ECONOMY

Restaurateurs eye legal action

restaurateurs-eye-legal-action

Food service professionals are considering resorting to administrative courts to seek compensation from the state, as the losses they have incurred are hard to fathom and they argue that the support they have been getting is insufficient.

There are already some 30-40 such demands from businesses in Athens alone, and similar action by food services enterprises in the rest of the country can’t be ruled out.

“A law firm we cooperate with is already looking into the issue and I believe that in March the case will have been submitted,” Maria Botonaki, a lawyer herself and owner of a bar in central Athens, told Kathimerini. She forms part of an initiative called “Circle of Food Service Professionals.” “At the moment we have collected demands from about 40 enterprises. Our initiative represents 300 enterprises, but we are also in talks with 50 associations from around Greece,” she adds.

The compensation food service companies will demand will correspond to a share of their 2019 turnover, that which likely be a reasonable level, but definitely below 50%. The precise rate will be determined soon, based also on the research the lawyers are conducting.

“Without having had to be prompted, the German government is handing out compensation to food service companies corresponding to 75% of their 2019 turnover. The French government is also handing out very high compensation. We are aware this is neither Germany nor France, and we certainly do not have such high demands,” Botonaki stressed.

The sector is desperate, and as for the enterprises that are unable to offer takeaway or delivery services, “every day that passes is critical and possibly fatal,” according to Botonaki.

Food service professionals say that their discussions with government officials point to the sector staying closed up to May, if not June. “Everyone has debts to someone. We fear that one in every two will never reopen after the sector is allowed to operate again,” warned Botonaki.

The first batch of enterprise closures has surfaced in the Athens neighborhoods of Kolonaki, Syntagma, Gazi and Psyrri, while main lease contracts that expired have not been renewed as landlords wanted to increase the rent.