Mr Grigor’s, a popular Greek family-run cafe on the northern beaches, closed its doors for the last time on Monday after failing to come to an agreement on a new lease with the landlord.
Maria and Bill Panagiotopoulos opened Mr Grigor’s at Allambie Heights five years ago and had built up a loyal community following.
But according to The Daily Telegraph, on January 10 this year Maria and Bill were handed a letter from an estate agent, representing the owners of the Allambie Heights shopping centre, telling the couple that they had 30 days to vacate the premises.
As part of their lease, the couple had to indicate to landlord Darren Jones, by the end of July 2020, if they were going to exercise the option to renew the lease for another five years.
Due to the pressures of trying to keep the business above water during the COVID crisis, and the poor health of her elderly father, Maria told The Daily Telegraph they missed the deadline to alert Mr Jones, a former mayor of Warringah Council, that they wanted to renew the lease by about two weeks.
Maria said they wrote to Mr Jones to make an offer on the lease, but that was rejected.
“We worked hard, up to 100 hours every week each, to make this place a success. Now, since COVID restrictions lifted, our business is up 20 to 30 per cent. But we have to go,” Maria told the media outlet.
“I have never had a community wrap their arms around us like this community has. It’s been wonderful.”
For more than three hours on their last day, Maria and Bill, along with their daughter Chloe, were making and handing out free coffees to their loyal customers.
Mr Jones told the Manly Daily on Monday that the couple failed to meet their obligations in relation to exercising an option to renew the lease.
“It was nothing to do with me. It was their call, not mine,” Mr Jones said.
Meanwhile, Maria and Bill are clearing out Mr Grigor’s this week and contemplating whether to open another restaurant in, or near, the northern beaches.
FULL STORY: The Daily Telegraph.