Shop could be forced to close

‘Lease is­sue’ threat­ens to force store into clo­sure

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

LO­CALS are ral­ly­ing be­hind a Childers take­away restau­rant that has ap­par­ently been banned from sell­ing tea or cof­fee.

More than 200 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing for Hunger Busters’ op­er­at­ing con­di­tions to be reversed.

Its own­ers, Sharon and John Fisher, say the busi­ness is in dan­ger of closing, the lat­est saga adding to long hours and a strug­gle to get enough fam­ily time.

The own­ers re­fused to com­ment on the back­ground to the dis­pute, but Town & Coun­try un­der­stands they have been pre­vented from sell­ing “cof­fee, cakes, desserts and con­fec­tionary”, and have lost hun­dreds of cus­tomers be­cause of it.

A sign ex­plain­ing Hunger Busters’ in­abil­ity to sell the goods in­di­cates the is­sue is a com­pet­i­tive one in­volv­ing cen­tre cof­fee shop Drunk Bean. But owner Jill Tay­lor said it was not her do­ing and she just wanted to get on with ev­ery­one in the cen­tre.

Cen­tre manager Mark Banks said the cof­fee spat had “ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with the land­lord” – leav­ing it un­clear who is re­spon­si­ble for the harsh con­di­tions on Hunger Busters.

Mean­while, the Fish­ers are shop­ping Hunger Busters around on the mar­ket, though they said it was not di­rectly due to the leas­ing is­sue.

They were jug­gling both busi­ness and per­sonal lives, with the cou­ple experiencing very lit­tle time to­gether away from the shop.

The cou­ple were buoyed by sup­port from the com­mu­nity, how­ever, with the shop’s pop­u­lar­ity at an all-time high among lo­cals.

Both lo­cals and trav­ellers have led a groundswell of sup­port for the Churchill St busi­ness, with many mak­ing com­ments af­ter a sign ex­plain­ing what the store could not sell was erected.

One cus­tomer, who iden­ti­fied her­self only as Maria, ap­proached the Town & Coun­try and begged for the com­mu­nity to sup­port the busi­ness.

“Childers has long been with­out a de­cent ham­burger/fish and chip shop and we need one badly,” she wrote.

“But be­cause of the rules and reg­u­la­tions ... they are go­ing out of busi­ness.

“In one week they had over 100 peo­ple come in to eat but when they were told they can’t have tea or cof­fee with their meal they walked out, but signed a pe­ti­tion be­fore they left.”

The pe­ti­tion was started on Jan­uary 7.

When asked about cus­tomers de­sert­ing them, the Fish­ers con­firmed it hap­pened, and cited a group of 12 who went to Hunger Busters for a meal only to leave when they learned they could not be sold cof­fee.

Mr Banks said pub­lic­ity was not help­ful to the cen­tre and a so­lu­tion could still be found. He said the sto­ries were “detri­men­tal to the cen­tre”.

“It is a con­fi­den­tial leas­ing is­sue so the public didn’t need to know, and the public will not know.”

Mrs Tay­lor “didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate the sign” at Hunger Busters. “I don’t want to get in­volved in any legal is­sue but it’s not from me,” she said.

You can sign the pe­ti­tion at the store.

PHOTO: MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

NO COF­FEE: Hunger Busters is in dan­ger of closing due to claims of re­stric­tive op­er­at­ing ar­range­ments.

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