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May 27, 2020

Recipe Unlimited chair urges landlords to 'play ball,' help tenants

NordStar says no expectations of layoffs following Torstar acquisition

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As the COVID-19 pandemic batters retailers across Canada, Recipe Unlimited Corporation’s chairman is decrying commercial landlords who have refused to provide rent relief.

Recipe Unlimited runs 1,400 restaurants throughout the country and owns 19 brands including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and The Keg Steakhouse.

“I don’t want to name names, but there’s been some very good landlords that have been very helpful, and there’s been others who are the king that want to kick you when you’re down,” Paul Rivett, chairman  of Recipe Unlimited, said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Thursday.

He said these “extremely bad” landlords not only want full rent but also “additional concessions.”

“It’s just the wrong time for that. We need people to be fair and understanding and follow the lead of our federal government that’s trying to help people get through this little dip,” Rivett said, adding that hundreds of the company’s franchisees are first-generation immigrants, many of whom are struggling as their restaurants close.

He said a moratorium on seizures, or store closures, may be “something we need here” in Canada if landlords “don’t start to play ball.”

Rivett — who was a central figure in the Torstar Corp. go-private announcement made on Tuesday — also said landlords should focus more on helping their tenants as commercial real estate depreciates amid widespread store closures.

“Commercial real estate, someone said to me recently; it’s either worth less or worthless,” he said.

“That’s all the more reason for landlords to work with retail businesses that need and want to come back, but can’t afford to pay full rent when their business isn’t open.”