A leading restaurant chain has been accused of “illegal occupation” of a prominent premises in Dundee city centre after applying for a variation of its alcohol licence.
Members of Dundee City Council’s licensing board will meet on Thursday to discuss changes which would allow Tony Macaroni to make off-sales from 15 Whitehall Street seven days a week from 10am to 10pm.
City planners have stated they cannot support the firm being granted the “major variation” because it does not currently have authorisation to occupy the premises, where it opened a restaurant in 2017.
Dundee City Council would not confirm whether it believes all or part of the building is being illegally occupied.
In an email seen by The Courier, a senior surveyor at the authority’s building standards department said it “cannot condone the continued illegal occupation” of the premises.
He said: “15 Whitehall Street, Dundee (Tony Macaroni) has no current authorisation to be occupied or used, under the Building (Scotland) Act.
“Consequently, building standards cannot condone the continued illegal occupation and use of these premises, or support this application.”
Toni Macaroni said it had agreed a temporary certificate of occupation to be granted by the council while a decision is made on works to a function room in the basement.
The firm stated there are “no issues with the day to day occupation or operation of the restaurant”.
A Dundee City Council spokesman confirmed talks are “continuing” and said an update will be provided to the licensing board.
Meanwhile, The Courier has learned Tony Macaroni has been locked in an ongoing dispute with a city landlord over thousands of pounds of rent arrears.
Property firm Rent Locally confirmed it helped lease a two-bedroom West End flat to the chain in June 2017 to be used by local managers but was forced to begin eviction proceedings after it ran up more than £4,400 in unpaid rent.
Trevor White, regional manager of Rent Locally, was called to the property following the eviction in October 2018 after a cleaner discovered hundreds of pounds of damage.
Mr White said the firm’s central finance team had been “constantly at it” with Tony Macaroni before his own office became involved in efforts to chase down the missing rent payments with senior figures at the chain.
He said: “We telephoned several times, we emailed several times and we spoke to a number of people in the head office – including senior managers – but we were basically ignored.
“The ultimate insult to us was they said they would clear it and then sent two cheques. It raised suspicions straight away. Why would a company split cheques at that level?
“Both were refused at the bank, and we were instructed by the bank there was no point representing.”
Mr White said Rent Locally considered taking legal action against Tony Macaroni Ltd as the listed leaseholder but decided against pursuing it further after being advised it would need to trace the senior manager named as lead tenant.
Tony Macaroni declined to comment on the matter.