to "accounting changes" on the part of the landlord, and that the company was willing to settle the debt in full in a statement to The Straits Times on Wednesday.

The landlord's lawyer, Mr Toh Kok Seng, said the impasse occurred because the tenant had made various offers of partial payment with conditions attached which the landlord was unable to accept.

 

Last Friday, 14 employees who submitted forms to access the premises were allowed in three at a time to retrieve their personal belongings.

The landlord could not be reached by press time.

During the business shutdown, "over 200kg of food, including the two expired shipments (of food) stored in our warehouse, had to be thrown out", executive chef Jeco Lin told ST on Wednesday. This included live mussels, oysters, fish, king crab and lobster.

Pre-made sauces, mouldy fruit and open wine bottles also had to be discarded.

"There was a lot of pressure on every single department, as we needed to answer to our suppliers, and clients who were calling for refunds," said Ms Erica Ng, marketing manager of Empire Sky Lounge.

"We are still tallying the costs, but conservatively we've already lost $24,000 - $26,000 worth of goods that needed to be thrown out or replaced," said Mr Lim.

"I'm relieved that the saga is over, but I'm frustrated because there's a big mountain to climb now. This could have been avoided."