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Surrey restaurant sues mall owner for allowing competing tenant

Spice 72 Indian Restaurant is suing Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre manager Riokim Holdings
Spice 72 Indian Restaurant and Lounge Ltd. operates at Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre

Entrepreneurs behind Surrey's Spice 72 Indian Restaurant and Lounge Ltd. allegedly made efforts in 2015 to ensure that theirs would be the only sit-down Indian or Pakistani restaurant at Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre, they say in a notice of civil claim filed Oct. 26.

Once they confirmed this, they made sure to put an exclusivity clause in their lease to ensure that they would face no competition within their cuisine type, they allege.

To their dismay, Bandra Café Inc., which does business as Bandra Café, now offers customers with an alternative at the shopping centre, they say in the statement of claim. 

Their restaurant is now suing the mall owner and operator Riokim Holdings (Strawberry Hill.) Inc. as well as Bandra Café.

"The landlord has permitted and continues to permit Bandra Café to operate as a sit-down Indian and/or Pakistani restaurant as its principal and/or primary business and constitutes a breach of the covenant and the lease," Spice 72 says in its lawsuit. 

"Further, or in the alternative, Bandra Café knew or ought to have known at all material times of the terms of the lease (as amended by amended lease,)" the claim reads. 

The Spice 72 owners say that they signed their seven-year lease on March 10, 2015 and the lease went into effect April 15, 2015, after a period of "fixturing."

The owners opened their restaurant on March 10, 2016, when no other tenant in the shopping centre offered a competing dining experience.

"In or around October 2021, and subsequent to the execution of the lease, the precise date of which is currently unknown to the plaintiff, Bandra Café opened its restaurant and began operating in the shopping centre," Spice 72 claims. 

"When Bandra Café initially opened, it operated as a sit-down fusion restaurant, offering ... Indian, Pakistani, Italian and Mexican cuisine."

The Spice 72 owners say that on Nov. 29, 2021, they and the landlord entered into a lease-amending and extending agreement. They add that this new amended lease is set to run until April 14, 2029. 

"Subsequently, at a date which is currently unknown to the plaintiff, Bandra Café further changed its menu offerings and increased the number of Indian and/or Pakistani menu items it offered," the claim says.  "Currently, Bandra Café operates a sit-down restaurant serving Indian and/or Pakistani dishes as its principal and primary business."

The Spice 72 owners say in their lawsuit that they have communicated with the landlord about the landlord being in a breach of the lease's covenant. 

"The landlord has not taken action to remedy the ongoing breach of the covenant," Spice 72 says. 

Neither Riokim Holdings (Strawberry Hill) Inc. nor Bandra Café has filed responses to the notice of civil claim. 

None of the allegations made in Spice 72's lawsuit have been proven in court. 

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