A bemused diner has told of a ‘surreal’ experience as bailiffs packed away tables and chairs around him and his friends as they ate at a Sleaford area curry house.
Oliver Bartlett of Lincoln and a couple of friends had decided to pay a visit on Wednesday evening to the Green Elachi Indian restaurant in Ruskington, following a recommendation, but after being served their food they were shocked to see bailiffs stacking up furniture ready for removal over an alleged unpaid bill.
A spokesman for the restaurant has since told The Standard that the matter was actually the fault of a former member of staff who had run up personal debts since leaving the business but left it as a contact address. The matter was in the hands of their legal team to provide the paperwork proving it was nothing to do with the business.
Mr Bartlett said: “It was just a bit surreal.
“We are part of a curry club in Lincoln and like supporting businesses in our local area on Wednesday evenings. We have been to every curry house in Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and Market Rasen and so we were lucky to get this one in the nick of time, it would appear.”
The Green Elachi in Pinfold Lane had been recommended to them but when they walked in they discovered a bailiff in the restaurant with staff.
He said: “All the staff were carrying on serving as normal and the food and service was excellent.”
He says they overheard the matter was over an unpaid parking fine and if the money was not forthcoming they would take away assets and close the business. Mr Bartlett wenton: “The bailiff told us he was from the same company who are seen on the Channel Five programme, Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away, but assured us we were not being filmed for the show, although he did wear a body camera.
“He just carried on packing away around us. They took all the chairs and tables, and cutlery and plates were stacked ready for removal the next day and they said they were changing the locks that night and called a locksmith.”
Mr Bartlett said: “It was bring your own beer night and our beers were in the fridge. We joked with the bailiff asking him to make sure he didn’t take our assets too.
“He said there was no reason to be alarmed and we were to just enjoy our meal.
“We asked the bailiff if we should pay him or the restaurant but he told us to pay the restaurant as normal.”
He posted video and photos on Facebook as the events unfolded, commenting: “The balliff is clearing the restaurant as we eat!!!”
Despite the weird events, Mr Bartlett said he and his friends would return if the business remained open, saying: “It was probably in our top five favourites.”
A spokesman for the Green Elachi said a previous employee had used the restaurant as a correspondence address and not paid some bills, leaving them as his last known address.
“We now have to provide all the legal paperwork to show he is nothing to do with the business,” he explained. “We expect to reopen today (Friday) once everything is sorted out. We don’t really know what has been going on but just didn’t have the paperwork immediately to hand to prove it.”