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Karen Blixen in Tamarind tenancy row

Management of Karen Blixen Museum and owners of high-end Tamarind restaurant are engaged in a legal battle over the latter’s opening of a seafood eatery on the Karen property it has leased since 2012.

The museum is seeking to stop Tamarind from making further alterations on the famous Grogan Macmillan manor house, which it leased to the restaurant on condition that no modifications would be made to the property.

The museum claims that inspections of the property in April, last year, showed that several changes had been made to the kitchen area, loading area, restaurant space, the Grogan Macmillan house and the generator area contrary to the sub-lease agreement the two parties signed.

Tamarind opened the seafood restaurant on April 30 last year.

The museum now wants Tamarind stopped from altering the area any further.

“At no time has Karen Blixen given any written consent for these structural changes. Notwithstanding the notice of forfeiture and repossession, Tamarind has continued to embark on the modifications. An advertisement was also carried in local dailies about the move of Tamarind’s seafood restaurant to Karen,” the museum said.


Tamarind, however, denies the claims and had filed an application seeking to stop its ejection from the property shortly after being served with an eviction notice. The two suits have been consolidated.

The four-star restaurant has in its defence claimed that the changes were made with the full knowledge of the Karen Blixen management.

Tamarind’s executive chairman Martin Dunford says, in suit papers, that the extension by his restaurant to the kitchen and loading areas was a result of demand by City Hall’s health department.

“City Hall required Tamarind to replace two flimsy, tin-roofed structures built with gum tree poles with a roof and temporary walls covered with tiles. Karen Blixen’s general manager duly submitted the blueprints to Tamarind with full knowledge that it wanted to get the requisite approvals for the kitchen and loading area,” Mr Dunford said.

A five-centimetre hole drilled into one of the walls was done to allow inspection of a gas line, but Mr Dunford insists that it has since been sealed.

The two parties were on Tuesday granted until March 17 to engage in talks with the aim of reaching an out of court settlement.

Lady Justice Mary Gitumbi will mention the matter then to either record the consent or give them further directions.