Indian Mehfil owner Raj Sharma.
Indian Mehfil owner Raj Sharma.

Restaurant owner ‘positive’ despite having to shut up shop

AN Ipswich restaurant owner remains positive for the future of his business despite having to shut up shop for the next two months due to a sunken kitchen floor.

Indian Mehfil will shut its doors after trading on Sunday night in order for works to start to replace the floor in the Ipswich City Council owned building.

Owner Raj Sharma said it had been a difficult period for his family and 30 employees.

Mr Sharma has leased the building, believed to be about 160-years-old, for a decade.

Full time staff will be taking enforced holidays and casual employees will pick up shifts at Mr Sharma's Brisbane eateries where possible.

"Some of the staff have been with us for 10 years and we can't afford to lose them," he said.

"Casual staff are the most vulnerable so we're trying to assist them to push them to other restaurants."

He said any discussion with the council over compensation was confidential.

"They're considerate of the amount of money we've invested in the building and now this," he said.

"They're assisting with whatever they can do within the means of the lease.

"(The floor) has sunk big time now. It's quite dangerous to work. The last thing we want is someone getting a serious injury."

Mr Sharma said he was positive for the future of the restaurant and was planning a few changes and some tweaks to the menu for a "grand reopening" in April.

Just like many other businesses in the CBD, a significant drop off in foot traffic as a result of the mall redevelopment had struck a serious blow but he was feeling good about life after works are completed.

"(Closing up) is devastating but hopefully with the support of the community we can be up and running in no time," he said.

"In my time in hospitality, I've lost and I've won. This is how hospitality works. We depend on the community to survive."

A council spokesman said there are structural issues with the kitchen sub-floor that needs to be repaired and rectified.

"Ipswich City Council has been working closely with Indian Mehfil on this matter," he said.

"The works require the removal of the entire floor in the kitchen and then replaced. This is a delicate process as this is a heritage building and an important part of Ipswich's history which needs to be preserved.

"As it is a state heritage listed building, council is legislatively required to preserve and protect the structure.

"Council cannot discuss compensation as it is commercial-in-confidence."



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