Row over lease that could see Trattoria close
More than 100 jobs and an iconic restaurant are at risk of closure following a tenancy wrangle that threatens to bring to an end the life of the Trattoria Restaurant.
The owner of the upmarket restaurant is accusing the owners and management of Town House of trying to force him out of the building.
Mr Gaetano Ruffo accused the management of having vandalised his equipment at the backyard — cold room, smoke extractor, water tanks, gas cylinder — despite having all relevant documentation.
When contacted, Mr Gerald Maina, a member of the management denied the accusations saying they respect the tenancy lease that runs up to 2025 but insisted that the fire exit should be cleared; a position they had indicated to Mr Ruffo.
But Mr Ruffo said that after receiving the communication, he went to the county government and had the facilities inspected after which the Fire Brigade withdrew the said notice and told the lawyers of the building’s owners they had done so.
“Without these facilities how can one run a restaurant? They are essentially telling me to close down,” said Mr Ruffo.
The controversy dates back to 2008 when the building’s ownership passed from the now collapsed Kenya National Assurance Company.
According to Mr Ruffo, the new landlords at that time issued a notice to vacate to the tenants despite existing tenancy agreements which prompted him to go to court.
He won the case and an appeal that followed after which they moved to arbitration.
In a final arbitration ruling issued January this year by former Kenya Anti -Corruption Commission director Aaron Ringera, the parties were asked to observe the tenancy agreements.
The restauranteur indicated that he has gone to court to have express orders prohibiting the management from interfering with the facilities.
He added that his restaurant was sandwiched between two similar establishments that have the same facilities in the backyard but only his were disconnected.
Ruffo says there have been some challenging times but the restaurant has never closed, apart from when they hold the annual staff party.