Plaza-area restaurants strike back against ownership over rent stalemate during coronavirus

Country Club Plaza 1 Kansas City Mo

The Plaza // via Creative Commons

As the rest of us also fight for our opportunity to defer rents/mortgages, the same holds true of the dozens of businesses on the Plaza here in KC. Nationally, The Cheesecake Factory was the first major chain to announce that they won’t be paying rent on any of their locations. That sort of rebellion against the worst parts of capitalism amidst a pandemic has given momentum to more local establishments.

Unfortunately, Plaza ownership seems unwilling to play ball.

From coverage on this by Restaurant Business:

Mall owner Taubman Co. sent a letter to tenants last week, noting that it had received “numerous inquiries” from tenants regarding rent and other charges, according to a letter from the company obtained by Restaurant Business.

The company said its “obligation to pay its lenders, utility companies, insurance companies and the like, to ensure the safety and security of the building and maintain the appropriate level of operations, remains.” The company said that “all tenants are expected to meet their lease obligations” and suggested that companies look to their business interruption insurance policies.

While they are offering new and creative take-out and delivery options to stay afloat and keep staff employed, many Plaza restaurant owners now say that without the cooperation of Country Club Plaza ownership, this may soon be impossible.

Plaza-area businesses fired back today with their own public press release, reprinted here:

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every facet of life around the globe. Amongst the hardest hit are the locally owned small businesses which make up the restaurant industry, having been shut down by government order to act as a first line of defense against the virus. In Kansas City, these restaurants have been pillars of community, employment, and service for decades, and it is in that spirit that many of these local restaurant owners have pivoted to provide take-out options to the community while earnestly trying to keep staff employed. These efforts are only possible with the help and understanding of our vendors, suppliers, and community partners. 

It was with this sense of shared community effort that many of these restaurant owners reached out to the Country Club Plaza’s ownership to explore possible lease rent freezes, deferments, or other options that could help these businesses survive until our community is moving again. 

However, to our surprise and disappointment, the Country Club Plaza’s ownership sent a letter last week stating “All Tenants will be expected to meet their lease obligations.” 

Additionally, the Plaza’s ownership, in the midst of this national crisis, has billed these same restaurants with increased “Common Area Maintenance” fees and larger property tax amounts. These increased effective rent amounts, combined with the Plaza ownership’s unwillingness to work with the local business owners in this time of crisis, clearly is meant to put the corporate profits of the Taubman and Macerich groups ahead of the Kansas City community, the local restaurants and their thousands of employees. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, the continued operation of many of these local restaurants is seriously at risk. 

– Plaza Restaurant Owners 

 

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