Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Eatery odours in High Court row

Landlord claims smells have upset occupants and deterred potential tenants.

Jackie Grant and Scott Brown's restaurant has been lauded by food critics, but is accused of creating issues for other occupants of the building. Photo / Babiche Martens
Jackie Grant and Scott Brown's restaurant has been lauded by food critics, but is accused of creating issues for other occupants of the building. Photo / Babiche Martens

The landlord of an upmarket Auckland eatery has taken the restaurant all the way to the High Court at Auckland in a bid to stop smells that are said to be creating "issues" for others in the building.

St Heliers Cafe Bar & Bistro - owned by high-profile restaurateurs Scott Brown and Jackie Grant - has been lauded by food critics but has got offside with its neighbours.

Mr Brown's and Ms Grant's company Hip Group runs The Cafe, The Store and The Bar at Kohimarama, Takapuna Beach Cafe and Store, Richmond Road Cafe and Rosehip Cafe, and eateries in Britomart, including a casual Italian bistro-style all-day eatery Ortolana and dessert restaurant-wine bar Milse.

However it is the alleged smell wafting out of the restaurant and through the three-storey Tamaki Drive building it shares with offices and apartments that has led to the legal action.

Jackie Grant and Scott Brown. Photo / Babiche Martens
Jackie Grant and Scott Brown. Photo / Babiche Martens

It's not the first time the building has attracted controversy - it was dubbed a "concrete monstrosity" when it was opened in 2011.

According to property records, it is owned by Magellan Investments, a company co-directed by property developer Robin Sheffield.

Mr Sheffield also lives in the building and sat in the public gallery at the High Court at Auckland yesterday when Magellan Investments' lawyer, John Turner, applied for an interim injunction against St Heliers Cafe Bar & Bistro.

Mr Turner told Justice Susan Thomas the alleged cooking odours from the restaurant caused issues for the building occupants and deterred potential tenants.

"Our object is not to close the restaurant down in three hours' time. It's to reach a solution to the problem," he said.

Although there were also alleged issues with noise, the storage of equipment and unsecured gas canisters in the carpark, Mr Turner said the injunction was primarily focused on stopping the smell.

"The injunction is really directed towards stopping odours ... and then there's debate over how that should be achieved," Mr Turner told the Herald outside court yesterday.

The Queen's Counsel acting for St Heliers Cafe Bar and Bistro, Graham Kohler, told the court Magellan was seeking to have appliances removed from the restaurant's kitchen and have a new extraction system installed. However, Mr Kohler denied the restaurant was causing an ongoing nuisance.

He also denied the odour was his client's fault and said the problem was with the landlord's duct.

Magellan also had complained about an alarm going off twice and a messy backdoor, he said.

"That suggests frankly a degree of sensitivity which is beyond the normal and does support the proposition that perhaps they shouldn't have leased the premise to an operating restaurant because inevitably there are going to be people coming and going," Mr Kohler said.

Justice Thomas reserved her decision on the interim injunction.

- NZ Herald

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