Renowned Subiaco chef Alain Fabregues wins rent hike battle

Chef Alain Fabregues celebrates his State Administrative Tribunal win outside Subiaco restaurant Bistro des Artistes.
Chef Alain Fabregues celebrates his State Administrative Tribunal win outside Subiaco restaurant Bistro des Artistes.

SUBIACO chef Alain Fabregues has won a “David and Goliath-style” rent dispute against his landlord Barrie Lepley at the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

It has been 14 months since the Bistro des Artistes owner painted ‘Subiaco is not Paris or London – $1000 per square metre is unacceptable’ on his restaurant windows in protest against an unexpected rent increase.

Through his company Alem Group, Mr Fabregues initiated legal action against Mr Lepley’s holding company Sanur in July.

On Thursday, SAT president Justice Jeremy Curthoys ruled that the “proper amount of rent payable” was 40 per cent less than Mr Fabregues was currently charged.

The renowned French chef, who previously owned fine dining restaurant The Loose Box in Mundaring, told the Western Suburbs Weekly that he felt 50kg lighter.

“It was like having a sword hanging over my neck,” he said.

“My rent has gone from $1000 to $600 a day.

“I am now 14 months ahead, as my landlord has to pay back the overcharge from the last year. By doing this, we have stopped the bleeding. Finally I have stopped digging into my superannuation.”

With 10 months left on his five-year lease, Mr Fabregues said he planned to “go out on a high”.

“Now we are going to rebuild with a new menu, and we are going to make it fly,” he said.

“We are thinking of putting a jazz band on every Friday night, make a bit of noise on the street and draw people in.

“This will be, for me, the end. I will then retire. If anybody wants to eat my food, they will have 10 months to do so. And then that will be that.”

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RENT HIKE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG…A beloved Subiaco restaurateur is reeling after he says his landlord increased…

Posted by Western Suburbs Weekly on Friday, January 2, 2015

Mr Fabregues said the greatest cause for celebration was that Bistro des Artistes now had a possible future in Subiaco.

“With the rent reduced, the restaurant is sellable,” he said.

“When I remove the excess rent and money to the lawyer, I can now show a profit.

“If the rent stayed where it was … not only were we losing money, it deprived us of cash flow. We could not buy a piece of carpet, change the glasses or the cutlery. We were on the back foot all the time. Before, it was just mission impossible.”

Mr Lepley has been contacted for comment.

Read about our story on long-term Hay Street shops leaving Subiaco here.

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