Oxford St icon Betty’s Soup Kitchen served its last meal on Sunday.
After 21 years, owner Ron Ehrlich said the final straw was the City of Sydney’s refusal to renew his lease.
“They’ve asked me to leave because my lease has run out,” Ehrlich said.
The City, which owns the building, claims Ehrlich owes $130,000 in rent.
The Star Observer understands other gay and gay-friendly businesses on Oxford St have signed similar lease agreements, which promised the redevelopment of the building in return for rent increases over the five-year term.
The promised redevelopment — which was to have included a new grocery store and shopfront makeover — never happened.
“For the last five years I’ve had promises of redevelopment, but the work was never done,” Ehrlich said.
Ehrlich said complaints over broken promises and poor planning had fallen on deaf ears, both at council and the office of Sydney MP Clover Moore.
“Clover has shown no interest in resolving this. If I can’t go to my local MP or my mayor, then who can I go to?”
Oxford St businesspeople who wished to remain anonymous said the council had treated Ehrlich unfairly by charging lower rents to businesses surrounding Betty’s and renovating nearby shopfronts, but not his.
Ehrlich said the immediate impact of the council’s decision not to renew the lease would be seen with 10 staff, including Ehrlich, losing their jobs.
A City of Sydney spokeswoman said Betty’s Soup Kitchen was a commercial operation and needed to pay its rent like any other business.
“The city has tried to negotiate with the tenant to recover significant outstanding rents in an attempt to keep it open for business,” she said.
“The tenant has repeatedly rejected the City’s offers. For that reason, the City is not renewing the lease of Betty’s Soup Kitchen.”