Betty’s Kitchen conflict boiling over
- Staff Writer
- Thursday, 8 September 2011
Famous Oxford Street eatery ‘Betty’s Soup Kitchen’, may be nearing its last weeks, with a recent dispute between owner Ron Elrich and City of Sydney heating up.
Mr Elrich, otherwise known as Mr Betty’s, is in a rent dispute with the council, who claim he owes $100,000 in outstanding rent.
Mr Elrich has blamed Council’s failure to renovate his restaurant and the surrounding area over the last decades as the reason his eatery is in financial struggle.
“We’ve had five years of false information regarding development on the street and we’ve suffered because of that. Council have been negligent in their duty, they play politics yet nothing comes to fruition,” he said. “It really has turned into a conflict of interest . . . I haven’t really received any help from my local member, which is very disappointing.”
A spokesperson for City Of Sydney refuted Mr Elrich’s claims.
“We are committed to renovating a number of Oxford Street properties when tenancies are vacated, to ensure that they are attractive options for new business,” the spokesperson said.
“Through our ongoing maintenance program we are working with businesses to ensure vital maintenance continues while shops are operating.”
Rurik Ortiz, manager of Betty’s, said the end of his soup kitchen would be a sad day for locals.
“The restaurant is a community service really, our customer base consists of pensioners, students and many people from overseas, our prices have always been cheap – which is refreshing when you consider some of the prices out there,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate because we’ve been here for 22 years. It really is a community kitchen.”
Mr Ortiz said Oxford Street did not have an identity anymore.
Kerrin-gai Hofstrand, whose husband has worked at Betty’s for eight years, said the greed of City of Sydney is to blame for the rental dispute.
“The council promised upgrades for years that never came,” she said.
“Ron moved from smaller premises to have an Oxford street address when it meant something, Ron lived on the fact that people knew Betty’s and would come in the door, in the past couple of years that hasn’t been the case.”
Steve Carroll, a frequent customer at the soup kitchen, said the eatery is an integral part of his community.
“It’s such a well know, much loved place,” said Mr Carroll.
“It’s truly an iconic restaurant, there aren’t enough of these venues left in Sydney. It would really be a shame to no longer have that warm place to rely on.”
For more information or to help save Betty’s Soup Kitchen, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=hROIb_eQ-gc
By Georgia Fulerton
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