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Thriving 3 Greens restaurant at Elstree Aerodrome forced to close
A restaurant owner was left “absolutely devastated” after she was forced to close her thriving business.
Caroline Whitney was given six weeks notice to shut 3 Greens restaurant at the Elstree Aerodrome in Hogg Lane in Elstree after her landlord Aldenham Aviation declined to renew her lease.
The restaurant closed on October 11, and the chef is now desperately seeking a new premises.
Mrs Whitney claims the aerodrome’s decision to terminate her contract had come “like a bolt from the blue.”
In April she had received a letter from Lord Aldenham saying he was “happy to discuss” the renewal of her lease, and had been expecting a meeting to discuss terms and conditions when the notice letter arrived.
However Michael Murphy, manager at Aldenham Aviation LLP, asserts the lease was a fixed term one which was only ever going to last five years.
Mrs Whitney, who has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, said: “Legally, they have done nothing wrong to us but morally it was completely wrong.
“In similar situations most landlords give restaurants six months to put their affairs in order and find somewhere else.
“Six weeks notice is absolutely appalling. I’ve been forced to sell my kitchen equipment and am now £130,000 out of pocket.
“I want to open somewhere else, but places on a high street are very hard to find and I don’t have the capital anymore.
“I worked seven days a week at the restaurant. I ran it at a loss and gave employment to people in the local area, but they don’t give a damn.
“In the past couple of years I have lost my son, my father and my sister, who helped me in the restaurant, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Now this happens, it’s such a shock to the system.”
She said the restaurant had been very popular, especially with elderly and disabled people from care homes and day centres in the area who had come because it was reasonably priced and easily accessible.
She added: “We had jazz sessions every Sunday with musicians coming to entertain our clients.
“We brought in lots of brilliant and enthusiastic musicians from the local area and we gave them a chance to get their careers going. Now they’re all out of work.”
Jazz musician Wayne Martin, who used to play regularly at 3 Greens, said it was a great loss to the community.
He added the restaurant had booked him and other musicians into the New Year, as well as taking Christmas bookings, suggesting it had not anticipated being forced to close.
He added: “The restaurant had a lovely bistro atmosphere, it was bright and sunny and everyone was friendly.
“I had so much fun playing there I’d turn down other gigs. There is nothing else like it in the area.
“It was easily accessible meaning an 85-year-old piano player I know could go there to play – he doesn’t get to gigs much anymore because he isn’t vey mobile.
“Fingers crossed they find a new venue soon and I can go and play there again.”
Mayor of Elstree and Borehamwood Clive Butchins was a regular at the restaurant.
He said: “I really enjoyed going there. The food was very good as was the service.
“I was very sad to hear how Caroline has been treated and I look forward to visiting when she opens elsewhere.”
However Mr Murphy said he did not understand why Mrs Whitney feels she was given no notice.
He said: “The lease was a fixed term one and it was always going to end after five years. She should have been aware of this.
“The aerodrome's management had a meeting in August to discuss our future plans and decided to redevelop the part of the aerodrome where the restaurant was, meaning it had to be closed.”
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