Un­cer­tainty hangs over Sar­coa events

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NATALIE PADDON

A Fri­day night wed­ding and other week­end events were go­ing ahead as planned at Sar­coa af­ter the Hamil­ton Wa­ter­front Trust ter­mi­nated the har­bourfront pa­tio and eatery’s 10-year sub­lease.

But the out­come is not so clear for fu­ture book­ings at the Dis­cov­ery Drive lo­ca­tion.

“One day at a time,” Sar­coa’s lawyer, Kon­stan­tine Ket­set­zis, said Fri­day. “We’re hope­ful that they will con­tinue with­out in­ter­rup­tion.”

Re-en­try to the restau­rant was per­mit­ted Fri­day af­ter a no­tice of ter­mi­na­tion was posted on its locked doors Thurs­day morn­ing for “ma­jor and es­ca­lat­ing pro­tracted breaches of the sub­lease.”

There were signs of life just be­fore the Fri­day night wed­ding was sched­uled to take place, with staff putting

out ta­bles and chairs on the pa­tio and peo­ple milling about in­side.

JEM Hos­pi­tal­ity Group, which han­dles event book­ings at the eatery, posted to Face­book Fri­day that it’s meet­ing with the trust Mon­day to talk about “con­tin­u­ing our very suc­cess­ful op­er­at­ing on site.”

Trust ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Werner Plessl said Fri­day it’s “try­ing to work with peo­ple that have some book­ings.”

Bry­die Huff­man is one of those peo­ple. The 32-year-old bride’s big day is sched­uled for Thanks­giv­ing week­end at Sar­coa, but she’s not con­vinced this will hap­pen.

“We’re three months out,” she said. “I have condi­ments in my fridge older than that.”

Huff­man said she reached out to event staff af­ter hear­ing the news about Sar­coa and as of Fri­day af­ter­noon, had still not heard back.

One hun­dred and fifty in­vi­ta­tions, in­clud­ing to fam­ily in Eng­land, have been sent out, and a $2,000 de­posit on the space has al­ready been put down.

“I feel so screwed,” she said. “To find out as a client that this spe­cial day that you’ve been plan­ning for over a year is in jeop­ardy … it’s re­ally up­set­ting.”

Huff­man said she called around to a hand­ful of other lo­cal venues Fri­day but was told they were all booked for that week­end.

“I’m at the point where, by early next week, I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to have to post­pone the wed­ding,” she said. “It’s too short to pull it off now.”

The no­tice of ter­mi­na­tion al­leges Sar­coa owes more than $226,072.68 in rent and breached other con­di­tions of the sub­lease, such as fail­ing to be open dur­ing the same hours and days as other restau­rants, op­er­at­ing a ban­quet hall on more than an oc­ca­sional ba­sis and shar­ing the premises with JEM Hos­pi­tal­ity Group.

Ket­set­zis said his client de­nies the al­le­ga­tions.

The har­bourfront eatery has been locked in a $15-mil­lion le­gal bat­tle with the trust, its sub­land­lord, and the city since late 2015 for pre­vent­ing it from throw­ing pa­tio par­ties with am­pli­fied mu­sic.

Co-owner Sam De­stro told The Spec­ta­tor this spring Sar­coa was shift­ing its fo­cus to spe­cial events to stay afloat af­ter run­ning into by­law trou­ble over noise com­plaints.

The wa­ter­front trust board of direc­tors is sched­uled to meet Tues­day af­ter­noon to dis­cuss op­tions for the space.

JOHN RENNISON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Sar­coa’s lawyer says his client hopes to con­tinue op­er­at­ing the eatery.

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