Manchester restaurant owner ‘terrified’ as debt leaves family facing loss of own home

A Manchester restaurant owner has written a heartfelt open letter to the government, asking for more financial support and calling lenders ‘aggressive’.

Peter Kinsella is the owner of Lunya, the Spanish restaurant and grocery store in Deansgate which has sadly announced it will not reopen after lockdown, leaving only its Liverpool locations operational.

The letter – the second Peter has posted detailing the difficulties of the business – says he and his wife are at risk of losing their home after being ‘aggressively sued’ for repayment of their loans.

He says most of their lenders have given them payment holidays, but calls Nucleus Commercial Finance “no better than loan sharks preying on the poor”.

Speaking to MEN, Peter said he had 13 lenders in the business and all but Nucleus had agreed to suspend payments as the coronavirus pandemic forced Lunya’s doors shut.

Lunya boss Peter Kinsella has already closed a restaurant

According to the letter, which has been read by more than 50,000 people at the time of writing, Nucleus has started collection proceedings against Lunya, activating personal guarantees that Peter claims he would need to sell his own house to cover.

He told us: “That means they are now hunting me and Elaine for the money – we don’t have any! Our house is mortgaged to the hilt.

“They’re not doing anything illegal, their contract allows them to do it, and other lenders’ contracts allow them to do it.”

Peter claims he was also fined £5,000 and 60% interest from the company.

He wrote of the financial situation: “I can’t begin to tell you how terrified it makes us feel, heart in mouth, nausea in stomach, terrified.”

Nucleus said “a mutual agreement has been reached”.

Peter’s letter to the Prime Minister and Chancellor also called for more targeted support for the entire hospitality industry.

He called for a moratorium on lawsuits to prevent business evictions, a reduction in VAT and an extension of the furlough scheme.

Lunya’s owners, Peter and Elaine Kinsella

It also calls on the government to confirm dates for the reopening of bars and restaurants, as well as whether the two-metre social distancing measure can be reduced, saying: “For our logistics, planning, security, operations and training of staff, it is essential to know correctly now.”

Peter also described the personal difficulties the family faced while the UK was in lockdown, including his wife Elaine’s successful treatment for thyroid cancer.

He wrote: “It’s been really tough like so many people and we’ve been on a huge emotional roller coaster.

Inside Lunya on Deansgate

“I still feel a real sense of personal shame that I don’t have all the time I need for my family as I fight for the survival of my business. But that’s my problem, not yours.

“In our business we have had some significant ups and downs. Last week we announced the closure of our restaurant in Manchester. With the huge property and overhead costs, and our ineligibility for the business support grant , it has proven impossible to make this site work financially in this very different world we now find ourselves in.

“I can’t begin to tell you how sad this has made us and the sense of failure we feel, letting our customers and staff down. 31 of our employees will soon be out of work. These are people we know, who we care about deeply and consider our friends. We have cried a lot about it, making this decision, communicating it and now living with it. We know the reality is that many of them will struggle to find other jobs.

the Lunya’s first open letterwritten just before the UK went into lockdown, has been read over 1.9 million times according to Peter.

He signed his letter with: “I don’t know if you have already read my last letter. 1.9 million others have. I do not expect an answer, but by doing this it frees me from chest and hopefully gives you some insight into running a small business in these tough times and what might help. Thank you.”

Nucleus commented: “The global pandemic has been a challenging time for the business world and Nucleus has worked hard to support existing and new customers, working with individual businesses to agree the best possible approach in each case.

“We do not comment on the details of specific loan cases, but we are confident that in this case a mutual agreement has been reached.”

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