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Warning as 22-year-old Cafe Sol faces eviction from Greenwich town centre home
A restaurant manager facing eviction from his 22-year-old Greenwich town centre business is warning that "the small guy" is being pushed out in a rush towards big chains.
Hundreds of Cafe Sol customers have signed a petition to keep the Nelson Road tex-mex outlet open after it was hit with an eviction notice by Greenwich Hospital - the charity which owns much of the town centre.
And owner Remzi Remzi, who is taking court action over the move, has warned other town centre restaurants could also be under threat.
He said: "They just want to get me out. They want to put big chains here. They've done it with Jamie Oliver, they've done it with Costa and Starbucks.
"I think other traders are getting letters to vacate as well. The rents are getting so extortionate, we've almost got no choice anyway. They have a monopoly, they own all the property, they say what's what."
Mr Remzi, whose family has run a restaurant on the site since 1978, had been negotiating a new lease with his private landlord last year until Greenwich Hospital took it over and then hit him with an eviction notice.
The charity, which has refused to comment on the case, plans to redevelop the building, expanding the downstairs restaurant and convert the offices above into flats.
But Mr Remzi said: "Currently they're saying I need to get out on January 1 of all days. How impractical is that?
"What I've said is, I don't mind redevelopment but can i have the lease back? We'll have to wait and see."
Fears the area is losing its character followed a string of shop closures early last year, though Greenwich Hospital had vowed to keep the town's independent feel alive.
A petition at the restaurant has attracted 460 signatures in just three days and Mr Remzi, who employs 20 staff, said the reaction was overwhelming.
He said: "Everyone's very upset that Greenwich is changing so much and losing its identity. It's just going crazy here.
"Rather than going for big chains they need to give the small guy a chance. That's what they're not doing."
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