Lockhouse Bar and Restaurant repossessed
By thepickler | Friday, June 17, 2011, 10:00
PORTISHEAD'S Lockhouse Bar and Restaurant at the town's marina has been repossessed by bailiffs - after a dispute over alleged rent arrears.
Bailiffs went in on Wednesday morning to take peaceful possession of the premises on behalf of its owners James Cook and Paul Greenland.
It is alleged that tenant Deborah Griffith, who has run the restaurant on the marina development since 2008, had run up rent arrears of £10,000.
It is understood that Mr Cook and Mr Greenland had come to an arrangement with Mrs Griffith to clear the rent arrears, but it is alleged she failed to keep to the agreement.
Mrs Griffith was not at the restaurant when it was repossessed and was not available for comment.
Mr Cook and Mr Greenland bought the building - which was the former lock keepers cottage - in 2005 and spent £180,000 developing into a restaurant.
Mr Cook said he was keen to get the restaurant re-opened.
Mr Cook said: "Due to persistent breach of contract we have taken possession of the Lockhouse by peaceable re-entry.
"Substantial rent arrears through irregular and non payment of rent over a two year period has forced us to take this action."
Forfeiture notices have now been put on the building informing people the restaurant has been repossessed.
Steve Wood, managing director of Able Investigations and Enforcement which carried out the repossession, said: "We carried out a peaceful possession of the restaurant on Wednesday morning under the rent and distress act.
"We drilled the locks out and replaced them with new locks.
"My clients are now considering what to do with the building."
The Lockhouse Bar and Restaurant opened in 2008 and quickly became a popular eaterie among the Portishead community.
In September 2010 it received a surprise visit from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey who was filming in the area for his Channel 4 show, Ramsay's Best Restaurant.
This is the second restaurant in Portishead run by Mrs Griffith which has been repossessed.
Bailiffs took possession of the Lockhouse Lounge at Portishead Open Air Pool at the end of March following a disagreement between Mrs Griffith and lido trustees.
Mrs Griffith, 43, was given a notice to quit after a disagreement about an unpaid electricity bill and rent arrears.
The restauranteur then found herself in court after admitting attempting to burn down the Lockhouse Lounge after she was evicted.
She initially denied knowledge of the attack but was caught when police discovered her fingerprint on a window at the venue.
She was given a 12-month community order and told to complete 80 hours of unpaid work after admitting attempted arson at North Somerset Magistrates' Court.
The court heard that at 3.45am on April 17, the alarm went off at the restaurant at Portishead Open Air pool and a trustee of the pool arrived to find a smashed window and an empty diesel can inside.
Shortly afterwards, Griffith arrived at the restaurant and said she had heard that the alarm had gone off at the premises.
Police were called to the scene, where they found CCTV footage of the attack and a fingerprint belonging to Griffith on a window.
During her police interview, Griffith said she had used a stone to smash the window and had gone to the boot of her car, where she found a diesel can. She told officers she inserted some paper into the can and tried to light it.
Griffith said it had been a spur of the moment act to get back at the pool's trust after her lease at the restaurant was terminated at the end of March and told police she hadn't intended to burn the property down.
Mrs Griffith was unavailable for comment following the repossession of the Lockhouse Bar and Restaurant.