Piccolo restaurant set to close doors
THE decision to close Piccolo Restaurant and Cafe at the Grafton Regional Gallery has been a sad one for owners Murray and Casey Challacombe.
The couple will open the restaurant for the last time on Saturday and by May 22 they have to leave.
Mr Challacombe's grandmother, Eileen Challacombe, was one of four Jacaranda Art Society women who bought the gallery building in the 1980s and her ashes are buried under the tree in the courtyard.
"I have a lot of good memories playing out the back on the lawn as a child before the extensions were built," he said.
But the memories have turned bitter for the couple who have made the decision to get out just two weeks short of their first anniversary in their business.
They say the decision was virtually made for them when their landlord, the Clarence Valley Council, voted against a proposal to give them more time to pay outstanding debts at an in-confidence extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
The Challacombes said they met with council general manager Scott Greensill and Mayor Richie Williamson on December 12 last year to discuss their opening hours.
They were advised to take a resolution to council, but were dumbfounded it took five months before it came to council.
The in confidence meeting at the April meeting made a resolution, which the Challacombes hoped would be amended at last week's meeting.
"They made a secret decision, not disclosed to us," Mr Challacombe said. "We have friends and customers asking us what happened and we can only tell them council is going to make a decision on it."
"The council hasn't ended our lease, but they've made it so we've decided to leave," Mr Challacombe said.
Mr Greensill rejected the couple's claims council had been secretive and slow in dealing with the restaurant.