FORMER staff of a popular Coventry cafe and delicatessen owed thousands of pounds after its collapse have now been informed the company has gone into voluntary liquidation – and they should claim their money back from the taxpayer.
We revealed the crisis with angry creditors last week and that an application had been lodged for the ‘Kendall’s of Earlsdon’ company to be struck off after its suddenly closure weeks ago.
Around 14 ex-staff have now been told in a letter that the company is in the hands of a liquidator, Nottingham-based Kingsland Business Recovery.
Notification of the insolvency proceedings, although still not confirmed at Companies House, come despite the premises (and associated flats and land) being sold for £400,000 to associates of Coventry councillor Rois Ali at an auction at the Villlage Hotel in May.
The building was sold by former Royal Oak pub owner Ramon Evitts, according to Loveitts estate agents. But the transfer of ownership has still not been registered at the Land Registry, a legal requirement.
His wife Debbie Evitts is listed as the sole director of Kendall’s of Earlsdon – meaning the deli cafe in Earlsdon Street was in separate ownership to the building owned by her husband.
Coun Ali told us it could re-open as a cafe, but no final decisions had been taken.
Kendall’s cafe – as it has long been popularly known – is an Earlsdon landmark and was put up for sale by Marcus and Theresa Kendall four years ago before Mrs Evitts’ takeover.
Former employees the Kemp family told us they were owed pay and pension payments.
They believe the total bill owned to 14 members of staff is around £28,000.
In a letter from the liquidators seen by the Observer, ex-employee victims have been informed they must rely on the taxpayer – via the government’s redundancy fund – to get monies owed to them.
It states: “After consideration, the directors of the above company decided to commence liquidation proceedings in order that the company should be wound up voluntarily.
“I regret to inform you that the company is no longer in a position to make payments to you for services rendered under its contract of employment with you. You should therefore regard your contract of employment as terminated.
“Under the insolvency provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996, any claim that you may have for arrears of pay, accrued holiday pay or pay in lieu of notice will, subject to certain limitations, be paid to you by the Department of Trade and Industry out of the Redundancy Fund.”
Andrea Kemp and her daughter Emily, ex-manager of the cafe, claim they have lost out on around £7,000 and £2,400 respectively.
Andrea – who had worked at the cafe for 14 years – said they were told the last day of their employment was June 16.
Emily, 23, said staff members are angry about the ‘destruction’ of ‘a lovely business’.
Emily said: “I am absolutely raging.
“Obviously this represents the end of an era for a lot of people in Earlsdon and it was really upsetting for our customers and staff.
“We understand Debbie’s decision but since then she has acted as if she doesn’t care – when all we are doing is asking when we are getting our money.
“Some former staff can’t pay their bills.
“She hadn’t given us our letter of redundancy or our P45 – none of the documents we need to get another job.”
Coun Ali – the Labour city councillor, former restaurateur and businessman/landlord who owns premises to many Coventry restaurants and takeaways, some which have been in breach of planning consent – told us he was helping the undisclosed ‘new owners’ of the premises in an advisory capacity.
He added the premises were now being refurbished. Unconfirmed reports have it that his brother bought the property.
He told us: “I’m helping the new owners. I was helping to do some decoration and I’m helping them with ideas with my catering hat on.
“It may stay as Kendall’s with the same name under a different company as owners. No decisions have been made yet.”
He ruled out converting it into a restaurant.
Estimating it could take six to eight weeks to re-open, he added: “It’s a nice coffee shop and it should remain as a coffee shop.. there may be an element of delicatessen.”
We contacted the Evitts for comment.