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Fracas brewing

THE failure of King Street Restaurant Mezzonine is proving a legal headache for all involved, with conjecture over the rights to use a laneway for alfresco dining clouding the future of the site.

The Ministry of Culture and the Arts started the legal fracas by taking the owner of Mezzonine, Lunching Pad Pty Ltd, to court after the restaurant went belly up.

Lunching Pad has apparently counter-sued in a bid for reimbursement of funds invested into Mezzonine, believed to be approximately $1 million.

While all parties wait to see if the court-appointed administrators of Mezzonine, PKF Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, will pursue this course, even the new lessees of the restaurant site, Bien Nguyen and Tai Pham, have to wait for a resolution of these legal actions before they will know if they can use part of the alfresco area.

At the heart of the matter lies Munster Lane, a minor thoroughfare that enters King Street on the southern side of the former Mezzonine site.

Lunching Pad director Lynda Quinn claimed the Department of Culture and the Arts negotiated a lease over the right of way of Munster Lane without any legal authority to do so.

Freedom of information documents obtained by Lunching Pad show prolonged discussions between the Department Ministry of Culture and the Arts and the Department of Land Administration over the arrangements to lease the car bays on Munster Lane.

The Department of Culture and the Arts director general Alastair Bryant could not comment on the legality of the lease but did say the department would not enter into an agreement without having the legal competency to do so.

On top of Lunching Pad’s claims, the proprietors of Focus on Food Colombera and Moore, who moved from the site behind Mezzonine and are now located on Murray Street, have also been in discussions with the Department of Culture and the Arts over their lease.

Munster Lane also appears to have become an issue in those discussions.

Meanwhile, the purchasers of the Mezzonine leaseholding, Mr Nguyen and Mr Pham, have signed an agreement with Universal Reality for the building.

Mr Nguyen said he would look at opening the restaurant in June. It will be called Bien Fine Food and Wine and will offer an Asian fusion menu.

Also seeing renewed life in King Street is Domenic Lalor, who has won a lease and special facility liquor licence for driveway, ground floor and basement of 76 King Street, near St Georges Terrace.

He will transform the driveway into a contemporary art gallery and the office space will become a cafe and wine bar.

Mr Lalor said he was in discussions with Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland about development for the group’s initial architectural designs and would not look at opening until the December or early 2003.

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