Food operators call for rent relief

The response of landlords to COVID-19 has been varied.
The response of landlords to COVID-19 has been varied.  Photo: iStock

One issue is at the forefront of whether Sydney restaurants and cafes will reboot en masse when the tide goes out on COVID-19, or whether there will be wholesale closures.

Good Food took the pulse of food operators across different sectors and rent relief is top priority.

Many restaurateurs say without it they'll be too far behind to get off the starting line.

Wes Lambert of the Restaurant & Catering Association.
Wes Lambert of the Restaurant & Catering Association. Photo: Renee Nowytarger

The reaction from landlords has been varied. While some have waived rent or worked with restaurants to offer pro-rata rent based on decreased takings under a takeaway-only model, others are demanding it in full from venues forced to close. 

"The big guys [landlords] have refused to do rent abatements," says Wes Lambert, chief executive at the Restaurant & Catering Association.

Lambert, who has been at the forefront of lobbying government for restaurants to remain open for takeaway alcohol sales, says the gravity of the issue is so big it's before cabinet.

He's hoping for a win-win, with landlords who can prove they haven't received rent accessing relief in other ways, such as tax relief.

"Some landlords think not charging rent will affect the valuation of their properties, [but] it won't," he says.

And Lambert has an explanation for why there have been relatively few restaurants announcing they are winding-up permanently: "Our members are waiting on any decision on administration in part due to stimulus packages and the outcome of announcements on evictions and rent abatement mechanisms."