UKAI, a new concept in sushi in the heart of London, is facing closure as a result of how Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council planning department defines its legal status.
Since 2006, UKAI has operated under a provision provided in the legislations for sandwich bars with no cooking facilities. This provision is widely used by other Sushi bars, cafes, and light eateries in the same borough. The RBKC Council argues that it is the perception one may get from Ukai that has led them to their decision to serve a notice on Ukai. Ukai argues law is matter of fact and degree, and not perception. RBKC refuses to reason.
UKAI employs twenty-five staff across the three London outlets and is a business success story even in the economic recession. The change of status will mean closure and job losses.
“Reluctantly, we are having to take RBKC Council to a tribunal, simply to determine if a Sushi bar can operate under the same criteria as a sandwich bar. This is in spite of the Council’s own findings in 1987 that a Sushi bar falls within Class A1 of Town & Country Planning, which Ukai’s premises currently enjoy. Sushi is not cooked - like sandwiches - so why should it not operate under the same status?” Commented Abbas Moaven, founder of UKAI Sushi.
“We have had to work hard to open up a dialogue to help resolve and find solutions to this grey area, however, we have not had the support from the council you would expect, especially in a recession of this magnitude. We have gone from looking to grow our business – to now facing closure. We cannot understand why we have been singled out.”
UKAI provides traditional sushi in a contemporary style with a focus on environmental and sustainable practises. It has quickly gained loyal customer base in and around its Portobello Road location in the short time it has existed. Regulars include the likes of Lilly Allen, Jennifer Saunders, Annie Lennox, and Jenson Button.
The business is calling upon residents, MP's Councillors, and even the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to intervene on this matter before it goes before a Tribunal on the 24th March 2009. Ukai views the Council’s decision detached from reality and counter-affective in this economy - in the sense it does not protect the community it serves, and will result in job losses and destroy a business that has the potential to employ many more people.
“As an established entrepreneur, I hear a lot of talk from politicians about the economy and I use to think Conservative Councils would be more favourable in supporting small businesses, but I am seriously doubting that now. It is simply not true” Said, Abbas.
Notes: UKAI is located on 223 Portobello Road, London W11 1LU
For further comments contact:
Miss Tima Reshad
T: 020 7229 5589
Or, Mr Abbas Moaven
T: 07767 707070
Pictures of Abbas Moaven and the UKAI premises are available upon request.
For immediate publication
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