Owners Deanna Yeates and Michael Pendlebury, who ran the popular Plympton restaurant, say they had to close as a direct result of being taken to court by Plymouth City Council for continuing to serve customers for two days in November 2020
These images show the interior of the former Finla cafe which has closed. Owners Deanna Yeates and Michael Pendlebury, who ran the popular Plympton restaurant, say they had to close as a direct result of being taken to court by Plymouth City Council for continuing to serve customers for two days in November 2020.
Deanna and Michael have yet to return calls from PlymouthLive, but in a statement posted online they explained the reason for their closure. In it, they point to the incongruity of the Prime Minister and staff being fined £50 for breaking the rules, after giving evidence to police via a questionnaire, as they faced hearings.
They also point out how they have had to pay the full rent for the property for the past two years – despite being ordered to close during the lockdowns. They said: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Finla Coffee Limited has ceased trading.”
Read more: Finla Coffee closes due to Covid legal costs
Photos taken on Monday show the cafe’s empty interior. Tables and chairs have been removed, while work has begun to remove some of the equipment.
In their statement, the owners added: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Finla Coffee Limited has ceased trading. We want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you! Your support and loyalty has been absolutely amazing and we will miss serving you every day.
“We will personally continue to defend our case before the Court of Appeal while Bojo [Prime Minister Boris Johnson] and his buddies are fined £50 and slapped on the wrist. With the vendetta against us; fighting for the future of our next generation, the ridiculous rise of EVERYTHING and big business owners who have charged full rent for the last 2 years, we can’t go on anymore.
“The courts have given us until May 4th to pay over £14,000 (just 2 months) personally, otherwise they send us to jail for 3 months….. Please take 5 minutes out of your day today to assess whether one of the last 2 years doesn’t make sense to you.
“There are many truths that many will never know or learn, but that’s fine with us. We will rise above all ‘gossip’ and hate…our only hope and wish is that we be replaced by someone who will help and care for all of our customers – especially our vulnerable customers – just like Finla. Some of you will be friends for life.
“If you would like to get in touch with us, you can reach us through our email [email protected], or through our Instagram or Facebook. Love and peace to each of you.
“We hope to see you again and keep in touch. Deanna, Mike, Amanda and our team xxx.”
The Plympton site was frequented by police and council staff, as well as local media, and the business was accused of failing to “close and stop selling food and drink”. Court documents served on them said the business had “failed without a reasonable excuse to close the premises or part of the premises at Finla Restaurant 12-13 St Stephens Place, PlymptonPlymouth in which food or drink has been sold for consumption on such premises” on 6 and 7 November 2020.
He noted that the act was done “contrary to the regulations 15(1) and 20(1)(a) and (2) of Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (No 4) “. In addition, Deanna and Michael were themselves accused of being the head of the company that broke the law.
At the trial – which none of them attended – the District Judge in the case found them guilty and ordered Finla Coffee to pay £8,221 and Pendlebury and Yates £2,002 each for court and council investigation costs. It also fined Finla Coffee, Pendlebury and Yates £5,000 each, for the two breaches, bringing the total to £30,000 in fines, and just over £42,000 in total.
At the time, the district judge warned the couple that if they didn’t pay, they would “go to jail”. They appealed the case and last month attended Plymouth Crown Court where the conviction was upheld.
However, the fine was reduced by half after the hearing. The judge reduced the £30,000 fines to a total of £15,000, plus court costs of £12,000 from the original case and £4,000 from the appeal.
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